'Experience' go into final round leading 24-21

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NH Chess Tournament 2009In Round 9 of the NH Chess Tournament the Rising Stars posted a 3-2 win over the Experience team. Still, with a three-point lead and only one more round to go the Experience team is very close to overall victory. Tomorrow the last round will start at 12.00 o’clock local time.

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.

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Round 9



Report by the official website

Today’s round saw three decisive games. Fabiano Caruana defeated none other than Peter Svidler with the black pieces to close in on his colleague Rising Star Jan Smeets in the race for the Amber ticket. In the final round a draw will suffice for Smeets in his game against Van Wely, as he has one full point more than Caruana, who will face Ljubomir Ljubojevic. The second win for the Rising Stars was scored by Daniel Stellwagen, who inflicted Loek van Wely’s first loss. Alexander Beliavsky contributed the only win for the Experience team by beating Hou Yifan.

With two rounds to go Fabiano Caruana faced the arduous task of having to beat the top-seed of the Experience team, Peter Svidler, with the black pieces if he wanted to keep a theoretical chance to win the Amber ticket. With no wins to his name yet here in Amsterdam, that sounded like a tall task for the young Italian, but sometimes miracles happen. Afterwards Svidler blamed his loss on his careless time consumption in the opening. To reach the position after 21...Ne6, a position he had already had on the board in a previous game, he spent no less than one hour and ten minutes. Svidler knew that the endgame they reached was dangerous (25...h5 was an excellent move on Black’s part), but he believed he would be in time to create sufficient counterplay. One of his moves that he criticized was 33.hxg5 (‘anything was better than this’) after Black had pushed 32...g5. And of course there were his problems on the clock. With enough time on the clock he might have put up fiercer resistance, now he simply collapsed in time-trouble and had to watch how Caruana invaded his position, claimed his first win and kept a theoretical chance to qualify for Amber.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

The game between Peter Heine Nielsen and Hikaru Nakamura featured another Dutch Defence by the American Champion. Nielsen used a recipe that he’d read about in New In Chess after the World Championship in Las Vegas back in 1999, when Viktor Kortchnoi wrote that the white set-up with Qb3 and Rd1 was essentially the refutation of the Leningrad Dutch. Perhaps it is, but most probably not after 13.c5, a move that Nielsen condemned after the game. White lost the initiative and Black got fine play, or as Nielsen put it, ‘then I had to do some embarrassing things to make a fortress’. A protracted period of manoeuvring followed that didn’t end till the players called it a day in an opposite-coloured bishop ending after 89 moves.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Alexander Beliavsky was modest in victory after he had scored his third win in a row at the expense of Hou Yifan. ‘I got absolutely nothing from the opening’, the Slovenian grandmaster commented, ‘and it was only at the very end that she made the decisive blunder.’ Beliavsky believed that she quite easily could have held the balance by exchanging queens on move 44 followed by 45...Ke8. The decisive mistake was taking back with the bishop on move 45, when 45...Kxf6 would have given White only an insignificant edge. Beliavsky had the impression that after nine tough rounds Hou Yifan was exhausted and that this explained her collapse in the endgame. When he was asked if he was also feeling exhausted shortly before the end of the tournament, he smiled and replied: ‘Not yet.’

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Without any doubt the most sensational game of the day was the Dutch clash between Loek van Wely and Daniel Stellwagen. It would even have become an instant classic had Stellwagen spotted a mate in 6 after only one hour of play. The first moves appeared on the board at rapid-fire speed. The players followed the game Van Wely-Radjabov from the 2008 Dresden Olympiad, which had ended in a win for White. Stellwagen’s novelty came on move 24, where he went 24...Qf3 instead of Radjabov’s 24...h5. Two moves later Van Wely went astray with 26.c5 where 26.Qe1 was the only move. Black could have crowned his efforts another two moves later with 28...Bc3+ 29.Bd2 Qg3 30.Bxc3 e3 31.Qd3 Rf1+ 32.Kxf1 Qf2 mate. Although he sat thinking for quite some time Stellwagen missed the mate and chose a continuation that was also winning, but took considerably more time. Ironically both players saw the mate only after the moment had passed. On move 47 Van Wely resigned.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

The first game to end, after two hours of play and 17 moves, was the one between Ljubomir Ljubojevic and Jan Smeets. With 9.Qc2 followed by 10.a4 and 11.Ne4, White opted for a rather unusual way to play against the Meran. Black chose the right reaction and after 12…Rc8 he could soon push the liberating 14…c5. The final position was just equal and no one was surprised by the draw the players agreed on. Ljubojevic was still thinking about the 110 moves he played yesterday, and particularly the nightmare that game ended in, and obviously Smeets, keeping an eye on the Amber ticket, didn’t object to a draw with black.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

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