Bobby Cheng Wins 9th Batavia Chess Tournament with 6.5 out of 9

Australian International Master Bobby Cheng wins the 9th Batavia Chess Tournament with 6.5/9 together with Lucas van Foreest. Cheng claimed the tournament victory in the tiebreak thanks to his first round win over Van Foreest.
Both Cheng and Van Foreest scored a GM norm, while Van Foreest also won the best Endgame prize and the prize for best Dutch player. Alexandr Fier won the prize for most spectacular game and Barry Brink made an IM norm. Thomas Beerdsen claimed the 3rd place with 6 points.

Tournament Director Merijn van Delft. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Tournament Director Merijn van Delft. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Number 3 and 2: Beerdsen and Van Foreest. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Number 3 and 2: Beerdsen and Van Foreest. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Bas de Melker awarded the best game prizes. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Bas de Melker awarded the best game prizes. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Alexand Fier and Bas de Melker. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Alexand Fier and Bas de Melker. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Apeldoorners Van Delft and Beerdsen. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Apeldoorners Van Delft and Beerdsen. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Lucas van Foreest and Bas de Melker. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Lucas van Foreest and Bas de Melker. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Tournament winner Bobby Cheng. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Tournament winner Bobby Cheng. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Batavia 2017 Round 9

12:33 Welcome everyone to the last round of the 2017 Batavia tournament. It’s already a memorable event with a GM norm for Lucas van Foreest (after 8 rounds!) and an IM norm for Barry Brink (after 7 rounds!). Bobby Cheng has to win today for a GM norm. Apart from the results, this tournament had a very rich content of enterprising and creative chess. More about this at the closing ceremony, which will be soon after the last game has finished. For now, let’s focus on what’s happening in the last round.

The front part of Café Batavia. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

The front part of Café Batavia. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

12:45 Since Bobby Cheng is in a must-win situation, he went for the Modern Defence. Of course, that’s a risky opening choice, but at least it made his opponent Tal Baron think for over half an hour already in the following position:

Diagram

12:57 It seems that Koen Leenhouts has more or less equalized with Black against Lucas van Foreest, who went for a positional line against the Sicilian Taimanov. White’s position may still be a bit easier to play though:

Diagram

13:02 No humble equalizing with Koen, true to his dynamic style he went for 21…f5. Lucas replied with the standard 22.exf5 gxf5 23.f4 with a positional edge.

13:14 It never takes long for Alexandr Fier to sacrifice something. So far he gave up a pawn for a strong dark squared bishop against Hing Ting Lai, with a dynamically balanced position:

Diagram

13:21 Thomas Beerdsen has equalized from a Nimzo-Indian with Black against Barry Brink:

Diagram

13:28 Eric Lobron responded accurately to Mark Timmermans’ 1.b4 with the prophylactic 4…Ba5. Mark’s 6.Bg3 was a positional mistake, allowing the weakening of his pawn structure (correct was 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.Nd5 Qd8 and now something neutral):

Diagram

Bobby Cheng playing for a GM norm. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Bobby Cheng playing for a GM norm. Photo: Lennart Ootes

13:41 The position at Van Foreest-Leenhouts is quickly becoming more tactical. No more talk about positional edges – it’s all about who calculates better from now on.

13:48 Slowly but surely White is grabbing the initiative at Fier-Lai.

13:50 Thomas Beerdsen is playing for more with 19…e5, but that move is double-edged positionally speaking and may be just what Barry Brink is waiting for.

13:54 Eric Lobron is nursing his positional advantage against Mark Timmermans.

13:58 Bobby Cheng, who needs to win for a GM norm, was rewarded for his risky opening play, managed to finish his development without accidents and is now strategically winning with Black against Tal Baron:

Diagram

14:54 Amazing, GM norm for Bobby Cheng! In the final position Tal Baron can’t avoid material losses:

Diagram

15:00 Alexandr Fier didn’t make the most out of his attacking potential (23.f4 looks very good for White). After that Hing Ting Lai defended well. As the queens were exchanged, it was Black who was better if anyone, but eventually the endgame was a draw.

15:27 Total drama until the very end. Eric Lobron not just spoiled his advantage, but also blundered horribly in the end. I’m not even going to show the diagram since it’s too painful. All the games can be found at the LIVE GAMES section as you know.

15:35 Lucas van Foreest and Koen Leenhouts are playing a high level game. Koen was close to taking over the initiative, but Lucas kept control. Now they’re having an interesting endgame that is about equal:

Diagram

15:41 Thomas Beerdsen was making progress (33…Rd5 looks good for Black), but Barry Brink kept his cool and made it to the time control safely. Now the position is about equal:

Diagram

Thomas Beerdsen having another look into the position. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Thomas Beerdsen having another look into the position. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Pouring another coffee myself. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Pouring another coffee myself. Photo: Lennart Ootes

17:30 Dramatic and spectacular finish. Koen Leenhouts kept up a very high level until the very end until Lucas cracked and blundered. That means Bobby Cheng won the tournament. Thomas Beerdsen also kept pushing until Barry Brink blundered, which means that Thomas is now third. We are now preparing the prize giving, which will be soon.

Batavia 2017 Round 8

14:30 Dear chess friends, welcome to the eighth round of the Batavia tournament. It’s Saturday afternoon, the weather is good here in Amsterdam, feel free to visit us at Café Batavia. Let’s start with a look at the current standings:

Crosstable
Lucas van Foreest is the sole tournament leader with 5.5 out of 7 and needs 1 out of 2 from his remaining games to secure his second GM norm. Barry Brink needs 1.5 points and Bobby Cheng 2 points for a GM norm.

New tournament leader Lucas van Foreest. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

New tournament leader Lucas van Foreest. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

15:00 Lucas has a nice classical style with a sharp eye for tactical complications. Today with Black against Hing Ting Lai, true to his style, he developed his pieces in a very classical way:

Diagram

15:03 Bobby Cheng sticks to his trusted Catalan against Mark Timmermans. Barry Brink went for the Vienna Variation (of the QGD) against Eric Lobron. Koen Leenhouts-Tal Baron is a sharp Sämisch Variation of the King’s Indian. Thomas Beerdsen-Alexandr Fier is an interesting Sicilian Kalashnikov.

15:37 Thomas Beerdsen quickly went out of book with the uncommon 7.g3 and five moves later Alexandr Fier came up with an amazing positional rook sacrifice 12…fxe4:

Diagram

After something like 13.Nc7 Qg6 14.Nxa8 Nd4 Black has full compensation. Thomas wasn’t having any of it and played the controlled 13.Nxf6. Now the position is balanced.

15:43 Eric Lobron played the early novelty 7.Rd1 which was probably over the board inspiration. Barry Brink reacted well with 7…Rb8 and White’s compensation for the sacrificed pawn doesn’t look very convincing to me:

Diagram

15:51 Koen Leenhouts has played a pretty positional exchange sacrifice against Tal Baron:

Diagram

Probably Tal should have prevented this with 21…Ng7, since now White is dominating the position.

15:57 Bobby Cheng seems to have his usual positional edge in the Catalan, against Mark Timmermans:

Diagram

Lobron-Brink. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

Eric Lobron-Barry Brink. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

16:22 Hing Ting failed to fight for the initiative with 16.Nf4 or 18.Nf4. I don’t understand why he gave up the bishop pair, for which he got nothing in return. By now Lucas has developed a strong initiative on the kingside:

Diagram

16:43 I overestimated Lucas’ chances on the kingside, 26.g3! was good defence by Hing Ting. The position is now about equal.

16:57 Things are going fast now. Hing Ting has blundered with 34.Ra1 and resigned a few moves later. Grandmaster norm for Lucas van Foreest!

17:04 The attack of Koen Leenhouts has crashed through, look at the pretty final position:

Diagram

17:09 Alexandr Fier has a tendency to overdo things. While 23…Bf3 would have been comfortable equality, the Brazilian GM played for more with 23…e4. Thomas Beerdsen reacted accurately and is now a healthy pawn up:

Diagram

17:16 Eric Lobron kept investing more material to fuel his attack, but Barry Brink defended well and now has a winning position with three minor pieces versus rook and two pawns:

Diagram

17:27 Bobby Cheng’s advantage kept increasing and he now has a winning advantage:

Diagram

Eric Lobron in a creative mood. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

Eric Lobron in a creative mood. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

17:37 Mark Timmermans fought back just before the time control. Now Bobby Cheng is still better, but no longer winning. Thomas Beerdsen still has to work hard as well, to be able to beat Alexandr Fier. And thirdly, also Barry Brink lost a good part of his advantage against Eric Lobron. Barry should have grabbed the pawn with 39…Bxb2 with a winning position. Now the white a-pawn is becoming unpleasant:

Diagram

18:27 Just when Alexandr Fier got compensation for the pawn, he blundered terribly with 48…Kh8, allowing a forced mate.

18:34 The position at Lobron-Brink remained very difficult to play for both sides. Barry was winning again around move 47, but just moments ago he blundered badly and resigned soon after.

18:38 Bobby Cheng is technically winning now.

Batavia 2017 Round 7

14:25 Welcome everyone to the seventh round of the Batavia tournament. It’s Friday afternoon and we’re ready for a very exciting last weekend. Alexandr Fier and Lucas van Foreest are now sharing the lead with 4.5 out of 6. Lucas needs 2 out of 3 from the remaining rounds for a GM norm. For Bobby Cheng it was rough to fall back to 4 out of 6, while for Barry Brink it’s the other way around, as his win yesterday pushed him up to 4 out of 6. Bobby now needs 2.5 out of 3 for the GM norm. Barry only needs 0.5 out of 3 for an IM norm and 2 out of 3 for a GM norm (Barry needs 6 instead of 6.5 since the rating average of his opponents is higher).

Lucas van Foreest. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

Lucas van Foreest. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen



14:39
The openings are relatively sharp today. Tal Baron-Lucas van Foreest is a Classical Ruy Lopez in which White has played g2-g4, Mark Timmermans-Koen Leenhouts a Sicilian Taimanov, Alexandr Fier-Eric Lobron a Caro-Kann Advance Variation, Thomas Beerdsen-Hing Ting Lai a Modern Defence and Barry Brink-Bobby Cheng a Queen’s Gambit Declined.

14:55 Judging from an Adams game in the database, Lucas should have included 17…d3, since forcing the white bishop to d3 tends to make the d6-d5 break more effective. Now he needs to decide were to put his knight and White seems to have the initiative:

Diagram

15:10 Lucas decided to put his knight on d7, which was played in 5 earlier games in the database. It has to be said that while g2-g4 give White the initiative for now, it tends to give Black counter chances in the long run. It will be very interesting to see how the game evolves.

15:21 Eric Lobron has problems adjusting to the modern time control with the 30 second increment per move. He has a steady classical style, but always uses a lot of time on the clock. Right now he seems to have equalized with Black against Alexandr Fier:

Diagram

15:40 Eric has played the sharp 16…f6, so things are quickly heating up.

15:51 Instead of playing something prophylactic like 16.Kb1, Mark Timmermans kept pushing on the kingside with 16.h4 against Koen Leenhouts, resulting into the following wild position:

Diagram

Here the computer indicates the insane 19.h6 a2 20.hxg7, allowing Black to queen with check! Instead, Mark played the human 19.bxa3 and now the position is, of course, a mess. Entertainment guaranteed here at the Batavia tournament.

16:15 I’m not sure why Thomas released the tension in the centre with 9.dxe5, since simply developing the queenside seems to offer better chances for an edge. 15.Bf1 was a good move though, neutralising Black’s attacking ambitions on the kingside. Possibly, Hing Ting’s knight manoeuvre Nf8-h7 was directed a bit too much towards the kingside, as White now seems to have a free hand on the queenside:

Diagram

16:16 After multiple exchanges, the position at Barry Brink-Bobby Cheng is completely equal:

Diagram

16:19 And indeed they agreed to a draw. That’s a very impressive IM norm for Barry Brink, two rounds before the end! It’s his second IM norm. Now he can comfortably try for the GM norm, for which he needs 1.5 out of 2.

Barry ronde 7

Barry Brink. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

16:35 It’s a true clash of styles at Fier-Lobron. Alexandr’s tries to get the initiative have failed so far, and at this point (with 11 moves to go until the time control) Eric is having a clear positional advantage:

Diagram

16:41 Mark has found the key move 24.Rdg1 and now it’s Koen’s turn to find some good move. The position remains very tense:

Diagram

16:55 Lucas van Foreest has taken over the initiative and is now a healthy pawn up in the endgame against Tal Baron:

Diagram

16:58 Thomas Beerdsen continued to dominate the position and now has a winning advantage against Hing Ting Lai:

Diagram

17:06 Eric Lobron safely made it to the time control and can now comfortably try to convert his large advantage against Alexandr Fier.

17:14 Lucas van Foreest is on fire and convincingly beat Tal Baron. Lucas now needs 1 out of 2 for his second GM norm.

17:15 Sometimes there is a very thin line between winning and losing. Mark Timmermans was well on his way to beat Koen Leenhouts with the thematic piece sacrifice 26.Bxh6!, which was answered by 26…Qa4:

Diagram

Here 27.Rg3 is winning, but Mark blundered with 27.Be3 and is now losing.

Mark te gezellig

Mark Timmermans. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

 

17:25 Eric Lobron (against Alexandr Fier) and Thomas Beerdsen (against Hing Ting Lai) are still nursing their winning positional advantages.

17:56 Thomas indeed won against Hing Ting. As a chess fan it hurts to see that Eric completely spoiled his winning position against Alexandr. When he gave up control over the d-file, White quickly took over.

Batavia 2017 Round 6

14:18 Welcome to round 6 of the Batavia tournament! Everyone seems to have enjoyed the rest day and seems to be well rested for the second half of the tournament.

14:35 Let’s have a look at the standings:

Crosstable
Bobby Cheng had a perfect 4 out of 4 start, but then pushed his luck a bit too much in the fifth round. He needs 2.5 out of the remaining 4 rounds for a GM norm, so he still has every chance to achieve that. Lucas van Foreest now has a performance of 2608 and needs 3 out of 4 for a GM norm. Barry Brink’s performance dropped under 2600 because of his loss in the fifth round, but he is still having a fantastic tournament so far.

Barry Brink. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

Barry Brink. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

14:52 After all the tactic madness and insane complications in the fifth round, we are back to solid positional chess. We have two Bogo-Indians (Bobby Cheng-Alexandr Fier and Eric Lobron-Thomas Beerdsen), a Symmetrical English (Hing Ting Lai-Tal Baron), a French Tarrasch (Lucas van Foreest-Mark Timmermans) and an Anti-Sicilian (Koen Leenhouts-Barry Brink).

Nestor Eric Lobron. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

Nestor Eric Lobron. Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

15:06 The Symmetrical English at Hing Ting Lai-Tal Baron turned into an Accelerated Dragon with colours reversed. Avoiding exchanges with Nc7 is typical, since Black put up a Maroczy Bind and therefore has a space advantage. Hing Ting’s 11.Ne1 was a bit strange, normal would have been 11.a3. Exchanging on c6 is a typical idea in the English opening, but here I’m not convinced and Black seems to be better:

Diagram

15:25 Bobby Cheng also put up a Maroczy Bind against Alexandr Fier, but Black’s pieces seem to be better coordinated at the moment, which compensates for White’s space advantage. So the position is about equal I would say:

Diagram

15:47 Lucas van Foreest and Mark Timmermans have an open position after most central pawns were exchanged. These positions tend to be easier to play for White and indeed Mark has been thinking for quite a while now:

Diagram

16:14 Eric Lobron started very well against Thomas Beerdsen, with the knight manoeuvre Nbd2-f1-e3 before castling and the key move Bh3 (which worked tactically, as taking twice on f3 would allow Bg2-b7). Exchanging on g6 could have waited a bit longer though, as the immediate 19.cxd5 would have been good for White. Right now Black seems to have equalized:

Diagram

16:25 Mark Timmermans has blundered with 23…Nh5 (correct was 23…Rd8), allowing the tactical blow 24.Rxe5! winning two pieces against a rook, which was spotted by Lucas van Foreest.

16:27 Alexandr Fier is going all-in with h5 and g5, trying to maximize the pressure on Bobby Cheng, who is down to 9 minutes on the clock (plus increment). Objectively, I don’t think Alexandr’s wild play is justified, but let’s see what happens.

16:35 Koen Leenhouts versus Barry Brink started quietly, until Barry played the provocative 9…Ba6 and Koen accepted the challenge with 11.Qa4. The position is becoming increasingly complex and now Koen has sacrificed an exchange, with a very exciting position:

Diagram

17:11 Lucas van Foreest made no mistake and convincingly converted his winning advantage against Mark Timmermans. They are now analysing the game. Apart from the blunder it all seems correct.

17:19 Tal Baron continued well after the opening, up to the point where 23…f5 would have been strategically winning for Black. Instead, 23…c4 was too fancy and turned the position into a mess (detail: Hing Ting could have won with 31.Nxe5! along the way). Now anything can happen.

17:23 The same goes for Leenhouts-Brink. Koen won back the exchange and now it’s chances for both sides, with both players being under time pressure.

17:29 Also very messy was the time trouble stage at Lobron-Beerdsen, were chances went back and forth. Now that they made it too the time control, the position is dynamically balanced.

17:33 Who didn’t make it safely to the time control was Bobby Cheng. As we noted before, Alexandr Fier went all-in and he was rewarded for his courage. Here he sacrifice a piece on h4:

Diagram

Before taking back on h4, White had to give the exchange on d7, but still the black attack crashed through in the end. The game is still in progress, but Black is now clearly winning.

17:44 With 35.a3 and 36.Qxc3 Hing Ting collapsed after all, after which Tal’s bishops were just too strong: 0-1.

17:49 Barry Brink kept a very cool head in time trouble and now is clearly dominating against Koen Leenhouts:

Diagram

Batavia 2017 Round 5

Bobby Cheng. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Bobby Cheng. Photo: Lennart Ootes

15:04 Welcome everyone to the fifth round of the Batavia tournament. I’ve heard of many people that they are planning to visit the playing venue today, and indeed we warmly welcome all chess fans to visit us here at Café Batavia. Besides a grandmaster tournament, we are a nice place to catch up with old chess friends.

15:14 Since tomorrow is the rest day, all players are eager to perform well today, to be able to rest with a good feeling. So far 1.d4 has been the most popular opening move of our players, but today we have four games starting with 1.e4. Timmermans-Baron is a Sicilian Sveshnikov, Fier-Leenhouts a Sicilian Taimanov, Beerdsen-Cheng a French Steinitz and Lobron-Lai a Classical Caro-Kann.

Lucas van Foreest. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Lucas van Foreest. Photo: Lennart Ootes

15:30 Of special interest for the Dutch chess fans is the encounter Barry Brink versus Lucas van Foreest, since both players had an excellent start in the tournament. The game began with a Nimzo-Indian and until 8.Bg2 we have seen the variation before in the first round encounter Leenhouts-Lai (draw after 66 moves with only the kings left on the board). While Hing Ting played 8…Nce4, Lucas opted for 8…Nfe4 today. The sharp 10…f5 was in fact a novelty, so we can look forward to a great battle:

Diagram

16:14 Accidents can easily happen in the Sicilian. Alexandr Fier is quite an expert on the Sicilian Taimanov and quickly got a promising position against Koen Leenhouts:

Diagram

White is already doing well, but here Koen played 17…Nf5?, allowing the exchange sacrifice 18.Nxf5 gxf5 19.Bxd5 Bxd5 20.Rxd5! and following 20…exd5 21.Nb6 the white knight comes to d5, when Black’s position starts to fall apart. While Alexandr has spoiled some good positions in earlier rounds, this one he converted in spectacular fashion.

Koen Leenhouts. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Koen Leenhouts. Photo: Lennart Ootes

16:46 When I was watching the position at Lobron-Lai after 22.g5 I had the feeling that I had seen this position before:

Diagram

Then I remembered that Hing Ting had this position before at the World Youth Championship in 2015. Back then he played 22…hxg5 and quickly lost (a game that Eric must have missed in his preparation), but now he was able to play the improvement 22…Nd5! 23.gxh6 a3! and actually up until 26…bxc4 with a large advantage for Black everything was mentioned on our blog back then, as you can see here.

16:58 Actually the position at Lobron-Lai remained so sharp, that it was also easy for Black to go wrong. The correct way would have been 28…Bxc5 29.dxc5 Nc3! and it seems Black is winning. Now in fact White is winning:

Diagram

17:04 The evaluation of the position at Lobron-Lai changes with every move, since it is still razor sharp.

17:07 Another victim of a razor sharp 1.e4 opening can be noted: tournament leader Bobby Cheng went for a sharp French Defence, but that suited Thomas Beerdsen well, who confidently started building up an attacking position with Kh1, Rg1 and g4. Let me share with you the crowning of the attack:

Diagram

Here Thomas didn’t recapture the piece on d4, but played 27.Rh4! instead, threatening mate. After 27…Nf5 28.Rxf5! Black resigned.

17:17 Lucas van Foreest got a positional advantage against Barry Brink and will now be trying to win the bishop endgame:

Diagram

Considering the fact that Lucas already played games of 129 moves (against Lobron in round 2) and 128 moves (against Fier in round 4), this game may continue for quite a while.

17:24 I have no idea why Eric Lobron didn’t just take the pawn with 34.Rxf3 and played the puzzling 34.g8Q instead. Now a draw is the most likely outcome.

17:34 Actually Lucas’ position was already a lot better than I thought, he is now winning with his virtual extra pawn and his own pawns being on dark squares:

Diagram

17:51 Mark Timmermans is probably looking forward to the rest day. His 25.f3 looked unfortunate, basically only weakening his position. Tal Baron is now about to break through the fortress that Mark put up:

Diagram

18:00 Lobron-Lai is still most likely a draw and Timmermans-Baron most likely 0-1.

Tournament promotor and photographer Bas Beekhuizen. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Tournament promotor and photographer Bas Beekhuizen. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Bobby Cheng. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Bobby Cheng. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Batavia 2017 Round 4

Mark Timmerman's poker chip. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Mark Timmerman’s poker chip. Photo: Lennart Ootes. Find all photo albums here.

14:55 Welcome to the fourth round of the Batavia tournament. Bobby Cheng has his third white and his third Catalan. Will he manage to keep his perfect score, against nestor Eric Lobron? And will Barry Brink maintain his fantastic score and hold himself with Black against Tal Baron today? They are having a long theoretical line from the Archangelsk Variation of the Ruy Lopez.

15:02 Another very exciting pairing is Lucas van Foreest versus Alexandr Fier, since they are both on 2 out of 3 and the board is already on fire in an ultrasharp Scandinavian. Koen Leenhouts versus Thomas Beerdsen is a positional battle in the Nimzo-Indian. Hing Ting Lai choose the London System today, and Mark Timmermans is taking a break from the tactical madness by replying in solid fashion.

Lucas van Foreest. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Lucas van Foreest. Photo: Lennart Ootes

15:44 Lucas is taking on Alexandr’s Scandinavian in a very brave way, since 3.Nf3 or 3.Bb5 would have been a perfectly solid way to play for a nice edge. The sharp 3.d4 Bg4 line often leads to a total mess and today is no exception. I felt White lost the initiative with 7.dxe6 and especially 9.Kf2 doesn’t look very reliable. With 11…Nb4 and 12…Qf7 Black lost track in return. The current position is still very complicated:

Diagram

15:58 An interesting turn of events at Cheng-Lobron. Bobby would have had a very nice Catalan edge again, if he would have simply finished his development with 9.Ngf3 followed by castling. Instead, he played the slow 9.b4, which allowed Eric to open up the position with 10…e5. And what’s more, the German grandmaster has now sacrificed a piece for a bunch of pawns, with chances for both sides:

Diagram

16:24 Tal Baron and Barry Brink agreed to a draw. I suspect Tal didn’t like his position, since Black has full compensation for the pawn (while drawing a GM with Black suits Barry):

Diagram

Actually, until 16.Ra3 the players were following Giri-Nakamura, Stavanger 2015. 16…Bh5 looks like a clever prophylactic move, solving all black problems. Still, as chess fans we of course prefer the players to battle it out until the bitter end.

Mark Timmermans. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Mark Timmermans. Photo: Lennart Ootes

16:30 Mark Timmermans managed to outplay Hing Ting Lai in the early middlegame. The opening was already comfortable for Black, but I feel giving up the light squared bishop with 11.Bxe4 only made things worse. After 20 moves Black was clearly dominating:

Diagram

Here Hing Ting decided to give the exchange on d3, but he didn’t get compensation for it.

16:54 Thomas Beerdsen played the opening well against Koen Leenhouts and could have claimed full equality with 13…Rae8. Instead, he played 13…Ne5 which lead to trouble. Koen missed the very strong 15.Bd3, but still has the upper hand in the current position, although Black does have some counterplay:

Diagram

17:05 Bobby Cheng managed to exchange queens against Eric Lobron and now his piece is stronger than the black pawns (which are divided over two wings).

17:10 Lucas van Foreest got under some pressure (he should have played 23.f4 to stop 23…e5), but his knight pair does a reasonable job taking on the Brazilian bishop pair:

Diagram

17:18 Just when I wrote that, Lucas blundered with 39.Rc3 and it didn’t take Alexandr long to play 39…Bf4 with a winning position.

Alexandr Fier.  Photo: Lennart Ootes

Alexandr Fier. Photo: Lennart Ootes

17:22 The situation has dramatically changed at Lai-Timmermans. Mark should have blocked the white e-pawn with 33…Ne6 (large advantage) or 35…Ne6 (still equal), but as the game continued he completely lost control. Now Hing Ting, who deserves credits for never giving up, is the one playing for a win. With hindsight, the exchange sacrifice on d3 was the game changer.

17:32 Starting with 27…gxh5! Thomas Beerdsen fought his way back against Koen Leenhouts and now that the time control is reached, the position looks fairly balanced.

18:06 At Leenhouts-Beerdsen the moves were repeated a few times and indeed there doesn’t seem to be a way to make progress, so they agreed to a draw. Koen was of course hoping for more and Thomas can be relieved. The endgame at Cheng-Lobron looks difficult to hold for Black:

Diagram

18:21 Alexandr Fier missed the opportunity to go 47…Rf2 followed by Rxa2. Lucas van Foreest is a tough man to beat as we have seen before. Black still needs to work hard to win:

Diagram

18:29 Hing Ting Lai is now having a winning rook endgame against Mark Timmermans:

Diagram

18:53 Hing Ting Lai won against Mark Timmermans. Bobby Cheng is about to win against Eric Lobron. Lucas van Foreest will have to defend Rook+Bishop versus Rook in the next hour.

Bobby Cheng.  Photo: Lennart Ootes

Bobby Cheng. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Batavia 2017 Round 3

15:09 While Feyenoord is playing PSV (Dutch soccer league), the third round of the Batavia chess tournament has begun. Just like in the first round, tournament leader Bobby Cheng is playing the Catalan, now against Hing Ting Lai, who is having a much rougher start in the tournament. Tal Baron is playing the Nimzo-Indian against Alexandr Fier and has been thinking for over half an hour now. Barry Brink is preserving the momentum by grabbing the initiative early on against Mark Timmermans. The youngsters Thomas Beerdsen and Lucas van Foreest choose the Italian Game as their battleground for today. Eric Lobron went for his solid English opening, but Koen Leenhouts is showing his aggressive intentions by playing h5.

15:14 It was a pleasure to have Yochanan Afek with us last night, who showed the solutions to the fascinating endgame studies he selected for this tournament. The studies can still be found on this website, in case you didn’t get the chance to try and solve them yet.

16:28 Tal Baron eventually ended up thinking for 34 minutes in the following position:

Diagram

Tal knew that he had done some home analyses in this position, but he couldn’t remember the details. Over the board he didn’t like 11…Bxc3 and 11…Bxc5, so he ended up playing the most ambitious 11…Qa5, which backfired badly. Alexandr Fier grabbed his chance and secured the win after 24 moves. The guys are now analysing the details, while Feyenoord secured the 2-1 win against PSV.

16:39 It should be said that Mark Timmermans’ opening choice against Barry Brink, a sideline of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, was a very risky one. Barry is playing very confidently and has a strategically winning position:

Diagram

16:57 Interestingly, Bobby Cheng managed to get the exact same kind of bind as in his first round game. The diagram on the left is the current position against Hing Ting Lai, the diagram on the right is from his game two days ago against Lucas van Foreest:

Diagram2Diagram

17:21 Barry Brink indeed won in a direct attack and is now on a most impressive 2.5 out of 3. Blitz is certainly not his forte (especially the modern 3+2 time control, if you have played 5+0 all your life), but in normal chess he is not to be underestimated. Mark Timmermans at least has the consolation that Feyenoord won.

17:47 Koen Leenhouts’ opening play was possibly a bit too creative, since Eric Lobron slowly but surely started to dominate the position:

Diagram

In this position (and also a few moves before), White could have played 26.f5!, basically with a winning position. As Eric got under time pressure, he decided to play it safe, but lost the initiative. By now they have made it to the time control and the endgame is equal.

17:59 Thomas Beerdsen and Lucas van Foreest had a fairly complicated dynamic battle. Initially, White seemed to be better (for instance 12.a4 looks natural), but after that Black took over (White’s king position and d-pawn being vulnerable). When they were approaching the time control, the position was back to equal, the complications were basically over and then something dramatic happened:

Diagram

Here Thomas didn’t sense any danger, played 39.Nxb6 almost instantly, only to discover that that loses a piece to 39…Qe1 40.Kg2 Bd4 and White resigned a few moves later. As Lucas remarked: “I cannot say I tricked you. You tricked yourself”.

18:29 Peter Boel visited Batavia today and gave us a copy of his new book “Drie paarden”. This book is an entertaining collection of chess stories, and since it’s written in Dutch, it will be the prize for the best Dutch player in the tournament.

18:45 Bobby Cheng won again with his trademark bind and is still in the lead with a perfect score: 3 out of 3. Again it was an impressive positional performance, just play over the game and feel how he does it.

18:57 Eric Lobron blundered an important pawn right after the time control. Offering an exchange of rooks with either 41.Rd4 or 42.Rd4 would have been fine.

19:23 Koen Leenhouts converted his material advantage against Eric Lobron. It has been a wild day of chess again, see you tomorrow!