Open Round 9


Round 9 in the GM group became another relatively solid round, in which three out of the top four boards ended up with a draw. The round basically had three big winners – all of them by the way teenagers. The first winner obviously was 19 year old Swedish-Ukrainian GM Platon Galperin, again winning on the first board and increasing his lead to a full point as the hardest competitiors all played a draw. The second winner was 14 year old Norwegian FM Aksel Bu Kvaløy, completing a more or less sensational GM-norm as he succeded to defend a pawn down as black against GM Suri Vaibhav. The third winner was 16 year old Indian WIM Savitha Shri Baskar, spurting in to her second IM norm following a tense three hours draw as black against IM Titas Stremavicius!   


The first board meeting between GM Platon Galperin (2528) and GM Szymon Gumularz (2587) started up with a very safe London set up, but became more ambitious as white exchanged a piece at f5 and a pawn at c5. Black due to his active knights at c5 and e4 first did fine, but white later came better due to his pair of bishops and better pawn structure. White established his remaining knight on the strong d4 square, but exchanged this plus one of the bishops to win black´s weak pawn at f5 after 21 moves. A tense struggle followed as black sacrificed another pawn to get counterplay against the white king at h1. During mutual time pressure white appeared close to winning as he forced off the queens at move 36, but a later mistake allowed black to win back one of the pawns. Galperin was understandably frustrated about this and gave himself a long break after the time control. White was however still a sound pawn up and well ahead on the clock. Despite the opposite coloured bishops, white went on to win the remaining rook and bishop endgame by activating his three against one pawn majority on the queenside. Galperin at 7.5/9 following this is odds one favourite to win an unshared first prize, as he now needs only a draw as black against his lower rated GM-colleague Vitaly Sivuk in the last round.

Second board duel between IM Tor Fredrik Kaasen (2480) and IM Pawel Teclaf (2575) started up like a slow Slav with the black bishop at g4, but white later hunted the bishop around to g6 and exchanged it for a knight. White after castling long got some initiative due to his pair of bishops, although the position with seven pawns on each side was still rather closed after 18 moves. The game was drawn upon black´s suggestion only three moves later on. White still was slightly ahead on the clock and board, but black had reached a solid position with som chances for counterplay against white´s king at c1. Teclaf at 6.5/9 had a performance close to 2600 following this draw, but was unlucky to get Kvaløy as his opponent for round 10 and cannot make a GM norm. It is remarkable and very unlucky that Teclaf after starting with 2/2 met only two GMs in this tournament, but as the fourth rated player he often met somewhat lower rated players. To illustrate this Teclaf in addition to the two GMs met five IMs and had titled opponents all ten rounds. Both Teclaf and Kaasen obviously arrived Stavanger with ambitions for the decisive GM norm, but both still have won a few ELO points and are sharing second to fifth place before last round.

GM Suri Vaibhav (2595) and FM Aksel Bu Kvaløy (2321) discussed an Italian Two Knights defence, in which all the minor pieces left within the first 17 moves. Black shortly afterwards had to give up one of his weak pawns. According to the computers black got enough activity to balance the chances with queen, rook and four pawns against queen, rook and five pawns after 25 moves. A human evaluation would be that white had some practical winning chances due to his extra pawn, especially when the white player is a GM close to 2600. Taking back the pawn with 35.— Rxc3 was very tempting but still dubious from a black point of view, as white after 36.Rb8 Rc6 37.Qg8+ Kg6 had a dangerous attack with queen, rook and two pawns on each side. During mutual time pressure white however in turn played inaccurate with 38.Rb3? Kvaløy later accurately used his chance to give back the pawn at g7 and reach a dead drawn endgame with rook and h-pawn versus rook, g- and h-pawn. Kvaløy following this draw could be congratulated with a sensational first GM norm. Computer programs true enough give his performance as «only» 2563, but this is improved all up to 2604 as his first round opponent for the GM norm calculation counts for 2200 instead of 1835.

GM Titas Stremavicius (2541) as white against the norm hunting WIM Savitha Shri Baskar (2418) took an apparently slow positional approach with 1.d4 2.Nf3 and 3.Nbd2, but then accelerated on the queenside with 4.b4. White got first some space advantage on the queenside and then some initiative due to his control of the a-file. Black succeeded however to hit back in the center and occupy the open d-file. Chances following this were about balanced when a draw was suddenly agreed after 23 moves. 16 year old WIM Savitha Shri Baskar obviously enjoys a lot to play in Norway, as she made her first IM norm at Fagernes in April and now tonight the second one in Stavanger! Savitha curiously is the highest rated WIM in the world. This however is unlikely to last much longer, as she had qualified for the WGM-title even before fulfilling her fourth WGM norm in Stavanger yesterday.

Fifth board duel between FM Marcin Molenda (2406) and GM Vitaly Sivuk (2489) was a tense King´s Indian duel. White after 16 moves had a loose pawn at e6, while both players after castling short tried to start a kingside attack. Black within three more moves picked up the pawn at e6, although black won back the pawn with a tactical 21.Bxh6 and appeared to have the better attack. The position became all the more double edged as black later took over the f-file for his queen and rook, while white started a real kingside attack by marching his own king up to g5. White reportedly could more or less have forced a repetition with 33.Qe2! threatening 34.Qh5+. Instead 33.Qd3? was a blunder losing a piece after 33.— Qc1! Black following this anyway was a piece up with a winning attack when white blundered a mate with 38.h5?, somehow overlooking 38.— Qe8 mate! Undefeated Sivuk took his step up to +4 by winning this game, and at 6.5/9 he is sharing the second place with Kvaløy, Teclaf and Kaasen before entering the first board ring from the white corner against his travel companion Galperin in round 10.

IM Jakob Pajeken (2417) and WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova (2340) discussed a Bogo-Indian in which black was invited to play c5–c4–b3 with a sound space advantage on the queenside. White however got the help needed to come up with some counterplay on the kingside. His decision to sacrifice a knight with 25.Nxh6+!? reportedly gave only a draw, but still left black some hard choices. Black´s decision to return the extra piece in fact was a mistake, leading within a few moves to a rook endgame with two extra pawns for white. Black´s passed b-pawn however won back one of the pawns, and realizing the other one was not easy due to black´s more active pieces. Although white was a pawn up with two passed pawns at h5 and g4, black´s new passed pawn would give her enough counterplay for a draw after 49.g4 d3. The live transmission here caused some confusion by registering that white played the careless 50.g5?? instead of the careful 50.Ra1! If so, then black true enough would have been winning in the final position after 50.— d2! In the real world inside the playing venue, the game was agreed a draw in a drawn position upon white´s suggestion after 49.g4, and the remaining three moves were analysis to explain the draw offer. Tokhirjonova needed a win to score her third IM norm today, but following the draw she can still make the norm tomorrow – IF able to win as white against GM Titas Stremavicius.

FM Marius Fromm (2457) versus GM Konstantin Tarlev (2598) was a Sicilian Najdorf attacking duel in which white castled long and started a kingside pawn storm, while black kept his king awaiting at e8 and went for a queenside pawn storm. Something went seriously wrong for black here, as the computers considered white winning with a safe king at c1 and an advancing kingside attack around move 16. Evaluations around +4 in such materially balanced positions however are misleading for human players. While white failed to find the ideal continuation of his attack, black soon came up with a dangerous counterattack on the queenside. 26.c3? was a positional blunder allowing a powerful 26.— d4!, and within two more moves black had a winning b-file attack. 29.— Nxc3+? although elegant actually was a serious mistake, as white could now sacrifice his queen and reach a chaotic position with rook, two bishops, knight and two pawns against queen, rook and three pawns. Black however now had the more easy position to play, and his passed a-pawn combined with the open white king soon won decisive material after the first time control.  Both Tarlev and Fromm despite a score below expected has contributed a lot to the entertainment of this tournament, and their internal duel in round 9 definitely was no exception.

Norwegian junior champion Sondre Melaa (2231) and Croatian GM Davorin Kuljasevic (2553) discussed a rather closed London system, in which white first came better as black had a slightly awkward king at f7. Black later came up with some counterplay against white´s pawn at a4 and d4, and before the first time control left two repetitions to play for a win. Black came better after winning the a4 pawn, but in the fifth hour spent much time without finding any way forward. 54.— Qa7?? was a terrible blunder as white could now trap the queen and win the game with a traightforward 55.Ra3! Both players missed this possibility and the game instead was drawn by a repetition after 68 moves.

FM Stanislav Zylka (2415) and IM Yahli Sokolovsky (2461) discussed the more than 100 year old Cambridge Springs line of Queen´s Gambit. Black in this modern version first did fine after exchanging two set of minor pieces, although white later got some pressure with a queenside minority attack. White just before move 40 had a strong pressure against the backward black pawn at c6, but for some mysterious reason he decided not to take the pawn. Black following this was well alive in the queen and rook endgame after the time control, but in turn gave up two pawns without having any attacking continuation afterwards. White following this could decided the game with style as he returned both pawns to exchange off the queens, leaving a materially balanced rook endgame in which white´s more advanced pawns soon decided. Polish Zylka following this five hours win in round 9 will after all get the chance to play for an IM norm in round 10. He was however somewhat unlucky with the pairing here: Another win anyway would be needed, and black against top rated GM Konstantin Tarlev hardly is optimal from that starting point …

Swedish GM Erik Blomqvist (2521) has had a shaky but exciting tournament, and today´s white game against American WGM Atousa Pourkashyian (2282) was no exception. It all started up like a London system in which black spent much time on the clock, but due to her pair of bishops came better on the board. 19.Qf4? soon turned out to be too provocative, as 19.— g5! 20.Qg4 e5 gave black dangerous counterplay against the white attacking pieces. Black reportedly was right to win a piece at e4, but wrong to continue with a tactical 24.— Nxd4?, as white now got real counterplay against the black king. As black soon had to return the  extra piece, white after 30 moves was some 20 minutes ahead on the clock and slightly better on the board with queen, rook, bishop and four pawns against queen, rook and three pawns. Trying to win a second pawn by pesudo-sacrificing a rook at f7 however backfired, as black demonstrated an airy perpetual check in the remaining endgame with queens and opposite coloured bishops.

FM Shazil Shehzad (2310) and IM Rameshbabu Vaishali (2418) meanwhile discussed a rare modern opening line with 1.d4 2.Nc3 3.Bf4 4.e3 and 5.dxc5, reportedly known as the Rapport-Jobava-system. Shehzad needed a win in round 9 to play for an IM norm in round 10, and this might well have affected the choice of opening weapon here. White anyway hang on the extra pawn at c5 for a while, but black due to her center pawn at e4 and better development got the advantage after regaining the pawn. As black after 19 moves could force a queen exchange, her more active pieces gave a strong initiative in the remaining rooks and minor piece endgame. The wins turned as white came up with some counterplay in the double rook endgame. Shehzad however had spent too much time and after 36.— f4 blundered when he turned down the straightforward elimination of an enemy with 37.gxf4+ in favour of 37.Rd7?? – allowing 37.— Rc1+ 38.Ke2 f3+ with a winning attack. Vaishali although also short of time effienctly used her chance to establish two connected passed pawns and march them forward.

The Danish teenager CM Mikkel Vinh Loftgaard (2258) was never in the norm run this tournament, but still has made a solid plus result. This was strenghtened as he today made a draw as white against the young German IM Theo Gungl (2370). White in this Sicilian Moscow line sacrificed a pawn to open the d- and e-file, but then went for an early repetition. 12 year Evsuld Myagmarsuren (2181) seems about to stabilize around 2200, and has done a solid result this week, Today he made a memorable and long draw as white against IM Andrew Kayonde (2361). White here was closer than black to winning chances in the final rook endgame. Mitch Fishbein (2120) is doing a solid plus result, and today had a fairly solid 22 moves draw against IM Rasmus Skytte (2356). Overall many IMs had a hard round 9. One of them was the unpredictable Norwegian-Australian IM John Paul Wallace (2370), today ending up a piece short in the rooks and minor piece endgame against Israelian WFM Ronit Levitan (2220). German IM Oliver Brendel again spent too much time early in the middle game and lost before 25 moves as he blundered a piece against still inspired local junior Sergey Eliseev (1970). Molodvian Valentina Verbin (2112) is out of the run for WIM-norm, but still in for another plus result as she today succeeded to win an advantagous rook endgame as white against WGM Diana Tarleva (2166).


Following the many draws from round 8, the Open had a very hard fought round 9, in which eight out of the top nine boards got a winner. The first board duel between Jonas Gryte (1626) and Christian Strahl (1918) was a Caro-Kann duel in which black succeeded to keep an extra pawn in the middle game. An attacking race started after white castled long, leading to tactical complications in which white for some moves had two minor pieces for a rook and three pawns. Black´s battering ram a-pawn however won a piece well before 40 moves. Later black with queen and rook versus queen and bishop had a fairly safe win. Second board duel between Indian teenager Rajesh Jeyanth (1469) and Norwegian teenager Henrik Lauvsnes Nilsen (1535) was a Catalan duel in which white opened the center with a tactical 16.e4!? Black and his active pieces kept the balance for a while, but black before 40 moves lost his too advanced b-pawn. White after the time control was two pawns up with a winning position.

12 year old Turk player Gokay Serbes (1338) got a promising kingside attack and before 30 moves had won a piece fast as white against so far solid Marcin Rzepka (1417) in a Sicilian duel on the third board. 17 year old Stavanger player Vetle Støren (1534) on the fourth board later reached a won pawn endgame, leading to a queen endgame with two extra pawns as white against Michael Bergmann (1856). Vetle´s twin brother Håkon Støren (1586) despite an extra pawn deadlocked in a pawn endgame against Sarah Sime Dehrlich (1522). Veteran Ole Smeby (1928) today won from an about balanced position as his young Danish opponent Leia Andries (1633) blundered a rook due to an e-file pin.

The last game of this round lasted well above 100 moves and five and a half hour. Noa Brakestad (1626) however had an extra bishop in the endgame against Håkon Helgøy (1660), and despite a reduced number of pawns won fairly safely. The deaf and virtually blind local player Kolbjørn Bø (1041) has improved his play much in the final rounds and won his second game in a row today.

Round 9 here in short was a hard fought round increasing the tension about the top prizes, as five players can now be found within one point. Rajesh Jeyanth as the only undefeated player now is at 7.5/9, half a point ahead Jonas Gryte at 7.0, but Christian Strahl, Vetle Støren and Gokay Serbes at 6.5 might also reach a shared first prize. Jeyanth has met all the four next players and following this will get black against top rated Ole Smeby in round 10, while Gryte will be black against Vetle Støren.