‘Experience’ and ‘Rising Stars’ share the spoils in opening round

PeterDoggers
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NH Chess Tournament 2010In the first round of the NH Chess Tournament the Experience team and the Rising Stars each won one game, while the remaining three games were drawn. Hikaru Nakamura defeated Ljubomir Ljubojevic, who lost track in time-trouble. Boris Gelfand balanced the score with an instructive win over David Howell, who collapsed in a complex queen ending. After one round the ‘overall score’ is 2½-2½.

The NH Chess Tournament takes place August 12-22 in hotel Krasnapolsky, in the heart of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. As always, the tournament is a confrontation between a team of five young ‘Rising Stars’ and a team of five ‘Experienced’ grandmasters.

Table of players

The two teams play a ‘Scheveningen’ tournament, which means that each player of one team plays against each of the players of the other team. They do so twice, once with the white pieces and once with the black pieces. The team that collects most points wins the tournament. The best player of the 'Rising Stars' team will be invited to the 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in March 2011 in Nice, provided he or she scores over 50% in the NH Chess Tournament in Amsterdam.

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Round 1



Report by the official website

Last night the opening ceremony of the fifth NH Chess Tournament took place in the splendid Council Chamber of The Grand Hotel (‘the epitome of historic elegance and luxury in the heart of Holland’s capital’) at a stone throw’s away from the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky where the players stay and play. During an exquisite dinner (with musical intermezzi by singer Maud Mulder of Idols fame) the drawing of lots took place, which was to decide which team was to play with the white pieces in the first round. Hostess Marcella randomly picked one from ten banners with the players’ portraits on them and the player selected was asked to come forward and pick one from ten colourful sugar bowls that contained five A’s and five B’s. As the members of the Experience team picked the majority of the B’s it became soon clear that today the Rising Stars were to have white in all five games (and obviously they will all be Black tomorrow!)

NH Chess Tournament 2010

Hikaru Nakamura was the first of the Rising Stars to draw blood and he did so at the expense of Ljubomir Ljubojevic. The Serbian grandmaster was largely to be blamed for his loss himself, as his position from the opening was perfectly fine. In fact he was even somewhat better. Therefore his first complaint when he walked out of the playing hall was that he never should have given his pawn on b6. And turning to his opponent, who was walking next to him: ‘I was better, right?’ Nakamura didn’t agree completely and said that he wasn’t so sure that Black had been better, but once they sat down to analyze the game he consented, although he believed that it wasn’t easy at all to exploit Black’s advantage. In fact, Ljubojevic was still fine after he had given up his pawn on b6 (to avoid any misunderstanding, in exchange for White’s pawn on f4, he wasn’t dropping it). His real problem was a serious shortage of time and once this led to a fearsome passed pawn for White and Black lost control, the game was soon decided in Nakamura’s favour.

NH Chess Tournament 2010

Fabiano Caruana got a promising position from a 6.Be2 Najdorf against Loek van Wely. The Dutchman’s plan with 14…d5 and 15…d4 was less promising than he had thought and after the game the players agreed that White missed an excellent chance when he played 18.fxg7. The variations they analyzed after 18.Nde4 all looked highly dangerous for Black. After Van Wely had been left off the hook, he got a good position and thanks to good moves like 20…Bd5 his worries were over. The game ended with a strange repetition, as Caruana put it. At that point he no longer had reasons to hope for more. He even might have ended up in some trouble, as he had missed that 26.Rg3 would have run into 26…Nf2+ and White is in trouble. But he could steer clear of that when he reached the 26th move and played 26.cxd3, which led to the already mentioned ‘strange repetition’.

NH Chess Tournament 2010

As Wesley So is an extremely well-prepared player and Peter Heine Nielsen was the second of World Champion Vishy Anand in his match against Veselin Topalov last April in Sofia, it didn’t come as a complete surprise that their game today saw a variation that was played in that match. Several times Topalov had tried to prove an advantage in an endgame arising from an early queen exchange in the Slav Defence and So followed in his footsteps. Nielsen acknowledged after the game that one of the reasons for him to play this variation was to show that Anand had had a perfectly fine position in the eighth game that he lost. On move 18, the young Philippine grandmaster deviated from that game with 18.Rac1 instead of Topalov’s 18.a5. In the next phase of the game White walked his king over to the black queenside. According to Nielsen he came close to being strategically lost, but that’s where he went for tactical counterplay to maintain the balance. In which he succeeded and both agreed that the draw they reached after 48 moves was a just result.

NH Chess Tournament 2010

Anish Giri had prepared well for his game against Peter Svidler and got a promising position. As Svidler put it with some sense of drama: ‘I barely got out of the opening’, to which he added, ‘but I also played well.’ After 11.Be3 Black has to be very careful and when he took his time to delve into the position, Svidler found the strong 14…a5 which kept the balance. Another crucial move he had to see well in advance was 21…Nd4, which led to an equal ending and a draw after 31 moves. Svidler was pleased with the post-mortem that ensued in which he could show that he had defended well: ‘Anish was impressed by my 14…a5, so I was happy.’

NH Chess Tournament 2010

For David Howell it will not have come as a surprise that Boris Gelfand defended himself with the solid Petroff Defence. After all the Israeli grandmaster is one of the world’s greatest experts in this opening that makes many fans yawn. However, Petroff supporters have often pointed out that the game can become very sharp and today Gelfand demonstrated that his pet defence can also lead to other problems for White. When he liquidated to a queen ending many spectators believed that we would soon see a draw, but Gelfand felt that he had chances because of the weaknesses in the white pawn army. Patiently and with a lot of creativity he kept posing White problems and Howell could be forgiven that at some point he collapsed under the pressure. With 55.Qg8+ he could still have fought on, but after the immediate 55.h8Q he ended up in a mating net and soon had to resign.

NH Chess Tournament 2010

Games round 1



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