More London: Bok Wins FIDE Open, McShane Almost Perfect At Super Rapid

More London: Bok Wins FIDE Open, McShane Almost Perfect At Super Rapid

| 5 | Chess Event Coverage

Benjamin Bok scored his career best performance at the FIDE Open in London, where he won with 8.0/9. Luke McShane won the Super Rapidplay Open tournament with an even higher score: 9.5/10.

The London Chess Classic was more than just an elite tournament. The festival included a lot of side events, and this report is about two of those.

First, there was the FIDE Open, a strong Swiss held in a large room adjacent to the auditorium where the big guys were playing.

The tournament had 247 players from 48 different federations. No fewer than 28 GMs were playing, six of them rated above 2600.

The top seeds were Evgeny Postny (2670) of Israel, Tigran Gharamian (2654) of Armenia, Hrant Melkumyan Hrant (2654) of Armenia, Romain Edouard Romain (2627) of France, Alex Lenderman (2626) of the U.S. and Sergey Grigoriants (2603) of Russia.

However, it was won by the number eight on the starting list: Benjamin Bok. At 20, the Dutch grandmaster scored his career best performance, winning the tournament outright, with 8.0/9, a full point ahead of the pack.

An excellent performance by Benjamin Bok. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

Bok didn't start well. He was held to a draw by Stephen Moran, rated only 2127, in the first round. But that turned out to be an excellent “Swiss gambit” for the young Dutch player, who has been a chess professional since he finished school in 2013.

He continued with three wins in a row. The first of those saw a nice tactic in the early phase of the game.

Usually a winner has some luck as well, and this was also the case for Bok, in rounds five and six. First, he was lucky to escape with a draw in a rook ending that's theoretically won for White.

The top seed of the tournament might want to look at his Smyslov & Löwenfisch or Nunn again. It must be said that the winning method is study-like:

The London Chess Classic's FIDE Open in action. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

Keith Arkell handled the Caro-Kann much better than Bok's round-two opponent, and was doing fine until he suddenly got himself checkmated:

But an old adage says that finishing strong is much more important in open tournaments that starting strong. That's what Bok did, with three wins in a row right at the end against IM John Bartholomew, GM Eric Hansen and GM Alex Lenderman.

In the first two games he showed excellent endgame technique, and in the final round on board one he grabbed his chance when Lenderman weakened his king too much.

After the tournament the aforementioned John Bartholomew interviewed the tournament winner. The sound of the video isn't great, but it's still a nice way to get to know Benjamin (@Benjamin_Bok on Twitter) a bit more.

Bok, who won 5,000 pounds (6,871/$7,576), said that his games in rounds five and six gave him “a nice little push” where he “capitalized on the momentum.” He called the victory in London “by far my biggest success.” The next goal for Bok is to qualify for the Dutch team and play at the Baku Olympiad.

2015 FIDE Open | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Name Rtg Pts.
1 8 GM Bok Benjamin 2594 8
2 1 GM Postny Evgeny 2670 7
7 GM Jumabayev Rinat 2599 7
9 GM Hansen Eric 2577 7
10 GM Hawkins Jonathan 2569 7
13 GM Vakhidov Jahongir 2546 7
18 IM Sadzikowski Daniel 2506 7
8 2 GM Gharamian Tigran 2654 6,5
3 GM Melkumyan Hrant 2654 6,5
5 GM Lenderman Alex 2626 6,5
11 GM Dragun Kamil 2564 6,5
14 GM Baron Tal 2544 6,5
15 GM Hillarp Persson Tiger 2521 6,5
16 GM Vishnu Prasanna V 2514 6,5
17 IM Gledura Benjamin 2513 6,5
22 GM Fodor Tamas Jr 2492 6,5
29 IM Galyas Miklos 2465 6,5
34 GM Wells Peter K 2442 6,5
63 Nguyen Piotr 2329 6,5
20 4 GM Edouard Romain 2627 6

(Full final standings here.)

It was an impressive performance, but not as impressive as what Luke McShane did at the Super Rapidplay Open. Held during the last weekend in London, with five rounds on Saturday and another five on Sunday, this one attracted even more grandmasters: 36.

The list included big names such as Matthew Sadler (a former world class player and still a force to be reckoned with), Rustam Kasimdzhanov (whose “boss” Fabiano Caruana had no problem with his second playing some chess himself) and David Howell (who won the British Knockout earlier in the week).

But it was Luke McShane who dominated the event. He started with the amazing score of 9.0/9 and obviously by then he had already won the tournament — Lenderman and Melkumyan were on 7.5 points.

A draw in the final round spoiled perfection but McShane anyway took home the 2,500-pound (€3,436/$3,788) first prize, a nice payoff for a some chess over the weekend.

Luke McShane, almost perfect in London. | Photo Ray Morris-Hill.

And, getting back to the theme of winner's luck, look at this game. McShane was completely lost against a 2111 player in round two, but won anyway:

McShane also beat Howell from a worse position. 

But of course McShane showed some fine chess as well. Here's his convincing win over Armenian grandmaster Hrant Melkumyan in round seven.

2015 Super Rapidplay Open | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Name Rtg Pts.
1 12 GM McShane Luke J 2650 9,5
2 7 GM Melkumyan Hrant 2675 8,5
3 4 GM Lenderman Alex 2687 8
5 GM Hansen Eric 2680 8
10 GM Pert Nicholas 2657 8
13 GM Edouard Romain 2629 8
14 GM Hammer Jon Ludvig 2607 8
16 GM Grigoriants Sergey 2600 8
18 GM Jumabayev Rinat 2587 8
40 IM Eggleston David J 2432 8
45 GM Fodor Tamas Jr 2410 8
12 3 GM Howell David Wl 2687 7,5
11 GM Gharamian Tigran 2652 7,5
23 GM Cherniaev Alexander 2552 7,5
32 GM Arkell Keith Cc 2470 7,5
50 IM Fernandez Daniel H 2402 7,5
62 IM Gullaksen Eirik T 2350 7,5
18 1 GM Sadler Matthew D 2800 7
2 GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2694 7
6 GM Hawkins Jonathan 2680 7

(Full final standings here.)

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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