Round 4: Ernst and Hebden under pressure

Sipke Ernst and Mark Hebden continue to lead the Batavia tournament. In the 4th round the two grandmasters drew their games to reach 3/4, but both were looking at lost positions at some point. FM Hugo ten Hertog won a good game against GM Keith Arkell, and only needs to double his score in the remaining five rounds to secure an IM norm.

The board at which Richard Vedder and Achim Illner were playing, set fire at an early stage. In the heat of the moment (after 17…dxc3) Illner offered a draw (thinking “I should have offered Sipke a draw, but I didn’t, and even lost”) but Vedder was brave enough to continue. He wasn’t awarded for his courage, though.


1. e4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. d4 c5 6. dxc5 Nc6 7. Bf4 Bxc5 8. Bd3
An old line that’s not dangerous for Black theoretically speaking, but over the board it’s different.
8 … f6 9. exf6 Nxf6 10. Qe2 O-O 11. O-O-O Bd7 12. Ne5 Nxe5 13. Bxe5 Qb6 14. f4 a6
Probably too slow. 14… Rad8 and 14… Bc6 had been played before.

15. g4!
Now the game becomes very sharp. The threat of 16.g5 is strong!
15 … Be3+ 16. Kb1 d4 17. g5! dxc3

18. b3
An interesting alternative was 18. Bxc3!? which the players looked at during the post-mortem. After 18 … Nd5 19. Bxh7+!

Black should go 19 … Kf7 because the alternatives lose by force: 19… Kh8 20. Qh5 Nxf4 21. Bxg7+! Kxg7 22. Qh6+ Kf7 23. Bg6+! or 19… Kxh7 20. Qh5+ Kg8 21. g6 Nxc3+ 22. Ka1 Rxf4 23. Qh7+ Kf8 24. Qh8+ Ke7 25. Qxg7+ Ke8 26. Rxd7 Nd5 27. Rf7 +-. After 19 … Kf7 20. Be5 and White still has a dangerous initiative for the piece.
18… Bxf4!
The best chance.

19. gxf6
Perhaps the simple 19. Bxf4 Nd5 20. Be5 was the best try – White certainly keeps a small edge.
19… Bxe5 20. Qh5!?
The alternative was 20. Qxe5 Rxf6 21. Bxh7+ Kxh7 22. Rxd7 for example 22 … Qc6 23. Qh5+ Kg8 24. Rhd1 e5.
20… h6
The only move. 20… Rxf6 21. Qxh7+ Kf8 (21… Kf7 22. Bg6+! Rxg6 23. Rxd7+ Ke8 24. Rhd1) 22. Qh8+ Ke7 (22… Kf7 23. Bg6+! Rxg6 24. Rxd7+ Kf6 25. Rf1+ Kg5 26. h4+ Kg4 27. Qh7) 23. Qxg7+ Kd8 24. Be4! Bd4 25. Qh8+ Ke7 26. Qxa8 Qc5 27. Ka1+-.
21. Qxe5 Rxf6 22. Qe4 Rf5

23. Bc4
The computer wants to force a draw here with 23. Qe1 and when the rook moves along the f-file, the queen can go back to e4.
23… Qc5!
Combining attack and defence – there’s always the Qa3 mating threat.
24. Rxd7
Again 24. Qe1 might have been best here.
24… Qa3 25. Rxg7+ Kxg7
Best was 25… Kh8! 26. Rg8+ (26. Rh7+ Kxh7 27. Qxb7+ Kh8 28. Qxa8+ Rf8 29. Qxf8+ Qxf8) 26… Rxg8 27. Qd4+ Rg7 28. Qxc3 Qc5 and Black should be winning.

26. Rg1+?
With 26. Qd4+ e5 27. Qxc3 White keeps some drawing chances.
26… Kf8!
Now Black is winning immediately.
27. Rg8+ Kxg8 28. Bxe6+ Kg7 29. Qxb7+ Kf8
29… Kh8 30. Qxa8+ Rf8 was easier.
30. Qxa8+ Ke7 31. Qb7+ Kxe6 32. Qc8+ Ke7 33. Qc7+ Ke8 34. Qc8+ Ke7 35. Qc7+ Kf8 36. Qc8+ Kg7 37. Qxc3+ Rf6 38. Qc7+ Kh8 39. Qd8+ Qf8 40. Qd4 Qg7 0-1

Hugo ten Hertog has excellent chances to score an IM norm in this tournament. After his win on Monday he is on 2.5/4, and needs a 50% score in the remaining rounds. During the post-mortem, watched by GMs Ian Rogers and Hans Ree, at some point the young Dutchman said: “Here I thought I’ll just throw a few pieces towards his king. Why not?”

Ten Hertog – Arkell

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. h3
In the October 1969 issue of Boys’ Life, Bobby Fischer analyses a win by Ken Rogoff (yes, the later GM and Professor of Economics at Harvard) played at the US Juniors. Fischer gives 5. h3 an exclamation mark and writes:

Ordinarily you should avoid unprovoked Rook Pawn moves because there’s something more important to do. In this position, though, it’s justified because …Bg4 would have been very strong for Black, pinning White’s Knight and putting pressure on his d-Pawn indirectly.

5 … dxe4 6. Nxe4 Nd7 7. Bd3 Ngf6 8. Nxf6+ Nxf6 9. O-O O-O
Fischer about this position:

Now White’s advantage is that he has a Pawn in the center — which means more space — plus both his Bishops have good diagonals. (…) Black’s pieces, on the other hand, have little scope.

10. Re1 Qc7 11. b3!?
Putting the bishop on b2 is a rare plan in this variation. 11. c3 Re8 12. Bg5 Be6 13. Qd2 Rad8 14. Bf4 Qc8 15. Be5 Tkachiev-Okhotnik, Aubervilliers 2001.
11… b6 12. Ne5 Rd8 13. Bc4 Nd5 14. Qf3 Be6 15. Bb2 b5 16. Bd3 b4 17. h4 Qd6 18. h5 a5 19. hxg6 hxg6 20. Re2 Bf6
This looks like a good moment for 20… a4.
21. Rae1 Bd7 22. Qg3 Be8 23. Re4 Bg7 24. Bc1 Nf6 25. Rh4 a4 26. Bg5 axb3 27. axb3 Ra5 28. Bc4

28 … Rd5
Black is under huge pressure and decides to give an exchange, hoping that he can repel the attack and put pressure on White’s c-pawn. 28… Nd5 29. Rh3! threatens 30.Qh4 and after 30 … Bd7 White has a nice tactic:

30. Nxf7! Qxg3 31. Rxg3 Kxf7 32. Rxe7+ Kf8 33. Rxg7 Kxg7 34. Bxd8.

29. Bxd5 cxd5 30. Qh2?!
White should have started with 30. Bf4.
30… Rc8?!
Black misses his last chance: 30… Ne4! 31. Bf4 Qe6.
31. Bh6 Bb5 32. g4
32. Bxg7 Kxg7 33. Qf4 would have won even quicker, because 33 … Rh8 fails to 34. Rxh8 Kxh8 35.Nxf7+.
32… Bxh6 33. Rxh6 Kg7 34. Kg2 Rg8 35. Rh1 Kf8 36. Rh8 Qe6 37. Qh6+ Ke8 38. Qg7 1-0

Manuel Bosboom is not in great shape, and again more or less lost without a fight, to Thibaut Vandenbussche. Sipke Ernst got into big trouble in a Catalan against Robin van Kampen.

Ernst – Van Kampen

Black is already a pawn up, and the following combination simplifies the position:
23… Nxe4! 24. Bxe4 Nh4+ 25. Nxh4 Bxe4+ 26. Qxe4 Qxd1 27. Qf4 c2 28. Nf3 Rc3 29. Ne5 f6 30. Ng6 Re8 31. g4

31 … Qd3
31… e5! was winning instantly thanks to a double attack: 32. dxe5 fxe5 33. Nxe5 and now 33 … Qd5+ 34. Nf3 Rf8 is curtains.
32. Qe3 Qxe3 33. fxe3 e5 34. Kf2 Rd8 35. Ne7+ Kf7 36. Nf5 g6 37. Ng3 exd4 38. exd4 Rd7?!
38… Re8 39. a4 Re7 and White is running out of moves, e.g. 40. d5 Rc5 41. d6 Rd7.
39. Ne2 Rc8 40. Ke3
Now it’s not clear whether Black can still win the game. At move 66 a draw was agreed.

The other leader, Mark Hebden, was also lost at some point but David Klein just couldn’t deliver the final blow. In the following position it seemed that the young Dutchman was still winning, but the English grandmaster found an amazing defence:


57… Rh2! 58. h6
58. Bxf4 Nxf4+ 59. Rxf4 Rg2+! 60. Kf6 Rg3 61. h6 Rxc3 62. h7 Rh3 63. Kg7 Rg3+ 64. Kf7 Rh3

and it’s not clear whether White can win this, e.g. 65. Kg6 Rh1! (65… c3? 66. Rf3!) 66. Rf1 Rh2.

58… f3 59. h7 f2 60. Kg7

60. Bh6 Ne5+ 61. Kg7 Rg2+ 62. Kf8 Ng6+ is a draw.

Exercise: Black to play and find the toughest defence!

60… Nc5! 61. Rxf2?!

After the game Hebden rushed outside to smoke a cigarette, but not before he shared with participants and spectators that his opponent had “missed several wins” and that he felt that 61. Rf7+! was still winning for White. Let’s have a look: 61 … Kc6!

62. Be3! (62. Rxf2 Ne6+ 63. Kg6 Rxh7 64. Kxh7 Nxg5+ 65. Kg6 Ne4 66. Rc2 Kb6 67. Kf5 Nc5 68. Ke5 Ka5 69. Kd4 Nd3 is a draw) 62… Ne6+ 63. Kg8 Rg2+ 64. Kh8 Rg3 65. Bxf2 Rxc3 66. Rf6 Kd5 67. Kg8 Rxa3 68. Rf5+ Kc6

69. Rf8! Rh3 70. Rb8! c3 71. h8Q Rxh8+ 72. Kxh8 Kd5 73. Rxb5+ Kc4

74. Re5! and White gives mate in 45 according to the tablebase!

We’ll make sure that Yochanan Afek sees this ending – he might be able to distill an endgame study from it!

61… Ne6+

62. Kg6
One idea was 62. Kg8?? Rxf2! and now it’s Black who wins!
62… Rxf2 63. h8Q Nf8+ 64. Kg7
Another idea was 64. Kh5?? Rh2+ 65. Bh4 Rxh4+! and wins!
64… Ne6+ 65. Kh7 Nxg5+ 66. Kg6

This is White’s best try, but the resulting ending is a draw.
66 … Ne6 67. Qb8 Rg2+ 68. Kf6 Rf2+ 69. Ke5 Re2+ 70. Kf5 Rf2+ 71. Ke4 Nc7 72. Qa7 Re2+ 73. Kf3 Re6 74. Qc5 Ra6 75. Kg4 Ra8 76. Kf5 Ra6 77. Qf8 Ra8 78. Qb4 Kc6 79. Qe7 1/2-1/2

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