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:

Diagram

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:

Diagram

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:

Diagram

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:

Diagram

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:

Diagram

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:

Diagram

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:

Diagram

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:

Diagram

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

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