Fire On Board At Hasselbacken Open

Fire On Board At Hasselbacken Open

| 8 | Chess Event Coverage

The Hasselbacken Open in Stockholm has seen some truly spectacular chess, and twice with Alexei “Fire on Board” Shirov involved. There's a five-way tie for first place with two rounds to go.

A very special and very strong open tournament is well under way in Sweden: the Hasselbacken Open. It is held on the occasion of the 150th birthday of the Stockholm Chess Society, the third oldest continuously running chess club in the world.

The tournament is named after and held in the old and beautiful Villa Hasselbacken, now a hotel in the Sandic chain, in the heart of the Royal Djurgården in Stockholm, Sweden. The playing hall is the Hazelius ballroom. It's a 9-round Swiss with a 300,000 SEK (€32,344/$36,939) prize fund, with 50,000 SEK (€5,391/$6,157) going to the winner.

The Scandic Hasselbacken is quite a classy venue.

Stefan Lindh, chairman of Stockholm's Chess Sociey, said before the tournament: “In our club we are working against a common goal: Making our jubilee tournament the most magnificent event that has occurred within Swedish chess since 1866.”

Lindh was referring to the year when the Stockholms Schacksällskap was founded. Since then quite a few strong tournaments were held in Sweden. In 1948  FIDE's first ever Interzonal tournament took place in Saltsjöbaden, Stockholm, won by David Bronstein. Another Interzonal was Stockholm 1962, won by Bobby Fischer, who remained undefeated over 23 rounds — those were the days!.

Fischer interviewed by Lars-Gunnar Björklund of Sveriges Radio after his victory | Photo Jan Collsiöö.

Later, many top players made the trip to Malmö to participate in the famous tournaments sponsored by Johan Sigeman, and of course there's the annual Rilton Cup. 

Jumping back to 2016, the organizers indeed have managed to create a wonderful tournament (the excellent website speaks for itself) and a very strong field. 

A total of 305 players participate, with 34 GMs and 13 IMs. The top seeds are a mixture of seasoned players and rising stars: Dmitry Andreikin (RUS, 2736), Alexei Shirov (LAT, 2686), Zoltan Almasi (HUN, 2682), Evgeny Postny (ISR, 2673), Ilia Smirin (ISR, 2665), Baskaran Adhiban (IND, 2663), Vlad Tkachiev (FRA, 2660), S.P. Sethuraman (IND, 2658), Borki Predojevic (BIH, 2654), and Santosh Gujrathi Vidit (IND, 2648).

With a dropped rating, and busy with other activities, Alexei Shirov is sadly not a regular guest at top tournaments anymore. He does play the occasional open tournament, and time and again it's a pleasure for the fans. The Latvian grandmaster has always remained true to his sharp and uncompromised style! Also in this tournament he has put the board on fire several times, a metaphor he introduced himself with the title of his two-volume collection of best games.

Let's start with his game in the third round against local grandmaster Ralf Akesson. Shirov had seen the exchange sacrifice way in advance, but when annotating the game afterward he apparently missed a counter-sac that was quite pretty too.

Alexei Shirov | Photo Lars OA Hedlund courtesy of the Hasselbacken Open.

The next round Shirov drew with the young Dutch GM Benjamin Bok, but a day later he was involved in one of the most spectacular games played of the year. Against another rising star, American GM Sam Sevian, the Latvian player first sacrificed a pawn and then a rook. But then it was Sevian's turn to give up material, and the position got as sharp as a razor.

A game that attracted lots of attention. | Photo Ingemar Falk courtesy of the Hasselbacken Open.

You can watch the players looking back at this game in this video starting at 4h 53min 11sec.

After seven rounds, five grandmasters are in the lead: Sebastien Mazé of France, Ilia Smirin of Israel, Dmitry Andreikin of Russia, Jorden van Foreest of the Netherlands, and Santosh Gujrathi Vidit of India. Here's a crazy win by Smirin in round six. Either Black lost on time or resigned in a winning position.

Ilia Smirin | Photo Lars OA Hedlund courtesy of the Hasselbacken Open.

In round seven Van Foreest profited from chess blindness by his opponent Axel Bachmann.

Jorden van Foreest. | Photo Lars OA Hedlund courtesy of the Hasselbacken Open.

In round 8 on Saturday 17-year-old Van Foreest faces Ilia Smirin whereas Dmitry Andreikin will be challenged by  Santosh Gujrathi on board one.

Remarkably, the highest placed Swedish player after seven rounds is 57-year-old IM Dan Cramling (2354), the brother of GM Pia Cramling (who dropped by one day to give commenary - her husband Juan Bellon is playing).  is surprisingly the highest placed swede in Hasselbacken Chess Open after 7 rounds. “The brother of” doesn't play much chess but is now among the pack of 18 players with 5.5 points.

Hasselbacken Open | Round 7 Standings (Top 25)

Rk. SNo Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 16 GM Maze Sebastien FRA 2617 6 26,5 3 5
2 5 GM Smirin Ilia ISR 2665 6 25,5 4 5
3 1 GM Andreikin Dmitry RUS 2736 6 25 4 5
4 25 GM van Foreest Jorden NED 2551 6 22 3 6
5 10 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2648 6 22 3 5
6 3 GM Almasi Zoltan HUN 2682 5,5 24,5 4 5
7 7 GM Tkachiev Vladislav FRA 2660 5,5 24,5 4 4
8 12 GM Mareco Sandro ARG 2625 5,5 24,5 3 5
9 6 GM Adhiban B. IND 2663 5,5 24,5 3 4
10 15 GM Landa Konstantin RUS 2618 5,5 24 4 4
11 8 GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2658 5,5 23,5 3 5
12 19 GM Sevian Samuel USA 2589 5,5 23,5 3 4
13 9 GM Predojevic Borki BIH 2654 5,5 23 4 4
14 17 GM Bok Benjamin NED 2605 5,5 23 3 4
15 29 GM Libiszewski Fabien FRA 2520 5,5 23 3 4
16 27 GM Urkedal Frode NOR 2549 5,5 22,5 3 5
17 14 GM Onischuk Vladimir UKR 2620 5,5 22,5 3 4
18 11 GM Sasikiran Krishnan IND 2643 5,5 22 4 5
19 18 GM Goganov Aleksey RUS 2591 5,5 22 3 5
20 28 GM Greenfeld Alon ISR 2541 5,5 21,5 4 5
21 20 GM Rozentalis Eduardas LTU 2584 5,5 21,5 3 4
22 30 GM Mikhalevski Victor ISR 2516 5,5 21 4 5
23 48 IM Cramling Dan SWE 2354 5,5 21 3 5
24 13 GM Bachmann Axel PAR 2621 5 24,5 4 4
25 2 GM Shirov Alexei LAT 2686 5 24,5 3 4

(Full standings here.)

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