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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.