THE LAHLUM SHORT REPORT 8
The much expected top board duel between Norwegian FM Aksel Bu Kvaløy and Swedish-Ukrainian GM Platon Galperin was a short but intensive draw, and by far the first game to finish on the top ten boards today. 14 year old Kvaløy following this can be congratulated as an IM after passing 2400 and needs «only» a draw as black in round 9 for a sensational GM norm! The Polish team had a very good round and the German team a disappointing one, as IM Pawel Teclaf and GM Szymon Gumularz both succeeded to win long rook endgames with one extra pawn against IM Jakob Pajeken and FM Marius Fromm. Today´s biggest surprise on the top boards was Norwegian IM Tor Fredrik Kaasen winning in an impressive style as black against top rated GM Konstantiv Tarlev. Galperin at 6.5/8 keeps his unshared lead, but Gumularz, Teclaf, Kaasen and Kvaløy all can be found only half a point behind him. The woman top players had a strong round 8. WIM Savitha Shri Baskar after winning a long rook and bishop endgame today needs «only» a draw as black in round 9 to make an IM norm. WGM Gulrukbegim Tokhirjonova won by a crushing attack as white against GM Erik Blomqvist, and following this she can make her third IM norm if able to win also as black in round 9!
First board duel between FM Aksel Bu Kvaløy (2321) and GM Platon Galperin (2528) made a fresh start, as white entered the Scotch line of a Four Knights Opening. The position appearently was chaotic when a draw was agreed upon white´s suggestion after 12.cxb7, but within two moves white would have taken back black´s extra piece and reached an about balanced position. The game at this stage was far out of theory, white having spent some 45 minutes and black some 35 minutes on the clock. Although the short draw was somewhat disappointing it was at the same time very understandable. Galperin following this draw as black remains undefeated at +5 with 6.5/8 and keeps an unshared first place. Kvaløy as white probably should have tried to play for a win her if he wanted to fight for the first prize. The IM norm however has been his main goal for a good while, and following this draw he definitely qualified for that title as his live ELO now passed the 2400 barrier! Kvaløy´s decision to offer a draw here became all the more successful as he for round 9 now will be black against GM Suri Vaibhav, and following this another draw with a small margin will be sufficient for a GM norm. (Kvaløy´s performance according to the computers will be well below 2600 in case of a round 9 draw, but still it will qualify as a GM norm since his very low rated first round opponent here can count for 2200.)
Second board duel between Ukrainian GM Vladimir Tarlev (2598) and Norwegian IM Tor Fredrik Kaasen (2480) was a very interesting and unbalanced English fianchetto, in which black gave up his two bishops for the two white knights to establish a center advantage. Due to the bishops it first appeared slightly better for white. Black however came up with dangerous counterplay following a tactical b5, exchanging his b-pawn for white´s key pawn at d5. After 18 moves black according to the computers had taken over the advantage on the board, and had three quarters against one quarter on the clock. White later never succeeded to find any safe haven for his king at e1, and black following this kept a winning initiative into the endgame with two rooks and one minor piece on each side. Tarlev´s resignation after 34 moves apparently came a little early as he was still only one pawn down, but black won very well deserved here as white had more or less paralyzed pieces and was about to lose a second pawn. Kaasen was unlucky not to get a GM in the pairings for round 9 and following this is formally out of the GM norm run despite this brilliant win. At 6.0/8 following this fourth win in a row, Kaasen however has reached a plus result and is in the fight for the top three prizes.
Third board duel between GM Vitaly Sivuk (2489) and GM Suri Vaibhav (2595) from 1.Nf3 transposed into a Grünfeld-Indian fianchetto duel with about balanced chances. White here had a pair of bishops and a passed d-pawn, but black got counterplay due to his strong fianchetto bishop at g7 and his knight outpost at d3. White´s chances appeared promising as he under mutual time pressure won an exchange for a pawn and directed an attack against black´s pawn at a7. Vaibhav probably had it under control due to his passed c-pawn and light square dominance, and the game just before the first time control was drawn by a repetition of checks against the white king.
GM Szymon Gumularz (2587) and FM Marius Fromm (2457) made a fast start with a symmetric English variation in which both players blitzed out more than 20 moves. The game went more or less directly from the opening preparation to a rook endgame in which white had an edge. Black probably should have been able to save this, but it still became painful as white had the better pawn structure plus the more active king and the more active rook. White in short won a pawn, established a decisive passed h-pawn and then sacrificed it to present a decisive mating threat after 64 moves. Fromm following this loss is out as a GM norm candidate. In case of a draw in the ninth round he qualifies for an IM norm, but this has more or less no practical relevance since Fromm has already completed all qualifications and sent his application for that title. Gumularz at 6.0/8 following this win is shared second at 6.0/8 and will get his chance as black against leading Galperin on the top board for round 9.
Polish IM Pawel Teclaf (2575) after two short draws had placed himself in an awkward situation for round 8, as he to keep chances for a GM norm had to play for a win as white against his roommate IM Jakob Pajeken (2417). The opening was another symmetric English in which white greedily snatched a pawn at a5 with his queen. White later kept an extra pawn, while black got full compensation due to his kingside initiative. The compensation gradually vanished after the direct kingside attack halted. Black after the first time control probably considered the remaining rook endgame with two against three kingside pawns as safe, but this endgame was more difficult than it appeared at first sight since black had advanced and scattered pawns at f5 and h5. After 55 moves the remaining rook endgame with h-pawn versus f- and g-pawn was a draw, although the pawn at h4 still was a little loose. With eight minutes against two on the clock, black played too fast and blundered it all away with 62.— Ra1?? – somehow overlooking that white could now just play 63.Kg5 and take the h5-pawn. Teclaf has a performance above 2600 following this patient win, but needs a third GM opponent. Black against IM Kaasen in this situation obviously was an unlucky pairing for round 9. It remains to test out whether Teclaf can keep the performance above 2600 for two more games and get a third GM for round 10.
Croatian GM Davorin Kuljasevic (2553) today met an unusual 3.— h6?! in a Queen´s Gambit as white against Polish FM Stanislav Zylka (2415). White found no way to make use of the extra move and so black with a strong knight on the c4 outpost did fine after 20 moves. Black´s backward pawn at c6 here was a weakness from a theoretical point of view, but still difficult to attack for white. White later succeeded to exchange the rooks but not to open the position. A draw at move 46 was agreed by repetition in a materially balanced and rather closed queen and minor pieces endgame. Zylka following his slow first half of this tournament needed a win her to get norm chances for round 9, but might after all be able to do it if winning both round 9 and 10.
IM Theo Gungl (2370) as white against GM Titas Stremavicius (2541) made a slow and apparently drawish start, with a Queen´s Gambit in which the c- and d-pawns were exchanged early. White however first became too passive and then overlooked a tactical hit with 29.— Ne4+!, 30.— Nd2+ and 31.— Ndxf3+!. Following this black after 30 moves was a very sound pawn up in a double minor piece endgame. Stremavicius later took his time to maneuver, but after 67 moves white due to zugzwang stopped to clock.
WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova (2340) versus GM Erik Blomqvist (2521) was a very modern Nimzo-Indian line, in which black weakened his kingside with h6 and g5 to hunt the white bishop around to g3 and win the pair of bishops. It backfired badly as white successfully opened the weakened kingside against black´s king. White completed the attack in a great style, and reportedly had a mate in seven when black threw in the scoresheets after 25 moves. Defeating a GM above 2500 makes a lot of difference when you are playing for an IM-norm. Tokhirjonova now can complete her third IM norm in round 9, although she to achieve this also has to defeat solid IM Jakob Pakejen with the black pieces.
IM Yahli Sokolovsky (2461) versus FM Marcin Molenda (2406) was a Sicilian Rossolimo duel in which white spent much time without finding any useful plans, allowing black to start a promising kingside attack in the third hour. The flashy 24.— Rf3?! followed by 25.— Rxh3 reportedly was not the objectively strongest continuation of the attack, but still black got a winning attack and completed it within five more moves. This impressive win came too late for Molinda to reach IM norm chances for round 9, but he might still get a chance for round 10. FM Kacper Tomaszewski (2313) also lost his chance following following a draw as white against GM Alex Fishbein (2366). This game was a dry but still interesting battle in which both players refused one draw offer and sacrificed one exchange before they after the first control landed in a drawn rook and knight endgame.
WIM Savitha Shri Baskar (2418) and FM Shazil Shehzad (2310) tested out a closed Ruy Lopez opening line, which suddenly opened as the center was blown up. White for a few moves kept an extra pawn at d5, although black had a sound position and could win back the pawn. For some unknown reason black waited for too long to take back the pawn, and had to give up his pawn at a6. Later white had an extra pawn which was a passed a-pawn. The rook and bishop endgame with two against one pawn appeared drawish due to the opposite coloured bishops. White´s passed pawn at a6 however made life difficult for black. A few mistakes from both sides followed as the players ran seriously short of time for the second time control, but after 66 moves white was ready for the triumphal march with a7 and a8Q. 16 year old Baskar following this stubborn win needs «only» a draw as black against GM Titas Stremavicius in round 9 to confirm her second IM-norm. Her result already qualifies for a nine round WGM norm, but her third norm for that title was completed at Fagernes last month. Also 16 year old Shezad notably is not out of the IM norm, but following this set back he probably needs to win as white against IM Vaishali Rameshbabu in round 9 to get a norm chance for round 10.
Talking about Vaishali Rameshbabu (2418), her IM duel against Mads Vestby-Ellingsen (2357) today was a Sicilian Moscow opening in which black came better, as his pair of bishops was more important than the backward pawn at d6. Exchanging the queens however was a serious misunderstanding, as white due to her queenside pawn majority did fine in the the double minor piece endgame after 30 moves. A draw was agreed after 33 moves, as the players entered a dead drawn opposite coloured bishop endgame.
Norwegian junior champion Sondre Melaa (2231) although not in the run for an IM norm is doing very well this tournament, and this round won as black against IM John Paul Wallace (2370). White first had slight pressure, but then a short comedy of errors followed as black blundered with the too advanced 23.— Bc5?? White instead of taking the rook with the critical 24.bxc4 retreated with 24.Ne2??, after which 24.— Nxf2! immediately gave black a decisive attack. White´s later tries for a counterattack succeeded only to lose more material, and black was about three pieces up when white resigned after 35 moves.
The lower boards of the GM group this evening saw some surprising draws but no really sensationial wins. The young American Mitch Fishbein (2120) is still doing very well and today made a draw against IM Andrew Kayonde (2361). The veteran duel between FM Richard Bjerke (2085) and GM Lothar Vogt (2314) was a sound Sicilian 19 moves draw, and 65 year old Bjerke following this is doing a plus result among the young lions in this group.
The Open today had one big, young and late winner. On the first board, 17 year old Jonas Gryte (1626) after 77 moves well into the sixth hour succeeded to win a long rook endgame with an extra pawn as black against 71 year old Ole Smeby (1928). In the second board duel 19 year old Rajesh Jeyanth (1469) as black against the Gambit playing German Christian Strahl (1918) remained a pawn up for three hours, but offered a draw as white after 34 moves finally was about to win back the pawn in the queen and rook endgame. Third board duel between Henrik Lauvsnes Nilsen (1535) and Gokay Serves (1338) was a tense 51 moves game landing in a drawn pawn endgame, while the fourth board between Marcin Rzepka (1417) and Vetle Støren (1534) was agreed draw in a balanced rooks and bishops endgame already after 17 moves. Board 5–7 somehow also all were drawn, while 12 year old Sarah Sima Derlich (1522) after five and a half hour succeeded to win a long endgame as white against Eric Dickson (1087) on board 8.
Gryte following this now is leading alone at 7.0/8 ahead Jeyanth at 6.5, with Strahl, Nilsen, Støren, Rzepka and Serbes shadowing at 5.5. Apparently the top two prizes in the Open are given two rounds before the end. Gryte however will get another critical test in round 9 as white against much higher rated Strahl, and Jeyanth based upon the rating and tournament so far will be only a slight favourite as white against Nilsen. The 16 year old Polish Marcin Rzepka is the third undefeated player in this field after round 8, but it seems he will have too many sound draws to fight for the top two prizes.