Sokolov beats all, Fier leads by a point

PeterDoggers
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0 | Chess Event Coverage
Essent Tournament 2008Ivan Sokolov defeated all of his opponents in the first half of the Crown Group, and Alexandr Fier is leading by a point in the Open Group, where amongst others we find veteran GM Vlastimil Hort in second place. We're talking about this year's Essent Tournament in Hoogeveen.

The 12th Essent Tournament takes place October 17-25 in Hoogeveen, The Netherlands. Traditionally played with pieces and chess boards of glass, this year's Crown Group has GMs Ivan Sokolov (2650), Jan Smeets (2604), Ahmed Adly (2586) and Marie Sebag (2533).

After three rounds Sokolov is almost as certain he'll win this year's Essent as Anand is certain of retaining his world title in Bonn. The Bosnian-born Dutch grandmaster isn't playing that much lately, and in his last two tournaments he was not very succesful. He finished last at the Bosna 2008 tournament, dropping 14 rating points, and at the Staunton Memorial he scored a mediocre 6/11, losing 8 more points. But in this year's Crown Group he's clearly the strongest player - in the first half he crushed Sebag and Smeets, and profited from an enormous blunder by Adly, who dropped a full rook. Here are all games of the first half:



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The open group has 19 GMs and 13 IMs, with Erwin L'Ami (2610), Parimarjan Negi (2597), Robert Kempinski (2595). Alexandr Fier (2581) and Abhijeet Gupta (2580) as the favorites. Except for Kempinski they've all cluttered together in the top, but so far it's Brazilian grandmaster Fier who's dominating the event. His 5.5 out of 6 is impressive but as usual, one needs a bit of luck as well to get there. In the second round Fier escaped against ChessVibes co-editor Merijn van Delft:



But yesterday Fier showed that he really is a very strong grandmaster. He scored a convincing victory with Black over current World Youth Champion Gupta:



Veteran grandmaster Vlastimil Hort, former world's number two, always plays the Essent Open, and thus far he has an excellent tournament this year. After six rounds he shares second place with eight other players. Yesterday there was a small incident in his game against last year's surprising winner Eltaj Safarli.

In a hopeless position Safarli started speaking to his famous opponent: he said he had to write down his moves. But Hort knew he was acting correctly: since he had less than five minutes on the clock, he didn't have to write anymore. Because he was distracted, he asked for extra time on his clock, which the arbiter granted him, after which Hort easily cruised to victory.



[TABLE=427]

The Crown Group also had a rest day on Wednesday, and they will play their second half today, tomorrow and Saturday. On the same days the Open Group will have its 7th, 8th and 9th round. Games start at 14:00 CET except for the last round, when the games start at 12:00 CET.

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