Grandmaster norms in Groningen

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The winners in GroningenThis year's Chess Festival in Groningen was won by GMs Merab Gagunashvili and Arkadij Rotstein, and Dutch IM Robin Swinkels. The latter scored a GM norm and so did 14-year-old (FM!) Anish Giri - it was his second already. Jan Smeets won a minimatch against Jan Werle 2.5-1.5.

The annual Chess Festival in Groningen took place December 21-30, 2008 in the Harmoniegebouw of the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. There was an open group for players >2100 with a € 3000 first prize, a B group (€ 750 first prize) and "Groningen Compact" events (5 rounds Swiss, after Christmas, € 150 first prize). There was also the "University of Groningen Challenge" between European Community Champion GM Jan Werle and Dutch Champion GM Jan Smeets. Furthermore, with a youth event, a 50+ project and simuls, blitz and lectures included it was rightly called a "festival"!

NijboerAt the start of the open A group the tournament bulletin wrote about a "blunder virus". In the second round IM Venkatesh had blundered a full rook and in the third round it was GM Nijboer who dropped a piece on move 17. His comment after the game: "I was sure that the queen on c7 was not protected."



In the fourth round, Merab Gagunashvili won a nice attacking game against John van der Wiel:



Van der Wiel recovered well with an attractive, quick win in a Poisened Pawn Najdorf:



We've already covered Gagunashvili, so let's look at two games from the other two winners. Both Swinkels and Giri show excellent calculation in the following games:



GiriWe mentioned the young Russian Anish Giri (living in The Netherlands) for the first time in April last year, when at just 13 he won his first GM norm at the Intomart GfK Open in Hilversum. Not even an IM yet, in Groningen he confirmed his amazing talent once more by scoring his second GM norm!

As always, the Groningen open tournament was a very international event. On a total of 68 participants, 9 GMs, 15 IMs, 13 FMs and 2 WIMs played. Here are the final standings and let me remind you that you can click on the items in the top row to sort on a specific column.

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The winners in Groningen

The winners: Rotstein, Gagunashvili and Swinkels



The Werle-Smeets match started with two fighting draws, of which the second game lasted 125 moves! Still tired perhaps the young Dutch GMs agreed on a third draw after 16 moves but then Smeets decided the match by winning the last game.



Werle and Smeets

Jan Werle and Jan Smeets (with a shirt that's not showing the sponsor of the event!) at the prize giving



The Chess Festival Groningen will be organised for at least five more years. This means the 50th edition will take place in 2014, the year in which its main sponsor, Groningen University, celebrates its 400th birthday.

Photos by Harry Gielen. More of his excellent work can be found here.

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