We have a surprising leader after six rounds in Amsterdam. Achim Illner, one of the five FMs in the group, is the only player to have scored 4.5/6! He only needs half a point from the resulting three rounds to score an IM norm. But, as he told us on Thursday, he wants more. “I’m going for a GM norm! Why not?” The new situation in the standings is also the result of Mark Hebden’s loss against his friend and compatriot Keith Arkell.
If we look at the round in chronological order, we should start with Ernst versus Vedder. The 2600 GM won quite quickly:
Ernst – Vedder
1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 Nc6 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. d5 Ne5 6. Qd4 Nxf3+ 7. gxf3 Bxf3 8. Rg1 e5 9. Qxc4 Nf6 10. Nd2 Bh5 11. Qb5+ Nd7 12. Bh3 Bg6 13. Nc4
13 … f6?
According to Ernst this was probably the decisive mistake already. The computer bravely takes the pawn: 13… Bxe4.
14. Qxb7 Rb8 15. Bxd7+
15 … Kxd7
The ‘clever’ 15… Ke7 16. Qxa7 Kxd7 fails to 17. Qa4+ Kc8 18. Qa6+ Rb7
and now 19. Rxg6! (19. Bd2 Bxe4) 19… hxg6 20. Bd2 and Black is helpless against the threat 21.Na5.
16. Qxa7 Bb4+?
Black should have tried 16… Bxe4 because White doesn’t seem to have anything better than 17. Nxe5+ fxe5 18. Qa4+ Kc8 19. Qxe4 which is no so clear.
17. Bd2 Qe7 18. Rc1 Rhc8 19. Rg3!?
The start of a nice rook switch. 19. Qa4+ Kd8 20. Bxb4 Qxb4+ (20… Rxb4 21. Qa5) 21. Qxb4 Rxb4 22. f3 was the ‘simple’ way – Black is strategically lost.
19… Kd8 20. Rb3 Bxd2+ 21. Nxd2 Rxb3 22. axb3
During the post-mortem Vedder said that here he felt a bit relieved to have reached this position, but it turns out to be very difficult for Black anyway.
22 … Be8 23. Rc5 c6 24. Qa5+ Qc7 25. Qc3 Qb7 26. Nc4 Qa7 27. Na5 Bd7 28. dxc6 Be6 29. b4 Qb6 30. Qd3+ Kc7 31. Rb5 1-0
Manuel Bosboom held his own against Robin van Kampen in a game that was more or less equal all the time. David Klein didn’t react well to Thibaut Vandenbussche’s Philidor:
Klein – Vandenbussche
1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. Bc4 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Re1 a6 8. a4 b6 9. h3 Bb7 10. Ba2 b5!
“This is probably a strong novelty.” (Vandenbussche). Black is fine already.
“And this probably deserves two question marks.” (Vandenbussche)
11 … b4 12. Nb1 Nc5
White is already facing a horrible position. Black probably didn’t play the best moves everywhere, but he kept the advantage and won deservedly.
Achim Illner is having an excellent tournament and reached 4.5/6 on Thursday, just half a point less than is needed for an IM norm. His opponent Hugo ten Hertog wasn’t well prepared for the French, spent a lot of time and reached a worse ending with White. It was still within the drawing zone when the following happened.
Ten Hertog – Illner
32… Nxb2! 33. Nd4 Nc4 34. Nc6+?
The knight ending is worse than one might think. 34. Re1! was better.
Now Black can go 34 … Kf7 35. Kb3 Nb6 36. Nxb5 Rd2 37. Nd4= or play for a win with 34… Nxa3+!? 35. Kb3 Rxd4 36. cxd4 Nc4.
34… Kf6 35. Nxd8 Ne3+ 36. Kd3 Nxf1 37. h3 Ng3 38. Nb7 a4
39. c4! bxc4+ 40. Kxc4 followed by Nb7-c5xa4 offered better drawing chances, because the passed a-pawn will be further away from the Black king than the c-pawn as in the game.
39… Nh5 40. g4 Nf4+ 41. Ke3 Nxh3 42. Nxb5 Nf4 43. c4 fxg4 44. fxg4 Ng6 45. c5 Ne5 46. Kd4 Nxg4
Here 47. Nc3 Ke7 48. Nxa4 Nf6 49. Nb2 h5 50. Nd3 was more tenacious.
47… Ke7 48. Kc5 Nf6 49. Kb6 g4 50. Nc3 Ne8 51. Nxa4 g3 52. Nc3 g2 53. Ne2 Kd6 54. a4 h5 55. a5 h4 0-1
In the longest game of the round, Mark Hebden and Keith Arkell did just about the opposite of what some might have expected. Instead of a quick draw between two Englishmen, the two fought out a hard battle! We understand that these two grandmasters have played each other over a hundred times already, so it was great to see that they haven’t lost their fighting spirit. In the end Arkell won, and now Illner is the sole leader.
Keith Arkell and Mark Hebden