5 players tie for first in Unive Open

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Essent Tournament 2008We already covered the Crown Group of the Unive tournament in Hoogeveen, and promised to write about the Open group in a separate report. Here it is, written by participant IM Robert Ris. "In the top of the rankings an Italian invasion of five youngsters played an important key factor."

By IM Robert Ris

With its 14th edition, the Unive Chess Tournament has become one of the most prestigious events in the Dutch chess scene. In previous years the tournament in Hoogeveen has been sponsored by VAM (1997-1999) and Essent (2000-2008), but fortunately since last year the organizers can count on the support of insurance company Unive, which has guaranteed to sponsor the event for at least a third year.

In earlier reports attention was given to the convincing victory in the Crown Group of the 2009 U20 World Champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. However, things could have worked out differently had his main rival Alexei Shirov played the more precise 19.Bc2! in the second game of their mini match.

Despite this missed opportunity, Shirov succeeded at least to please the audience in his two other White games. Common theme was a positional pawn sacrifice on d5, opening the a1-h8 diagonal for his bishop to control the black squares and so joining the attack.


In last week's issue of CVO we concluded that at that moment Tiviakov's position was already critical. Anish Giri blamed himself for not having found the more stubborn defence 16...Rc7!, with the idea of 17...Bc8 when Black holds on.

Obviously the event wouldn't have been as attractive without any other side events and so, like in previous years, two amateur groups and a strong open tournament were organized as well. Usually, main attention is given to the strongest event, but in Hoogeveen it's always a great pleasure for players in the Open section to see the big stars of the Crown Group kibitzing their games.

As is often the case in the first few rounds, not all rating favorites could live up to the expectations and some of them had to cede several points against considerably weaker opponents. After five rounds only Polish GM Robert Kempinski still had a 100% score and he was leading the tournament halfway with a full point margin.

However, in the second part he was unable to keep his superb form. In his white games against both a well-prepared Friso Nijboer and Erwin l'Ami he was sitting with his back against the wall the entire game. After starting with 2 out of 2, l'Ami wasn't really satisfied with his streak of five consecutive draws. In round 8, however, he showed to be one of the strongest theoreticians nowadays by crushing the young Italian Andrea Stella using a strong novelty.

l'Ami-Stella Hoogeveen 2010 l'Ami-Stella With his last move 9...b4 Black aims to prevent White from castling. The Dutch GM has analysed the line deeper and proves White doen't have to fear anything! 10. O-O! (In three earlier games, White continued with 10. d6) 10... Ba6 11. Qc2 Bxf1 12. Kxf1 White has fantastic compensation for the exchange, due to the weakened white squares. Moreover, he is far ahead in development and soon will undermine the N on e4 to take over control of the e-file. See the game viewer for the rest.

In the top of the rankings an Italian invasion of five youngsters played an important key factor. In the last round GM Daniele Vocaturo prevented his younger compatriot IM Axel Rombaldoni from obtaining his first GM norm. Luck was more on the side of 20-year-old FM Alessandro Bonafede (2280). After securing his IM norm in the penultimate round, he crowned his fantastic tournament with a GM norm by beating the Ukrainian child prodigy GM Ilya Nyzhnyk. The Italian's enterprising style deservedly paid off, as both GM Parimarjan Negi and Nyzhnyk didn't find a good antidote against his way of combating the Sicilian: 2.b4!?.

Chessvibes co-editor GM Sipke Ernst recovered well from a painful loss in the 2nd round against IM Fred Slingerland. Although he didn't seem really satisfied about his play this tournament, at least Sipke performed above his rating and is only a few points short now to break the magic 2600 barrier. His last-round victory against Nijboer was mainly caused by a hole in the latter's memory, as he couldn't reproduce his own analysis in a theoretically important Gruenfeld.

The last to join the group of leaders l'Ami, Ernst, Vocaturo and Bonafede (all 7/9) was GM Vyacheslav Ikonnikov, who was declared the tournament winner thanks to a better Buchholz tiebreak. The Russian resident played the tournament more or less anonymously, beating lower rated opponents and drawing quickly with colleague GMs. In last round he managed to grind down the sympathetic Liverpool based GM Stewart Haslinger, who won the previous two editions. This was his first loss in 27 games in Hoogeveen, which is an impressive record taking into account the numerous titled players participating every year.

A WIM norm was made by local lady Caroline Slingerland, who from the beginning proved to be a dangerous opponent for everyone. A last round loss against the talented 16-year-old Evie Warmelink cost her a WGM norm.

The author of these lines is looking back at this tournament with mixed feelings. A painful loss in the first round was never really compensated for. In the 4th round I had a tough fight with the later tournament winner. The following example is clear proof of how one big blunder can influence the rest of one's tournament.

Ris-Ikonnikov Hoogeveen 2010 Ris-Ikonnikov So far in this game both sides had their chances. However, my opponent was in serious time trouble and just committed another mistake. Here I thought for a few minutes and considered to have two winning moves. When chosing between material or going for mate, I decided too quickly. 27. Ng5? The other line is 27. Rd2! and Black can't avoid the loss of material: 27... Qe3 (27... Qxc4 28. Nxe5) 28. Rd3 Qe2 29. Rxf2. 27... Qh5! I simply missed this retreat. Totally annoyed by this, I make another blunder in return. 28. Rd7? This loses on the spot, while with 28. gxf4 White could have prolonged the battle. 28... f3+ 29. Kh1 Kg8 30. h3 Bxg3 0-1

When a tournament doesn't work out as you were hoping for, it's important to have at least an enjoyable time. The atmosphere in the town hall was simply great during the event. Apart from the professional team who's organizing the event, a lot of volunteers made it possible that the normally tranquil Hoogeveen turns into a chess minded madhouse, for which I would really like to thank them. See you next year from 14-22 October!

Unive Open 2010 | Final Standings (top 20)
Unive Open 2010 | Final Standings
Full final standings here.

Game viewer

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Stewart Haslinger

Stewart Haslinger

Vyacheslav Ikonnikov

Vyacheslav Ikonnikov

Friso Nijboer

Friso Nijboer

Parimarjan Negi

Parimarjan Negi

Erwin l'Ami

Erwin l'Ami...

Alina l'Ami-Motoc

...and his wife Alina Motoc-l'Ami

Manuel Perez Candelario

Manuel Perez Candelario

Olga Dolgova

Olga Dolgova-Shirov


Ukrainian talent Ilya Nyzhnyk

Sipke Ernst

Co-winner and co-CVO editor Sipke Ernst

Robert Ris

CVO editor and author of this report Robert Ris


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