In his acclaimed Chess for Zebras, Scottish GM Jonathan Rowson tries to make the point that the theoretical advantage of the white pieces might be overestimated in chess. However, on Sunday in Cafe Batavia nobody wanted to argue with it, as the White players scored a sweeping 5-0. After yet another excellent round, the drawing percentage is as low as 40%.
In this third round about a dozen spectators were watching the games in the small playing hall, and a few more on the TV screen in the bar. Among them were New in Chess Yearbook editor René Olthof, and also the strong grandmaster Erik van den Doel.
The first game to finish was Hertneck-Kleijn, and quite an attractive game it was. The German grandmaster had prepared a topical line of the Slav, once popularized by Alexander Morozevich, quite deeply. He had seen the position after 17. Rfc1 before the game:
Here Kleijn surprised with 17… Ng4!? where 17… Nf6 is normal. Hertneck’s 18.Nb5 Qb6 19. Nbd4, which turned out to be new, was an excellent response. There, Kleijn already made the losing mistake: instead of 19… a5, 19… Nde5? allowed 20.a5 Qc7 21. a6 which was just killing, as White’s attack comes much faster than Black’s. Hertneck finished it off nicely:
24. a7+ Ka8 25. Nxc6! Nxc6 26. Rxc6 h3 27. Bh1 Bc5 28. Rc7 h2+ 29. Kf1 Rd5 30. Rxb7! Nxf2 31. Rb8+ 1-0
Hertneck said: “I don’t like to win from the opening, just by preparation. For me this is a horror, because I want to win at the chess board, with my own thoughts, but if you play such a system you have to be prepared.”
Not long after, Benjamin Bok also had to throw in the towel, after a bit of a strange game against Praveen Thipsay. The Indian Grandmaster’s take of the game: “It was not a very pleasant opening for me; he equalized very comfortably. At some point I think he was better, after I sacrificed a pawn. But I have lots of initiative and his pieces are passive. It became a very vague position. At some point he just blundered a piece, but there I already have more than enough compensation; it was almost like a Zugzwang.”
After Black’s last move 37… Qb7? White won material with 38. Rxe6! Rxe6 39. Nf6+.
Mr Thipsay told us that his compatriot Dibyendu Barua, who was supposed to travel to Amsterdam together with him and Mr Murshed (but had to cancel altogether because of heart issues), is doing OK now. He was discharged from the hospital on Friday. Mr Thipsay, in India a senior manager in a bank, only plays about two tournaments a year. “I thought it was a very nice opportunity. The pleasure to play is very big.”
Bart Michiels defeated Robert Ris, who sacrificed a pawn in the opening (a Giuco Piano). “I played my knight to g3,” explained Michiels, “and there if you exchange the h5 bishop for the f3 knight you’re just worse.” At first the Belgian IM had underestimated Black’s chances. “But now, after the analysis, it seems that Black doesn’t have enough compensation. The position was similar to the Marshall, but a better version for White.”
During the game Michiels was a bit afraid here, but he found the excellent set-up 18. Nf1! Rae8 19. Rxe8 Bxe8 20. f3! Bc6 21. Be3 Nd5 22. Bxd5 Bxd5 23. c4 which left Black with no real compensation.
IM Manuel Bosboom played White for the first time, and won his first game – quite a good game in fact. “It went well. I chose a quiet set-up against his Dutch Defence – a double financhetto. At some point Black had to come with …e5 or …b5 and he chose the latter. It’s not something to worry about because I can try to make use of his weak squares, and in the game I could even sacrifice and exchange which was very strong.”
Here White played 19. Ng5! Bxd1 20. Rxd1 Nc7 21. Bh3 d5
and then crashed through with 22. Nxh7! Nxh7 23. Nxg6+ Kg8 24. Bxc8 e6 25. Bb7 Rf7 26. Bxc6 Qc8 27. Bc1 Qa6 28. Bf4 Qxc6 29. Ne5 Bxe5 30. Bxe5 Ne8 31. Qg6+ Kf8 32. Rd3 Ke7 33. h4 Nf8 34. Qg5+ Kd7 35. Qg8 Ke7 36. Qg5+ Kd7
White’s bishop dominates the board. Black is helpless against 37. g4! Kc8 38. Qg8 Qd7 39. g5 Rf5 40. g6 Qe7 41. g7 Qxh4 42. Bg3 Qh6 43. gxf8=Q Rxf8 44. Qg4 Ng7 45. Be5 Rh8 46. Kf1 Qc1+ 47. Ke2
Here Black misses a last chance. He should have tried 47… Qc2+48. Rd2 Qc4+! 49. Kf3 Rf8+ 50. Kg2 Nf5. In the game 47… Rh1 proved insufficient: 48. Bxg7! Qf1+ 49. Ke3 Rh3+ 50. Kf4 Qxd3 51. Qxe6+ Kb7 52. Qxd5+ Ka7 and Black resigned because White gives mate in five.
The last game to finish was Van Kampen-Van Delft. Things didn’t go so bad for Black in the opening, to say the least. After accurate play in a h3 Najdorf Black missed a change in the early middlegame. Van Delft, who is sharing his games on Facebook, wrote about the game: “Actually I got the timing of …e5 wrong. I already considered it on move 17, but correctly decided against it. When I played it on move 21 I was already in trouble, but playing it on move 19 seems to give black the upper hand.”
Indeed, after 19…e5! it’s not easy to find a good way to play for White. After 19… Rb5? 20. g6 Bf6 21. Qc4 e5 22. f5 h6 23. Rd5 White had a strong bind over the light squares which eventually led to the win of a pawn. Surprisingly, the computer found a way to draw in a position where White seemed to be dominating completely, which shows how tricky middle-games with opposite coloured bishops can be.
Here 47… d5!! would have been enough for a draw: 48. Bxd5 Rxd5! 49. exd5 Qd4 50. Kc1 Qxb2+ 51. Kd2 Qd4+ 52. Ke2 Qe5+ and quite amazingly Black gives a perpetual. In the game 47…Qe3 48. Qg1! forced the exchange of queens (because 49. Rxf6 is also threatened), and in the remainder Van Kampen demonstrated that the ending was winning.
See also Tom Bottema’s reports at Schaakbond.nl.