Press Release by Peter Boel, Photos by Harry Gielen
The second round had many similarities with the first. True, yesterday Black was very much OK, whereas this morning it was rather the other way around. But there were again two draws, and the only defeat was suffered by the so far quite unfortunate Gawain Jones. The result is that with Erwin l’Ami and Dimitri Reinderman we have two quite surprising leaders in the standings.
The game that ended first was perhaps the most interesting.
Ernst – Fridman
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.d4 Nf6 5.0–0 0–0 6.Re1!?
Perhaps we can claim that Magnus Carlsen’s opening play is getting followers. Ernst called the text a ‘random move’; asking Black to show his cards first. Fridman has no trouble with that, and he reacts with direct play, transferring to a Reversed Grünfeld:
6…c5 7.dxc5 Na6 8.c6 bxc6 9.c4 Re8
Aiming for a broad centre. Fridman said that recently he had had the same position against Dennis Wagner (whom we still know from a hot little game with Shirov in April), and in that game White’s move Re1 turned out not to be so bad.
10.Nc3 e5 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.Bg5 Bb7 13.Nd2 Rb8
To the pressure on d5 Black replies with counter-pressure on b2.
Threatening to take on d5 in some cases, because the Na6 is hanging. This explains Black’s reply, with which Fridman was quite satisfied:
14…Re6 15.Nb3 d4 16.Bxb7
Fridman gave the variation 16.Ne4 Bxe4 17.Bxe4 Rb4 18.Qa3 Qe8 with big problems for White. That’s why the latter first has to take on f6 on move 18: 18.Bxf6 Rxf6 19.Qa3. But also here Black is somewhat better after 19…Bh6 or 19…Rb8.
16…Rxb7 17.Ne4 Rb4
A quite appealing move, but with hindsight 17…Qd5 18.Nxf6+ Bxf6 was safer.
He had to play 18…Rb8. Now White takes the initiative with a devious move:
Overlooked by Fridman. White is threatening nasty things on the back rank.
The best defence.
Certainly not 20.Nxf6+? Bxf6 21.Bxh6 Be7 and Black is fine again. In this line, 21.Bd2 doesn’t work either in view of 21…Be7! and after 22.Bxb4 Bxb4 the rook on e1 is attacked. Because of this, Fridman suggested that on the previous move 19.Rec1!? might have been subtler.
20…Kh7 21.Bxf6 Bxf6 22.Nbc5! Nxc5 23.Nxc5
Another big spanner in the works for Black. The main threat is 24.Nd7 (for instance, after 23…Rc4?).
Fridman also considered 23…Rd6 24.Ne4 Re6. But now Black is in trouble after 25.Rec1 Kg7 26.Nc5, and following 26…Rd6 27.Na6 Rxb2 28.Nc7 he has to give the exchange with 28…Rd8 29.Ne8+ Rxe8 (29…Kh7? 30.Qf8).
Now, after a move with the knight, the threat R1c6 emerges.
24…Bg5 25.Rc2 e4
Quickly played, and Black’s only chance.
White could have won a pawn with 27.Nxe4 Rxe4 28.R2c6 d3! 29.Rxb6 (29.exd3? Bxb2) 29…dxe2 30.Rxf6 e1Q+ 31.Kg2, after which, by the way, it isn’t over yet. The text move isn’t bad either, but Ernst had missed something in his calculations.
Better winning chances were offered by 28.Qxb4! dxc2 (less good for Black is 28…Qxb4 29.Nxb4 dxc2 30.b3! and only after this White takes on c2) 29.Qxb6 axb6 30.Rxc2 and here Black has to start searching for counterplay with 30…e3.
This resource had been missed by Ernst. A nice line was 29…Qe6 30.Nxe7?? Qxc8, but White takes first on f6 and then on c2, with advantage.
30.Qxb2 Bxb2 31.Nxe7
And here Ernst played it safe with a draw offer. The endgame is still interesting: 31…c1Q+ 32.Rxc1 Bxc1 and now:
A) 33.Nc8 a6 34.Nd6 f5 35.Nc4 Kg7 36.Kf1 Kf6 37.Ke1 Ke6 38.Kd1 Kd5 39.Nb6+ Kc6 and Black is on time;
B) Neither can 33.h5 Ba3! worry Black, and since in such endings in the long run the bishop is often stronger than the knight, Ernst had seen enough: ‘I saw that I had spoiled the greatest part of my advantage.’ Fridman didn’t insist either.
L’Ami and Van Wely played the quiet exchange variation in the Classical Nimzo, which, however, as Gert Ligterink explained in the commentary room, does promise White some chances with his bishop pair if Black doesn’t pay attention.
L’Ami – Van Wely
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0–0 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 b6 7.Bg5 Bb7 8.f3 h6 9.Bh4 d5 10.e3 Nbd7 11.cxd5 Nxd5 12.Bxd8 Nxc3 13.Bh4 Nd5 14.Bf2 c5 15.e4 Ne7 16.Ne2
There are two more games with this move in the databases. Mostly Black plays 16…Rac8 here. The idea of the text move is to halve the white bishop pair.
17.dxc5 Nxc5 18.Bxc5 bxc5
The downside is the weakness of this pawn, but Black hopes to compensate for this with active counterplay.
19.Nc3 Bxf1 20.Rxf1 Nc6 21.Na4
A drastic measure. The alternative is 21…c4, when L’Ami wanted to reply with 22.0–0–0. After 22…Ne5 followed by, if necessary, …g7–g5, Black is solid.
21…Rab8 22.0–0–0 c4 or 22…Rb5 is also possible, but then White keeps some play with 23.Rd7.
22.Nxc5 Rfc8 23.b4 a5 24.Kf2 Rab8 25.Rfb1 Rb5
In the post-mortem L’Ami wasn’t very satisfied with this move. He opted for 26.Ke3.
A miscalculation. He had to play 27.Nb3 axb4 28.Nd4 Rh5 29.Rxb4, when White certainly has something.
Originally, L’Ami had planned 28.Rc1 here, but now he saw that this failed to 28…Rd8. He even thought that this was losing material for him, but Black doesn’t get more than his pawn back: 29.Ne5 axb4 30.axb4 Nxe4+ (not 30…Nb3 31.Rd1) 31.Ke1 and here the computer gives equality, but it isn’t exactly comfortable for White.
Now Black can liquidate into a double-rook endgame that is a draw.
28…Rc3 29.Re3 Nxe4+ 30.Rxe4 Rxd3 31.bxa5 Rxa5 32.a4 Rd2+ 33.Kf3 Rd3+ 34.Ke2 Rb3 35.Ra2 f6 36.Kd2 Kf7 37.Kc2 Rb6 38.Kc3 g5 39.fxg5 hxg5 40.Rb4 Rc6+ 41.Rc4 Rb6 42.Rb4 Rc6+ 43.Rc4 draw.
Gawain Jones is having an extremely unfortunate début in Wolvega so far. Against Reinderman he found himself in a position he probably didn’t like, with his sharp playing style.
Reinderman – Jones
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.Nd5 Bc5 4.Nf3 c6 5.Nc3 d6 6.e3 Qe7 7.d4 exd4 8.Nxd4 Nf6 9.Be2 Bb4 10.0–0 Bxc3 11.bxc3 0–0 12.f3 h6 13.Re1 Rd8 14.Qb3 Nbd7 15.Bf1 Ne5 16.e4 Nh5 17.Be3 Qf6 18.Rad1 c5 19.Nb5 Qe7 20.Rd2 a6 21.Na3 Be6 22.Qd1 Nf6 23.h3 Qc7 24.Bf2
After some shuffling around with the pieces, Jones starts to get impatient.
The computer gives the bizarre 24…Bd7!? here. That is tactically OK in view of 25.Rxd6? Bxh3, but what else does Black want to do?
Jones had correctly spotted that 25.Rxd6 Rxd6 26.Qxd6 Nxf3+ 27.gxf3 Qxa3 is OK for Black, but he had underestimated the text move. ‘Now the position is opened, which favours my bishops’, said Reinderman.
Of course Black cannot allow White to take on e5.
26.f5! Qxa3 27.fxe6 Qxc3 28.exf7+ Kxf7
An interesting way to confuse the black pieces. But why not simply 29.Rxd6 Rxd6 30.Qxd6 ? After 30…Re8 31.Rb1! Re7 32.Qxc5 White has a clear advantage, as Black will not survive in the line 32…Nxe4 33.Qd5+ Kf8 34.Bd4 Qg3 35.Rxb7.
29…Nxe5 30.Rxd6 Rxd6 31.Qxd6 Re8 32.Rb1
Giving up the pawn on b7. Necessary was 32…Re7, according to Reinderman.
33.Rxb7 Kh8 34.Qxc5
Now White simply has the bishop pair and an extra pawn. He converts it slowly but surely.
34…Qc2 35.Re7 Rxe7 36.Qxe7 Qe4 37.Qd8+ Kh7 38.Qd4 Qf5 39.c5 a5 40.Be3 Nfd7 41.Qc3 Qe4 42.Bd4 g6 43.Qd2 h5 44.Qe3 Qf5 45.Qf2 Qe4 46.a4 Qd5 47.Bb5 Nf6 48.Qf4 Nfd7 49.c6
The decisive breakthrough. After 49…Nxc6 White wins with 50.Bxc6 Qxc6? 51.Qf7+.
49…g5 50.Qf5+ Kh6 51.Be3 Qd1+ 52.Kh2 Qd6 53.Qxg5+ Kh7 54.Bf4 Qd4 55.cxd7 Nf7 56.Qxh5+ Kg7 57.Bh6+
Forcing promotion. All that is left for Jones is one stalemate trick.
57…Nxh6 58.Qg5+ Kh7 59.d8Q Ng4+
Certainly not 60.hxg4?? Qg1+ with a rampant queen.
60…Qxd8 61.Qd7+ 1–0