Rising Stars catch up with Experience: 10-10 after round 4

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NH Chess Tournament 2009In the fourth round of the NH Chess Tournament the Rising Stars finally posted their first victory. Thanks to wins by Hou Yifan over Beliavsky and Smeets over Ljubojevic, they won 3½-1½ and caught up with the Experience team in the overall standings.

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 4



Report by the official website

In the fourth round of the NH Chess Tournament the Rising Stars finally posted their first victory. Thanks to wins by Hou Yifan over Beliavsky and Smeets over Ljubojevic, they won 3½-1½ and caught up with the Experience team in the overall standings. With six rounds to go the teams are tied at 10-10. Dutch Champion Jan Smeets reclaimed the sole lead in the fight for the ticket to the 2010 Amber Rapid and Blindfold Tournament in Nice. Smeets has 3 points, half a point more than American Champion Hikaru Nakamura.

Fabiano Caruana and Peter Svidler started their game with one of the most popular openings these days, the 4…a6-Slav, also known as the Chebanenko Slav. After the game the Italian Champion was slightly disappointed that it had never become really exciting. White had a small edge, but with a number of exact moves Svidler kept everything under control and after 31 moves and close to four hours of play the draw that many had seen coming for some time was a fact.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

The good news about the game between Hikaru Nakamura and Peter Heine Nielsen was that the American was feeling slightly better today. ‘At least I could think again’, he said after they had made a draw shortly after the time-control (the rate of play is 40 moves in two hours followed by half an hour for the rest of the game with a 30 seconds’ increment per move). For the rest Nakamura was not terribly impressed by his play and believed that in the middlegame he had even been worse. This feeling was shared by his opponent. Nielsen also felt that gradually he had taken over the initiative, but to his mind this slight edge had never taken on serious proportions.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Hou Yifan was slightly surprised by the opening choice of Alexander Beliavsky, who opted for one of the oldest openings in the world, the venerable Philidor Defence. Initially Black had nothing to complain about and it was only after White had managed to push f4, that she got some edge. Still, it didn’t amount to much and it was only after Beliavsky committed a serious blunder, 24…Ne6 (the only move was 24…Nh7) that White could strike. As a seasoned tactician Hou Yifan needed little time to find the crushing 25.Nf5+, a temporary piece sacrifice that blew Black’s position to shreds. Shaken by this sudden turn of events, Beliavsky committed another blunder with 26…d5, where 26…Kh7 was the only possibility to prolong the fight. Despite his serious material deficit, Beliavsky kept playing on, but with a couple more tactical shots Hou Yifan soon put him out of his misery.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

Together with his second Erwin l’Ami, Daniel Stellwagen had prepared thoroughly for the Najdorf Defence of Loek van Wely. Still, the move that set his opponent thinking for about an hour, 17.f5, was over-the-board inspiration. As happens so often in complicated games most of the spectacular lines didn’t appear on the board, but Stellwagen confessed that he had thoroughly enjoyed the Dutch-Dutch confrontation, even if his promising position had only led to a draw. In the post-mortem the players concentrated on the alternative to 20.Nd5, a move that allowed Black to get a decent game. Instead 20.g6 would have given White a wonderful game with few chances of survival for Black.

NH Chess Tournament 2009

The game between Jan Smeets and Ljubomir Ljubojevic started out as a relatively quiet Sicilian in which soon the queens and some pieces were exchanged. The Dutch Champion enjoyed a slight advantage, but it’s not very likely that he would have had enough had Ljubojevic played the sober 18…Rc8 to hang on to his attacked pawn on c6. Instead, in an inexplicable panicky reaction, the Serbian grandmaster decided to give up his b and c-pawns for White’s e4 pawn with 18…Ra4, a decision that he himself rightly described as ‘suicide’. Suddenly Smeets had a completely winning rook endgame which he duly converted. His task was so easy that Smeets commented that ‘in fact, it wasn’t much fun.’

NH Chess Tournament 2009

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