12:33 Welcome everyone to the last round of the 2017 Batavia tournament. It’s already a memorable event with a GM norm for Lucas van Foreest (after 8 rounds!) and an IM norm for Barry Brink (after 7 rounds!). Bobby Cheng has to win today for a GM norm. Apart from the results, this tournament had a very rich content of enterprising and creative chess. More about this at the closing ceremony, which will be soon after the last game has finished. For now, let’s focus on what’s happening in the last round.
12:45 Since Bobby Cheng is in a must-win situation, he went for the Modern Defence. Of course, that’s a risky opening choice, but at least it made his opponent Tal Baron think for over half an hour already in the following position:
12:57 It seems that Koen Leenhouts has more or less equalized with Black against Lucas van Foreest, who went for a positional line against the Sicilian Taimanov. White’s position may still be a bit easier to play though:
13:02 No humble equalizing with Koen, true to his dynamic style he went for 21…f5. Lucas replied with the standard 22.exf5 gxf5 23.f4 with a positional edge.
13:14 It never takes long for Alexandr Fier to sacrifice something. So far he gave up a pawn for a strong dark squared bishop against Hing Ting Lai, with a dynamically balanced position:
13:21 Thomas Beerdsen has equalized from a Nimzo-Indian with Black against Barry Brink:
13:28 Eric Lobron responded accurately to Mark Timmermans’ 1.b4 with the prophylactic 4…Ba5. Mark’s 6.Bg3 was a positional mistake, allowing the weakening of his pawn structure (correct was 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.Nd5 Qd8 and now something neutral):
13:41 The position at Van Foreest-Leenhouts is quickly becoming more tactical. No more talk about positional edges – it’s all about who calculates better from now on.
13:48 Slowly but surely White is grabbing the initiative at Fier-Lai.
13:50 Thomas Beerdsen is playing for more with 19…e5, but that move is double-edged positionally speaking and may be just what Barry Brink is waiting for.
13:54 Eric Lobron is nursing his positional advantage against Mark Timmermans.
13:58 Bobby Cheng, who needs to win for a GM norm, was rewarded for his risky opening play, managed to finish his development without accidents and is now strategically winning with Black against Tal Baron:
14:54 Amazing, GM norm for Bobby Cheng! In the final position Tal Baron can’t avoid material losses:
15:00 Alexandr Fier didn’t make the most out of his attacking potential (23.f4 looks very good for White). After that Hing Ting Lai defended well. As the queens were exchanged, it was Black who was better if anyone, but eventually the endgame was a draw.
15:27 Total drama until the very end. Eric Lobron not just spoiled his advantage, but also blundered horribly in the end. I’m not even going to show the diagram since it’s too painful. All the games can be found at the LIVE GAMES section as you know.
15:35 Lucas van Foreest and Koen Leenhouts are playing a high level game. Koen was close to taking over the initiative, but Lucas kept control. Now they’re having an interesting endgame that is about equal:
15:41 Thomas Beerdsen was making progress (33…Rd5 looks good for Black), but Barry Brink kept his cool and made it to the time control safely. Now the position is about equal:
17:30 Dramatic and spectacular finish. Koen Leenhouts kept up a very high level until the very end until Lucas cracked and blundered. That means Bobby Cheng won the tournament. Thomas Beerdsen also kept pushing until Barry Brink blundered, which means that Thomas is now third. We are now preparing the prize giving, which will be soon.