Orange Crush: Nakamura, Leko Defeated By 2 Young Dutchmen
After more than 120 years with a queen on the throne, the Netherlands has been getting used to a king in the last few years. Their countrymen may also have to get used to two more kings of the chess board, and we're not even talking about GM Anish Giri's new progeny.
Two promising young Dutch players, both playing in aggressive styles, made quite an impact in round five of the Chess.com Isle of Man International.
GM Jorden van Foreest, recently crowned national champion, offered a pawn to successfully slither into GM Peter Leko's kingside. In GM Benjamin Bok's win over GM Hikaru Nakamura, material hardly mattered for much of the game's concluding sequences. As you'll see below, it may be the most variation-rich game of the event, but Bok's cluster of kingside pieces and lucid analysis won the day.
GM Jorden van Foreest, who has chess in his bloodline.
"We Dutch are just really strong," Bok joked about the day's events.
Van Foreest's long-term pawn-for-initiative gambit proved successful, but earlier on he had less knowledge of the opening. According to what Leko told him, the opening position with an imprisoned bishop on g3 should favor Black.
"I played the opening, and I played some pretty new idea, at least I thought so," Van Foreest said. "After the game, Peter told me he analyzed this two years ago!"
The pawn sacrifice 13.d4 made Leko defend for the remainder of the game, including the awkward maneuver of bringing his king to h6 on move 20. It didn't take much longer for the teenager to get his queen to g5, and the invasion was unstoppable.
GM Erwin l'Ami: My younger countrymen are getting pretty strong!
After being one game away from the world championship title in 2004, Leko dropped below 2700 after today's game. The rating is not official of course, but he has not been below 2700 since January, 1999 when he was 19 years old (a few months before Van Foreest was born!).
"He was in time trouble so he couldn't defend in the best way," Van Foreest said.
What are the Dutch champion's ambitions? He didn't have anything specific, but when pressed, he said, "2700 will be nice, then I'll take it from there."
On his web site, he lists another curious goal: simply to be as good as his great-great-grandfather, A.E. van Foreest, who was Dutch champion three times!
Bok had arguably an even tougher assignment today. He took Black against the third-seeded Nakamura, who was coming off two consecutive uneventful draws.
GM Benjamin Bok before the round. Unbeknownst to him, in a few hours he would score the highest-rated win of his career.
Nakamura played the "Anti-Grunfeld" move 3. f3, somethings he's played a few times before. As a result, Bok said he was ready.
"I prepared quite a lot because he plays a lot of different things," Bok said. "I was focused."
Below are some notes based on Bok's analysis. For the full explanation of all of the dense variations, make sure to watch Bok's lengthy explanations in the video below.
For completeness, other members of the Dutch contingent had a decent day too. GM Erwin L'Ami drew an on-form GM Salem Saleh. Sure, Jorden's little brother Lucas van Foreest lost, but he did so to another Dutchman (FM Bart von Meijenfeld)!
GM Hikaru Nakamura had his usual Red Bull but not his usual tactical prowess in round five.
This may be the latest we ever go in a tournament report without mentioning the leader. Those following the tournament know the reason—GM Alexei Shirov took the day off. Whether it was tactically motivated or relaxation-based, the strategy meant that he will avoid the world's top-10 players for at least one more day.
The commentary team discussed a story that Shirov was changing his preferred evening restaurant, and ending his dinner streak could jeopardize his "other" chess winning streak. Chess.com wasn't able to verify if this superstitious story was true.
In round six, Shirov will still be tested greatly, as world-number-19 GM Pavel Eljanov was the only one with 3.5/4 to win yesterday. Thus Shirov and Eljanov are the only ones on 4.5/5; Eljanov gets his second White in a row since Shirov had two Whites before his personal free day.
Eljanov and GM Arkadij Naiditsch played a theoretical French, then looked to be headed for an impasse as the first time control approached. Suddenly Black took some active measures on the queenside and White's resulting passer sealed the Azerbaijani's fate.
GM Nils Grandelius played yet another top seed. After facing GM Fabiano Caruana and Nakamura, he held a third draw in round five against GM Michael Adams. GM Wesley So is still looming (Grandelius just barely "made the cut" in the 3.5 score group today; he was nearly paired against So.).
Speaking of So, he looked to have some chances today against GM Maxim Rodshtein, but the bishop pair and the backward c-pawn weren't enough for the full point.
Finally, top-seeded Caruana got back to his winning ways after two straight draws. Playing GM Sergei Movsesian for only the second time in classical chess, the two repeated their Kan Sicilian from Reggio Emilia 2011.
USA vs Armenia: Their countries have won four of the last six Olympiads, but today the American beat the Armenian.
Caruana won a pawn and then diffused all threats, winning with the simple c5-c6-c7 in successive turns.
For those beginning to track the leading females for prize purposes, GM Hou Yifan won today to lead with 4.0/5. She takes White against Caruana today on board two. Thus far, she is 0-5 in decisive games against him in their head-to-head career.
GM Hou Yifan told Chess.com her aspirations go beyond being the best female player. She's currently taking a gap year before graduate school, which she hopes to do in the U.S. or Europe.
Of the others with 4.0/5, board three will be Bok vs So; board four is Rodshtein vs Van Foreest; and board five is GM Max Illingworth vs GM Santosh Vidit.
Chess.com Isle of Man | Round 5 Standings
|6||9||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||2686||4||5,7|
|8||24||GM||Van Foreest, Jorden||2615||4||13|
|17||16||GM||Salem, A.R. Saleh||2650||3,5||1,5|
|18||21||GM||Howell, David W L||2644||3,5||1,6|
|24||35||GM||Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan||2536||3,5||6,9|