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.
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.
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.
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.