THE LAHLUM SHORT REPORT 7
Round 7 had two big winners in the GM group. The first was 19 year old Swedish-Ukrainian GM Platon Galperin, leading alone at an outstanding 6.0/7 after defeating GM Suri Vaibhav in a probably drawish queen endgame. Galperin leading alone after seven rounds with a performance of 2680 qualifies as a big surprise. Obviously a very strong and creative young GM, he still started up like only the seventh rated player of this field. The second and still much bigger sensation is 14 year old FM Aksel Bu Kvaløy, still walking confidently around on the water as he today won another attacking battle as black against GM Titas Stremavicius. As Kvaløy is unshared second at 5.5/7 with a sensational performance of 2580, he can for all practical purposes already be congratulated with his third IM norm! We look forward to a very exciting run for the top prizes as well as for title norms, as Kvaløy now is hunting his first GM norm ahead a group of other title norms candidates.
First board duel between GM Platon Galperin (2528) and GM Suri Vaibhav (2595) started up like a positional Ruy Lopez duel. White came half an hour ahead on the clock, while black and his pair of bishops apparently did fairly well on the board after 15 moves. White played for an attack with a 16.e5 break and kept a pressure for the next 10–15 moves. Black however defended sound and succeeded to exchange it down to a queen engame with five pawns on each side. Again running short of time for 40 moves, Vaibhav however made a decisive mistake as he gave up his a6-pawn with the active 28.— Qd2? instead of defending his weak pawns with 28.— Qd6! White´s passed a-pawn later soon became decisive. The queen endgame after the time control was a fairly trivial win for white, as a double f-pawn made it possible for him to hide his king at g2 from the queen checks.
Second board between IM Pawel Teclaf (2575) and GM Szymon Gumularz (2587) was a duel between two solid Polish travel companions with around the same ELO. The seven moves draw following this no way came unexpected. The moves with 4.Na4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nd5 6.Na4 looked a bit strange, but this actually is a well known line in the Grünfeld-Indian opening. Teclaf with a performance of 2568 might be only two or three games away from his GM title, but he will need at least 1.5/2 and possibly 2/2 to make a nine round norm following several short draws.
Third board duel between GM Titas Stremavicius (2541) and FM Aksel Bu Kvaløy (2321) made a relatively positional English start, reaching an about balanced position. Kvaløy again spent much time in the middle game, but showed no respect for his GM opponent and creatively sacrificed a loose pawn with 18.— f4!? to open the kingside against white´s king. Taking the pawn reportedly was a mistake which gave black a strong attack, but the position became unclear again as black at move 25 became too eager to hit in with his bishop at g2. White in turn became too careless when exchanging his bishop at f5, as black´s light square dominance combined with his passed a-pawn later gave him a very promising attack. 14 year old Kvaløy again played better than his GM opponent during mutual time pressure the last ten moves before the time control, efficiently sacrificing an exchange to reach a position in which black´s attack combined with the pawn at a2 gave him a totally won position. 40.— Qxg2+! was a nice final touch forcing white to stop the clock, as black´s bishop and passed queenside pawns would soon outnumber black´s rook after the queen exchange. Stremavicius started up with an amazing 4.0/4, but suddenly is around his expected score at 4.5/7 following this second and more shocking loss. Stavanger junior Kvaløy at 5.5/7 sensationally has already reached his third IM norm, and his live ELO following this key seventh round win is 2396. Kvaløy might get some dilemmas here, as a few more ELO points will complete the IM title while 1.5/2 now will qualify for a GM norm which can prove very useful later on.
German FM Marius Fromm (2457) and Swedish-Ukrainian GM Vitaly Sivuk (2489) discussed an Alekhine´s opening, in which two minor pieces were exchanged early. White played for a win and accelerated on the kingside with 20.f4!? This however backfired as black got a lot of counterplay on the white squares and won a pawn at d5 after 28 moves. During mutual time pressure black in turn allowed white to exchange pawns and achieve some counterplay. A draw was agreed as the players after 38 moves were about to reach a very drawish rook endgame. Sivuk following this black draw is in the group at 5.0/7 sharing third place. Fromm despite somewhat jumpy games hangs on as a GM norm candidate, but failing to create winning chances as white here he now must win both round 8 and 9 to achieve a nine round norm. 0.5/2 here probably will do for an IM norm, but this has no practical relevance as Fromm is already qualified for the IM title.
On the fifth board, Danish IM Rasmus Skytte (2356) and Ukrainian GM Kontantin Tarlev (2598) instead discussed a rare and not too ambitious Sicilian line with 3.b3. Black did well on the board and after 17 moves had a pair of bishops plus some pressure against an isolated white pawn at d3. White for a while was more than 40 minutes ahead on the clock, but still found no good plans here. Opening the h-file with 19.h4, 20.h5 and 21.hxg6 turned out only to help black, as he within ten more moves won by a h-file attack. First rated Tarlev has had a slow start, but now at 5.0/7 he after all will play second board in round 8.
GM Erik Blomqvist (2521) and IM Theo Gungl (2370) via 1.Nf3 and 2.g3 transposed into a Grünfeld-Indian fianchetto. The structure became symmetric following a pawn exchange at d5, while white kept a slight edge on the clock and board. The structure changed in favour of white following a knight exchange at e5, and white after intervening at the d6 outpost with his knight suddenly had a strong pressure. White within a few more moves won an exchange, but still had a long way to win the game as black had a fairly solid position with bishop and pawn for the rook. The GM handled this very well until the first time control, exchanging queens and one of his rooks to reach a won endgame with rook and four pawns against bishop and five pawns. Later white however failed to find any on the winning plans, instead allowing black to advance his extra pawn to e3 with a drawish position. Unwilling to accept the draw Blomqvist at move 61 sacrificed back the exchange, but his plan to play for a win in the pawn endgame instead ended up with a queen endgame in which black had an extra h-pawn. The Swedish GM woke up in time, hiding his king in the corner air around a8 and after 96 moved saved a draw with queen against queen and advanced h-pawn. Gungl is still undefeated with a plus result, although he still has no chances for a GM norm.
The Norwegian IM duel between Tor Fredrik Kaasen (2480) and John Paul Wallace (2370) started up with some kind of declined Meran in a Semi-Slav opening. White came clearly ahead on the clock and put pressure on the kingside after 12.f4 followed by 13.e5. Black after 14 moves had only 20 minutes left on the clock and more or less in desperation sacificed his knight at f6. White instead of just taking the black knight decided to sacrifice his own knight at f7, and within a few moves was an exchange up with an ongoing kingside attack. Kaasen is closed to his expected score and still theoretically in the run for a GM norm as he won this game and got GM Tarlev as his opponent for round 8. Kaasen still needs to win all the three remaining games against top rated opponents to make his third GM norm. Moving closer to the 2500 barrier of course also is important and probably more realistic at this stage.
The very talented teenager duel between Norwegian FM Shazil Shehzad (2310) and Israelian IM Yahli Sokolovsky (2461) was another closed Ruy Lopez duel, in which black came ahead on the clock. White after 25 moves however had picked up a loose pawn at c4 with a clear advantage on the board. Consequently white a few moves later on left a repetition to play for a full point, and was rewarded as black went for a dubious exchange sacrifice at b5. During mutual time pressure black blundered with 34.— Nb3?, but the position turned messy as white missed the winning answer 35.Qc4! and instead sacrificed back an exchange with 35.Rxb3? Black in turn (of course) used his chance for a new exchange sacrifice, and so white after the first time control for a few moves was an exchange up with a winning position. Although black´s bishop at f8 was rather lame, his queen and light squared bishop became a bit stressing for the open white king. Shehzad missed his chance to evacuate the king with 46.Kf1! and 47.Ke1, instead allowing a repetition by putting his king at f2. 16 year old Shehzad today wasted a won position which could have brought him close to an IM norm, but he can still make it with 1.5/2 from the next two games. Sokolovsky more or less by a miracle remains undefeated and has a score about his expected, but is out of the GM norm run.
German IM Jakob Pajeken (2417) and Zambian IM Andrew Kayonde (2361) discussed a Caro-Kann with 2.Nf3 and 3.Nc3, leaving white with some space advantage after exchanging two set of minor pieces. White kept a slight pressure much due to his two against one pawn majority on the queenside. White increased the pressure with a tactical 38.c6 and was rewarded as black short of time eliminated the white c-pawn instead of the more important b6-pawn. White´s passed pawn at b7 after the time control soon gave him a decisive advantage. Pajeken instructive opened a second front on the kingside and went on to win within a few moves after the time control. Now at 5.0/7 this young German IM is in the run for a GM norm, as 1.5/2 for round 8 and 9 probably will be sufficient.
Croatian GM Davorin Kuljasevih (2553) and American WGM Atousa Pourkashyian (2282) entered a Semi-Tarrasch Queen´s Gambit, in which a lot of pieces were exchanged early. White kept a space advantage all into the double minor piece endgame, and instructively activated his five against four majority on the kingside. Black´s two versus one queenside majority came too late to save her in this game, as white in the meantime established a passed h-pawn which in the fifth hour won a piece.
CM Mikkel Vinh Loftgaard (2258) and WIM Savitha Shri Baskar (2418) meanwhile had a Danish-indian discussion about a Sicilian Alapin variation, in which white a bit loose sacrificed his pawn at d4. Baskar catched in the pawn and regrouped her pieces without running into any trouble, and after 25 moves was a sound pawn up with a winning position. The rest was cramp from a white point of view. Black snatched two more pawns, advances her passed d-pawn and before 40 moves landed safely in a totally won rook and knight endgame. Baskar following this win remains in the run for her second IM-norm, but still needs 1.5/2 to make the norm after nine rounds. Polish FM Kacper Tomaszewski (2313) and his pair of bishops hit back with a patient black win against local master player Jan Vidar Vestly (2088). Tomaszewski following this can still make an IM norm if winning both round 8 or 9.
Chances for a WIM norm are not too good as Moldovian Valentina Verbin (2112) failed to win despite an extra endgame pawn as white against underrated Even Huneide Hetland (1719), while Israelian WFM Michelle Katkov (2142) as white against IM Vaishali Rameshbabu (2418) in the bitter end after more than 100 moves proved unable to solve a difficult endgame with rook and pawn versus queen.
Most games on the lower boards again got a more or less expected outcome. Irish CM Peter Carroll (2075) of course could be well satisfied with a draw as black against veteran GM Lothar Vogt (2314), but the game actually lasted only 11 moves. Draw between GM Alex Fishbein (2366) and the talented junior Mitch Fishbein (2120) obviously qualifies as an unfortunate pairing more than a surprising game result. Local junior Sergey Eliseev (1970) is still doing very well and has a performance around 2300, after he today registered a draw as black against IM Mads Vestby-Ellingsen (2357).
Galperin at 6.0/7 is leading half a point ahead Kvaløy, but will get the black pieces in their internal meeting on the first board in round 8. Eight players sharing the third place with 5.0/9 will play each other, as the set up for board 2–5 is GM Tarlev versus IM Kaasen, GM Sivuk versus GM Vaibhav, GM Gumularz versus FM Fromm and IM Teclaf versus IM Pajeken. Board 10 duel between Savitha Shri Baskar and FM Shazil Shehzad obviously will be a key game for the norm chances of both players.
No complaints about the fighting spirit in the Open, as nine out of the top ten boards got a winner in round 7! First board duel between Jonas Gryte (1626) and Vetle Støren (1534) was a complex French Advance duel, in which black and his pair of bishops probably was fine when he at move 19 castled long. Black however failed to come up with any good plan for the next moves, and the position suddenly turned in favour of white as he was allowed to open the queenside against black´s king with 23.a4! and 24.a5! 19 year old Rajesh Jeyanth (1469) however also continues his strong play, and won a piece within 15 moves as white against the 12 year old talent Gokay Serbes (1338) on the second board.
Third board duel between 71 year old Ole Smeby (1928) and 16 year old Marcin Rzepka (1417) transposed into a heavyweight and rather closed King´s Indian Sämisch position, turning slowly in favour of black as white failed to come up with any real kingside attack. Black had taken over the f-file and appeared to be slighly better when he offered a draw after 23 moves. Henrik Lauvsnes Nilsen (1535) by a wide margin won an attacking race as black against David Hellesøy (1606) on board four, while second rated Christian Strahl following a successful opening preparation won decisive material after 6 moves in the German duel against Lucas Pruetting (1702) on the fifth board (The moves were 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d4!? Nxd4?? 5.Nxe5 Ne6 6.Bxe6! and black realized that he could not take back without losing material …)
Three rounds before the prizegiving, we following this find Gryte and Jeyanth sharing the lead at 6.0/7, a full point ahead of Smeby, Strahl, Nilsen, Støren, Rzepka and Serpes. The young frontrunners however now will get a critical quality test in round 8, as Gryte will be black against first rated Smeby and Jeyanth black against second rated Strahl!