14:25 Welcome everyone to the seventh round of the Batavia tournament. It’s Friday afternoon and we’re ready for a very exciting last weekend. Alexandr Fier and Lucas van Foreest are now sharing the lead with 4.5 out of 6. Lucas needs 2 out of 3 from the remaining rounds for a GM norm. For Bobby Cheng it was rough to fall back to 4 out of 6, while for Barry Brink it’s the other way around, as his win yesterday pushed him up to 4 out of 6. Bobby now needs 2.5 out of 3 for the GM norm. Barry only needs 0.5 out of 3 for an IM norm and 2 out of 3 for a GM norm (Barry needs 6 instead of 6.5 since the rating average of his opponents is higher).
14:39 The openings are relatively sharp today. Tal Baron-Lucas van Foreest is a Classical Ruy Lopez in which White has played g2-g4, Mark Timmermans-Koen Leenhouts a Sicilian Taimanov, Alexandr Fier-Eric Lobron a Caro-Kann Advance Variation, Thomas Beerdsen-Hing Ting Lai a Modern Defence and Barry Brink-Bobby Cheng a Queen’s Gambit Declined.
14:55 Judging from an Adams game in the database, Lucas should have included 17…d3, since forcing the white bishop to d3 tends to make the d6-d5 break more effective. Now he needs to decide were to put his knight and White seems to have the initiative:
15:10 Lucas decided to put his knight on d7, which was played in 5 earlier games in the database. It has to be said that while g2-g4 give White the initiative for now, it tends to give Black counter chances in the long run. It will be very interesting to see how the game evolves.
15:21 Eric Lobron has problems adjusting to the modern time control with the 30 second increment per move. He has a steady classical style, but always uses a lot of time on the clock. Right now he seems to have equalized with Black against Alexandr Fier:
15:40 Eric has played the sharp 16…f6, so things are quickly heating up.
15:51 Instead of playing something prophylactic like 16.Kb1, Mark Timmermans kept pushing on the kingside with 16.h4 against Koen Leenhouts, resulting into the following wild position:
Here the computer indicates the insane 19.h6 a2 20.hxg7, allowing Black to queen with check! Instead, Mark played the human 19.bxa3 and now the position is, of course, a mess. Entertainment guaranteed here at the Batavia tournament.
16:15 I’m not sure why Thomas released the tension in the centre with 9.dxe5, since simply developing the queenside seems to offer better chances for an edge. 15.Bf1 was a good move though, neutralising Black’s attacking ambitions on the kingside. Possibly, Hing Ting’s knight manoeuvre Nf8-h7 was directed a bit too much towards the kingside, as White now seems to have a free hand on the queenside:
16:16 After multiple exchanges, the position at Barry Brink-Bobby Cheng is completely equal:
16:19 And indeed they agreed to a draw. That’s a very impressive IM norm for Barry Brink, two rounds before the end! It’s his second IM norm. Now he can comfortably try for the GM norm, for which he needs 1.5 out of 2.
16:35 It’s a true clash of styles at Fier-Lobron. Alexandr’s tries to get the initiative have failed so far, and at this point (with 11 moves to go until the time control) Eric is having a clear positional advantage:
16:41 Mark has found the key move 24.Rdg1 and now it’s Koen’s turn to find some good move. The position remains very tense:
16:55 Lucas van Foreest has taken over the initiative and is now a healthy pawn up in the endgame against Tal Baron:
16:58 Thomas Beerdsen continued to dominate the position and now has a winning advantage against Hing Ting Lai:
17:06 Eric Lobron safely made it to the time control and can now comfortably try to convert his large advantage against Alexandr Fier.
17:14 Lucas van Foreest is on fire and convincingly beat Tal Baron. Lucas now needs 1 out of 2 for his second GM norm.
17:15 Sometimes there is a very thin line between winning and losing. Mark Timmermans was well on his way to beat Koen Leenhouts with the thematic piece sacrifice 26.Bxh6!, which was answered by 26…Qa4:
Here 27.Rg3 is winning, but Mark blundered with 27.Be3 and is now losing.
17:25 Eric Lobron (against Alexandr Fier) and Thomas Beerdsen (against Hing Ting Lai) are still nursing their winning positional advantages.
17:56 Thomas indeed won against Hing Ting. As a chess fan it hurts to see that Eric completely spoiled his winning position against Alexandr. When he gave up control over the d-file, White quickly took over.