Rising Stars defeat Experience 26-24, Nakamura qualifies for Amber

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NH Chess Tournament 2010In the tenth and last round of the NH Chess Tournament the Experience team defeated the Rising Stars 3½-1½, but couldn’t prevent the youngsters’ overall win of 26-24. In a blitz play-off for a direct invitation to the 2011 Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament Nakamura beat Giri 2-0.

The 5th and final NH Chess Tournament took place August 12-22 in hotel Krasnapolsky, in the heart of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. As always, the tournament was a confrontation between a team of five young ‘Rising Stars’ and a team of five ‘Experienced’ grandmasters.

Table of players

The two teams played a ‘Scheveningen’ tournament, which means that each player of one team plays against each of the players of the other team. They do so twice, once with the white pieces and once with the black pieces. The team that collects most points wins the tournament. The best player of the 'Rising Stars' team would be invited to the 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in March 2011 in Nice, provided he scored over 50% in the NH Chess Tournament in Amsterdam.

Games round 10 + play-off



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Round 10



Report by the official website

Boris Gelfand and Hikaru Nakamura embarked on a game that most experts believed Black had to win to keep his chances in the race for the Amber ticket, as the American grandmaster was trailing Giri by half a point. A heavy manoeuvring game followed in which both sides were mainly jockeying for position behind the lines. White seemed to have the somewhat better chances, but there was not a lot of concrete evidence for that. On move 40 the players ceased their efforts. At that point Giri had lost his game and Nakamura could start to prepare for the blitz tie-break that decided on the ticket to the Amber tournament.

NH Chess Tournament 2010

Ljubomir Ljubojevic and Fabiano Caruana played a Slav Defence in which Black went for the rather unusual 9…Bg4 to which White replied with 10.Qb3 instead of the more common 10.f3. White ambitiously sacrificed a pawn which led to very unclear play. In the post-mortem the players failed to come to a clear assessment, although they agreed that 15…Qd8 would have been better than 15…Qc7 as Caruana played. The Italian number one had missed 17.d5 and once he had realized that he had to return the pawn he played 17…0-0 and offered a draw. White was still slightly better, but as Caruana put it ‘we were both happy to finish the tournament’. An understandable sentiment as both players missed a lot of chances in the past days.

NH Chess Tournament 2010

As his game against Loek van Wely started at a rather early hour (noon, that is), Wesly So had decided to play ‘something solid’. According to the Philippine grandmaster the first 15 moves of their Slav game were ‘all theory’, but that didn’t mean that things were getting exciting. Soon a balanced position was reached in which neither side could hope for an advantage and on move 25 a draw was agreed upon.

NH Chess Tournament 2010

Peter Heine Nielsen and Anish Giri repeated the opening the young Dutch grandmaster had had against Gelfand in Round 2. Nielsen improved on this game with 15.Ne4, where White went 15.a5. Nevertheless Giri managed to equalize and the desired draw seemed within reach, but he tragically mixed up the move-order. Instead of 22…b5 he should have gone 22…Rxd7 23.Rxd7 and only now 23…b5 and after 24.Qxc6 Rxd7 he gets the endgame he was hoping for. After his error Black was essentially lost and slowly but surely Nielsen converted his advantage. For the Danish grandmaster the end of the game was also the end of the tournament. Giri soon realized that he had to play a blitz tie-break against Nakamura.

NH Chess Tournament 2010

The encounter between Peter Svidler and David Howell was the longest game of the day, lasting almost six hours and 107 moves, The English grandmaster was totally lost after the opening, but crawled back into the game when Svidler didn’t proceed too accurately. For a long time there was uncertainty about the outcome, but gradually Svidler got the upper hand again and made sure that he finished the tournament with a plus-score.

NH Chess Tournament 2010 | Final Standings
NH Chess Tournament 2010 | Final Standings


The fight for the ticket to the 2011 Amber was decided in a blitz tie-break after Giri had dramatically suffered his first loss in the tournament and Hikaru Nakamura managed to catch up with him. The tie-break confirmed the American’s blitz reputation. Nakamura won both games and will make his Amber debut in the 20th edition of this blindfold and rapid spectacle.

Update: At the closing ceremony rumours were confirmed that this 5th edition was the last NH Chess Tournament. All people present gave a big applause to the Van Oosterom family for generously sponsoring these five events in the heart of Amsterdam.

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