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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.