Open Round 3


Second half of the first double round not unexpectedly became a bit more peaceful, at least regarding the results. Players in the end shared the point at five out of the first six boards, leaving hard kicking Lithuanian GM Titas Stremavicius as the only remaining player with a 100 % score at 3.0/3. Still four out of the first ten boards got a winner and most of the drawn games were hard fought battles in which the outcome was far from obvious after three hours.


Third board duel between German IM Jakob Leon Pajeken (2417) and Croatian GM Davorin Kuljasevic (2553) actually made an interesting start with an unbalanced Queen´s Gambit Ragozin line. As black took back with the g-pawn at f6, white here could have some chances for an advantage due to his better pawn structure. But then after 20 minutes and 11 moves the GM as black offered a draw, which the IM as white still found too tempting to decline. Meanwhile on the first board GM Vitaly Sivuk (2489) as white in a Nimzo-Indian Rubinstein duel against GM Szymon Gumularz (2587) lagged behind on the clock, while chances on the board were about balanced after three set of minor pieces were exchanged within the first 16 moves. The players then exchanged some more pieces and after 26 moves had reached a drawish rook endgame. Gumularz in the endgame was almost one hour ahead on the clock, but finding no way forward on the board he still accepted a draw by repetition after 33 moves. Black also had no problems in the second board duel between IM Pawel Teclaf (2575) and IM Vaishali Rameshbabu (2418), but again black found nothing better than sound exchanges. Both players here spent their time and passed 40 moves, but then agreed a draw in a balanced and rather closed rook endgame.

Fourth board duel between Lithuanian GM Titas Stramvicius (2541) and Polish FM Marcin Molenda (2406) notably made the slowest start for the first five moves, as white entered a Slav Exchange line considered rather unambitious. Black however underestimated the dangers as he put his rook at a7 and left his king at e8. The GM efficiently use his chance to open a direct attack by sacificing a knight at b5. Black creatively tried to save the king by giving up his queen for a rook and bishop, but this did not help much as white´s queen and rook stillproduced a decisive attack against the open black king. 1–0 after 33 moves due to mate – hence sixth rated GM Titas Stremavicius suddenly is leading alone at 3.0/3!

Fifth board duel between IM Theo Gungl (2370) and top rated GM Konstantin Tarlev (2598) started up like an apparently positional Nimzo-Indian Rubinstein duel, but soon accelerated as white went for an ambitious Pillsbury set up with Ne5 and f4. 16.Bxh7+!? although critical reportedly was dubious, but still resulted in a very interesting position as white six moves later had one rook and four pawns for three minor pieces. 27.f6!? Qxb6 was another piece sacrifice and could have given a lasting attack against black´s airy king at g8. Gungl´s understandable idea instead turned out to be 28.f7+?! followed by an airy perpetual check, as the black king could remarkably safely jump back and forth between h7 and g6.

Second rated GM Suri Vaibhav (2595) towards the end of a shaky working day first had a sound pressure as white against WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova (2340). As Vaibhav ran seriously short of time, black however came up with all the more disturbing counterplay against the open white king. Black appeared close to winning as she after 38 moves had established a pawerful passed pawn at c3. Tokhirjonova however made a strange decision immediately to exchange the c3 pawn without having anything decisive afterwards. Although black in the fifth hour was a pawn up in the rook endgame, white then had the draw under fair control with one against two pawns and his rook in an ideal position behind black´s passed a-pawn. Tarlev and especially Vaibhav had a somewhat shaky first double round, although both undefeated at 2.0/3 are well in the run with seven rounds to go.

Seventh board duel between CM Mikkel Vinh Loftgaard (2258) and GM Platon Galperin (2528) was another highly entertaining attacking battle, in which black during mutual time pressure first overplayed his attack in a messy position with queen, rook and bishop on each side. Loftgaard reportedly made a brave and good decision as he during mutual time pressure marched his king up to snatch a pawn at b6. Snatching another pawn with 38.Kxa5?? however was a decisive blunder, as black after 38.— Qb7 with the threat of 39.— Ra8 mate won heavy material. Eight board duel between GM Erik Blomqvist (2521) and IM John-Paul Wallace (2370) was a Sicilian attacking battle, but this one was rather one way driven as white won all the more pawns while continuing his attack against the black king. Two rooks true enough often will outnumber one queen, but this obviously was not the case here as white after 40 moves had queen, bishop and five pawns against two rooks and bishop without pawns. Blomqvist won both his games during this double round and has recovered completely from his shaly first round draw.

Norwegian title norm candidate duel between IM Tor Fredrik Kaasen (2480) and FM Aksel Bu Kvaløy (2321) was a rare and positional Catalan line in which both players spent a lot of time. They still found nothing better than a steam of exchanged, leading to a dead drawn rook endgame after the first time control. A draw here obviously was much better news for the IM norm candidate handling the black pieces than for the GM norm candidate handling the white pieces, but the road to round nine still is very long for both candidates.

The first player to defeat a GM in this tournament became Israelian teenager IM Yahil Sokolovsky (2461), soon demonstrating the better understanding of a complex King´s Indian position as black against GM; Alexander Fishbein (2366). Black coolly cashed in three all the more loose white queenside pawns and had few problems to bolster his kingside afterwards. The game between FM Marius Fromm (2457) and Kacper Tomaszwski (2313) ended up in the draw column, but this was a miracle from a black point of view as white had a winning initiative and/or attack around move 15–40. Inviting for a rook exchange with 41.Rd5? was a mistake, and black later came up with enough counterplay against the white king to draw the game by a repetition. WIM Savitha Shri Baskar (2418) on the other hand took her time, but after 53 moves finally had completed her attack against the king of WGM Atousa Pourkashiyan (2282) in the queen´s duel on board 12.

The lower boards tonight saw many expected wins and a few surprises. 65 year old FM Richard Bjerke (2085) reached a somewhat unexpected draw as white against IM Rasmus Skytte (2356), after successfully transforming a balanced endgame into a bankbox. Realizing that the position was totally blocked, Skytte in the end demonstrated a good sense of chess humour as he sacrificed his piece in the minor piece endgame to stalemate his own king. The young Irishman CM Peter Carroll (2075) meanwhile won a tough attacking battle as black against FM Varun Krishnan (2341). Carroll her got two extra minutes for the decisive moves before the time control, as Krishnan in confused desperation tried to make an illegal move. Local junior Sergey Eliseev (1970) of course could be proud of his draw as black against GM Lothar Vogt (2314), although the German veteran appears to be in a «very solid» mood this week. 12 year old Swedish player Victor Lilliehöök (1882) made a surprise for the second round in a row following a long and tense draw against WFM Ronit Levitan (2220). Underrated Bærum junior Nikolay Den Roover (1821) also had a memorable evening, defeating Stefan Erdmann (2123).

The Open made a more or less sensational start as the usually solid and top rated Ole Smeby (1928) overlooked a strong tactical pseudo sacrifice with 9.— Nxe4!, and after one and a half hour was just two pawns down against 17 year old Vetle Støren (1534). Smeby after the blunder obviously played much too fast today, as he had spent less than half an hour to find a lost rook endgame. Støren handled the situation very well and had few problems to complete the win. Curiously, Smeby today had a very rare chance to play identical twins in the same day, but aged 71 he felt a bit tired during the second game. Smeby´s explanation after the game still was classic as well as gentle: «My opponent was playing better than me today!»

The Open also slowed down a bit tonight, as three of the top five boards ended up more or less sensible draws. On the second board 12 year old Danish talent Dane Sarah Sima Derlich (1522) continued her success, drawing a heavyweight and balanced endgame as black against second rated  Christian Strahl (1918). Third board however got an early winner, as 19 year old Ramesh Jeyanth (1469) before 15 moves had an extra passed pawn at d5 as white against Sauran Bekmukhanov (1629). The game lasted until move 41, but the endgame was an easy win for white. The Open following this has made a very surprising start, as the lead at 3.0/3 is shared between two players that are rated number 14 and 16.

Talking about talented teenager twins: Caroline Lindegaard Bruntse (1459) continued her progress with a long and sound draw as black against David Hellesøy (1606), while Kathrine Lindegaard Bruntse (1603) probably hoped for more than a draw as black against the still flying and still ten year old local talent Sophie Damiano (1303). Keeping aside Strahl, Derlich, Hellesøy, Damiano, Bruntse and Bruntse, the group at 2.5/3 also includes Stavanger junior Jonas Gryte (1626) as he today won as black against much more experienced German Lucas Pruetting (1702) on the sixth board. The game lasted only 12 moves as white entered very dubious Sicilian tactics, leading to about an extra rook for black. Somewhat surprisingly, there was no surprise result worth to mention on the lower boards in the Open this round.