Press Release by Peter Boel, Photos by Harry Gielen
Three draws in the penultimate round. Two endgames, where one defender smoothly cruised to the draw and the other had to withdraw further and further, but in the end escaped by the skin of his teeth. And on the other end, an epic fight between who else but Gawain Jones and Loek van Wely.
Dimitri Reinderman played, as they say, with ‘calculated risk’ against Daniel Fridman. It led to a game that was not exactly attractive for the onlookers, mainly because Fridman did everything right and Reinderman didn’t take too many chances.
Reinderman – Fridman
1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 Be7 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 Bf5 7.Nge2 0–0 8.Ng3 Be6 9.Bd3 c5 10.dxc5 Bxc5 11.0–0 Nc6 12.Rc1 d4
13.Nce4 has also been played against Fridman: 13…Be7 14.Nxf6+ Bxf6 15.Ne4 dxe3 (15…Re8 16.Qh5 g6 17.Qb5 Be7 18.Qxb7 dxe3 19.Bb5 Nd4 20.Bxe8 Ne2+ 21.Kh1 Nxc1 22.Rxc1 Qxe8 23.Bxe3 and White won with his extra pawn in Shirov-Fridman, Mulheim 2011) 16.fxe3 Bxb2 17.Ng5 h6 18.Nxe6 fxe6 19.Rb1 Be5 20.Bc4 Qe7 21.Qg4 led to an interesting fight in Markos-Fridman, Riga 2012, a game that was eventually drawn. ‘According to the computer White is better here, but actually I didn’t understand why’, said Reinderman. ‘That’s why I opted for 13.Nb5.’
14.e4 Ng4 15.Nd6 Nge5 (15…Nxh2!?) 16.Ngf5 Qd7 went wrong for Black in Korobov-Fridman, Warsaw 2010. Undoubtedly the Latvian had found afterwards that after something like 16…g6 17.Bxe5 Nxe5 18.Nxb7 Qf6 Black is doing fine.
Reinderman plays for one of two results. White can only achieve something if Black makes a mistake.
15…Bxc7 16.Nxc7 Rc8 17.Nxe6 Nxe6 18.Bc4 Qxd1 19.Rfxd1 Rfd8 20.Rxd8+ Rxd8 21.Bxe6 fxe6
With a tiny structural advantage. But for a player like Fridman this is no problem, of course.
22.Kf1 Rd7 23.Ke2 Kf7 24.Nf1 Nd5 25.Ne3 Nxe3 26.Kxe3 Kf6 27.Rc2 Rd5 28.Rc7 Ra5 29.Rxb7 Rxa2 30.h4 a5 31.g3 a4 32.Rb5 a3 ½–½
In the meantime the problems had been growing for Erwin l’Ami. The seemingly tame approach of a double fianchetto by Sipke Ernst was treacherous, and there was one careless moment that could have been fatal. ‘I just wasn’t alert on the right moment’, said the grandmaster from Woerden. ‘It happens from time to time. In the Bundesliga I once wasn’t able to win a game on Sunday morning for three years.’
Ernst – L’Ami
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.Bg2 g6 5.b3 Bg7 6.Bb2 0–0 7.0–0 c5 8.Nc3 d5 9.Nxd5 Nxd5 10.Bxg7 Kxg7 11.cxd5 Qxd5 12.d4 cxd4 13.Qxd4+ Qxd4 14.Nxd4 Bxg2 15.Kxg2
This exchange variation is less innocent than it looks. Black has to be accurate not to end up in trouble.
Which L’Ami doesn’t do. ‘I wasn’t entirely awake yet’, he said. ‘I should have played 15…Rc8 here.’
16.Rfc1 Ra7 17.Nc6 Rb7 18.Ne5
It was understandable that Black didn’t want to trade knights on the previous move, but then why doesn’t White do it here? ‘After 18.Nxb8 Rfxb8 19.Rc6 Rd8 I can grab the d-file’, L’Ami said. After 17…Nxc6 18.Rxc6 Rb7 19.Rd1, on the other hand, White would have controlled the board. It all comes down to one tempo.
18…Nd7 19.Nd3 a5 20.Rc6 e6 21.Rac1 Kf6 22.f4 Ke7 23.Kf3 h5 24.e4 Rd8 25.Ke3
Real torture for Black. White has nothing concrete, but it’s hard to keep paying attention to everything.
25…Nb8 26.R6c3 Nd7 27.R1c2 Ra8 28.Rc6 Rd8 29.R2c3 Nb8 30.Rc7+ Rxc7 31.Rxc7+ Rd7 32.Rc8 Rd8 33.Rc7+ Rd7 34.Rc8 Rd8 35.Rxd8 Kxd8 36.Ne5 Ke7 37.Kd4 Nd7
L’Ami indicated that 38.Kc4! was winning here: 38…Nxe5+ 39.fxe5 f5 40.exf5 exf5 (40…gxf5? 41.Kb5) 41.Kd5! (the attempt to tie Black down with 41.h4 fails to 41…g5 42.hxg5 f4; or 42.Kd4 gxh4 43.gxh4 Ke6 44.a4 f4 45.Ke4 f3) 41…g5 42.e6 f4 43.gxf4 gxf4 44.Ke4 Kxe6 45.Kxf4 Kf6 46.a4 Kg6 47.h3 Kf6 48.h4 Kg6 49.Ke5 and White wins.
38…f6 39.h3 Kd8 40.g4 hxg4 41.hxg4 Ke7 42.e5 f5 43.g5 Kd8 44.Nd6 Kc7
This runs into what L’Ami called a ‘miraculous save’. Winning was 45.Nb5+ Kc6 46.Kc4 Nc5 47.Nd4+ Kd7 48.Nf3! and Black cannot maintain protection of both b6 and g6. He will get the f4-pawn in return, but that’s not enough.
And a draw was agreed here. After 46…Nc6+ 47.Kc4 Nb4 White has to resort to 48.Nb5+ Kc6 49.Nc3 in order not to land into trouble himself.
Gawain Jones is not a contender for the top places anymore, but he was determined to go out with a bang. And since Loek van Wely also wanted something different after three draws, the game soon caught fire.
Jones – Van Wely
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d3
A Fischer favorite: the King’s Indian Attack.
3…d5 4.Qe2 Nc6 5.g3
Commentator Gert Ligterink thought 4…Nf6 was more accurate, because now White can play 5.exd5 Qxd5 6.Nc3. ‘But perhaps this is not so bad after all, after for instance 6…Qd7, …b7–b6 and …Bb7.’
5…Nf6 6.Bg2 Be7 7.0–0 0–0 8.e5 Ne8
The alternative is 8…Nd7. Ligterink explained that the text move is cleverer if Black ever wants to play …f7–f6 exf6 Bxf6, without the e6-pawn hanging. Now White will slowly build up an attack on the black king, while Black should never play …d5–d4 (because of Ne4), but should strive for …b7–b5.
9.c4 Nc7 10.Nc3 Rb8 11.a4 b6 12.h4 a6 13.Bf4 b5 14.axb5 axb5 15.Rfd1 Re8
A pretty provocative move, but the position was a kind of mutual zugzwang. Whoever takes action first, will also create the first weakness.
16.b3 bxc4 17.dxc4!?
A pawn sacrifice for a tempo.
17…Rxb3 18.Qc2 Rb8 19.Ng5
Again, quite provocative. More nervous spirits would play 19…Bxg5 here: 20.Bxg5, and now:
A) ‘After 20…Qd7 I will be mated with 21.Ne4’, said Van Wely. Of course the computer doesn’t share this view: 21…Nd4 22.Rxd4 cxd4 23.Nf6+ gxf6 24.Bxf6 (24.Qc1 fxg5 25.Qxg5+ is merely a perpetual) 24…Re7 25.Qd2 Kf8 26.Qh6+ Ke8 27.Qxh7 Qd8, but White still wins after 28.Ra7 Bb7 29.Qg8+ Kd7 30.Qg4 and 31.cxd5;
B) On 20…f6 21.exf6 gxf6 Jones wanted to play 22.Be3 (22.Bh6!? Nd4 23.Rxd4?! cxd4 24.Qd1 Qe7 25.Qxd4 Rb4! is not enough) and after 22…Nb4 23.Qe2 d4 24.Bh6 e5 25.Ne4 White keeps a dangerous initiative.
20.cxd5 Nd4 21.Qa2
Interesting is 21…Ra8, and now:
A) 22.dxe6 Bxe6 23.Nxe6 Rxa2 24.Nxd8 Rxa1 25.Rxa1 Bxd8;
B) 22.Qc4 Rxa1 23.Rxa1 Nxd5 24.Nxd5 Bxg5 25.Bxg5 exd5 26.Qxc5 Ne6 27.Bxd8 Nxc5 28.Bb6 yields White a minimal advantage;
C) The queen sacrifice 22.Qxa8 Nxa8 23.Rxa8 is not bad at all, but Black can hold with 23…exd5 24.Nxd5 h6 25.Nxe7+ Qxe7 26.Ne4 Rd8!.
22.Nxd5 Nce6 23.Qc4?!
In all the mind-boggling calculations Van Wely hadn’t considered this quiet move, which suggests that at least practically it is a good one. Objectively better was 23.Qa7! Bd7 24.Be3 Rc8 25.Ne4 and then at the right moment a knight to f6.
Rather cheerless was 23…Nxg5 24.Bxg5 Bxg5 25.hxg5 Rxe5 (an exchange sacrifice in order to escape total constriction) 26.f4 Rxd5 27.Qxd5. Van Wely prefers to create huge complications, for who is able to play such a position faultlessly?
A speculative queen sacrifice which throws the position completely off-balance.
Jones doesn’t have to think twice. The dull 25.gxf4 Be6 26.Nxc5 would have given him a clear advantage. ‘Clear’ is a word that cannot be used for the remainder of the game.
25…Bxf6 26.Nxf6+ Qxf6 27.exf6 Nxg2
After his own short game Fridman had looked at this position with the computer, and he asked why Jones hadn’t played 28.Kxg2 here. Both players suspected that Black would have obtained beautiful counterchances after 28…Bb7+ 29.Kh2 Nf3+ 30.Kh3 Bc8+ 31.Kg2 (after 31.g4 h5 32.Kg3 Bxg4 33.Rd3 Black seems to run out of ideas) 31…Bb7 and now certainly not 32.Kf1?? Re1+, as Van Wely demonstrated with some pleasure, but after moves like 32.Qc1 or 32.Qf4 (xh6) White should win.
Now after 29.Kxg2 Rd8 30.Qc7 Be6 it is not quite as clear as the computer suggests (almost +2). Van Wely even thought that Black was the only side with winning chances here.
‘Great, now I’ve given a rook for this g-pawn’, Jones said, with self-mockery. But what a g-pawn it is!
30…Nf3+ 31.Kg2 Be6 32.Qc5 Ng5 33.gxf7+ Bxf7 34.Rh1 Rbd8 35.Rxh6
‘I don’t know why I didn’t play 35…Bd5+’, said Van Wely. That was the strongest move here. There can follow: 36.Kf1 Nf7 37.Rg6+ Kh8 38.Qc1 d3 39.Qd2 Ra8! and in view of the mate threat White has to give perpetual check with 40.Rh6+ Kg8 41.Rg6+.
The best winning chance was 36.Qa7 Rde5 37.Rg6+ Kh8 38.g4!! (creating an escape square; not 38.Rg7? Bd5+ 39.Kh2 Nf3+ 40.Kh3 Rh5+ 41.Kg4 Rh6! and White has to give material to prevent mate. Mind-boggling!) 38…d3 39.Rg7 and White wins material; for example 39…R5e7!? 40.Qc5! Re5 41.Qc7 R5e7? 42.Qh2+.
Also good for White is 38.Rxg5! (Jones) 38…Bd5+ 39.f3! Rxg5 40.f7 and in the queen vs two rooks ending after 40…Bxf7 White is a little better.
36…Bxg6 37.Qxd5+ Ne6
The alternative was 37…Nf7 38.Qxd4 Re6 39.f3 and only White has chances here.
Sacrificing a piece, but after that the endgame is a draw. In case of 38…Bf7 39.Qf5 Rc8 40.Qg4+ Kf8 41.f5 Black would still be in danger.
39.f5 Kxf6 40.fxg6 Rg8 41.Qf3+ Kxg6 42.g4 Rf8 43.Qc6 Kf6 44.Qd6
44.g5+ Ke5 and the g-pawn cannot be defended. Jones played on for a while since Van Wely didn’t have much time left, but that may have been mainly to cool down after the preceding events.
44…Rg8 45.Kf3 Rg5 46.Qa6 Rc5 47.Kg3 Rd5 48.Qa8 Rd8 49.Qh1 d3 50.Qa1+ Rd4 51.Kf3 Ke5 ½–½
‘A nice chaotic game’, Jones said after the post-mortem. ‘I’m not scoring any points here, but at least all my games have been interesting.’
So this round didn’t change anything in the rankings. There are still five players who have tournament victory within their grasp. He who has three points at the end will stand a good chance…
1. Fridman, Reinderman, Ernst 2,5
4. Van Wely, L’Ami 2
6. Jones 0,5