Timman maintains the tension, Firouzja wins match, Sindarov and Ernst to final

In het Hoogeveen Schaaktoernooi nam Jan Timman vandaag genoegen met een remise in iets betere stelling tegen Zhansaya Abdumalik: ‘We hebben al een paar lange partijen gehad,’ zei de Arnhemse grootmeester. Ook Alireza Firouzja en Jorge Cori Tello kwamen na een interessant gevecht tot remise, waarmee Firouzja de match gewonnen heeft met 3½ punt. Morgen kan de Iraniër vrijuit spelen – maar dat deed hij al!

In de halve finales van het Open toernooi won de 13-jarige grootmeester Javokhir Sindarov met veel moeite van de 14-jarige Viktoriia Kirchei, die tegen het einde nog een dot van een kans had gemist. In de andere halve finale versloeg Sipke Ernst Jan Werle na een zware strijd. In de ‘rest’ van het Open toernooi staan nu Roeland Pruijssers en de 16-jarige Indiër Moksh Amit Doshi aan kop met 6½ punt.

Live blog door Peter Boel


Timman back to game 1!

Again we have two Sicilians in the matches. Abdumalik-Timman started again with a 6.h3 Najdorf, as in the two previous games. Now, after 6...e6 7.g4, Timman harked back to 7...d5, the move that had such disastrous consequences for him in Game 1. This time, Abdumalik was the one to deviate: after 8.exd5 Nxd5 with the solid 9.Nde2. No accidents - now we have a game where Black looks quite solid and White's pawn on g4 looks somewhat odd.

Firouzja and Cori Tello put a Sveshnikov Sicilian on the board this time. That's a new one for this event. Cori thought for some time about 6...d6, and even for a pretty long time about 9...gxf6 - not, of course, about with which piece he was going to take back, but more about what will happen afterwards.

    Semi-finals have started

    The semi-finals just started with Javokhir Sindarov-Viktoriia Kirchei and Ernst-Werle. All four qualifiers were scanned and searched before the game; nothing was found and the games started without incident.

      No quick draws

      In the first semi-final, Sindarov played a Closed Ruy Lopez with an early a2-a4 (on move 7). After 11...a5 the young Uzbek seems to have a pleasant advantage. The alternative was 11...Nxd5 and if 12.exd5 Na5.

      The two 'Frisians' Sipke Ernst and Jan Werle (neither of them lives in Frisia anymore) have a topical Catalan on the board. Ernst has now castled queenside, which looks quite daring. It doesn't look like a quick draw - neither does board 1!

        The Sveshnikov

        Commentator Robert Ris gave some nice explanations of the Sveshnikov from Firouzja-Cori.

        Firouzja played 15.Qh5 here.

        In the past, players like Kramnik and Radjabov had played 15. Qf3, when Black has the interesting 15... d5. A move which, in fact, came on the board in the only Sveshnikov commentator Robert Ris ever played with black - against one of the spectators in the room, Richard Hendriks! The point is 16. exd5 e4 17. Qe3 Qa7! and White is in big trouble. Nice memories for Robert! White has to play 16. cxd5 fxe4 17. Bxe4 (17. Qxe4 f5) 17... Rb8 (17... f5? 18. d6) and now e.g. 18. Rad1 Rb6.


          Dangerous bishops

          White's bishops are very dangerous, certainly now that the queens are off, and Jan Timman is hanging on by a thread. After his ingenious defensive move 18... Na5...


          ... it looked to commentator Robert Ris that 19. Ba3 would have been strong. But Black seems to have a good defence in 19... Rfc8 20. Bb4 Nc6! 21. Rxb7 Nxb4 and Black wins back one of the c-pawns.

          Abdumalik played 19.a4 and after 19... Rac8, 20. Ba3 again seemed interesting. But now Black would have had 20... Nc4! 22. Rxb7 a5 23. Be7 Rd2 and this is also enough for equality.

          Ris found the way Abdumalik played not dynamic enough for this type of position, however, and he may be right in that respect.

            Werle in trouble

            Sipke Ernst may have surprised Jan Werle in the opening. After his 14.0-0-0...

            ... Werle reacted in a seemingly logical way with 14...e5 and 15...Be6 whereas 14...Ng4 followed by 15...Nxe3 has been the preference of his colleague grandmasters. Then White also gets chances by doubling rooks on the d-file but Black gets counterchances against White's weak pawns.

            As it went Sipke increased his pressure and now Werle is in trouble.

              Wins for Harutjunyan, Vrolijk and Takawira

              GM Gevorg Hatutjunyan beat Manush Shah quite quickly in the 'rest open' with a devastating attack. He allowed Black to take on g2 but that was nothing compared to his own attack on Black's king, which was crowned by a 'petit fourchette combinaison' with 28.Bb5+.

              Liam Vrolijk's win over Siem van Dael also looked attractive. His move 20.Nxf7 amounted to the sacrifice of a 'small exchange' but it was clear that Black could not survuve the attack with major pieces that followed immediately afterwards.

              Erick Takawira was lucky today. In a good pawn-up position, Leandro Slagboom's 22.Nc5?? immediately lost a piece to 22...Rb6.

              On first board, Roeland Pruijssers is defending a slightly worse position against Pier Luigi Basso.

                Timman settles for a draw

                Jan Timman was slightly better in the end position because of White's exposed king, but settled for a draw: 'I'm a bit tired, and we already had several long games,' he admitted. 'Besides it would have been very difficult to win.'

                Both players agreed that the line under discussion is quite interesting. 'There are some very nice exchange sacrifices in the position,' said Timman without giving away anything further. The Dutch great-grandmaster played it safe not only by taking the draw, but also by playing 11...Bxc3 instead of 11...Nxc3 12.Nxc3 bxc3 13.Qc7. '14.Qf3 was a bad move,' Abdumalik said - it was more or less a loss of time. Timman recalled that 14. Rb1 had been played - his preparation had been thorough.

                Even without queens there were enough tactics left:

                Timman played the sound 21...f6 here, when 21... Rxc3 22. Bg5 f6 23. Rxe5 Ba2 would have led to 'some crazy lines', as Abdumalik said. 'But Black can defend in all the lines, although it can be difficult,' Timman added. As it went the game quickly petered out to 2R's + B vs 2R's + B with a high drawing probability.

                  Great recovery by Cori

                  Jorge Cori Tello's recovery is remarkable. With black in the Sveshnikov he has played well and acquired a slight advantage with his bishop pair, thanks to the standard trick 16...e4 and ...Bxb2. Whether it is enough for a win is questionable, but here a quite different player is at work than in the first three rounds.

                    Kirchei misses a win

                    Viktoriia Kirchei is playing excellently again. From the following position things could have gone very wrong for Javokhir Sindarov:

                    White played 29. Nxc7? here after which the Russian girl could have brilliantly replied 29... Ncd4! with the big threat of 30... Nc2, when the white queen can no longer defend her king. Of course also 30. cxd4 exd4 would lose for White.

                      Beerdsen wins

                      Thomas Beerdsen has also recovered from his defeat against the indomitable Viktoriia Kirchei. He survived a sacrificial attack by 15-year-old Onno Elgersma and remained a piece up. Grandmaster Romanishin and Jonkman have drawn, and Pruijssers has survived the worst against Basso and is now trying to win a pawn-up rook ending.

                        Firouzja is cruising for a draw

                        Alireza Firouzja has survived the worst and has even kept his extra (doubled) pawn. This looks like a draw, which would mean match victory for the Iranian.

                          We have a tournament winner!

                          Local hero Andries Mellema has 7 out of 7 in the Amateur I group and can no longer be caught by his rivals. For Hoogeveen boy Mellema it's the third time he has won an Amateur group here!

                            Sindarov reaches the final!

                            After surviving Viktoriia Kirchei's initiative (and she missed her big chance) Javokhir Sindarov managed to consolidate and when Kirchei played 37...e4 that made it easier for the one-year-younger Uzbek. He left the playing hall quickly but he must have been quite relieved!

                            Viktoriia Kirchei resigns

                              Firouzja and Cori draw

                              After the draw agreement Firouzja and Cori analysed the bishops of opposite colours endgame for quite a while. Cori thought he was still in some danger there.

                              Firouzja had got confused in the opening - 'I don't yet know what, but I think 15.Qh5 was bad.' 15.Qf3 was known, as we saw before, but it was only after 19.f3 (19.cxb5) that Black could take over with 19...h5 and 20...Qe5.

                              After Black took on b2...

                              ... Firouzja was very glad to have 23. Nb1, as after 23. Nc2 bxc4 24. Bxc4 Bxe4 things would have looked more grim for him. Now Firouzja thought 23... b4 would have been better than the game move 23... bxc4, because the possibility of a passed pawn on the queenside combined with the bishop pair would have been daunting for White.

                              Was Cori satisfied with the 1.5 point he obtained in the past few days? 'Mmm...' 'Okay, I suppose it could have been better,' we tried. 'Could have been worse too!', the Peruvian replied. Still, these 1.5 points were fully deserved.

                              The match has been decided, and when chief arbiter Frans Peeters confirmed to Firouzja that the final game won't be rated (according to the rules), the Iranian reacted 'OK, then we can go wild!'

                                Ernst heading for the final

                                Jan Werle has been deperately vying for counterchances for a few hours now but so far Sipke Ernst is very soundly nursing his advantage to a win. He is two pawns up. Are we getting a Sindarov-Ernst final? Their game in the 'regular' tournament was exciting enough.

                                  Wins for Doshi and Schoppen

                                  16-year-old Moksh Amit Doshi probably has an IM-norm already - we will look for confirmation later! This would be already his 7th IM norm - so the only thing he needs is 2400 Elo points.

                                  Today the Indian beat German IM Georg Seul by sackin a pawn on the queenside, for which he got an initiative on the kingside. He played very strongly there and eventually won an exchange, and the game. Doshi is also in the race for victory in the 'rest Open' - he is on 6.5 now. Pruijssers can draw even but for that he will have to win a pawn-plus rook ending from Pier Luigi Basso.

                                  Casper Schoppen is on 5.5 now. He beat Nichita Morozov, who played 26...f6 which turned out to be a slight weakening. With iron logic Schoppen encircled the f6-pawn and won it, and the game.

                                    Pruijssers wins it

                                    Pruijssers has won the rook ending, and is now with Doshi on 6.5.

                                      Ernst wins!

                                      Sipke Ernst has made it to the final with a fine game. He was always much better, but Jan Werle kept fighting for his life for several hours. It wasn't enough - in the end Ernst's c-pawn, shielded by his extra knight, decided the issue.

                                        Timman keeps the tension, Firouzja wins match, Sindarov and Ernst to Open final

                                        Today, Jan Timman settled for a draw in a slightly better position against Zhansaya Abdumalik: ‘We've already had a few long games,' the grandmaster from Arnhem said. So the final decision in this match will fall tomorrow. Alireza Firouzja and Jorge Cori Tello also drew after an interesting fight, which means that Firouzja has already won the match with 3½ points. So tomorrow the Iranian can play freely – as if he wasn't doing that already!

                                        In the semi-finals of the Open, 13-year-old grandmaster Javokhir Sindarov had a lot of trouble beating 14-year-old Viktoriia Kirchei, who even missed a big chance towards the end of the game. In the other semi-final, Sipke Ernst bested Jan Werle after a heavy struggle. In the ‘rest Open', Roeland Pruijssers and the 16-year-old Indian are leading with 6½ point.