Experience takes new lead in Amsterdam

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NH Chess Tournament 2009The Experience team took a new lead in the fifth round of the NH Chess Tournament in Amsterdam. Svidler beat Nakamura and Beliavsky won his first game, against Stellwagen. They're 13½-11½ up at half time; today is the first rest day.

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 5



Report by the official website

In Round 5 of the NH Chess Tournament the Experience team bounced back with a 3½- 1½ win over the Rising Stars. Russian Champion Peter Svidler defeated American Champion Hikaru Nakamura, while Alexander Beliasvky won his first game at the expense of Daniel Stellwagen. Halfway through the event the Experience team leads 13½-11½. In the fight for the ticket to the 2010 Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in Nice, Dutch Champion Jan Smeets is leading with 3½ from 5, a full point ahead of runners-up Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura.

The key game of the day was the one between Peter Svidler and Hikaru Nakamura, the leaders of the Experience team and the Rising Stars. For a while they followed the game they played last month in San Sebastian until the American deviated. Nakamura got a satisfactory position, but then the health problems that have been plaguing him from the start of the tournament began to play tricks on him. A series of lesser moves was capped by 22…g3 after which the top-seed of the Rising Stars was simply lost. Svidler was pleased by his move 24.e6 and although he felt that the conversion of his advantage had not been perfect he scored an important win after 61 moves. ‘I got there in the end and that was all that mattered. A good result before the rest day’, as he commented on his win. The Russian Champion also revealed that the day before yesterday ‘a monkey had been taken off his back’. Finally he could play freely now that ‘the Ashes’ are over, the cricket test matches between Australia and England, which ‘his team’, the English had won.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Peter Heine Nielsen didn’t go for anything wild in his game against tactical wizard Hou Yifan, but opted for a strategic battle with a Catalan Opening. The Chinese vice-World Champion came well prepared, improved on an earlier game she had played and reached a comfortable position. Perhaps Black was even a tiny bit better at some point, but Hou Yifan and her coach Yu Shaoteng opined that the equilibrium had never been broken. When they were asked how they assessed the draw that came about after 37 moves, they smiled and unanimously said ‘solid’!

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Alexander Beliavsky wasn’t surprised that Daniel Stellwagen, who mostly plays the Slav Defence, opted for the King’s Indian against him. After all, the Slovenian grandmaster had had an unfortunate experience with that defence in his game against Nakamura. Obviously, Beliavsky deviated, playing a rare variation. From a search in his database he knew that his opponent had little or no experience with this variation. Nevertheless Stellwagen equalized without too many problems. However, everything changed when the Dutchman went badly astray with 22...Nb7. This blunder ran into the strong 23.a3, forcing Black to give up his queen for a rook and a piece. Stellwagen struggled on for another 40(!) moves, but essentially there was never any doubt about the outcome. And so on move 62 Beliavsky scored his first win.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Six-time Dutch Champion Loek van Wely and current Dutch Champion Jan Smeets played an opening that attracted a lot of attention. In a Slav Game Smeets played the remarkable 11...g5, a move that came as a bolt from the blue for the experts. For Van Wely the move wasn’t a total surprise, as he had studied it with his second Chuchelov before the tournament in Wijk aan Zee. He was only annoyed that he had not yet received the files on this line that he had asked his second to send him after the Corus tournament. So there he sat, thinking that he might have been excellently prepared and was not. Black got a good position, but still it came as a bit of a shock to Van Wely when his draw offer on move 21 was silently rejected. In the rest of the game both grandmasters played with optimism, believing in their chances, but when the draw was finally concluded they agreed that it was a just result.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

The longest game of the day was the one between Ljubomir Ljubojevic and Fabiano Caruana. Ambitiously, the Italian Champion offered his opponent the opportunity to play a sharp Benoni, but Ljubojevic declined and a quiet English Opening it was. The middlegame was characterized by long and protracted manoeuvring. Neither player was making any headway until after the time-control White erred with 45.Bxb6 giving Caruana the chance to win on the spot with 45…Nc6, a move that combines the threats of …Bd8 and …Be6. Once the Italian Rising Star missed this opportunity chances were even again and after 73 moves and five and a half hours of play the game was drawn.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

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