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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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):


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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!

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.