Short Wins Match vs Hou Yifan But Loses Final (Unrated?) Game

Short Wins Match vs Hou Yifan But Loses Final (Unrated?) Game

| 101 | Chess Event Coverage

Nigel Short won his match with Hou Yifan in Hoogeveen but lost the last game. He cited official regulations that this game should not be calculated for the FIDE ratings.

Ivan Sokolov defeated Jorden van Foreest in the other match. Abhijeet Gupta won the open for the second year in a row.

Ivan Sokolov, Jorden van Foreest, Nigel Short, Hou Yifan, Loek van Wely. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

It was a slightly unpleasant finish to an otherwise fine week of chess in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands. In two battles between experience and youth, veteran grandmasters Nigel Short and Ivan Sokolov won their matches against Hou Yifan and Jorden van Foreest respectively. However, a disagreement between Short and the organizers dominated the final day.

What was the case? Well, Short had secured match victory after the fifth game, and later that day, he discovered that according to official regulations the last game should not be rated. Paragraph 6.5 of the FIDE Rating Regulations says:

"Where a match is over a specific number of games, those played after one player has won shall not be rated."

Nigel Short during game six of the match. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

Short had an email discussion with tournament director Loek van Wely late Friday night. Van Wely wasn't immediately convinced. In fact, two years ago, when Anish Giri had won his match before the last game with Alexey Shirov, that sixth game was rated.

Like many, Hou Yifan had not heard about the rule Short was referring to. She told "I was surprised, because I didn't get any information before the game. Even after [Nigel] told me, the arbiter didn't say anything.

"I didn't face this situation before; either the match will not continue, or if we play a standard game, normally it's rated because it's a normal time control. Everything is normal, so I didn't expect such an issue."

Here's our interview with Short.

It's not strange that few people have heard about the regulation, as it's extremely rare that a game is played after a match has been finished. This doesn't occur in World Championships or World Cups. The point of view of the organizers is understandable. They want six competitive games, but the rule has its logic as well.

To avoid this situation, it might be an idea to change the format next year, with e.g. a two-game rapid match on the final day in case the match has been decided. "I've got no problem with that," said Short. "But you can't just ignore regulations just for the hell of it. There's a reason why they are there."

We've seen Short's win in game three, which was discussed in our previous report. The next day he won again, with the black pieces:

Hou Yifan won one game but might miss out on the five rating points. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

By drawing game five, Short secured match victory. He then lost the final game and said his play was influenced by the situation. "Of course it's influenced. [After the fifth game] I'm congratulated by everyone including the tournament director." 

Short's 28th move can be called a blunder as it loses on the spot, but in fact, his previous move already allows White a strong initiative. Short agreed that he had to play ...Kh8 there, when Black might be OK.

Hou Yifan wasn't too happy with her play in the match. She has a turbulent period behind her, with her decision not to play in the women's world championship cycle anymore, and having finished her International Relations studies in Beijing. She told that she is planning to focus more on chess for at least a year. Here is our video interview:

The other match was spectacular, with five decisive games. The last one ended in a draw. With the draw, Ivan Sokolov claimed victory, but he could have won that game a well. 

After having played the Philidor for the first time, Sokolov surprised his opponent even more by playing his first ever Caro-Kann in his second black game. In a queenless middlegame, Jorden van Foreest proved to have a sharp tactical eye.

Van Foreest vs Sokolov, a great match. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

In the next game, the 17-year-old Dutch Champion showed a weakness, though. There's much room for improvement as far as his preparation is concerned.

"I think he probably needs to broaden his opening repertoire," Sokolov told "After two games in a King's Indian and then to play it for a third time, and bring this knight to h6. If you lose two games in a match against some guy in a KID, and you will play it for the third time, you better have a damn good idea about what you're going to do!"

Sokolov did have some (very) positive words for his opponent as well. "He has a huge potential. Compared to Dutch people, let's say Jan Timman or Loek van Wely, he clearly has much more talent for tactics and dynamics. And compared to somebody like Jeroen Piket, Jorden doesn't come to time pressures, and he is much more balanced." 

The open tournament was won by Abhijeet Gupta—just like last year. Other players had won twice, but nobody had done it two times in a row. Here's one of his wins.

Hoogeveen Open | Final Standings

Rnk Fed. Name Score Rating BH-HiLo SB TPR
1 GM Gupta, Abhijeet 7.5 2626 40.0 41.5 2697
2 GM Sandipan, Chanda 7.0 2593 38.0 37.75 2600
3 GM Lalith, Babu M R 6.5 2586 43.0 38.75 2609
4 GM Shyam, Sundar M. 6.5 2552 40.0 35.75 2540
5 Van Foreest, Lucas 6.5 2350 37.0 34.0 2534
6 GM Romanishin, Oleg M 6.5 2456 35.0 33.0 2449
7 Schoppen, Casper 6.5 2304 35.0 32.5 2461
8 FM Rakesh Kumar Jena 6.0 2247 37.0 29.25 2531
9 GM Ernst, Sipke 6.0 2540 37.0 28.25 2467
10 IM Nitin, S. 6.0 2410 35.0 26.25 2445
11 FM Vereggen, Lars 6.0 2380 31.5 26.0 2316
12 GM Werle, Jan 5.5 2555 39.0 27.25 2479
13 IM Ten Hertog, Hugo 5.5 2468 37.5 28.0 2332
14 FM Colijn, Stefan 5.5 2293 37.5 27.25 2403
15 GM Debashis, Das 5.5 2478 36.5 27.5 2336
16 IM Karavade, Eesha 5.5 2421 36.5 27.25 2360
17 FM Beerdsen, Thomas 5.5 2404 35.5 24.25 2394
18 IM Rathnakaran, K. 5.5 2469 34.0 25.25 2364
19 IM Bellia, Fabrizio 5.5 2447 33.5 23.5 2293
20 FM Okkes, Menno 5.5 2322 33.0 25.25 2320

Jorden's 15-year-old brother Lucas van Foreest drew Gupta in the final round which was good for an IM norm. A win would even have meant a GM norm. When asked if he knew a player who went straight from not titled to GM, he cited Vladimir Kramnik and quickly added: "And Lucas van Foreest!"

Rakesh Kumar Jena (15) of India also scored an IM norm, and so did 14-year-old Casper Schoppen of the Netherlands.

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