Round 9 LIVE

The Dutch talents: Robby Kevlishvili, Thomas Beerdsen and Liam Vrolijk Photo: Harry Gielen

Welcome at the last round of the tenth edition of the dMP Batavia Amsterdam Chess Tournament! Grandmaster norms are no longer possible, but there is still a lot at stake. Alexandr Fier and Ivan Sokolov are playing for tournament victory. Miguel Santos Ruiz, Thomas Beerdsen and Robby Kevlishvili are fighting for third place. Last but not least, everyone is still battling for the best game and best endgame prizes. Loek van Wely, Zhaoqin Peng and yours truly are keeping a close eye on the games. The tournament standings before the last round:

Alexandr Fier went for the sideline 4.g3 against the Nimzo-Indian, but Miguel Santos Ruiz wasn’t impressed and replied with the very solid 7…c6 and 8…b6.

Here 10.cxd5 was a positional mistake (keeping the tension with 10.Nd2 looks better, since Black cannot really take on c4). After that Black was comfortable at least, and the players agreed to a draw a few moves later.

At least shared first: Alexandr Fier Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

Ivan Sokolov’s 5…Ba5 in the opening is a rare move, that he played once before in 2011. Alina Kashlinskaya reacted well initially, but instead of the calm 9.Nf3, the immediate 9.c4 looks like White’s best try for an edge. Black could have equalized with 12…dxc4 13.Bxc4 Be6, but it seems that the grandmaster is looking for ways to keep as much tension in the position as possible, since he needs a win to share first place in the tournament.

Alina is now thinking in this position. The tactics after the sharp 17.Bd4 seem to favour White, after all other moves the position is about equal.

Friso Nijboer played the Pirc Defence against Anna Zatonskih:

Here Anna should have played the natural 11.Bh6 with the idea 11…Nxd3 12.cxd3 and White’s position looks somewhat easier to play. Her 11.Be2 allowed 11…c5 and now Black’s position is easier to play.

Alina found the right moves and possibly could have gotten something significant with 22.d5. After 22.Rab1 b6, as played in the game, the position looks about balanced:

The youngsters are getting inspired by Manuel Bosboom:

Here Thomas Beerdsen went for the exchange sacrifice 16…Rxf3 against Liam Vrolijk, which was far from forced, but certainly entertaining. The position is very tense right now.

Robby Kevlishvili has clearly adopted to the way Manuel Bosboom is playing. He played a very clever waiting strategy leading to the following position:

Here Manuel’s attacking move 26.h4 is a positional mistake, allowing 26…h5! and now Robby is clearly better.

The tournament is spoiled with prominent visitors today: John van der Wiel, Hans Ree and Yasser Seirawan all just arrived to enjoy their Sunday afternoon at Café Batavia.

Apart from 32…Bxf4 allowing the intermediate 33.Nxf7, which was missed by both players, Robby Kevlishvili won a convincing game against Manuel Bosboom. That means a 0 out of 4 finish against the four youngsters for Manuel, but the local chess artist still is the main candidate for the special game prizes.

Manuel Bosboom Photo: Harry Gielen

Liam Vrolijk was better in the final position against Thomas Beerdsen, but the situation on the clock worried him, therefore a draw was agreed. That means Miguel Santos Ruiz and Robby Kevlishvili are sharing third and fourth place.

Alina Kashlinskaya and Ivan Sokolov agreed to a draw in the rook endgame, which means that Alexandr Fier is the sole tournament winner!

Guess what Friso Nijboer played in the following position with Black against Anna Zatonskih:

The position is about equal by now, they are battling it out until the very end. I’m going to close the blog now and start preparing the prize giving. I hope everyone enjoyed the event, see you next year!

Round 8 LIVE

Keizersgracht Amsterdam 2018 Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

While many people are ice skating on the canals in Amsterdam, the dMP Batavia tournament is entering the final stage. The standings at the top are:
1 Fier 5.5
2 Sokolov 5
3 Santos Ruiz 4
All other players are on 3 or 2.5, so the field is very tight. Only Miguel Santos Ruiz still has chances for a GM norm and needs to score 2 out of 2.

The first action of today is taking place in the game between Robby Kevlishvili and Alina Kashlinskaya. The game started as sharp Anti-Berlin with White castling kingside and Black castling queenside:

Here Robby played the testing 11.g4 and Alina replied with the equally critical piece sacrifice 11…Nxg4. Objectively this may favour White, but the position is so complicated that anything can happen in a practical game.

A few moves later the following position was reached:

Here Black can get enough play for the piece with 16…Qe6 or 16…g5, but instead Alina went for 16…Rd6, which looks equally dangerous, but is tactically flawed. Robby has been thinking for 20 minutes now, trying to find his way through the complications.

Two beautiful quotes from the Dutch newspapers (google translate has reasonable translations):
“In café Batavia Amsterdam schaken ze zonder vrees en met oplossingen die gewone stervelingen niet snel zien” (Gert Ligterink in De Volkskrant, March 2)
“Schaken in een café moet je vergelijken met schaatsen op natuurijs: de omstandigheden zijn misschien niet ideaal, maar eigenlijk is er niets mooiers” (Max Pam in Het Parool, March 3)

Friso Nijboer versus Alexandr Fier was a positional version of the Caro-Kann Advance Variation, in which White tends to be a bit better, but Black is very solid:

Here 23.Nb3 Rc8 24.Qf2 was probably the way to keep some pressure. In the game the knights were exchanged and a draw was agreed.

Grandmaster alert: Jorden van Foreest has arrived and is now blitzing in the bar. Another grandmaster just remarked: “Only Bosboom can have a knight on b2”:

Robby Kevlishvili calculated everything correctly until the end and won.

Anna Zatonskih played an impressive game today:

Playing with Black against Ivan Sokolov really isn’t a joke, but in this position Anna has equalized and she managed to keep the balance until the end, so the players agreed to a draw a few moments ago.

Miguel Santos Ruiz managed to keep the bishop pair from the opening against Liam Vrolijk and is now nursing his edge in the endgame:

Miguel Santos Ruiz Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

Thomas Beerdsen won against Manuel Bosboom. We just checked the game, Black should have played 18…b4 first and only then g5. The immediate 18…g5 left White on top and the young IM from Apeldoorn converted his advantage convincingly.

Liam Vrolijk managed to keep a draw against Miguel Santos Ruiz, so no grandmaster norms this year. But Café Batavia is packed with chess players right now, all having a great time. See you tomorrow, for the last round, which starts at 12:00!

Round 7 LIVE

Ivan Sokolov and Friso Nijboer analysing yesterday, and me blogging in the background 😉 Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

Welcome back at round 7 of the 10th dMP Batavia Amsterdam Chess Tournament. Clearly the big game of today is the encounter between the heavyweights Alexandr Fier and Ivan Sokolov. Friso Nijboer versus Miguel Santos Ruiz is two more 2500 players facing eachother. Anna Zatonskih has White against Robby Kevlishvili and Alina Kashlinskaya has the white pieces against Thomas Beerdsen. Last but not least, the oldest participant Manuel Bosboom is facing the youngest participant Liam Vrolijk.

Ivan Sokolov went for the oldskool Hübner Variation of the Nimzo-Indian, but Alexandr Fier seemed to be well prepared and as so often played rather quickly. Black’s strategy is to try to block the position as much as possible, to neutralise the white bishop pair:

Here in the spirit of the position Fier sacrificed a piece for two pawns with the cool 18.Bxg5! and seems to have the better chances for now. White’s longterm threat is setting his kingside pawn steamroller in motion. The position remains very complicated though. Exactly the exciting battle we were hoping for!

Thomas Beerdsen surprised with the English Defence, to which Alina Kashlinskaya reacted with the enterprising novelty 8.h4. The game had an early climax in the following position:

Here Alina blundered with 12.h6, allowing the pseudo sacrifice 12…Bxe5! and all Black’s pieces came to life, with a large advantage.

Miguel Santos Ruiz played his usual Najdorf and probably prepared well against 6.g3 since Friso Nijboer had played that before in this tournament (against Robby Kevlishvili). The bishop manoeuvre Bd8-a5 looked good and Black is comfortable:

Alexandr Fier should have started pushing his kingside pawns with 31.g4 when he had the chance. His 31.Kf2 was too slow and now Ivan Sokolov seems to succeed in blocking the pawns, with a large advantage for Black.

Robby Kevlishvili was playing a very impressive game today, until things became messy. Anna Zatonskih went for the Exchange Slav, but her 15.f4 was probably too committal, losing flexibility in her pawn structure (instead 15.Na4 was still known). Robby slowly, but surely got complete control over the position:

Here 31…b5 was spot on, but two moves later 33…Rb8 was a serious inaccuracy, missing the winning 33…Rc7.

Manuel Bosboom was playing an interesting positional game against Liam Vrolijk, until he became too enthousiastic about his attacking chances:

Here 24.Rg4 was a serious mistake, since Black simply replied 24…h5, pushing the rook right back to where it came from and taking a healthy pawn on b2 next. Shortly after the time control, Liam scored his first full point.

We now have the uncommon situation of only one game being finished after the time control. Ivan Sokolov missed a few good winning opportunities along the way and now the position looks balanced. And while I’m typing this, the players agreed to a draw:

Thomas Beerdsen should have won his game much faster, but still has a winning position in the rook endgame. Robby Kevlishvili should have won as well, but at this point the rook+knight endgame is equal. Miguel Santos Ruiz was clearly better, but now has to be a bit careful to save half a point.

The remaining games were all drawn in the end, but hard-fought draws. In two cases that was the most logical result, only Thomas Beerdsen was of course disappointed that he let the win slip away. For the neutral spectator it has been another day full of exciting chess. See you tomorrow!

Round 6 LIVE

Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

When we closed the blog on Tuesday evening, Friso Nijboer was still working on converting his extra pawn against Robby Kevlishvili, which he did convincingly. That gives us the following standings after five rounds:
1 Fier 4
2 Sokolov 3.5
3 Bosboom 3
4-7 Kevlishvili, Nijboer, Zatonskih, Santos Ruiz 2.5
8-10 Beerdsen, Kashlinskaya, Vrolijk 1.5

Everyone enjoyed the rest day on Wednesday his or her own way, varying from going to the sauna, walking around the beautiful city center, to simply resting.

Photo: Alexandr Fier

Today is round 6 and we are expecting some very exciting battles to unfold. Robby Kevlishvili needs to show something with White against tournament leader Alexandr Fier and I expect grandmasters Ivan Sokolov and Friso Nijboer to battle it out until the bitter end. In case you have never talked to a real grandmaster before, visiting us here at Café Batavia (right across Amsterdam Central Station) is your chance, because after the game the players are gathering in the bar together with the visitors. Young and old, everyone is most welcome here!

Robby met Alexandr’s Taimanov with the tricky sideline 6.Qd3 and went on to sacrifice a pawn:

It looked like White’s compensation would have been rather vague after 17…Nf5, but Alexandr played in a very risky way instead. Here he went for 20…f6, which is going too far. Let’s see whether Robby will use the attacking opportunities offered to him!

Miguel Santos Ruiz got a nice space advantage against Manuel Bosboom and then increased the pressure:

Here Miguel lashed out with 14.Nd5 and Manuel overreacted with 14…f5, which only created weaknesses in his own camp. Miguel sacrificed a piece on g7 moments ago and has a winning position.

Thomas Beerdsen played the interesting sideline 5.c4 against Anna Zatonskih’ Petroff Defence. The position was balanced for a while, but according to IM Li Riemersma, Black’s 17…cxd4 was badly timed, giving White good control over the position. Thomas has put up an impressive bind by now:

Here the white a-pawn is most likely deciding the issue.

Robby Kevlishvili didn’t manage to make the most out of his attacking position. As regular visitor Jeroen van Onzen remarked (without engine assistence), it would have been most logical to open up the g-file first with 21.exf6. Things got out of control and Alexandr started running with his king accross the board:

This is the Sicilian player’s dream: running right through all the madness and win in the end, which is what the Brazilian GM did.

Friso Nijboer turned his King’s Indian into a very comfortable Benoni against Ivan Sokolov and was doing well until the following position appeared:

Here 26…Na6 was a serious mistake, allowing the nasty 27.f4 and now White comes out on top. Ivan Sokolov won a piece and with it the game.

Miguel Santos Ruiz and Thomas Beerdsen both won their winning positions.

Liam Vrolijk and Alina Kashlinskaya played a topical endgame variation of the Ragozin Defence, in which White is a bit better. It’s all about getting in the right pawn break. According to GM Jan Smeets White should have played 18.Rg1 followed by g4-g5. Liam got himself into trouble by playing the wrong pawn break:

Here Alina could have been a healthy pawn up with 34…Ne5 35.R3d2 Bxd4. In the game Liam did some good damage control and escaped with a draw.

That gives us the following standings after round 6:
1 Fier 5
2 Sokolov 4.5
3 Santos Ruiz 3.5
4 Bosboom 3
5-8 Kevlishvili, Nijboer, Zatonskih, Beerdsen 2.5
9-10 Kashlinskaya, Vrolijk 2

That’s it for today, another quick, but wild round. See you tomorrow!

Round 5 LIVE

Welcome back! Last night Anna Zatonskih managed to convert her material advantage against Manuel Bosboom and is back at 50%. Generally, the field moved together quite a bit yesterday, since everyone can beat everyone. Today is round 5, the round where everyone wants to do especially well, just before the rest day.

The games are rather positional and technical so far. Ivan Sokolov-Miguel Santos Ruiz and Anna Zatonskih-Liam Vrolijk are both Nimzo-Indians with 5.Ne2:

Ivan has started a minority attack with b4-b5, creating a backward pawn on c6, but Miguel’s pieces are well coordinated. Anna didn’t get in a minority attack, while Liam has the same good piece coordination with Black.

Thomas Beerdsen’s opening choice can be called unfortunate, since Alexandr Fier played very accurately (and fast!), achieving a serious positional advantage:

Here Thomas decided to gamble by taking on c3 and a4, but by now Alexandr is simply winning.

Friso Nijboer also has a strong Maroczy Bind against Robby Kevlishvili:

Manuel Bosboom takes his role as the local chess artist seriously and opened with 1…a6 against Alina Kashlinskaya today. Right now the position is interestingly balanced:

Anna Zatonskih didn’t manage to get in a good pawn break (b4, e4 or g4) against Liam Vrolijk, therefore the players decided not to push it and sign the peace. Ivan Sokolov did manage to complicate matters from his Nimzo-Indian position. Miguel Santos Ruiz said after the game that he had seen that a certain line wasn’t working, but then forgot about it and went for it anyway. The tactics worked in White’s favour and Sokolov won.

Manuel Bosboom made his fans happy by winning an impressive attacking game against Alina Kashlinskaya. When I wrote before that the position was interestingly balanced, it was actually already better for Black due to the open f-line. Friso Nijboer kept his advantage against Robby Kevlishvili and is trying to win the endgame as we speak.

I’m closing the blog for now, don’t forget Wednesday is a rest day, see you on Thursday!

Round 4 LIVE

Anna Zatonskih. Photo: Lennart Ootes

The ladies returned from their shopping tour, I returned from Belgium (solid draw with Black against Xander Wemmers, our team won) and Lennart is back to taking photos, so we are all set for round 4. Don’t forget that Yochanan Afek will be here today at 18:00 to show the endgame studies we published before, everyone is welcome to join.

Tournament leader Alexandr Fier went for the Grünfeld today, and Liam Vrolijk’s sideline 7.Bg5 doesn’t seem to have the desired effect, as Black’s position already looks easier to play.

The top encounter between Robby Kevlishvili and Ivan Sokolov sees the Scotch opening. Robby went for the fashionable 7.Bb5 and now seems to have an edge both on the board and on the clock. It will be very interesting to see whether the young man from Zoetermeer will be able to increase the pressure against the top grandmaster.

Robby Kevlishvili. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Manuel Bosboom started pushing ‘Harry’ again with the novelty 7.h4, but Anna Zatonskih reacted well with 7…h6 and centralising her pieces. Black may have an edge here (11…b5 looks like a good option), but with all pieces still on the board the position is very tense.

Cafe Batavia. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Friso Nijboer’s 7…h6 was probably too slow in the opening, since Thomas Beerdsen firmly grabbed the initiative with the thematic pawn sacrifice 14.f5! and now dominates the position.

I’m not sure why Miguel Santos Ruiz gave up his dark squared bishop against Alina Kashlinskaya, but by now the position is balanced again.

Friso Nijboer. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Thomas Beerdsen knows how to attack:

Here the nasty tactic 19.Be3! decided the game. Friso Nijboer is a great sportsman, so the players are now analysing in the bar.

Alexandr Fier let his positional advantage slip away:

Here 26…Ba3 misplaced the bishop, while 26…Bg7 keeps the pressure. Towards the end, things got worse, but Liam didn’t realise he was now having the advantage and was probably relieved that he survived.

Manuel Bosboom’s creative play has backfired and he is on the defence. Typically, he turned it into some sort of positional exchange sacrifice, so Anna Zatonskih still has some technical problems to overcome, in order to win the position:

Robby Kevlishvili couldn’t find a convincing plan for White:

Here he felt obliged to sacrifice a pawn with 26.e6, but never got enough compensation. Now Ivan Sokolov can keep pushing in the endgame forever.

Update from the Beerdsen-Nijboer analyses: 16…Nd4 is critical and can lead to very interesting variations.

Alina Kashlinskaya lost control along the way:

Here 22…Nd7 was unfortunate (22…Re8 was better), after which Miguel Santos Ruiz came out on top and eventually won material and with it the game.

Robby Kevlishvili managed to save half a point, but Manuel Bosboom is still suffering. Yochanan Afek has arrived, so I’ll close the blog for now. See you tomorrow!

Round 3 LIVE

The third round started rather slow today. Tournament director and daily ‘live blogger’ Merijn van Delft preferred to play the Belgium Club Competition (2nd division! – a bit under his level I would say), while the other members of the organization committee decided to watch their favorite football club matches. And when your reporter (still frozen after a disappointing 0-0 in the Amsterdam Arena) entered bar Batavia, he found Alina and Anna enjoying their semi day off after a 10-move draw.

The girls left for some well deserved shopping 🙂

The featured game of the day should be Alexandr Fier vs Manuel Bosboom – both with an enterprising playing style and the number 1 and 2 of the standings. It started with a Sicilian Maróczy Bind meets Nimzo Indian:

Position after 9.bxc3

And while Fier developed his pieces (Be3, Kh1, f3, Knight d4 somehow to d3), Bosboom decided to push ‘Harry’ h7-h5-h4-h3, provoking a weakness on the long a8-h1 diagonal:

Position after 18…Rhg8

But this gave White the opportunity to weaken the black squares: 19.Qf2 Nfd7 20.Nxc5 Nxc5 21.e5!, after which Bosboom decided to sacrifice an exchange: 21…b6 22.exd6 Rxd6 (Instantly played. But what is wrong with Qxd6?). 23.Bf4 g5 24.Bxd6 Qxd6 25.Qd4 Rd8 26.Qxd6 and Black will suffer for the rest of the afternoon.

Ivan Sokolov can’t be too thrilled with his start (he lost to Bosboom in the first round), but is on steam again. In a Nimzo Indian he prepared the e3-e4 push to the maximum when Thomas Beerdsen decided to complicate matters:

Position after 16.Rcd1

16…Ng5?! 17.Bxg5 hxg5 18.e4 dxe4 19.fxe4 Ng4 (threatening Ne3) 19.e5! (opening up the position).

Position after 20.e5

Being greedy with 20… Ne3 doesn’t work as 21. Bh7+ Kh8 22. Qd3 Nxf1 23. Rxf1 with threats like Qh3 and Rxf7 is killing. So instead Beerdsen played 20…c5 21.Qb3 Rf8 22.Be4, keeping Black busy.

Merely 8 moves later Sokolov prepared a killer blow. Can you find it?

Position after 29…Nh6

Manuel Bosboom seems to hang on. After the time control (Fier played very fast after winning the exchange) Bosboom’s piece activity gives some compensation for the exchange:

The live blog will continue after the blogger’s laptop is charged up to a more sustainable battery level.


Liam Vrolijk had quite an off day. First he got lost in Amsterdam (Cafe Batavia is next to the central station, feel free to stop by in the coming days) but the arbiter was kind enough to safe him from the dangerous city, resulting in a 15 minute disadvantage on the clock. And during the game he couldn’t cope with his cramped position after the opening:

Nijboer-Vrolijk, position after 17.bxc3

In an attempt to simplify the position, Black allowed a crucial weakness: 17…c5?! 18.c4! cxd4 19.Nxd4 Bc5?! (not 19…Qxd4 20.Bh7, but the passive 19…Bd7 would at least avoid long term issues) 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.Qe2 and White’s Bishop pair and the weak e6-pawn decided the game.

Kevlishvili – Santos Ruiz was a Ruy Lopez that turned into a King’s Indian, which had quite some potential to fire up, but in the end 14…f4 and 34.Rd5 were the only pieces that made it over the middle line of the board. Draw.

Manuel Bosboom showed his true fighting spirit and made the draw against Alexandr Fier. With an exchange down it was Bosboom who sacrificed a second exchange:

52…Rxd5! With an extra b- and e-pawn, it was Fier’s turn to struggle to make a draw, but the Brazilian did so without much trouble: 53.cxd5 Kxd5 54.Rdxe3.

Top standings after round 3:
1. Fier 2.5/3
2-4. Bosboom, Kevlishvili, Sokolov 2/3

Round 2 LIVE

Photo: Lennart Ootes

The second round has begun and the game that draws most attention so far is the heavy theoretical battle between Alina Kashlinskaya and Alexandr Fier, who both won their game in the first round. Alina played the Marshall Gambit of the Semi-Slav and Alexandr sacrificed an exchange. Technically 18…cxb5 is a novelty, but the move is known from the same position with the black king on e7 instead of f8. Our impression so far is that Black has good compensation because his pieces are better coordinated:

Alina Kashlinskaya. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Thomas Beerdsen and Robby Kevlishvili are friends, but not at the board today. With 0-0-0 and g4 Thomas made his aggressive intentions clear and while Robby was executing the classical pseudo sacrifice Nxe4, Thomas threw in the cool 15.d4, leading to fascinating complications:

Alexandr Fier is winning by now and Thomas Beerdsen seems to have the upper hand.

Alexandr won and is now analysing with Alina in the bar. Alina said she analysed this opening some time ago, but didn’t expect it to appear on the board today. By the way, all chess fans are most welcome to visit us here at Café Batavia, only two minutes walking from Central Station.

2 out of 2. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Friso Nijboer opted for the Classical Dutch Defence in his game today against Manuel Bosboom. Of course Manuel played creatively in the early middlegame, but Friso managed to exchange queens and is now comfortable in the endgame:

As Nijboer remarked yesterday: one inaccurate move with White against the Petroff Defence and your edge is gone. That’s what happened to Miguel Santos Ruiz today against Anna Zatonskih:

Here maybe White should go 15.b3 followed by exchanging on c6 to keep some sort of edge. In the game Miguel played 15.Qf6 and while it looks nice for White, the position became completely balanced and the moves were repeated soon after.

Anna Zatonskih Photo: Lennart Ootes

Ivan Sokolov recovered well from his painful loss yesterday. His choice of the King’s Indian against Liam Vrolijk left no doubt about his game plan. The grandmaster equalized comfortably and then went on to put a mighty knight on d3 (remember Fier’s knight on d6 yesterday?). Only then some inaccuracies made the position unclear, but just when Liam was about to equalize again, the young Dutchman blundered terribly:

Here 27.Kh1 was called for, but 27.g3?? allowed 27…Rxc2! and White had to resign.

Photo: Lennart Ootes

The game between Thomas Beerdsen and Robby Kevlishvili remained very tense, until the following position appeared:

Here 26.Qe3 was needed to keep the balance, but Thomas played the horrible 26.c4?? allowing 26…Rxf2 and Black wins by force.

Manuel Bosboom is in really good shape, he defended very well and drew his slightly inferior position against Friso Nijboer. So all games are finished now, another quick round. Alexandr Fier is the sole leader with 2 out of 2, followed by Manuel Bosboom and Robby Kevlishvili with 1.5 out of 2. See you tomorrow!

Round 1 LIVE

The special tenth edition of the Batavia tournament has begun! Last night we had a fun start of the event, with many people attending the official opening and the blitz tournament. Alexandr Fier dominated the blitz with 7 out of 7. Even though he lost the last two rounds, he still was clear first. Friso Nijboer came in second. Ivan Sokolov needed some time getting used to the 3+2 time control (being used to the old 5+0), but recovered as the tournament proceeded. Robby Kevlishvili became fourth and Thomas Beerdsen fifth, so they will also have an extra white game in the main tournament.

The start of the first round has been very quiet so far. Ivan Sokolov versus Manuel Bosboom is a heavyweight 1.d4 player meeting a creative King’s Indian player. Manuel always goes his own way, so he quickly went out of book. Alexandr Fier went for an interesting Benoni with colours reversed against Anna Zatonski.

The youngsters prefer 1.e4 today, but they’re avoiding main line theory. Robby Kevlishvili played an offbeat line against Liam Vrolijk’s French Winawer and Thomas Beerdsen went for a sideline against Miguel Santos Ruiz’ Najdorf. Friso Nijboer typically doesn’t avoid theoretical battles and played the topical Bd3/Qe2 setup against the Petroff Defence of Alina Kashlinskaya. Russian girl playing the Russian opening. Slowly but surely, the battles are becoming more concrete now – we’ll keep you posted in the following hours.

Alina Kashlinskaya. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Alexandr Fier is the first one to get the upper hand in his game against Anna Zatonskih:

In this position the Brazilian champion played 19.c5! creating a big square for his knight on d6. Soon after he reached an endgame a pawn up.

Action! Friso Nijboer has sacrificed a piece:

Here Friso played 15.Bxa6! with very exciting complications.

Thomas Beerdsen and Miguel Santos Ruiz played a quick draw:

Here it may seem that White is better due to the famous good knight versus bad bishop, but since Black has pressure along the c-file (c2 and e4 are weaknesses), he is perfectly fine.

Alexandr Fier has won his game.

Alexandr Fier. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Suddenly all games are finished, including some big upsets. We’ll update you as quickly as possible.

It seems that Ivan Sokolov had an edge after the opening, but the position was very tense, with all pieces still on the board. With 24.Nd4 he started to lose track:

Here Manuel Bosboom grabbed the initiative with 24…Qh5!. White needs to react modestly, as grabbing the pawn on b3 led to serious trouble. Bosboom played his trademark exchange sacrifice and went on to win convincingly.

Friso Nijboer’s piece sacrifice was correct, but with 19.Bf4? he lost track, while 19.Nb3 would have given White an interesting initiative. Alina Kashlinskaya defended very accurately and won deservedly. So two very experienced grandmasters lost their games with White today in the first round, the tournament has started with a bang.

Robby Kevlishvili’s play in the early middlegame was far from impressive:

Here Liam Vrolijk could have recaptured with 15…Qxf6 (he didn’t realise that he could meet 16.Nxd5 with 16…Qxf2), keeping the bishop pair and with it a large advantage. As the game continued, the position remained roughly balanced and the moves were repeated in the endgame. That’s it for today, a wild start of the tournament. See you tomorrow!