Batavia 2017 Round 2

14:37 The second round has started and the wifi seems to be much better today, hopefully it stays that way so we can follow the games more closely than yesterday. Let me start with a quick first impression of the games. Mark Timmermans and Alexandr Fier have a very sharp Sicilian position. They played very fast so far, but soon they will slow down since the position will be increasingly complicated. Koen Leenhouts and Bobby Cheng are having a more solid Queen’s Gambit Declined. Hing Ting Lai and Barry Brink is an all-Amsterdam encounter that started off with a quiet Trompovsky. Thomas Beerdsen has his second Jänisch Variation in two days, now with Black against Tal Baron. Lucas van Foreest against Eric Lobron sees a typical structure with a black isolated queen pawn on d5.

15:48 Currently the position at Timmermans-Fier seems to be dynamically balanced:


I had the impression that White was better at some point, but allowing the exchange sacrifice on c3 was probably not a very practical decision, since Black always gets certain compensation.

16:04 Something puzzling is happening at Leenhouts-Cheng. This was the position after 15 moves:


Here Koen sacrificed a piece with 16.Bxg6 fxg6 17.Nf4 but after Black’s reply 17…Qd6 there is hardly any compensation for the piece. It is not clear to me what Koen was thinking, will definitely have to ask him after the game.

16:24 Thomas Beerdsen seems to be in very good shape, as we could already tell from the blitz event and his win in the first round. Today his queen manoeuvre Qd7-g4-h5 was very inspired and at this point Black is better:


16:26 Thomas didn’t find the best way of play (which was the aggressive 16…g5), now the position looks balanced.

16:37 Hing Ting and Barry are having an uncommon position with both sides having castled queenside. Barry actually grabbed the initiative and is now attacking on the queenside:


16:46 The situation at Van Foreest-Lobron is delicately balanced:


With most pieces still on the board anything can happen. Lucas has a time advantage (on the clock), so that may become an important factor.

16:54 Total madness at Timmermans-Fier, things became insanely complicated. Mark missed the opportunity 30.c4, after which Black took over and is now a piece up against two pawns.

18:48 It’s clearly Saturday evening here in Batavia, many people visiting the tournament venue. Koen Leenhouts indeed lost and explained that in his mind his knight was already on f4 when he sacrificed the piece. Thomas Beerdsen lost track somewhere and suffered from his bishop being stuck on e3, after which Tal Baron converted the endgame advantage.

18:52 Barry Brink can no longer be called the underdog, as he won a fantastic attacking game against Hing Ting Lai, and now has 1.5 out of 2. Actually the position totally resembled a classical King’s Indian, in fact a mirrored version of it, with kingside and queenside reversed:


19:00 By the way, Bobby Cheng is now the sole tournament leader with a perfect 2 out of 2 score.

19:05 Mark Timmermans fought really hard and managed to escape with a draw against Alexandr Fier. As if the game hadn’t been providing enough entertainment already, the fun continued in the endgame. Look at this very cool pawn structure:


19:13 Also fighting really hard is Lucas van Foreest. It is very well possible that he had a lost position at some point against Eric Lobron, but at the moment a draw seems most likely as Lucas has a fortress:


21:12 On move 116 Eric Lobron blundered horribly against Lucas van Foreest and got his queen trapped. On move 129 he resigned. True drama at Batavia today, lots of fighting chess. See you tormorrow!

Batavia 2017 Round 1

15:35 The 9th edition of the Batavia tournament has started! Yesterday we had a lovely evening with the official opening of the tournament and a spectacular blitz event. As it turned out, this year’s tournament line-up contains several blitz experts. Many chess fans were happy to see that Eric Lobron still seems to have his old chess strength. The very experienced grandmaster from Germany didn’t play an official tournament for 15 years, but last night he dominated the field with a 6 out of 6 start. Only in the final rounds Alexander Fier managed to take over the lead and win the blitz event. Thomas Beerdsen also had a strong performance sharing second place with Eric. As we speak the first round of the main event has started and just like last year I will keep you posted during the round.

16:10 After two hours of play, Koen Leenhouts and Hing Ting Lai are still following the game Navara-Caruana, Wijk aan Zee 2016. Both players probably had some trouble remembering all the details, which is quite understandable considering the ever bigger amount of theory one needs to remember these days. It’s a lengthy theoretical line from the Nimzo-Indian, in which Black needs to be careful in order to keep the balance and therefore a very practical choice by the strong IM from Zeeland. This is the position in which the talented young player from Amsterdam has been thinking for quite a while now:


16:31 Thomas Beerdsen from Apeldoorn and Mark Timmermans from Rotterdam played the Jänisch Variation of the Ruy Lopez, in which Mark first deviated from the main roads with the uncommon 12…Qd6. Soon they reached a position with opposite coloured bishops that was clearly favouring White. I think that keeping one pair of rooks on the board with 26.Rd1 would have given White a strategically winning position. Black’s drawing chances increased significantly as all the heavy pieces came off and in the current position Black probably has a fortress:


17:05 I clearly underestimated the problems Mark was facing, since Thomas convincingly broke through the fortress. A quick check reveals that possibly only the well timed pawn sacrifice 36…d4 may save Black, with the idea to put the black king on d5 to keep the white king out. An interesting endgame that certainly needs deeper analyses.

17:15 Apologies for the slow blogging, I’ve been having serious wifi problems so far, we’ll look into this more closely after the round has finished.

17:16 Eric Lobron versus Tal Baron from Israel has finished in a repetition of moves. A solid game by both sides that seemed to be fairly balanced.

17:35 Bobby Cheng has played an impressive game against Lucas van Foreest and crowned his positional play with a direct attack. A quick impression of the remaining games: Koen Leenhouts seemed to be the first one to make a mistake, but Hing Ting lost track after that, so now Koen is a pawn up in the rook endgame. Barry Brink was in serious trouble against Alexandr Fier, but the Brazilian GM must have miscalculated something badly, since now the Amsterdam underdog is a pawn up in the endgame.

Batavia Challengers 2017 – selected by Yochanan Afek

Endgame composition GM Yochanan Afek, who is based in Amsterdam, has selected ten endgame studies to solve, for the fans of the Batavia tournament. On Saturday 25 February in the evening, Yochanan will visit Café Batavia and present the ten solutions. Feel free to stop by, have a drink and enjoy the beauty of these studies. And of course you’ll be able to have a look at the grandmasters playing.

More on Yochanan:


White to win

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9th Batavia Chess Tournament

Batavia-Amsterdam-Schaaktoernooi-2017 afficheThe 9th Batavia Chess Tournament takes place from Thursday, February 23rd to Sunday, March 5th, 2017 in Café Batavia 1920, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The games will start each day at 14:00 hrs. The final round starts at 12.00 hrs. Wednesday, March 1st is a rest day.

Admission to the playing hall in Cafe Batavia is free.
The cafe is located opposite the Amsterdam Central Station, in the direction of Zeedijk, left to the St. Nicholas church, at Prins Hendrikkade 85.

The Batavia Chess Tournament is a 10-player all-play-all event. The rate of play is 40 moves in 90 minutes plus 30 minutes for all remaining moves with 30 seconds per move added from the start.
The games are FIDE rated and gives players the opportunity to earn grandmaster and international master norms.


1. GM Alexandr Fier (BRA) 2581
2. GM Tal Baron (ISR) 2544
3. GM Eric Lobron (GER) 2528
4. IM Koen Leenhouts 2487
5. IM Bobby Cheng (AUS) 2453
6. Lucas van Foreest 2453
7. FM Thomas Beerdsen 2422
8. IM Mark Timmermans 2415
9. FM Hing Ting Lai 2392
10. FM Barry Brink 2309

Prize Fund

1st place: €500 & Euwe trophy.
2nd place: €300
3rd place: €200

Blitz – 1st place: €100, 2nd place €60, 3rd place €40

The brilliancy prize of €150 for the best game and the best endgame prize of €150 are made possible by de Melker & Partners (dMP). The jury consists of GM Zhaoqin Peng and IMs Manuel Bosboom and Merijn van Delft.





Title norms

The requirement for a GM norm is 6½ points except for Barry Brink – he needs 6 points. An IM-norm is 4½ points.
Lucas van Foreest and Thomas Beerdsen have already met all requirements for the IM-title.

Batavia Blitz & Opening

On Thursday February 23rd at 20.00 hrs the participants of the Batavia Chess Tournament will play a blitz tournament to determine the color distribution for the main event. The Blitz event is open for audience in Café Batavia, while the games can be followed live via this website as well.

Format: 10-player single round robin.
Rate of play: 3 minutes plus 2 seconds per move.
Prizes: 1st place: €100, 2nd place €60, 3rd place €40
Tiebreak: 1. Mutual games; 2. SB points; 3. Most blacks; 4. Most wins; 5. Most wins with black; 6. Drawing of lots.
The final ranking of the Blitz determines the starting numbers of the main event. Which means, the winner of the Blitz has starting number 5 in the main event, number 2 has starting number 4, etc. and number 6 gets starting number 10, number 7 starting number 9, etc.

The opening of the 9th Batavia Chess Tournament will also take place on Thursday February 23rd, at 19.00 hrs.


Tournament director: Merijn van Delft
Cafe Batavia: Peter Tames
Chief Arbiter: Arno Eliëns

Batavia 2016: the prize winners

Photo: Bas Beeekhuizen

Lars Schandorff won the 8th edition of the Batavia tournament. Friso Nijboer also scored 6.5 points, but the Danish grandmaster had the better SB points.

Stef Soors scored 6 points, and came very close to a GM norm, but unfortunately lost in the last round.

The prize for the best game went to Thomas Willemze for his beautiful attacking win against Lucas van Foreest.

Willemze-Van Foreest after 19…Kh7

Here White has just sacrificed on h6 and found the great follow-up 20.f4. A pretty queen sacrifice finished the game.

The prize for the best endgame went to Lars Schandorff for his impressive endgame win against Sabino Brunello.

Schandorff-Brunello after 19…Rfxd8

In this position the queens have just been exchanged and White is better, but it still took very good endgame play to beat the highest rated player of the tournament.


Batavia 2016 Round 9

Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

12:55 The final round has started at 12:00 and promises to be very exciting. Lars Schandorff and Stef Soors are leading the tournament with 6 out of 8. Friso Nijboer and Sabino Brunello are following with 5.5 out of 8. Moulthun Ly and Arthur Pijpers are on 4.5 and the other Dutch players are further behind. Soors needs a draw with White against Nijboer for a GM norm, but the Dutch grandmaster will play for a win, since he can still win the tournament himself. Schandorff can secure tournament victory with a win today, but that won’t be easy with Black against Pijpers. Brunello will surely true to win his game with White against Van Foreest. The winner of De Ruiter-Ly will turn a normal tournament in a good one. Haast and Willemze both didn’t have a very good tournament, but a win in the final round would be good damage control.

13:12 Soors-Nijboer has gone out of book as early as move 8, when White played 8.Ne2. Nijboer chose the Modern Defence today and Soors avoided the main lines. All pieces are still on the board and the stage has been set for an exciting last round thriller:

Soors-Nijboer after 12.d5

13:14 Pijpers-Schandorff followed the recent game So-Carlsen from Qatar, until White deviated with 16.bxc4. It seems that White is a bit better due to his space advantage, but anything can still happen in this game as well:

Pijpers-Schandorff after 22.Bc1

13:40 Thomas Willemze got everything he could wish for from his Scandinavian opening. Anne Haast got attracted by a sharp line that turned out to favour Black. The main line is considered to be 8.a3 and personally I think 5.Bd2 might be a smart move order. In the current position Black is a healthy pawn up in the endgame:

Haast-Willemze after 20…a5

13:52 The position is still full of tension at Brunello-Van Foreest. The Italian grandmaster didn’t achieve anything with his Catalan against Ly a few rounds ago, so today he opted for 4.e3. The pawn structure with hanging pawns on c4 and d4 is a classical one. White is playing for piece activity in the middlegame, Black hopes to get the upper hand in the long run. White’s last move 14.c5 looks a bit premature, but action is guaranteed in this game:

Brunello-Van Foreest after 14.c5

14:04 Danny de Ruiter did go for the Catalan against Moulthun Ly, but he lost the compensation for the gambit pawn along the way. Theory recommends either 8.Bg5 or 11.b3 as improvements for White. Danny decided to give up an exchange, but Black is better now:

De Ruiter-Ly after 21…Re8

15:23 Thomas Willemze went on to win the endgame against Anne Haast. Both players have experienced that a lot of theoretical knowledge is required to be able to compete on this level.

15:30 Moulthun Ly is now a pawn up in the endgame against Danny de Ruiter. Lucas van Foreest has interestingly exchanged his queen for rook+bishop+pawn against Sabino Brunello. The Italian grandmaster is not getting anything for free today.

15:35 Soors-Nijboer and Pijpers-Schandorff are both approaching the time control and very tense. We’ll update these games after the time control.

15:52 Stef Soors blundered horribly and went from a winning position to a losing position in one move:

Soors-Nijboer after 37…Rb8

Here 38.Qa4 Ba6 39.c4 would leave Black paralysed and wins for White. Instead, Soors played 38.Rb2?? and now Black is suddenly winning after 38…Ba6. Nijboer is now a piece up.

15:56 Moulthun Ly has converted his extra pawn against Danny de Ruiter. Sabino Brunello and Lucas van Foreest ended in a perpetual check. A very interesting high level game.

16:05 Arthur Pijpers was doing very well at some point against Lars Schandorff. For example 34.f3 with the idea 34…c3 35.Nc4 is a big advantage for White. In time trouble the Dutch IM lost his advantage and now the position is very unclear again:

Pijpers-Schandorff after 41…Qb8

The situation at the top is now: Nijboer 6.5, Soors and Brunello 6. With a draw Schandorff also has 6.5, if he wins, he wins the tournament.

Batavia 2016 Round 8

15:45 We are happy that Lucas van Foreest recovered enough to be able to play today. His opponent Stef Soors needs 1.5 out of 2 from his remaining games for a GM norm. Moulthun Ly needs to win his remaining two games for a GM norm. Today he has White against Arthur Pijpers. Sabino Brunello will most likely try to consolidate his first place with Black in the direct encounter with Lars Schandorff. The other two pairings are all Dutch: Nijboer-Haast and Willemze-De Ruiter.

15:58 Soors made his ambitions clear by playing the interesting sideline 3…Nc6. Van Foreest didn’t react in an optimal way. Early improvements include the prophylactic 4.a3 and the developing 6.Bd2. The first new move was 10.Nd2, but that gives Black a definite lead in development:

Van Foreest-Soors after 11…Nd4

16:10 Pijpers didn’t see any reason to deviate from the opening line he played against Nijboer earlier in the tournament. While Nijboer played 6.Be2, Ly went for the main line 6.Bb5. With 14.Nd4 the game deviates from what has been mainly tried before (14.Be3). The theme of the game remains the same though: Black has an isolated d-pawn, but has piece activity to compensate for that:

Ly-Pijpers after 20…Re2

16:18 Schandorff is following a very effective ‘simple chess’ approach today against Brunello. By playing the exchange variation of the Slav he is keeping all risk to a limit, while playing for a small positional edge. Possible improvements for Black in the opening are 9…Be7 and 12…0-0. In the current position, Black hasn’t solved all problems yet:

Schandorff-Brunello after 18…a5

16:36 With very accurate opening play Friso Nijboer got an advantage against Anne Haast. Note the little positional moves 8.a3, 11.Ba2 and 12.h3. Black’s critical try in this variation may be the double-edged 9…Nd4. With his last move, White is opening up the position:

Nijboer-Haast after 17.d4

16:52 Lucas van Foreest must have been very annoyed with his opening play and is most likely not fully recovered yet. He didn’t feel like defending an endgame a pawn down and preferred to resign. A tough tournament for the young talent from Groningen, but he has a bright chess future ahead of him. Stef Soors has now moved up to the desired +4 score and needs a draw tomorrow for a GM norm.

17:13 Thomas Willemze’s knight manoeuvre initiated by 12.Nd2 didn’t have the desired effect, so Danny de Ruiter got the upper hand in the early middlegame.

Willemze-De Ruiter after 20.Rad1

The complications after 20…Nd4 turn out to favour Black. As the game proceeded (20…Nxg4), White got back on track. After some tactical complications and multiple exchanges, a 2 vs 1 rook endgame resulted and a draw was agreed.

17:23 Moulthun Ly had trouble keeping the position under control, which allowed Arthur Pijpers to strike tactically:

Ly-Pijpers after 28.Kg1

Here Arthur played 28…Ne4! with the idea 29.fxe4 Qg6 30.g3 Qh5 winning. Moulthun had to refuse the piece sacrifice, but now Black is clearly better.

17:31 Very exciting time scramble at Nijboer-Haast right now. Meanwhile Pijpers has a winning position and Schandorff is still pushing.

17:51 In mutual time trouble it was complete chaos at Nijboer-Haast. To the extent that both players seem to have missed a knight fork:

Nijboer-Haast after 35…Rc8

Here White can simply play 36.Ne7. In the current position (after 41 moves) Nijboer is still winning, but some accuracy is still needed.

17:55 Pijpers could have won with the clever 35…g6, creating a square for his king on h7. Just when it seemed that Ly was getting back in the game, he blundered:

Ly-Pijpers after 42…Qe2

Here 43.Kg1 was required. Instead, after 43.Kh3?? g5! the white king is caught in a mating net, and one move later White resigned.

18:06 Nijboer found the best continuation and will most likely win now.

18:07 Schandorff managed to keep up the pressure and is now a pawn up in a rook endgame against Brunello:

Schandorff-Brunello after 44…Rxb5

This position is not easy to judge. White’s winning chances and Black’s drawing chances may be 50-50. It will be interesting to hear from the grandmasters how they judge this position.

Batavia 2016 Round 7

14:15 Many people have caught the flu recently and unfortunately Lucas van Foreest is also forced to stay in bed today. That means an automatic point for Lars Schandorff. The game counts for the tournament standings, but not for rating. Get well soon Lucas!

14:49 Stef Soors from Belgium is doing very well so far with 4.5 out of 6. He needs 2 out of 3 from his remaining games for a GM norm. Today against Anne Haast he played his trusted Caro-Kann. 7…e6 combined with 12…Bd6 is a tricky topical line, which your reporter happens to have played with both colours. It’s still not clear what White’s best way of playing is. Anne’s 14.Bd2 was the first new move.

Haast-Soors after 14.Bd2

15:36 Thomas Willemze played a very sharp modern Philidor line against Arthur Pijpers, but forgot to include a crucial move halfway the variation:

Pijpers-Willemze after 12.bxc3

Here Thomas played the immediate 12…g5, which loses by force (as happened in the game Van Haastert-Broekmeulen, Meesterklasse 2008). Black needs to include 12…Qe7 13.Kb2 and only then 13…g5, with the point that after 14.Bg3 (here and on the previous move White can deviate) 14…Nxg3 15.hxg3 Qxc7 16.Qf6 Black has the saving check 16…Qb6 followed by 17…c5 and the black queen helps in the defence. Arthur knew his theory well and won convincingly.

15:47 Moulthun Ly did his homework very well and comfortably drew the black side of a Catalan against Sabino Brunello.

Brunello-Ly after 14…Rc8

It seems that Black is perfectly solid in this position, which may explain the current popularity of the other main line 8.a4. Brunello played a few more moves and offered a draw.

16:17 Anne Haast and Stef Soors both played accurately and didn’t make any mistakes.

Haast-Soors after 22.Rg5

In this position Soors maybe could have tried 22…Ng4 23.fxe5 (23.Rxh5 is met by the strong 23…f5! 24.fxe5 c5) 23…c5 when White still has to find 24.Rf1! cxd4 25.Rf4! followed by sacrificing both rooks to force a perpetual. Instead, he forced the exchange of queens with 22…Qe4, which led to a very equal position. In the final position Black wins back the pawn by force.

16:38 That leaves us with only one game, the one between Danny de Ruiter and Friso Nijboer. The 2.Nc3 variation of the Dutch Defence resulted in a very stubborn pawn structure, but with the provocative combination of 11.h4 and 12.0-0 White spiced things up. Black has accepted the challenge with 13…g5 and now we are looking at a very explosive position:

De Ruiter-Nijboer after 15.a5


Batavia 2016 Round 6

14:28 The fifth round, on Tuesday, was quite a disaster for the Dutch players. Friso Nijboer lost the battle for first place and Arthur Pijpers lost any realistic hopes for a GM norm. It’s remarkable that the four foreign players haven’t lost a single game yet. Sabino Brunello is now leading the tournament alone. Stef Soors and Moulthun Ly both need 3 out of 4 from their remaining games for a GM norm. Yesterday was the rest day, let’s see how the players have come out of that.

15:14 Soors did not play his usual 1.e4 today, but instead went for the double fianchetto variation that Schandorff also played against De Ruiter in round one. With 6.Qc2 the Belgian IM provoked his opponent into playing 6…Bf5, and it’s questionable whether the black bishop is well placed there. A bit later an exchanging operation took place on the d3 square, resulting in the following position:

Soors-De Ruiter after 15.Rxf1

White has two minor pieces, versus Black a rook and two pawns. Generally, in middlegame positions the minor pieces are stronger (the rook is at its best in the endgame), and that may be the case here as well. Anyway, an interesting material balance.

15:28 Ly went for the modern 6.d3 line of the Ruy Lopez against Schandorff. Black first new move 10…Na5 didn’t change too much: White’s play is a bit easier. That situation is also reflected by the clock times: White is 20 minutes up in time. The ideal situation for the Australian IM to try and see what’s possible today against the experienced grandmaster from Denmark.

Ly-Schandorff after 17.Nxb4

In this almost symmetrical structure, White’s development is a bit smoother.

15:41 Nijboer-Pijpers is a thematic positional fight. White is trying to prove that Black’s isolated d-pawn is weak. But with all minor pieces still on the board, Black generally has enough piece activity to compensate for this structural imperfection. Interestingly, with 12…Bg4 Black deviated from the old game Euwe-Kramer, Baarn 1941.

Nijboer-Pijpers after 13…Bh5

16:16 Lucas van Foreest managed to get the upper hand in the Italian Game versus Anne Haast. Possibly, Black’s 8…Ne7 was inaccurate, and should be replaced by 8…0-0 with the idea 9.Nf1 d5. The tense position after 17…d5 has appeared before in tournament practice and in fact 18.Nxe5 Nxe5 19.Bf4! looks good for White. Crucial was the following position:

Van Foreest-Haast after 19.Bxd4

Here, for better or for worse, Black needs to try 19…Rxd5 20.Bb3 Rd6, even if White keeps a structural edge by taking a few times on e6. Anne took back with the bishop on d5, but then White stays a pawn up. Still, Lucas’ 23.Qd3 wasn’t optimal, so nothing has been decided yet.

16:32 The game between Thomas Willemze and Sabino Brunello is still balanced after 19 moves and may only become wilder as we approach the time control.

Willemze-Brunello after 19…Qa7

The positional 6.g3 variation of the Sicilian Taimanov resulted in a stubborn pawn structure. White’s 13.Nc3 was the first new move and this knight retreat wasn’t really necessary. More flexible is 13.b3 and actually White’s position looks nice there.

16:54 The minor pieces of Stef Soors are clearly dominating by now, he has a winning advantage. Moulthun Ly has kept his positional edge (a superior light-squared bishop), but hasn’t cracked the Danish defence yet. Friso Nijboer got into early time trouble, and this mainly seems to have an unsettling effect on his opponent, as Arthur Pijpers took back on e4 with the wrong piece and is now worse. Anne Haast is still worse, but much better than before. Thomas Willemze has just expressed his attacking ambitions with 20.Qh5.

20:53 Stef Soors convincingly climbed to a +3 score today by beating Danny de Ruiter. His minor pieces just kept dominating the position. Moulthun Ly decided that it wasn’t going to happen today and offered a draw to Lars Schandorff.

21:03 Thomas Willemze kept playing for the attack and after 28 moves a tense position arose:

Willemze-Brunello after 28…Be6

Here Thomas sacrificed a pawn with 29.g5?, but there was no compensation and Sabino went on to win. Brunello is now leading the tournament with 5 out of 6.

21:08 The endgame of Anne Haast turned out to be still quite difficult to defend and Lucas van Foreest showed some good endgame skill in converting.

21:10 When Arthur Pijpers played 18…dxe4, the idea was to soon play Kh8 and f5. The knight on d6 turned out to be a very unstable piece though, and the black position never recovered from the exchange of queens. Friso Nijboer eventually won the rook endgame.