THE LAHLUM SHORT REPORT 6
So fra so good GM Titas Stremavicius this round suffered his first loss, following a rather chaotic uphill black game against Indian GM Suri Vaibhav. Second rated Vaibhav at an outstanding 5.0/6 following this is now sharing the lead with seventh rated Swedish-Ukrainian GM Platon Galperin, as the latter today outplayed GM Erik Blomqvist in a positional Sicilian duel. Today´s sensation man was the local start talent Aksel Bu Kvaløy, deciding a tense game against GM Davorin Kuljasevic during mutual time pressure. 14 year old Kvaløy is now sharing the third place with Stremavicius and four other players at 4.5/6, and is a hot candidate to qualify for the IM title this week.
First board duel between GM Suri Vaibhav (2595) of India and GM Titas Stremavicius (2541) of Lithuania was considered a very likely key game for this first prize fight. Following a Modern line of a Russian opening, all the knights disappeared early – leaving a position in which white´s mobile pawn majority in the center combined with two active bishops gave him a clear plus. As black went for active counterplay, white reportedly did a sound decision to sacrifice an exchange. Since he failed to find the best continuation afterwards, the position with queen, two bishops and five pawns against queen, rook, bishop and four pawns after 30 moves again was double edged. White due to his passed pawns still had the more easy position to play both before and after a queen exchange at move 37. 39.— a4?? was a decisive blunder as white´s three passed pawns became unstoppable after 40.d6, while white´s bishops had the black a-pawn under control after 40.— a3 41.Bb1. Stremavicius at 4.5/6 following this loss still has a great result with a performance above 2600, but Vaibhav passed him and reached 5.0/6 after winning his third game in a row.
GM Vitaly Sivuk (2489) and IM Pawel Teclaf (2575) both have been very solid so far, and following this a positional 19 moves draw in their internal meeting was not much of a surprise. Three set of minor pieces were exchanged soon after an English opening, leaving a position in which white´s space advantage did not help him much. Both players stay half a point behind the lead, while Teclaf following this is just below schedule for his decisive GM norm. Israelian IM Yahli Sokolovsky (2461) and German FM Marius Fromm (2457) in the meantime discussed a Sicilian Four Knights line in which white kept a slight pressure after exchanging the dark squared bishops. 17.g4?! was a critical pawn sacrifice which however also offered black some counterplay. Chances following this were about balanced when the players suddenly exchanged queens and agreed a draw after 29 moves. Fromm is ahead schedule for an IM norm, but already has enough of them. Undefeated at 4.5/6, he probably needs a win as white against Sivuk in the seventh round to keep chances for a GM norm.
The Swedish GM duel between Platon Galperin (2528) and Erik Blomqvist (2521) started up with another Sicilian Taimanov duel for Blomqvist. This time it did not work out too well as black following an early queen exchange lagged far behind on the clock and came under pressure on the board. Although black after 25 moves succeeded to castle, he was still unable to complete his development, while white had successfully installed a highly disturbing rook at a8. Ten moves later black although still in material balance concluded his position hopeless, as his rook at a5 and knight at a6 both were paralyzed for years to come. Galperin now at 5.0/7 with a performance above 2600 will get white again against Vaibhav in round 7, and this too might be a key game for the top prize fight.
Ukrainian GM Konstantin Tarlev (2598) and German IM Jakob Pajeken (2417) in the meantime discussed a Modern Sicilian line with few ideas and many variations. White castled long, black castled short, and the tactical complications started up around move 17. Tarlev found a creative bishop sacrifice at h7, but black replied with Kh8 and soon won back the pawn with counterplay against the white king at b1. Half an hour ahead on the clock, Pajeken as black against a GM still pulled the strike as he after 26 moves exchanged the last minor piece and offered a draw which was accepted in an about balanced position. Tarlev is playing creative chess every round, but so far has a performance below 2450 as he is struggling hard to win games. Pajeken also undefeated at 4.0/6 on the other hand is well above his expected score, but also needs more wins soon to fight for a GM norm.
The sixth board duel between Szymon Gumularz (2587) and Alexander Fishbein (2366) was another GM duel and another Taimanov Sicilian. This one following an early queen exchange also worked out much better seen from the white side of the board. 15.— Bxc3? might have been a more or less decisive strategic mistake, as white´s pair of bishops afterwards gave him a big initiative in this very open position. Fishbein soon realized that this was much worse than expected and gave up a pawn to exchange one of the barking white bishops. White however still kept the more active pieces and after picking up a second pawn he had no problems to win the rook endgame.
Stavanger junior FM Aksel Bu Kvaløy (2321) today challenged Croatian GM Davorin Kuljasevic (2551) to a French Tarrasch duel. The opening hardly qualified as a success from a white point of view, as black due to his pair of bishops came slightly better after exchanging two set of minor pieces. White in a tense middle game succeeded to exchange of the worst dangers. Although black won a pawn after 37 moves, white with queen, knight and four pawns against queen, bishop and five pawns had the more easy position to play. Numberous such games during mutual time pressure have been won by the GM following a blunder from the talented junior. This time instead the GM blundered a piece after 39 moves and resigned instead of making his move 40. 14 year old Kvaløy following this has a performance above 2500 and is well ahead schedule for his third IM-norm. Peaking his live ELO at 2382 following this win, Kvaløy might even complete his IM title by passing 2400 if scoring a norm this tournament. 1.0/3 from now probably will be enough for a nine rounds norm, although black against GM Titas Stremavicius tomorrow obviously will be a hard test.
Stavanger remarkably still has two junior players candidating for IM norms, as FM Shazil Shehzad (2310) with the black pieces against IM John Paul Wallace (2370) demonstrated a good understanding of a Catalan – balancing the chances all the way into a rook endgame which was agreed a draw after 40 moves. White had four against three kingside pawns, but due to his poor pawn structure he had no chance to play for a win. IM Tor Fredrik Kaasen (2480) calculated out IM Oliver Brendel (2334) with the black pieces in an English game which turned very tactical. Although this win was neccessary for Kaasen, he was unlucky to get an opponent with only 2370 for round 7. Kaasen´s remaining GM norm chance for this week seems to be defeating IM Wallace in round 7 and then also defeat the three top rated GMs for round 8–10!
The small and strong Indian woman team had another disappointing round as IM Vaishali Rameshbabu (2418) following a complex Modern opening duel was tactically outplayed by a very inspired version of the Danish IM Rasmus Skytte (2356). WIM Savitha Shri Baskar (also 2418) failed to win a much better queen and knight endgame, after dominating the game against talented Norwegian teenager Nicolai Østensen (2215). Vaishali following this is definitely out as a GM norm candidate for this week, while Savitha with a performance of 2391 can still reach an IM norm with a strong spurt. Chances for a Polish IM norm also decreased, as FM Kacper Tomaszewski (2313) lost a messy Semi-Slav battle as white against IM Theo Gungl (2370). Chances for a WIM norm weakened as Moldovian Valentina Verbin (2112) came under increasing pressure and lost the rooks and minor pieces endgame against Julient Laurent (2231). Verbin however is still in the run if winning as white in round 7.
The middle boards saw a few very surprising results today. The young American Mitch Fishbein (2120) defeated GM Lothar Vogt (2314) in a heavyweight King´s Indian battle. White after exchanging all the bishops gradually developed a winning kingside attack, while black´s counterplay on the queenside was too little and too late. Local junior Sergey Eliseev (1970) following a successful eight rank attack in the fourth hour won a complex Ruy Lopez duel against long travelling WFM Ronit Levitan (2220). Eliseev following some disappointing tournaments is really hitting back this week and has a performance close to 2300, but still probably needs to win both round 7 and 8 to get any title norm chances. 13 year old Tromsø player Sivert Schanche Tørfoss (1833) again demonstrated his potential and has a remarkable performance of 2266 after today defeating Sverre Lye (2173) with the black pieces. Black gradually took over the initiative in this Ruy Lopez game, and after 26 moves won a key pawn at e4. White probably should have been able to save the queen and bishop endgame afterwards, but opposite coloured bishops here came to favour the attacking player. The lower boards on the other hand had a more or less expected outcome in about all games.
In the Open, the first board duel between underrated 17 year old Jonas Gryte (1626) and underrated 19 year old Rajesh Jeyanth (1469) became a hard fought four hours draw. White´s pair of bishops gave him some pressure in this endgame and he was a pawn up in the final position. Still it proved too hard to create winning chances due to white´s inferior pawn structure and many variations leading to a drawn opposite coloured bishop endgame. The second board saw a sensation and further strengthened the youth profile here, as the extremley underrated 12 year old Turk Gokay Serbes (1338) had another white win against second rated Christian Strahl (1918). After exchanging the queens at move 4, the players had a rather solid and balance position for three hours. A draw still was the likely outcome after 30 moves. Strahl however took a too big risk when inviting for a rook exchange in a slightly worse rook endgame. Following an interesting pawn endgame, he ended up two pawns down in a lost queen endgame.
Third board was a teenager duel between Vetle Støren (1534) and Leia Andries (1633), and became an exciting and unbalanced Sicilian duel in which white snatched some kingside pawns with his queen while black snatched some queenside pawns with her queen. Black for some moves was a pawn up, but white in the fourth hour succeeded to produce decisive threats against the black king at e8. Gryte, Jayenth, Serbes and Støren following this are sharing the first place at 5.0/9. First rated Ole Smeby (1928) however hit back with a 21 moves attacking win as black against Kathrine Lindegaard Bruntse (1603) and is one out of only two players at 4.5. The other one is the solid and sensible 16 year old Polish player Marcin Rzepka (1417), today winning a long and patient English game as white against Noa Brakestad (1626).
The Danish delegation had a less successful round 6. 12 year old Sarah Sima Derlich (1522) however is still playing very well and hit back with a draw as black against third rated Michael Bergmann (1856). This game was an interesting and unbalanced endgame in which black had rook and two pawns for bishop and knight. The youngest girls overall had a very good round: Sophie Damiano (1303) registered a counterattack win as black against the local Brazilian Sidney Haubrick (1433), while Githiha Sathish (1442) early won the queen for two minor pieces against also talented young Maxy Doly (1315).
We look forward to a very exciting finish in this group too, with Gryte–Støren, Jeyanth–Serbes and Smeby–Rzepka coming up as the top board pairings for round 7. Notably, 71 year old third board player Smeby here is older than all the four players on the top two boards combined!