“KID Killer” Li Chao Convincing Neckar Open Winner, Now World #17

“KID Killer” Li Chao Convincing Neckar Open Winner, Now World #17

9 | Chess Event Coverage

Top seed GM Li Chao won the Neckar Open most convincingly. The Chinese GM only dropped half a point, scored 8.5/9 and reached the #17 spot in the live ratings.

GM Li Chao. | Photo Georgios Souleidis.

Held for the 19th time, the Neckar Open is traditionally the strongest and biggest open tournament in Germany, held during the Easter weekend.

The location is Deizisau, a town in southern Germany, about 15 km south east of Stuttgart. The name of the tournament comes from the river Neckar that flows through the town.

This year nearly 750 chess fans played, including about 100 titled players. The top seeds were GM Li Chao (2730) of China, GM Arkadij Naiditsch (2720) of Germany, GM Etienne Bacrot (2706) of France, GM Oleg Korneev (2592) of Spain and GM Alexandre Danin (2585) of Russia.

25-year-old GM Li Chao finished on a splendid 8.5/9, and earned 3,000 Euros. Besides, he gained 15.2 Elo points, which catapulted him right into the world's top 20! Li jumped 10 places and went from #27 to #17 in the live ratings.

Interestingly, Li Chao faced the King's Indian in four of his five white games, and scored 4.0/4. His remarkable choice in the first three was the... Exchange variation! Below is his win against Bacrot (who knew what to expect by then), with the other two embedded.

“KID Killer” GM Li Chao. | Photo Georgios Souleidis.

Li Chao faced GM Roland Schmaltz, a lifelong KID player, in the final round. Schmaltz, who earned fame in the late 1990s as Hawkeye, the highest rated blitz player on ICC, recently returned to tournament play.

In this game Li switched systems and went for 5.h3. A similarity with the Bacrot was that he just took that knight on c5 with his bishop once again. Here it was a known pawn sac from Black, but in what followed Schmaltz couldn't get any compensation. On the contrary.

The last round of the tournament was marked by an amazing blunder by GM Arkadij Naiditsch. The German number one had started with 6.0/6, then two draws and another win, but with his last game he spoilt an otherwise good tournament:

An unexplicable blunder from Arkadij Naiditsch. | Photo Georgios Souleidis.

This way IM Andreas Heimann finished in clear second place with 7.5 points whereas GM Arkadij Naiditsch had the best tiebreak in a group of 10 players who finished on 7.0/9.

One of these players was Arthur Pijpers (2397) of the Netherlands, who drew with 2700-GM Etienne Bacrot in the final round to score a GM norm. Not bad for a player who isn't even an IM yet!

Here's an excellent win by Pijpers against IM Jacek Stopa:

Untitled Arthur Pijpers scored an GM norm in Deizisau. | Photo Georgios Souleidis.

The 20th Neckar Open has already been announced. The dates will be 24-28 March, 2016.

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