‘Experience’ increase lead to 19½-15½

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NH Chess Tournament 2009In round 7 of the NH Chess Tournament the Experience team increased their lead over the Rising Stars to 19½-15½ thanks to wins by Alexander Beliavsky and Peter Heine Nielsen. Beliavsky punished Fabiano Caruana, who went badly astray in the opening, while Nielsen inflicted the first loss of Jan Smeets.

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 7



Report by the official website

Despite this loss the Dutch Champion retains a comfortable lead in the fight for the ticket to the 2010 Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in Nice. With three rounds to go he has one and a half points more than Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura.

Daniel Stellwagen flashed a big smile after he’d made a draw with black against Peter Svidler. ‘I’m truly delighted that I am not going to lose all my black games’, the Dutchman said, half in earnest, half in zest. Stellwagen was rightly pleased with his opening preparation, which at a certain point gave him a one-hour lead on the clock. The 6…Qb6 line he played in the Advanced Variation of the Caro Kann has a slightly dubious reputation, but he had done some serious analyzing and played his moves with confidence. Not only did he equalize, he even got an edge when Svidler played the ‘strange’ (Stellwagen’s words) 17.Bc6, where to his mind 17.c4 would have been a more natural choice. But Black’s advantage was only marginal and after 41 moves the game was drawn.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Peter Heine Nielsen inflicted the first defeat of Jan Smeets, the Rising Star that started this round with a comfortable one-and-a-half point lead in the fight for the ticket to the Amber tournament. In a Slav Defence a typical battle arose between White’s bishop pair and his possession of the centre, and Black’s piece play and his control over a number of vital squares. The struggle intensified after White’s 22.Qc3, when suddenly every move became a weighty decision, but generally speaking White had the better chances, certainly when Smeets got into time-trouble. For the last moves Smeets was down to one minute, while Nielsen still had a comfortable five minutes, and it was this factor that decided the issue. With little time left and feeling the pressure, Smeets blundered with 34...Nbd7 and resigned two moves later. Only later did he learn that despite this loss he had maintained his one and a half point lead in the individual standings.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

The game between Alexander Beliavsky and Fabiano Caruana was a short affair that ended tragically for the Italian Champion. Beliavsky even found it hard to smile after he had won his second game in only 25 moves. He shrugged his shoulders and called 9…Be7 a blunder and pointed out that here 9…Nc6 is the theory. According to Beliavsky his opponent was caught unawares by his choice of the 4.a3 variation against the Queen’s Indian, as his normal choice here is 4.g3 (‘which I’ve played a hundred times’). Indeed, 9…Be7 left a bad impression, but things got really dramatic after Black castled kingside and White could play 12.e5!. The rest was sad suffering for Caruana and in fact no one would have blamed him if he had resigned well before the 25th move.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Loek van Wely was pleased that after six rounds that had brought him little joy, his confrontation with Hikaru Nakamura finally resulted in a fight in which he got winning chances. As could be expected the American Champion, who is still not feeling very well, once again chose a sharp opening with the black pieces. Van Wely was not impressed and felt that he got a pleasant version of the Volga Gambit. He was a pawn up and had his doubts if Black had full compensation. In the middlegame he returned the pawn to put pressure on Black’s d6-pawn, but when he failed to realize this plan Black was fine. The Dutchman got back in the driver’s seat when Nakamura played 34…Nd4 allowing White to play 35.Rf2 and push f4. Suddenly the game got very sharp and most probably White missed chances to win, but low on time Van Wely didn’t find the right way and Nakamura saved the draw.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

The longest game of the day, 62 moves and more than five hours of play, was the one between Ljubomir Ljubojevic and Hou Yifan, the oldest and the youngest participant in Amsterdam. Ljubojevic once again played a good game, but in spite of the advantage that he kept for most of the game he failed to deal the decisive blow and had to content himself with a draw.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

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