Van Foreest leads, De Boer co-leader in the Open

Surprise, surprise!

Both Dutchmen in the matches were in for a surprise today. On Max Warmerdam's 1.d4, Daniel Dardha replied 1...d5 and went for a Semi-Tarrasch in which he took back on d5 with the knight. It looked like Warmerdam had to readjust; instead of the usual 6.e4 he went for 6.g3, but Dardha's answers kept coming a tempo. This line is also well-known, but the question is whether Warmerdam had anticipated the arising position type for today.

In the other match something happened that we hadn't seen in years of matches here in Hoogeveen: a King's Indian! After 2...g6 (!?), Lucas van Foreest was also forced to contemplate for a while; all four players in these matches do this by looking away from the board. The dilemma becomes philosophical rather than concrete: first they have to choose their variation and they are probably not sure what their opponent has prepared there (this is all pure speculation, of course!).

On the flexible 5.h3/6.Be3, McShane came up with the even more flexible 6...Na6. Van Foreest quickly castled queenside which means we may be in for some excitement!



Yesterday we paid homage to the walrus, today we see a fully-fledged Hippopotamus in the game Heemskerk-Reulink in the Open. With the set-up a6/b6/d6/e6/g6/h6 and Bb7/Nd7/Ne7/Bg7, Black is supposed not to do 'anything' really, and in that respect Reulink's move 11...f5 looks, let's say, rather provocative...



Many pieces are coming off and the position looks dead equal; Dardha has spent only three minutes on this. What's happening? Is anything actually happening?



In the following position, Lucas van Foreest played a move that looks really crazy:

14.b4!? All or nothing!

Your first impulse here would be to play the piece sac 14...a5!? but that doesn't seem to be so good. Another idea is 14...Na6 15.a3 Nc7 and 16...a5, but White can defend with his pieces and then start pushing his kingside pawns. However, why didn't Lucas do that right away?

Anyway, McShane didn't think long and replied 14...Na4 15.Nxa4 bxa4 which should also give him play against the white king. It looks, though, as if something will have to be sacrificed in the centre eventually.


Brave exchange sac Eelke de Boer

We were told that Eelke de Boer hasn't been playing chess for some time. Perhaps that is something more players should do. He is on 3 out of 3 in the Open, and today he has made a brave and promising-looking exchange sacrifice against GM Luca Moroni:

20.Rxb4! The logical consequence, of course, of his previous move 19.Ra1-a4. 20...Bxb4 21.Qxb4

The result reminds a little of that famous game between Kasparov and Shirov, Horgen 1994:

Only with Eelke's game it's a bishop on b7 that is awfully placed. Not to mention the black king caught in the middle!


Exchange win Romanov

GM Evgeny Romanov has not sacrificed an exchange, but gained one against IM Bhakti Kulkarni and this looks completely over. Quite a strange way to win, Kasparov would say...


Fernandez and Ashwath crash through

English GM Daniel Fernandez is completely outplaying German player Henning Holinka, and Ashwath is just winning a rook in broad daylight against Dutch hope Arthur de Winter. The Indian first repeated the position once, but that didn't leave Black any hope of anything better. De Winter has already resigned.


Dardha in the driver's seat

A pawn sacrifice in a heavy-piece ending by Max Warmerdam, who offered a draw on move 17, has not really worked out. The position still appears to be even since even if Black can hold his extra e4-pawn, the rook ending is a draw. But this is definitely Daniel's best chance so far in the match.


Lucas misses a great chance

The concept of Lucas van Foreest has worked out fine, and he seems to have just missed a chance at a massive advantage.

Van Foreest-McShane

Instead of the game move 31.Rhc1 he could have played 31.Nb2!, with the idea to (eventually) put the knight on c4, which is a positional disaster for Black. After the text, things are becoming tactically extremely messy, as often happens with positional disasters for Black in the KID.


Sharp defence by Moroni

Luca Moroni is defending very well against Eelke de Boer, as could be expected. He has given back the exchange, is now a pawn behind, but has found good counterchances along the a8-h1 diagonal.


McShane blunders!

Luke McShane has just made a horrible mistake. After Van Foreest's interposition 38.Rd4 he should have taken with the queen, 38...Qxd4+, with an approximately equal ending. After 38...cxd4?? 39.Qd6! it is immediately over; perhaps the Englishman had missed that after 39...Re8 40.h6, 40...Qe5 is not possible due to 41.Qxe5 with mate on the back rank?!


Post mortem Van Foreest-McShane

Yes, McShane had missed 39.Qd6 after 39...cxd4. 'I thought he had to play something like 40.Rd1 there.'

It was a typical KID, not the position but in the sense that Black was 'positionally busted' (McShane) but still found all kinds of ways to get play. 'I thought 16...Ne8 was really cool,' said Lucas van Foreest, 'just taking your time to play ...f7-f5 and create some space.'

The Dutchman had seen the strong 31.Nb2 but thought he had an extra move with 31.Rc1. 'But then he came up with the genius reply 31...Re2.'

After that, as we saw, the game was completely open again, until Luke's tragic miss on move 39.


Warmerdam holds

Max Warmerdam didn't have any real problems holding today, but Daniel Dardha agreed that 'this was my best try so far, at least finally I could push him around for a bit.'

It could have been more than a bit if the Belgian had found mainly one strong move, as Warmerdam explained. 'I had missed 26...Qb8,' said the Dutchman. 'I was counting on 26...Qc6 when I have 27.Qf3.' One move later Dardha missed his best chance.

Instead of the game move 27...R2c3 he should have played 27...R8c5, according to Warmerdam. 'Then I would have had a really tough job keeping the draw. Black is still a pawn up and my rooks are not well positioned.'

After the text, White had to play 28.Qg5 as after 28.Raxb5 Qxb5 29.Rxb5 Rxe3 30.fxe3 dxe4 31.Rb4 Black can protect the e4-pawn now with 31...Re8 (this is the difference with 27...R8c3?) and this could still be a nasty rook ending for White since Black's king may penetrate White's position over the light squares.

Now, instead of 28...dxe4, Warmerdam was still a bit apprehensive of 28...b4 29.Rxd5 b3, but after 30.Qf6, putting the queen on the right diagonal, White seems to be OK. In the rest of the game it was clear that Dardha was going to have to give back his e-pawn. He tried to develop an attack in the meantime, but Warmerdam was able to avert it.

Dardha: his best chance so far...


De Boer wins!

Eelke de Boer's exchange sacrifice has led to a sensational win against Luca Moroni. We left the game while the Italian GM was just busy creating counterchances.

42...Re7? With clear intentions: Black threatens 43...Rd7 and 44...Qh1+. However, White comes first here with 43.Qd8! and now if 43...Rd7, 44.Qf6+ Kg8 45.Qg5+ Kh8 46.Rh3!, defending and attacking at the same time; White wins. Moroni gave the check on h1 immediately but now his rook was very badly placed and in the end he had to resign due to material loss.

A tremendous game by the 19-year-old Groningen player, catapulting him into the lead. He will probably have to share it with the Indian GM Bharath Subramaniyam, who is also making a strong impression and whose win in a rook ending against Onno Elgersma appears to be a matter of time now.


Another upset by Weihrauch

Another sensation of the tournament so far is the low-rated German junior player Jakob Weihrauch. After beating IM Thomas Beerdsen in round 2, Weihrauch also got the better of GM Sipke Ernst today.

Jakob Weihrauch


Ernst missed a win on move 36 and that was immediately fatal for him.

Instead of 36.Ng5?, leading to a lost ending after 36...Qxf4+, White could have created a deadly mate threat with 36.g4! here. Perhaps short of time, Ernst may have feared for his king after 36...Rxh3+, but after 37.Kxh3 fxg4+ 38.Kxg4 or even 38.Kh4 there are no problems for White; he's just a rook up.


Bharath joins lead in Open

Next to Eelke de Boer, Bharath Subramaniyam is the second player with a full 100 percent score after four rounds in the Open. The Indian GM indeed defeated Onno Elgersma.