Nakamura and Ljubojevic win in third round NH

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NH Chess Tournament 2009The third mini-match between the Rising Stars and the Experience team ended in a 2.5-2.5 tie yesterday and so the experienced grandmasters lead with 8.5-6.5. An ill Hikarua Nakamura won a beautiful King's Indian game against Alexander Beliavsky but at the end of the day Ljubomir Ljubojevic levelled the score by defeating Daniel Stellwagen.

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 3



Report by the official website

The third round of the NH Chess Tournament ended in a 2½- 2½ tie. The heroes of the day were Hikaru Nakamura of the Rising Stars and Ljubomir Ljubojevic of the Experience team. Despite health problems the American Champion won a mind-boggling game against Alexander Beliavsky and caught up with Jan Smeets in the fight for the ticket to the 2010 Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in Nice. So far Ljubojevic is the star of the Experience team. He won his second game and has the best individual score with 2½ from 3. After three rounds the Experience team is leading by 8½-6½.

After exactly two hours of play the game between Peter Svidler and Jan Smeets was drawn. Obviously this was a satisfactory result for the young Dutchman, but the experts present were puzzled by the ostensibly peaceful play of the Russian Champion. That something had gone wrong for him was clear from his first reaction: ‘This is disappointing, it’s unpleasant to waste a white like this.’ Svidler had shown his ambitions by playing 1.d4 instead of his usual 1.e4, hoping to have a real struggle in the popular g4 system against the Slav.

The first disappointment came on move 7 when Smeets deviated from his usual 7...h6, which leads to complicated fights, and went 7...Bb4. The only thing Svidler remembered about that move was the verbal comment in his database: ‘Boooooooooooooring!’ Nevertheless he set to work trying to put pressure on the black queenside and things didn’t go that badly. However, the second disappointment came on move 19. Here Svidler had planned 19.Bd3, ‘the move that everything hinged on’, but now he saw that Black replies 19...b5! and after 20.Bxb5 Rb7 21.Bd3 Rxb2+ he has freed himself. Seeing this Svidler went for 19.Rxc7, which allowed Black to force a draw by a repetition of moves.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Peter Heine Nielsen summed up the Queen’s Indian game he drew with Fabiano Caruana after 25 moves as follows: ‘It went from pleasant for me to pleasant for him and then suddenly it was a draw.’ Nielsen was critical of his moves 18.cxd5 and 19.Qc7, which gave away his advantage. Fortunately for him Caruana also had his weak moment when he played 24...Nxa4. In the post-mortem the players concluded that after 24...Nc4 25.Be7 Rb2 Black would have had serious pressure.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Easily the most spectacular game of the day and in fact of the tournament so far, was the fierce clash between Alexander Beliavsky and Hikaru Nakamura. The American Champion made no secret of his intentions by choosing the King’s Indian, a choice which at first also pleased his opponent. Beliavsky introduced an interesting novelty and reached an overwhelming position. But with his back against the wall Nakamura began to play inventive and creative chess. He managed to take over the initiative and whipped up an incredible attack that bamboozled Beliavsky, who had to resign after 34 moves. In view of the feat he had just accomplished, Nakamura’s reaction to the question after the game how he felt came as a bit of a shock. He said that he couldn’t feel worse and confessed that he had had to throw up twice during the game. Given his poor physical condition it was a small miracle that he had played so vigorously and one can only guess what will happen when he gets better. Nakamura admitted that he had been lost at some point, but he felt that this win made up for the two missed wins in the first two rounds. And, before he quickly retired to his room, he added that there was still a long and difficult way ahead.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

The game between Loek van Wely and Hou Yifan was an encounter between a white player who wanted to score his first win and a black player who tried to avoid a third loss. In a Queen’s Indian the young Chinese grandmaster acquitted herself well of her task and after 31 moves she could enter her first half point in the tournament table. Van Wely was not impressed by what he had shown and called his play ‘an uninspired performance’. For a while he had cherished some hope of attaining an advantage, but once he concluded that he failed to see a way to make progress he decided to offer a draw.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Ljubomir Ljubojevic keeps impressing. The Serbian grandmaster may be the oldest participant and the lowest rated, but so far neither factor has bothered him. Against the Slav Defence of Daniel Stellwagen he developed a nagging pressure and reached an endgame in which his bishop pair was a mighty force. Not hurrying anything ‘Ljubo’ maintained the pressure and slowly but surely converted his advantage to score his second win and take the lead in the individual standings with 2½ from 3.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

NH Chess Tournament 2009

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