‘Experience’ continue to dominate Rising Stars: 22-18

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
NH Chess Tournament 2009After a 2.5-2.5 tie in round 8, the Experience team maintained their lead over the Rising Stars at the NH Chess Tournament. The overall score with two rounds to go is 22-18. For the Experience team Alexander Beliavsky scored a win over out-of-form Hikaru Nakamura. For the Rising Stars Daniel Stellwagen defeated Ljubomir Ljubojevic in the longest game so far.

The NH Chess Tournament takes place August 20-31 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.


Round 8

Report by the official website

In the fight for the ticket to the 2010 Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in Nice Jan Smeets made important progress. With two rounds to go the Dutch Champion kept a one-and-a-half point lead over Fabiano Caruana, while Hikaru Nakamura saw his chances practically dwindle to zero.

The clash between the leading Rising Star, Jan Smeets, and the top player of the Experience team, Peter Svidler, wasn’t a great thrill to watch. And, as the Dutchman immediately admitted after the game, it wasn’t exactly a thrill to play it either. In a Ruy Lopez Black sought for active play by developing his black-squared bishop to c5. When he saw his opponent’s bishop go there, Smeets started racking his brain to remember the theory. Although he had played this opening himself as Black, he failed to do so. He played inaccurately and the initiative passed to Black. But Svidler, who had only decided to play this opening twenty minutes before the game, wasn’t at his best either. ‘Once again in this tournament I didn’t know which rook to play’, the Russian commented. ‘After 14...Rxf8 the position is dead equal. Of course I should have taken with the a-rook, when, as we say in Russia, Black has a “moral” advantage.’ In the final position, 26...Nb3 looks strong for Black, but both players had seen 27.Nc6 and agreed to a draw.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Fabiano Caruana came very close to his first win against Peter Heine Nielsen, but in the end the Italian Champion had to content himself with his seventh draw. The game was spectacular and entertaining right from the start. Black played a risky opening, baring his king and giving a pawn for attacking chances, but after White’s 20.Rfe1 he plunged into a deep thought to assess the position. His conclusion didn’t cheer him up and he decided to go for an exchange sacrifice that he believed would give him decent chances to save the game. He was right but the position was so complicated that he was easily forgiven when he said after the game that it was too difficult to tell what the situation had really been like. In the press room the kibitzers had it easier, with various computer programs at hand to follow the proceedings. At first Nielsen was doing fine, but then he blundered with 28…Rf7, where 28…Be4 would have been good enough for the draw. Fortunately for him Caruana’s task was far from simple and trying various approaches the young Italian failed to find the key to the solution. The game finished on move 59, when Nielsen could claim a draw because of a threefold repetition.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Hikaru Nakamura decided to battle Alexander Beliavsky with the timid-looking 4.d3 in the Italian Game. Of course the American wasn’t looking for a quiet game, as he made clear when he spurned 12.Nxb6, which would have led to an equal game, and decided to fight with 12.Ne3. In the following complications Beliavsky condemned White’s 23…Raxb1, saying that White should have played 23.Qxb4. Now Black got a much better game with the pair of bishops and a better pawn structure and once he reached the time-control the Slovenian grandmaster knew that he was winning. Nakamura fought on for another 30 moves till on move 71 he admitted defeat.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Hou Yifan and Loek van Wely drew their game after a protracted struggle in which the Dutchman kept trying to prove an edge. In a Sicilian Najdorf he had gotten a slight pull, but it didn’t help that there were opposite-coloured bishops on the board. But he could keep on trying and that’s what he did until Hou Yifan forced an exchange of rooks and, as a consequence a draw after 47 moves. For Van Wely it was his eighth consecutive draw, a feat that for understandable reasons the combative ‘King Loek’ wasn’t too happy with.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Daniel Stellwagen and Ljubomir Ljubojevic played easily the longest game so far. Most spectators had long gone home when after six hours of play and 110(!) moves the young Dutchman suddenly hauled in the point at a moment when those still present were waiting for the inevitable draw. Once again Ljubojevic played one of his offbeat variations, in this case 3…Qc7 after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5. This time his wish to leave the beaten track didn’t work out that well and he ended up in a painfully cramped position. But ‘Ljubo’ continued to play creatively and after he had given his queen for a rook and a piece, his position was completely satisfactory. Frustrated by the chance he had missed Stellwagen played on in a position in which under different circumstances he might have resigned himself to a draw. And he made some progress when exactly at the move when he offered a draw, 71…Bf3, Ljubojevic blundered his g-pawn. In the next phase Stellwagen may have missed a win, but to the naked eye it was still hard to see how White could break up Black’s fortress. Finally, on move 109 the sad anti-climax followed for the Serbian grandmaster. Instead of 109…Rh7 he played the unfortunate 109…Bf5 and after the simple tactic 110.Qxd7 he could resign.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

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