Youngsters Firouzja and Sindarov shine

Verslag ronde 3&4 Open en ronde 2 Matches

The bell tolled...

... at nine o'clock exactly, so the early 3rd round of the open has just started. Some of the participants are still under way, or trying to wake up.

Simon Elgersma is already in the playing room, and he may already have had breakfast with a birthday cake since he turned 19 today. Congrats Simon!


Update 9:14h: all the boards are playing!


    There's a special kind of silence during a morning round in a chess tournament - a subtle tinkling of spoons in coffee cups, the creaking of a forgotten shoe, a hesitant cough... and in nearby rooms the municipality staff greeting each other on a Monday morning and talking about their weekend (this happens here as this is the only town hall in the world where a chess tournament is being held). No chess player seems to worry about that, they tend to get irritated by opponents moving their feet, sniffing or nibbling at something, rather than noises in the background.

    Okay, I'm telling you this because nothing much has happened on the boards yet. Everybody is carefully trying to avoid early morning blunders.

      Pruijssers attacks

      Something is stirring... Roeland Pruijssers has launched an attack in a Najdorf Sicilian with 6.Be3 and 7.Qf3 against Eelke de Boer. Queenside castling, g2-g4 and g4-g5 at the right moment, then 16.f5 and 17.g6 - it all sounds quite logical but try it at home! It can't even be called a piece sac; all Black's pieces are aimed at the queen's wing and his king's fortress looks about to be shattered.

        Dixit follows suit

        Nikhil Dixit, who is making a strong impression so far, also looks to have an irresistible attack against Leandro Slagboom, whose dark squares on the kingside look like the mouth of a 95-year-old after a visit to the dentist.


          An interesting position in the game Giacomini-Klaren on board 23. Black has invested his rook on a8 in a dangerous attack, which looks too much, but White does have to take action now.

            Dixit again the first

            Like in round 1, Nikhil Dixit is the first player to win in this round. The lightning-fast Indian (a new Anand...?) indeed jumped in the holes in Leandro Slagboom's kingside and the latter had to resign soon.

              Big edge for Vrolijk

              Liam Vrolijk, dressed in a neat-looking suit in this tournament, is the first one to strike with black today. He already had some pressure on Migchiel de Jong's position and won a pawn with the petit combinaison 22...Bxd2 and 23...Nxb3, and actually Migchiel's position looks resignable already.

                Also a quick win for Pruijssers

                Eelke de Boer has also been forced to resign early after Roeland Pruijssers put a knight on e6 and, after a minor-piece trade, a huge passed pawn which immediately decided the issue.

                  First point for Erick Takawira

                  Erick Takawira has scored his first full point, against 13-year-old Loek van der Hagen. The man from Zimbabwe was attacking all the way and after the crazy counterattacking move 26...Bxb2 by Loek, he had to lay down his king in the end.

                    Wins for Vrolijk and Zwirs

                    Vrolijk has indeed overcome De Jong, and the 24-year-old Nico Zwirs, who turned IM this year, just beat Jonas Hilwerda in a sharp struggle where his b-pawn eventually decided the issue.

                      Machteld wins

                      The youngest player-but-one in the Open just beat the oldest-but-one in the field: Machteld van Foreest just caught Dick Stavast's bishop on a4 with a neat trick. For Stavast the tournament hasn't started well - yesterday he resigned against Mary Ann Gomes in a position assessed by the unrelenting engine as won! (though that wasn't at all easy to see).

                        Ernst wins, Beerdsen draws

                        Sipke Ernst has also hauled in a full point, against Moksh Amit Doshi, who had surprised him in a Nimzo-Indian with a pawn sacrifice that was supposed to have been played by Magnus Carlsen. Ernst started an attack on Black's king without the queens but both players missed a good counterchance for Black. Then it was soon over. Thomas Beerdsen won't be satisfied; he must have counted on a white point against Stefan Tabak, but the latter didn't give an inch and took the draw from a position of strength: in the final position after 31...Re8 32.Kh2 Qh5 White will be in trouble in the rook ending since his a-pawn is vulnerable.

                        Beerdsen (left) vs Tabak

                          Gomes beats Romanishin

                          Another success for Mary Ann Gomes against a veteran: this morning Oleg Romanishin had to bite the dust. The Ukrain grandmaster suffered during the entire game from a bad bishop and Gomes very patiently exploited this, until Romanishin had had enough and could start mentally preparing for a tough second part of the day...

                            21 hours ago
                            Business-like wins for Schoppen and Basso

                            Both IM Casper Schoppen on board 2 and Pierluigi Basso on board 5 won their games approximately at the same time, and both in a quite similar, businesslike manner. Schoppen (White) and Basso (Black) were pressing and their opponents, Mads Vestby-Ellingsen and Manush Shah, sacrificed an exchange to obtain chances but simply didn't get any.

                              Sindarov keeps winning

                              13-year-old Uzbek GM Javokhir Sindarov makes a very strong impression. He has outplayed IM Nichita Morozov and is now concluding a mating attack. Perhaps even more World Championship material...?

                                Open round 3 not yet finished, matches started

                                The morning round of the open hasn't finished yet! - the last game to finish was a quite dramatic one in which Harmen Jonkman lost to Akash Ganesan. The Indian IM had 2 rooks against Jonkman's queen and was more active. It seemed for a long time that Jonkman could hold, but a mating trick forced him to enter a losing pawn ending. Dev Shah and Sandra Djukic are still playing!

                                Round 4 of the Open starts at 15:00h today, but the matches have already started at 14:00. Both games (Timman and Cori Tello White) started with a Grünfeld Indian, which just like the Sicilian promises sharp and complicated play!

                                  Interesting line in Cori-Firouzja

                                  Jorge Cori had 10.Nh4 e5 11.d5 earlier on the board, but with 11...Na5 instead of Firouzja's move 11...Nb4. The point of 13...Nd3 is that after 14.Le3 Black has 14...Nf4!. Black seems quite OK in this position.

                                    Timman goes for endgame plus

                                    Timman is following in the footsteps of among others Aronian and Carlsen with a quiet approach of the Grünfeld in which after 13.Qa4 and 13...Qa5 the queens are exchanged and after that mostly the rooks as well on the c-file. Then if White plays his cards right he has a small plus in the minior-piece endgame, which seems like a quite sensible approach against Zhansaya Abdumalik.

                                      Djukic-Shah: a late draw

                                      The final 3rd-round game of the Open has finished now. WIM Sandra Djukic had to defend for no less than 118 moves against Dev Shah. It ended in rook + knight versus rook, but Sandra managed to draw. Just 15 minutes before round 4!

                                      WIM Sandra Djukic browsing a chess magazine (before round 2!)

                                        Grünfeld masterclass

                                        'Yesterday Jop Delemarre gave a masterclass in the Najdorf,' today's commentator Jeroen Bosch said, 'today I can give one in the Grünfeld.' Indeed, the well-known author of 'Secrets of Opening Surprises' books could tell the audience a lot about this famous opening, which by the way has always been a specialty of Jan Timman on the black side too.

                                        For example after Abdumalik's move 5...Ne4 vs Timman...

                                        White can take 6.cxd5 Nxg5 7.Nxg5 e6 and play the sharp line 8.Qd2 exd5 9.Qf4, but also, as one of the onlookers Sipke Ernst said, play 6.h4!?, or, an SOS idea given by Bosch himself, 6.Qc1!? Nxg5 7.Qxg5 when after 7...dxc4 White can win the pawn back with a check on b5 (an idea of the famous theoretician Alexander Zaitsev).

                                        Many possibilities, and remember this is only move 6!

                                          A theoretical Sveshnikov on the top board

                                          On the top board of the Open, Javokhir Sindarov and Casper Schoppen played the opening very quickly. A theoretical Sveshnikov with 11.c4 appeared on the board, in which Schoppen played the slightly surprising 15...g6, an idea mainly known from correspondence chess with the idea of ...Ra7 followed by the push ...f7-f5, which leads to exciting positions.

                                            Timman keeps the rooks

                                            Interesting: Timman doesn't trade rooks - perhaps he deemed his winning chances in the minor-piece endgame too small. That's another interesting feature from Alpha Zero by the way: keeping the rooks on, even ceding your opponent an open file sometimes (provided he can't do too much with it of course). Just like the c-file is now in the hands of Zhansaya.

                                              Second piece sac by Firouzja

                                              Alireza Firouzja has not recaptured the knight on h4, which means he's making his second piece sacrifice in two days. He has been walking around in the playing hall of the Open quite a bit, which may indicate that he's not entirely certain of his concept. Of course Black has big compensation after 20.Ng2 g4, but still this piece sac is much more speculative than his 21.Nxf7! yesterday. More Tal-like! We are reminded of his ...Nf4 sac against Botvinnik in the 1960 World Championship match.

                                                Promising piece sac by Van Dorp

                                                We've also spotted a piece sac in the Open: Folke van Dorp is playing very daringly against seasoned IM Migchiel de Jong - and with success, it seems. His piece sac was very hard to meet, and De Jong's 15...Nf8 may have been a mistake (perhaps immediately 15...Qc7 and 16...0-0-0). Now White's attack looks very strong after e.g. 20.Bf6 and 21.d4.

                                                Update: He's played 20.d4 right away, which also looks strong.

                                                  Cori has to sac queen

                                                  In huge time-trouble, Jorge Cori has missed a good move (after 23.Nf4 instead of 23.Ne3 White should be able to weather the storm) and now he has to sacrifice his queen. White gets two pieces for it, and this should be very good for Black but according to our tournament director Van Wely this will not be so easy to win. With so little time, however, we have to fear for the Peruvian GM's life once again.

                                                    Incredible win for Firouzja

                                                    Firouzja won! An incredible game - analysis + reaction later.

                                                      Analysis Cori-Firouzja

                                                      We start with the Iranian's piece sac idea:


                                                      16...e4 17. Bxf4 exf3 18. Nxf3 must have been too boring for Firouzja. 'I thought the piece sac was interesting.' Yes, he was walking through the playing hall a lot after his 19th move. 'I wasn't entirely sure if it was correct.'

                                                      17.gxf4 exf4 18. Bxb6 axb6 19. Rfe1 Be5

                                                      19... gxh4 20. Rxe8+ Qxe8 21. Rd1 was equal - too boring!

                                                      20. Ng2 g4

                                                      21. Rxe5!?

                                                      21. Be2 f3 22. Bb5 Qd6 23. Nf4! followed by 24.Rxe5 also looks OK for White.

                                                      21... Rxe5 22. Be4 f3

                                                      23. Ne3

                                                      'Probably he should have played 23. Nf4,' Firouzja said. 'After 23.Ne3 I didn't see a defence for White.'The engine gives (after 23.Nf4) the brilliant 23...b5 with the idea ...Ra6 and the other rook joins the attack!

                                                      23... Rh5 24. Qc4 Qh4 25. Qc7

                                                      'He may have thought this saved him but he missed my next move.'


                                                      The killer move, played in a fraction of a second.

                                                      26. Nf1

                                                      26.Qxg3+ Rg5 27. Bxf3 Rxg3+ 28. hxg3 was the queen sacrifice: 'This may not be so easy, but it's just lost.'

                                                      26... gxf2+ 27. Kh1 Rg5 28. Ng3 Bh3 29. Bxf3

                                                      29... Re8!

                                                      The lethal finish, played after some thought.

                                                      30. Nce4 Rxe4! 0-1

                                                      It's mate after both 31.Nxe4 Rg1+ and 33...Qe1, and 31.Bxe4 Qxe4+ 32.Bg2.

                                                      Something similar would have followed after 30. Nce2, as Jeroen Bosch explained: 30... Rxe2! 31. Bxe2 (31. Nxe2 f1Q+ is a little more prosaic) 31... Qe4+! 32. Nxe4 Bg2 mate.

                                                        Sindarov is also on a roll

                                                        We don't only have a sensation in the matches with Firouzja, also Javokhir Sindarov is wiping the floor with his opponents in the Open. The strong Dutch IM Casper Schoppen went completely astray after a theoretical Sveshnikov.

                                                        After 19...b3?, opening the a-file and allowing White Nc7 tricks after the swap on a8, Black was already in big trouble. He probably should have played something like 19...Bxd5 20.cxd5 Nd4. Then after Casper took on h3, White has a devastating attack along the h-file, so he resigned.

                                                          Abdumalik is still standing

                                                          Zhansaya Abdumalik is doing an admirable job today. Jan Timman has been trying for hours to get through to her king, but the position still offers Black even chances.

                                                            Timman and Abdumalik draw

                                                            Abdumalik had prepared this Grünfeld line until ...Qa5. 'I knew Timman is an endgame lover, but there wasn't really a way to avoid it,' she laughed. 'However I don't think I was ever in real trouble.'

                                                            Timman was dissatisfied with his move 29.Rbc1: 'I completely missed the reply 29...b5!, after which I have just lost two tempi,' the Dutchman said. With hindsight, he would have wanted to play 29.f4, but it probably isn't too much for White.

                                                              A great day for Erick Takawira

                                                              Erick Takawira, the player from Zimbabwe with the long dreadlocks, is having a field day today. After his win this morning, now he has even beaten young FM Eelke de Boer, who was always in trouble with his king.

                                                              Erick Takawira (left) during his first-round game with GM Gevorg Harutyuniyan

                                                                A strange exchange sac

                                                                Roeland Pruijssers beat Gevorg Harutyuniyan (picture - see previous entry!) with en exchange sacrifice that should have been accepted with caution.


                                                                Here Pruijssers tried an interesting exchange sac:

                                                                30...Rxg5+! 31. Bxg5?

                                                                'Probably he should not have taken right away,' Pruijssers said. After 31. Kh2 Qf5 32. Re4 Bh6 33. Qe3 h4 34. Bxg5 Bxg5 35. f4 Bf6 36. Rxb7 White is still a little better.

                                                                31... Qxg5+ 32. Kf2

                                                                32. Kh2 Qf4+ and Black takes on d4 or plays 33...Bf6.

                                                                32... h4 33. Qe3 Qg3+ 34. Ke2 h3

                                                                And the h-pawn decided.

                                                                  Van Dorp beats De Jong after all

                                                                  It was already quite some time ago, but there are still a few games going on... Folke van Dorp did beat IM Migchiel de Jong after all. Just when De Jong seemed to get chances to hold, the trick 47.e7 put an abrupt end to all his chances.

                                                                    Ganesan beats no. 1 seed Basso

                                                                    A great accomplishment for Akash Ganesan - the IM from India beat no. 1 rated Pier Luigi Basso from Italy. Akash was always better in a long double-rook endgame since his queenside pawn mass was stronger than his opponent's centre pawns.

                                                                    An unexpected loss for Pier Luigi Basso

                                                                      Problems for Zwirs

                                                                      With some very sneaky play Jan Werle caused more and more trouble for Nico Zwirs' pieces. The IM from Apeldoorn had to give an exchange in the end to avoid worse material loss, but his chances of survival look slim now.

                                                                        Full points for Ernst and Werle

                                                                        The two (originally) Frisian GMs Sipke Ernst and Jan Werle gained the last full points of this long day. Tor Fredrik Kaasen attacked in a quite creative way against Ernst, but it was never really enough and Sipke countered into an endgame with two plus pawns. Kaasen could have held the draw somewhere, as Ernst explained, but he couldn't cut it anymore. Nico Zwirs' pieces stood quite awkwardly after 39...c3 and the trades, and Jan Werle exploited this very dexterously.

                                                                          Youngsters Firouzja and Sindarov shine

                                                                          In today's second match game, Alireza Firouzja quickly got a nice position with black against Jorge Cori Tello and then struck with a very daring sacrifice, after which the complications became just too much for Cori and he was mated in an orgy of sacrifices. Jan Timman tried to overplay Zhansaya Abdumalik in a queenless middlegame, but the girl from Kazakhstan defended excellently and was never in any danger: draw.

                                                                          In the Open group. Akash Ganesan quite surprisingly beat the no. 1 seed, Pier Luigi Basso, in a double-rook ending where his queenside pawns were a great trump. Javokhir Sindarov was the only other player with 100% after 4 rounds, after crushing Dutch favourite Casper Schoppen when the latter went wrong in a sharp Sveshnikov Sicilian. Dutch GMs Roeland Pruijssers, Jan Werle and Sipke Ernst are trailing half a point after decent victories.