Experience-Rising Stars 27½-22½, Smeets to Amber (last video now up!)

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NH Chess Tournament 2009 Round 10 video now uploaded. In Round 10 of the NH Chess Tournament the Experience team secured overall victory with a 3½-1½ defeat of the Rising Stars. The final standings after ten rounds are 27½-22½ in favour of the Experience team. The wins on the final day were scored by Peter Svidler who defeated Hikaru Nakamura in a flashy attack, and the top-scorer of the Experience team, Peter Heine Nielsen, who outplayed Hou Yifan.

The NH Chess Tournament took place August 20-31 in hotel Krasnapolsky, in the heart of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. As always, the tournament was a confrontation between a team of five young ‘Rising Stars’ and a team of five ‘Experienced’ grandmasters.


The video of the last round and closing ceremony will be added as soon as possible.

Round 10

Report by the official website

Jan Smeets secured the coveted ticket to the Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament with a quick draw against his countryman Loek van Wely. The Dutch Champion scored 6 points from 10 games, finishing ahead of Fabiano Caruana (5 points) and Daniel Stellwagen (4½ points). Next year, in March, Smeets will make his Amber debut in Nice. Previous qualifiers from the NH Tournament to the Amber Tournament were Magnus Carlsen (2006), Sergey Karjakin (2007) and Wang Yue (2008).

The first game to finish today was the key encounter between Jan Smeets and Loek van Wely. Within an hour the Dutch Champion secured his participation in the 2010 Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament thanks to a draw in 18 moves. Despite the advantage of the white pieces Smeets was slightly nervous when he arrived at the board. After all you never know what Van Wely has in mind in such situations. To begin with Smeets had guessed the opening correctly, even if he had expected Van Wely to go for the Scheveningen via the Najdorf. The game developed along well-trodden paths and after 16 moves the white player believed the moment had come to offer a draw. The position was equal and therefore it came as a slight shock that his opponent flatly turned down the offer.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

As Van Wely told his young compatriot after the game with a good sense of sarcasm: ‘I thought it was up to me to offer a draw or not. If you offer the draw and I accept it looks as if I am making you a present.’ Smeets’ nerves were not tested for too long, because soon Van Wely offered a draw himself, paving the way for his club mate to the prestigious Amber tournament.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

After he had defeated Hikaru Nakamura with the black pieces, a relieved Peter Svidler commented ‘I’m happier now’, obviously referring to the loss he suffered yesterday. In the opening, with the slightly unusual 3.f3, Nakamura tried to lure him into a repeat of a game Svidler had played against Motylev, but having no wish to do so, the Russian Champion came up with the inspired 3...Nc6. ‘After this move I had no idea, but it looked interesting.’ A complicated struggle ensued in which Black went for very sharp play with 14...b5, a push that Svidler realized later, would even have been stronger one move earlier. White’s 21.Be4 was a mistake, he should have tried 21.Nc3, as with inventive play Black could whip up a devastating attack. After 24...Ng4 it was ‘completely over’ as ‘Black is giving mate’. For his final 10 moves Nakamura had only 12 seconds left, but even worse was his position. Svidler was happy with his play and his win, but he didn’t forget to mention that for his opponent there were mitigating circumstances, as it was clear for everyone to see that Nakamura was still ill.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Hou Yifan was soon suffering in her game against Peter Heine Nielsen, who successfully attacked her quiet Italian set-up with the aggressive 9…g5. The Chinese girl didn’t react correctly and ended up in a totally lost position. But she kept fighting and crawled back into the game when Nielsen lost the thread of the position. His position remained winning but he had to work overtime to haul in the point that secured his best score on the Experience team.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Daniel Stellwagen had expected Alexander Beliavsky to play the Marshall, but once again the Slovenian grandmaster resorted to the Philidor Defence. The Dutchman was surprised by 11…Be6, which he didn’t believe to be such a good move. He got a good game and afterwards he had the feeling that he could have played more accurately. An assessment that turned out to be true, as his second Erwin l’Ami pointed out. Instead of 14.exd6 he could have gotten a winning advantage with 14.Bxd5, for example 14…cxd5 15.Nxd5 exd5 16.exd6 Rxf4 17.Qxd5+ Kh8 18.Rxe7 and the future looks bleak for Black. After White missed this chance, Beliavsky defended tenaciously and on move 43 the game was drawn.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Fabiano Caruana and Ljubomir Ljubojevic played a French Defence and split the point after 34 moves. Caruana found it hard to believe that he’d never ever had had an advantage, but still, there was no other conclusion he could draw. ‘Apparently my concept was simply wrong. I was absolutely convinced that I was better, but even in the analysis we could not find even a shred of advantage for me.’ His only ‘consolation’ was that with 5 from 10 he finished clear second in the individual standings of the Rising Stars.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

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