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.

Batavia 2016 Round 5

13:47 Today is a crucial round for all players. Not just because tomorrow is the rest day, but also if we have a look at the pairings. First of all, tournament leaders Sabino Brunello and Friso Nijboer are facing eachother. Will they consolidate their lead or try to knock out the other one? The Italian grandmaster is playing white. Then we have Arthur Pijpers and Stef Soors playing eachother, the Dutchman has the white pieces. The winner of this game moves up to plus two (3.5 out of 5) and keeps reasonable chances for a GM norm (6.5 out of 9). Moulthun Ly is playing with White against Lucas van Foreest and also needs a win to stay in the running for a GM norm. Anne Haast desperately needs to get on the scoreboard just before the rest day, but her opponent Danny de Ruiter will try to get back to 50%. The remaining game between Lars Schandorff and Thomas Willemze will see a clash of styles: the theoretician versus the coffeehouse player.

14:24 Brunello-Nijboer is a Dutch Defence, and while in round 3 and 4 Nijboer was the one who had to think first (and ended up being an hour down on the clock), he now made his opponent think with the interesting 5…c6.

14:38 Pijpers-Soors is the main line of the Caro-Kann advance variation, as expected. The timing of 11.Ne1 may not be correct though. My personal notes indicate the novelty 11.c3!? as a good waiting move, strengthening White’s position in the centre.

14:43 Ly-Van Foreest is a Steinitz Deferred (4…d6) of the Ruy Lopez. White’s 5.c4 is a solid positional approach, but Black’s 5…f5 is probably just bad.

14:54 De Ruiter-Haast is the Bayonet Attack of the King’s Indian. White is supposed to play the prophylactic 15.Rb1. After Danny’s direct 15.Ne6, Anne should be doing fine. While I’m typing this, Danny has played 18.Nd5?, but that just leaves the e6 pawn hanging.

15:04 Schandorff-Willemze saw 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 b5, which is more positional than it may look at first sight. Black is solid so far.

15:20 It is not clear what Danny de Ruiter must have missed, but he doesn’t have compensation for the pawn. Anne Haast is pawn up with good control over the position:

De Ruiter-Haast after 19…Ncd4

15:27 Arthur Pijpers played 12.c3, but that’s not as strong as one move before. Stef Soors has equalized by now:

Pijpers-Soors after 16.Be3

15:34 Thomas Willemze has fully equalized against Lars Schandorff with the help of the elegant b4 pawn break:

Schandorff-Willemze after 12…b4

15:46 Lucas van Foreest’s 5…f5 may not have been good objectively speaking, but it certainly made the game very entertaining. After Moulthun Ly’s anti-developing reaction 8.Ng1 the position became a mess. The straightforward 8.Nfd2 Qg5 9.0-0 Bh3 10.g3 looks very good for White. Further improvements include 11.d5 for White and 11…Qh4 for Black. After the accurate 13.Bb1! White seems to get out on top after all:

Ly-Van Foreest after 13.Bb1

16:02 Friso Nijboer is full of ambition today! With 10…Be6 he initiated a pawn sacrifice against Sabino Brunello, while starting some exchanges with 10…Nxe4 was a viable option. No quick draw at the top board today, as the Amsterdam grandmaster has just burned all bridges behind him:

Brunello-Nijboer after 13…f4

16:37 Pijpers has given up his bishop pair in an attempt to keep control over the postion, but Soors now looks comfortable with his control over the c-file.

16:38 Ly will soon be able to bring his king into safety and then he will be a healthy pawn up.

17:00 Anne Haast kept control over the situation and scored her first full point against Danny de Ruiter.

17:04 Arthur Pijpers has lost control over the position, and Stef Soors is convincingly taking over.

17:06 Thomas Willemze looked perfectly solid for a long time, until he blundered with the careless 23…Ra8.

Schandorff-Willemze after 23…Ra8

Here Lars Schandorff had no problems finding 24.d5 exd5 25.Nxd5 and White is instantly winning. Black resigned a few moves later.

17:14 Moulthun Ly returned his extra pawns and beat Lucas van Foreest in a direct attack.

17:18 At Pijpers-Soors, 28…d3 looked winning for Black, but by now there is still a lot to fight for.

17:22 Sabino Brunello has convincingly refuted the pawn sacrifice by Friso Nijboer, and after castling queenside the issue is decided:

Brunello-Nijboer after 22.0-0-0


Batavia 2016 Round 4

Photo: Bas Beekhuizen

14:34 After three rounds the grandmasters are dominating the Batavia tournament. Nijboer and Brunello are on 2.5 points and Schandorff is on 2 points. Only Ly from Australia and Soors from Belgium managed to get a plus one score, but they are probably not happy with their somewhat shaky play so far. Arthur Pijpers plays solid chess, but didn’t get to full speed yet. The other Dutchmen (and woman) have been suffering up to this point. Let’s see what today brings!

15:00 Nijboer-Schandorff is the first pairing between grandmasters this week and they are having a long theoretical discussion in the Keres variation of the Ruy Lopez. With 24…Nxh3+ Lars played the first new move, which led by force to the diagram position:

Nijboer-Schandorff after 26…Nxg5

Materially speaking, Black is fine with two pawns for the exchange, but of course the white rooks are quite active. Some explorative analysis suggests that White remains better, but Black has good drawing chances with his compact position.

15:22 Soors and Brunello are following a long theoretical line as well, in the Spanish Four Knights. This line ends in a perpetual check though, which was first played in Vallejo-Dominguez, Cuernavaca 2006.

Soors-Brunello after 22.Ka2

15:38 In Willemze-Ly, the Dutch IM unfavourably changed the pawn structure with 10.e5?! (normal is to keep manoeuvring with 10.Nf1), since now he is stuck with a backward pawn on d3.

Willemze-Ly after 15…Rad8

15:44 Nijboer decided to offer a draw, since he was getting very low on time. Schandorff had no reason to decline. Soors-Brunello indeed ended in a perpetual.

15:51 Anne Haast did not feel like long theoretical 1.e4 lines today and played 1.b3 against Arthur Pijpers. An interesting position appeared on the board, but just like Willemze, with 10.d4?! she unfavourably transformed her pawn structure and now Black seems to be on top:

Haast-Pijpers after 16.Bc3

White’s minor pieces lack scope, whereas the black pieces are become active.

16:07 In the fifth game of today, Lucas van Foreest didn’t play a very convincing Alapin Sicilian, but Danny de Ruiter also hesitated somewhat in his play. After 20.a5 a critical position arose:

Van Foreest-De Ruiter after 20.a5

Here Black should stay calm with something like 20…Bc7 21.axb6 axb6. Danny’s 20…bxa5 21.Rxa5 is also playable, if he finds the powerful 21…e5. Instead, he played 21…Bb4 22.Ra6 which leaves White with a positional advantage.

16:32 It seems that Moulthun Ly missed a chance for a large advantage, since he could have played 23…Rd2. Black is still better, but at least Thomas Willemze got rid of his weak d-pawn.

16:35 Van Foreest has cashed in too early on Black’s weak a-pawn. 27.Rxf7 was a fancy move, but the sober 27…Bf6 neutralises everything.

16:40 Pijpers is clearly on top by now, but the position remains very sharp. Let’s see what Haast will still come up with.

16:57 The picture remains unchanged: De Ruiter en Willemze have repaired their positions, while Pijpers has a winning position:

Haast-Pijpers after 30…dxe5

17:50 Arthur Pijpers indeed beat Anne Haast. The other two games are still balanced.

Batavia 2016 Round 3

Photo: Bas Beekhuizen.

15:24 The top pairing of the third round is Moulthun Ly versus Friso Nijboer. Friso is playing his favourite Classical Sicilian, but he seems unfamiliar with 16.Bc4!, a powerful relatively new move first played by Georgiadis and later played by Grischuk and Ganguly.

Ly-Nijboer after 16.Bc4

Moulthun already played a model attacking game against Dubov’s Classical Sicilian in Qatar, so he can be considered a true expert for White in this opening. By now the Australian candidate grandmaster is almost an hour up in time.

15:48 Lars Schandorff knows his openings well, and he did get a positional edge with White against Stef Soors’ Bogo-Indian.

Schandorff-Soors after 17…Nf8

18.Qd3 may have been a bit too careful though, whereas the straightforward 18.b5 looks nice for White. Black possibly should have tried 18…g6 (to get the bishop to f5) instead of 18…Re8.

16:33 Danny de Ruiter decided to go for the endgame that is known from a notorious Carlsen-Anand World Championship game.

Pijpers-De Ruiter after 21…e5

Here Arthur went for 22.Bd3 followed by Be4, but without bishop pair White is no longer better. 22.Re2! followed by Rb2 would have been pretty manoeuvre.

17:34 Thomas Willemze beat Lucas van Foreest in a pretty attacking game. Lucas probably should have closed the position with 13…d4, since 13…dxe4 gave White the central stability he needed.

Willemze-Van Foreest na 19…Kh7

Here Willemze found the key move 20.f4!, after which his attack crashes through.

17:49 Sabino Brunello beat Anne Haast in a theoretical discussion in the 3.e4 b5 variation. Not an easy start of the tournament for the Dutch lady, but she always fights back.

17:55 All games have finished now and Café Batavia is still packed with chess players. The three remaining games were all drawn. A final quiz question: how could Nijboer (who solved his problems impressively) have won in the following position?

Ly-Nijboer after 29.Rd8+


Batavia 2016 Round 2

Thomas Willemze - photo by Lennart Ootes

Thomas Willemze – photo by Lennart Ootes

14:36 The second round of the Batavia tournament is underway, with the following pairings:

De Ruiter-Brunello
Van Foreest-Pijpers

14:44 Grandmaster Friso Nijboer won his first game with White yesterday and will try to double his score with another white game today. Thomas Willemze completely ruined his fantastic position yesterday, so today he will try everything to get on the scoreboard. On the menu is a relatively quiet French Defence with dxe4. But things can become sharp, should White decide to castle queenside.

15:25 Stef Soors from Belgium and Moulthun Ly from Australia both won their games yesterday. They are having a classical Spanish Four Knights on the board, in which Black equalized without problems. The critical move seems to be 10.Bh4. With 14.Rb7 it may look as if White gets the initiative, but Black can defend his pawns comfortably.

16:09 Danny de Ruiter and Sabino Brunello played a topical line from the Queen’s Indian (known from games by L’Ami and interestingly, Schandorff). The first new move was 15…Ra6 and a few moves later Black has equalized. A tough positional battle lies ahead.

16:39 The game between Anne Haast and Lars Schandorff has a somewhat mysterious course. In a sideline of the classical Ruy Lopez, 14.d5 would have been the thematic move. Instead, Black got the initiative with 17…d5. But in the next few moves Black hesitated for too long with his dxe4, so now the game is unclear again.

17:07 Lucas van Foreest and Arthur Pijpers had the same French line as Nijboer and Willemze, but with 5…Be7. The most critical line seems to be 8.Nc3, but Lucas preferred going for the endgame. With 19…f4 Arthur got himself in some trouble, since the white rook became active. A natural improvement seems to be 19…a5 20.Ne2 h5. In the current position White is still enjoying his endgame edge.

17:16 Nijboer didn’t need to castle queenside to create problems for his opponent. Willemze failed to find 15…0-0 16.Qe2 Bd4! with a reasonable position. Instead, he castled queenside himself, but that’s more than his position could handle. So Nijboer now on 2 out of 2.

18:23 Danny de Ruiter had excellent chances against Sabino Brunello today. After 24.h3 (see diagram) the grandmaster playing Black was living from his increment.

De Ruiter-Brunello after 24.h3

Here Brunello blundered a piece with 24…Ne5 25.Qxe4 Qxh3, since here White can simply go 26.Qb7 Ng4 27.Nf3. The remainder of the game was pretty random, with De Ruiter making the final mistake. The Dutchman got a bit too distracted by his opponent’s time trouble.

18:43 Arthur Pijpers managed to hold his endgame versus Lucas van Foreest to a draw. White could not go 28.hxg3 because of 28…Rg6 29.Rxh7 f5. Therefore, strong would have been a waiting move like 27.b3 with the idea 27…Bd8 28.g3.

18:54 De Ruiter-Brunello was not the only chaotic game of the round. Moulthun Ly was winning for quite a while against Stef Soors, but at some point lost track and was even lost for a few moves. Of course the game was eventually drawn.

19:10 Danish grandmaster Lars Schandorff beat Anne Haast in the last game to finish today. The critical position arose after 25 moves:

Haast-Schandorff after 25…Rae8

Here Anne should have taken on d6 to eliminate Black’s strong dark squared bishop. When she failed to do so, Black quickly got the upper hand.


Batavia 2016 Round 1

Photo: Lennart Ootes

Photo: Lennart Ootes

12:16 The 8th Batavia chess tournament was opened last night with a blitz tournament, which gives us following first round pairings:

Nijboer-Van Foreest
Schandorff-De Ruiter

14:09 The first round has started! We have some cool openings, including two King’s Indians, a Sicilian Taimanov and a Caro-Kann. Interestingly, Friso Nijboer repeats the 1.f4 he played against Lucas van Foreest in the blitz last night. Yesterday Lucas played 1…Nh6, today he opts for 1…b6.

14:51 Today’s top pairing is Brunello-Pijpers. Sabino convincingly won the blitz tournament last night with 8 out of 9 and is of course the number one seed. Arthur is the highest rated Dutchman playing for a GM norm. His blitz tournament didn’t go well at all, so this first round encounter is a very serious test. Fortunately for the Dutch fans, Arthur did his homework and seems to have a reasonable position from a King’s Indian Averbakh variation. Black has exchanged two pair of minor pieces, which should ease his task. Still some accuracy is needed though.

15:08 Nijboer-Van Foreest reached a funny symmetrical position after 7 moves, with all pieces and pawns still on the board. Friso played the first new move with 8.a3. Lucas has just played the central pawn thrust 8…d5, the position is becoming sharp now.

15:17 Danny de Ruiter did not play the optimal line for Black in the King’s Indian, versus Lars Schandorff’s double fianchetto variation, and is now under pressure. All grandmasters are playing White today and their opponents will surely feel this.

15:48 Stef Soors managed to equalize with his solid Caro-Kann, but knowing Thomas Willemze, the game is only just starting.

16:07 Moulthun Ly and Anne Haast took the game from a Sicilian Taimanov to a Classical Scheveningen. Whereas the main line runs 11…Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5, Anne went for 11…Na5. In the next few moves White managed to get the initiative.

16:32 It looks like Arthur Pijpers has found a concrete way to equalize the game versus Sabino Brunello. His 17…Ne5 may not have been necessary, but he found some good moves later on. A good job by the Dutchman so far.

16:38 Lucas van Foreest won the opening battle versus Friso Nijboer, since with 12…Ng4! he could have grabbed the initiative. In the current position after 17.Bxf1, White seems to be more comfortable, but with Nijboer’s time trouble looming, it’s anyone’s game.

16:48 The third player taking on a GM with Black today, Danny de Ruiter, is also still fully in the game. Lars Schandorff must have disliked some of the complications following 15.Qe3, but after the exchange of queens the game was level. Black could have just exchanged the final pair of rooks with 21…Rxd1. The current position is very equal, and while I’m typing this, the players have agreed to a draw.

17:24 From the equal position after the opening, Thomas Willemze managed to get a powerful attack against Stef Soors. It seems that White’s position was a bit easier to play anyway. Apparently, the best way for Black was 19…g5 20.h6 Re6. After 25 moves White was winning:

Willemze-Soors after 25…Kh8

Here White has many ways to win (e.g. 26.Nh6), although none of them is very trivial. With 26.Rxd7? bxa3 Willemze spoiled the win, but after 27.Qd2? axb2 he is actually mated himself and had to resign. What a dramatic finish.

17:33 Friso Nijboer managed to survive his time trouble and beat Lucas van Foreest. The young Dutchman played an inspired double positional pawn sacrifice, leading to the following position:

Nijboer-Van Foreest after 20.dxe6

Here the immediate 20…Bd5!, preventing the white rook from coming to a2, would have given Black full compensation. Judging from the time used, it seems that Lucas was a bit too eager to profit from Friso being low on time. With a temporary piece sacrifice the Amsterdam grandmaster neutralised Black’s activity and got his central pawns rolling.

17:42 Arthur Pijpers skillfully kept the draw against Sabino Brunello. The game was drawn with only two kings left on the board.

18:04 That leaves us with the final game today: Ly-Haast. The Dutch women champion has been under pressure for most of the game, but fought hard and had a reasonable position at some point. After 33…Bxe2 34.Qxe2 Ng6 Black seems to have enough compensation for the pawn. The current endgame position is most likely winning for the candidate grandmaster from Australia.

Batavia Challengers – 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. You can try to solve them all weekend long. On Monday evening, at 18:00 local time, 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 draw



White to win



White to draw



White to win



White to win



White to win



White to draw



White to win



White to draw



White to draw