Timman strikes back

Report round 3 Matches and round 5 Open

Two Sicilians again!

The two matches started with two Sicilians again. This time Jorge Cori Tello deviated with 2...e6 instead of 2...Nc6 from Game 1. Jan Timman again played the Najdorf, which probably surprised Zhansaya Abdumalik a little. She reacted with 6.h3 and, after 6...e6, pondered for a little while and then pushed 7.g4 for the second time. Only now did Timman deviate from the first game, where he had played 7...d5. Today it was the more common 7...h6.

    Two 100% players meet

    Today the top clash in the Open is between the surprising Indian Akash Ganesan and the maybe not so surprising though still extremey young Javokhir Sindarov (13). These are the only two players still on 100% (4 won games), so at the end of the day there will be maximally one with a 100% score.

      An opening succes for Timman?!

      According to commentator Gert Ligterink, Black is very much OK in the line Timman put on the board against Abdumalik today. Ligterink thought 8.Be3 was slightly inaccurate because it gives Black the opportunity to play 8...b5! (which isn't possible after the more popular 8.Bg2) and 9...Bb7, when after ...Rc8 White already has to reckon with exchange sacs on c3. Zhansaya ruled out this option with her move 11.Nde2, but of course that is not a move that worries Black.

        A queen sac?!

        Abdumalik's 12.Qd4!? looked very artificial. She wanted to put pressure on d6, but first had to play 14.b3 to avoid ...Nc4. Now Timman could have made a 'sacrifice' of his queen for three pieces with 14...Nxg4 followed by 15...Nf3+ but first 14...h5 may be even better, with the idea 15.f3 hxg4 16.hxg4 and then 16...Nxg4.

          Two early draws

          In the sub-top the points have already been shared in two games: Moldavian IM Nichita Morozov drew with Mary Ann Gomes, who is having quite a good tournament so far, and Nikhil Dixit drew with Gevorg Harutyuniyan, the Armenian grandmaster who by the way is a former coach of the star player of this event, Alireza Firouzja.

            Timman winning?!

            Jan Timman has a fantastic position. Abdumalik's 15.Bxg5 looks worse than 15.f3. Now Timman doesn't need to sac a queen, White's position just looks on the verge of collapse.

              Beerdsen on the attack

              After two disappointing draws yesterday, Thomas Beerdsen is on the war path. In a Taimanov Sicilian he has pushed all his pawns forward on the kingside, and is now ready to go for Mads Vestby-Ellingsen's king.

                Sipke Ernst does sac his queen

                Jan Timman hasn't done it, but Sipke Ernst has just sacrificed his queen for rook plus bishop and some initiative. Looks like another tough game for Casper Schoppen.

                  The sacrificing starts in Firouzja-Cori

                  Hell's breaking loose again in the Iranian-Peruvian match! Firouzja has gone for the win of a 'small exchange' on f6. Cori sacked an exchange on c3 in return. Now Black has the small combi 26...Bxg2+ 27.Kxg2 Qg4+, winning an exchange back, when White emerges with two pieces vs rook.

                  Firouzja to the right

                    Abdumalik is still alive

                    Somehow Zhansaya Abdumalik has managed to ward off Jan Timman's biggest threats while material remains equal. Timman is still better, but is it enough for the win? Black's attack does go on, also without queens, so it might be.

                      Basso wins a piece

                      Italian GM Pier Luigi seems to be on his way back to the top. His pressure all over the board is proving too much for Dutch IM Eelke Wiersma.

                      Wiersma is not losing a piece, as I wrote earlier - that was a glitch of the live registration of this board! He is considerably worse though.

                        Problems for golden boys Schoppen and Vrolijk

                        Schoppen is under big pressure now, as Ernst's position really looks overwhelming. Another big Dutch youth talent, Liam Vrolijk, is also in trouble against young Viktoriia Kirchei (14), who is playing very solidly and powerfully.

                          Migchiel de Jong bounces back

                          Yesterday Migchiel de Jong lost a game for which Folke van Dorp won the brilliancy prize. Today he struck back. And applied for the next brilliancy prize! We'll have a closer look at this game later, as we are entering the crucial phase of the top games.

                            Sipke wins in style

                            Sipke Ernst has won his game: 37.Rd8 was a finish in style. A great game by the GM! And top talent Schoppen has to lick his wounds and try to climb back up after 2 tough defeats with black.

                            Sipke Ernst in an earlier round

                              Sindarov wins again!

                              Javokhir Sindarov is still on the fast train! Today he won his fifth game - with black. It didn't look that way for a long time.


                              White was doing fine ('Probably it was a draw,' Sindarov said) until he played 34. Nd4 here (better 34.a3 or 34. Re4).

                              34... Bxb4 35. Qc2 Qd7 36. e6

                              Now 36. Nxb5 Bxe1 obviously favours Black. But Akash had missed something:

                              36... Qxd4! 37. exf7+ Kxf7 38. Rd1

                              The problem after 38. Rxe8 Bxe1 39. Rxe1? is 39... Rb2 and Black wins.

                              38... Rxe2 39. Qxe2 Re5 40. Qf3+ Kg7 0-1

                              A magnificent start for the 13-year-old Uzbek, who said he had been a little lucky. 'Also yesterday morning I was a little worse the first 30 moves, but then my opponent went wrong.'

                              Javokhir Sindarov in full focus


                              When asked whom he saw as his main rivals, his English wasn't yet good enough to understand... or perhaps Javokhir didn't want to reveal anything?

                                Stylish mating combination Werle

                                Werle outplayed Roeland Pruijssers with black, and concluded with a stylish mating combination:


                                41... Rxc3! 42. Ng5

                                42.bxc3 Bxc3+ 43. Ka2 Qc2+ etc.

                                42... Qa4+ 43. Kb1 Qc2+ 44. Ka2 Ra3+! 45. Kxa3 Qxb2+ 46. Ka4 Qb4#

                                With Ernst, Werle is now in second place, half a point behind the inimitable Sindarov.

                                  Two points for Apeldoorn duo

                                  The two IMs from Apeldoorn, Thomas Beerdsen and Nico Zwirs, made the full 100% today. 'Luckily I can still do it,' Beerdsen said after his two draws from yesterday. Today he just clamped Mads Vestby-Ellingsen down on the dark squares. Zwirs had prepared the 5.h3 King's for Siem van Dael, and had success with it. He caught Black's knight on h5 and then survived the desperate attack Van Dael started. 'I lost in 18 moves,' sighed the latter. It was 23, but perhaps he had started counting only after 5.h3.

                                  Nico Zwirs

                                    Another win for Firouzja

                                    The match Firouzja-Cori is turning into a tragedy for the Peruvian GM. His position with rook against 2 minor pieces looked perhaps holdable in the beginning, but after a few inaccuracies the Iranian was again cruising for the full point.

                                    Firouzja-Cori Tello

                                    How do you win such a position? Well, of course Alireza found a tactical way:

                                    50.Be5! g5

                                    Of course there is a fork on g5 if Black takes.

                                    51. h5

                                    And after 51... Rg7 simply 52. Qxf6 wins two pawns. Cori had seen enough and threw in the towel for a third consecutive time.

                                      Tough resistance by Abdumalik

                                      Jan Timman has two monstrous pawns on the 3rd (his 6th) rank, and has sacrificed his knight for it, but Abdumalik is hanging on by a thread.

                                      It's starting to look like an endgame study, so Timman may actually be enjoying himself!

                                      Things have gone differently. Instead of 54.Re3, 54.Be1 would have been tougher. Now everything seems dandy for Black.

                                        Yes, Timman enjoyed himself

                                        Zhansaya Abdumalik finally had to cease resistance after 60...Kg2. 'After the opening it must have been already winning,' Timman said right after the game. 'Yes, I looked at the queen sacrifice for three pieces, but Black is very good there anyway, so perhaps it wasn't necessary. Anyway, after 15.Bxg5 I was winning. I should have played 41...Kd7 (instead of 41...Kd5) -- I made it difficult for myself. But actually it was fun.'

                                          Who can stop Firouzja and Sindarov?

                                          Another fabulous round today, again with wins by Alireza Firouzja and Javokhir Sindarov! Is there anybody who can stop these two intrepid youngsters? On the other hand, Jan Timman also struck back today with a convincing black win in the match with Zhansaya Abdumalik.

                                          The game Firouzja-Cori Tello was initially an up-and-down affair, until Jorge Cori started sacrificing. Perhaps he wanted to show that his opponent wasn't the only one who can do that. But then the Peruvian committed some inaccuracies and eventually lost anyway.

                                          Timman played the same opening as in round 1 although he had suffered a painful loss in that game. This time it went much better, and when Abdumalik mishandled the opening Timman obtained a big advantage, which he converted, after some tough resistance, on move 60.

                                          13-year-old Javokhir Sindarov won his 5th game in a row after Akash Ganesan, who had played well so far, missed a tactical trick. Jan Werle and Sipke Ernst are right behind him - both of them won a beautiful game today. Ernst faces the Sindarov phenomenon tomorrow.