THE (SHORT) LAHLUM ROUND REPORT 8
First board meeting between sixth seeded GM Salvador Del Rio (2533) and first seeded GM Yuri Solodovnichenko (2615) became a double edged five hours battle. It started like a Queen’s Gambit Accepted in which black probably was fine although white playing with hanging pawns got some more space. Black was by some onlookers reported close to winning in the rooks and bishop endgame after 40 moves, as white’s queenside pawns were about to collapse. White however creatively came up with counterplay, and having doubled his rooks on the seventh rank he could sacrifice his bishop to force a draw by repetition after 50 moves.
The third player at 5.5/7, GM Ramil Hasangatin (2498), on the second board had made a draw two hours earlier as black against IM Axel Smith (2478). The game was a rather positional Grünfeld, in which Hasangatin was behind on the clock but probably very slightly ahead on the board when a draw was agreed after 22 moves. Smith needed a win to be assured GM norm chances in the last round, hence both players after the game had some exciting hours waiting for the other results and the pairings of next round…
Draw for all three 5.5-men gave the 5.0-men a chance to step up if winning. The first one to use the chance was GM Vladimir Georgiev (2531), suddenly having a decisive kingside attack running as black after 25 moves in an English fianchetto - as GM Normunds Miezis (2557) somehow lost the thread after winning a pawn on the queenside and advancing his passed pawn to a6. GM Marc Narciso Dublan (2531) playing black in a Catalan against GM Igors Rausis (2481) on the fourth board needed more moves and again ran into a time trouble duel, but also got a kingside attack running in the late middle game. The game was decided as Rausis with both players seriously short of time blundered and in desperation gave up a piece after 35 moves. When the smoke cleared and the reconstruction was over, Rausis immediately threw in the scoresheet as black was a piece up in the rook and pieces endgame.
While Miezis and Rausis blundered out of the fight for top three, Georgiev and Dublan are sharing the lead and in the fight for the first prize. Same is IM Timofey Galinskyi of Ukraine (2415), winning confidently as white in 32 moves against IM Petter Haugli (2303). With got a positional edge after refusing black’s Benkö Gambit, and black’s position collapsed before 30 moves with his vital pawn on f5 – leaving white two pawns up with the better attack in the final position.
Following these results six players are now sharing first place at 6.0/8 – and they will play each other on the first three boards in round nine! Top board pairings Solodovnichenko-Georgiev, Dublan-Del Rio and Hasangatin-Galinskyi make the big question before round eight even more relevant before round nine: Who will – and can – play for a win? The Buchholz for now is best for Hasangatin and worst for Dublan, but margins are so small that this can well change within round nine… We are hoping for a true chess thriller lasting at least four hours in round nine, but still fearing one or more short draws on the top boards…
IM Galinskyi like his GM-competitors can play for the glory, ELO and money in the final round, as his last GM-norm chance for this tournament immediately was lost when the pairings for round nine were published. Smith on the other hand got the top rated opponent he needed after his eight round draw, and can make his first GM-norm if winning in the last round. But still he must then defeat GM Eduard Rozentalis (2601) as black on the fourth board. Rozentalis won his third game in a row after picking up a pawn against young Aryan Tari (2202), hence the Lithuanian legend is – despite his triple puncture in the first half of the tournament – still in the fight for a moneyprize.
Hopes for a Norwegian title norm definitely ran out after this round eight. Vegar Koi Gandrud (2202) won some further ELO points as he kept together the queen and rook endgame under slight pressure as black against IM Eirik T. Gullaksen (2387), but Gandrud’s last round opponent is too low rated for a norm even in case of a win tomorrow… Still of course an excellent result for Gandrud, and many more norm chances will come for him.
WGM Olga Dolzhikova (2259) of Ukraine, living in Oslo and about to become a Norwegian chessplayer, however is still in the IM-norm run after winning in the eight round as black against FM Gerrit Prakken (2219). White sacrificed two pawns in the early middle game, and with black spending much time white got some initiative. Dolzhikova remained concentrated and proved able to exchange away the dangers for her king, and finally getting out her pieces she won easily with her extra pawns in the endgame. A win with white in the ninth round will be sufficient for Dolzhikova’s first IM-norm, but GM Sergei Kasparov (2503) will be a very hard nut to crack for her. Kasparov today draw a very solid (read: Rather boring) game as black against IM Dmitry Stets (2468). The draw between GM Leif Erlend Johannessen (2503) and GM Sipke Ernst (2578) also was “more sound than creative”, as the players from a rather tame Queen’s Gambit Accepted exchanged down to a rather lame minor pieces endgame.
First title norm of the tournament a little surprisingly was confirmed today, as Swedish WFM Ellinor Frisk (2181) in the last game of the round won as black against Danish FM Jesper Mørch Lauridsen (2269). White played a pawn up in the middle game, but black got all the more active pieces until turning the game and winning two pawns during mutual time pressure before 40 moves. The rook endgame with f-pawn versus f- and h-pawn still should be drawn, but a disillusioned white player faced a demanding defence. Due to black’s active pieces he was probably lost after having to give up the f-pawn. Frisk was stubborn to win the game and then lucky to win the pairings, as her five points are sufficient for a WIM-norm when including GM Leif Erlend Johannessen as the ninth opponent! Congratulations to Ellinor, living in Kristiansund and despite her Swedish passport already being recognized as a popular guest in Norwegian tournaments J. We are waiting with excitement for the final clearification about other norm candidates and the top prizes in round nine!
THE (SHORT) LAHLUM ROUND REPORT 7
Russian GM Hamil Rasangatin (2498) playing white on the first board again got a pair of bishops and an edge. Again he however failed to win, as the opponent – today Spanish GM Salvador Del Rio (2533) – defended well in a Pirc. Again Ransagatin efficiently pulled the strike in time not too lose, and it dried out with a draw after 30 moves in a balanced rook and bishop endgame. Black was about to win a pawn, but he could hardly keep it and avoid a repetition simultaneously.
Draw between the two players at 5.0/6 gave the six players at 4.5 a chance to share first place. Top seeded GM Yuri Solodovnichenko (2615) efficiently used his chance today, winning well deserved as white against GM Leif Erlend Johannessen. Black came under pressure on the clock as well as on the board in the early middle game, as white got too active pieces in a Ruy Lopez isolated pawn position. Black’s try to give up his queen for rook and bishop was creative under the given circumstances, but still did not work out too well as white sacrificed an exchange more for a decisive attack. 1-0 after 33 moves - as black was running out of seconds on the clock and pieces on the board. Third board between GM Normunds Miezis (2557) and GM Igor Rausis (2481) on the other hand was drawn within one hour and 21 not too exciting moves. It started like an English fianchetto and then immediately exchanged down to a drawish bishop endgame. This leaving both players standby half a point behind the first board.
Fourth board meeting between GM Marc Narciso Dublan (2534) and IM Timofey Galinsky (2415) also was drawn, but that was five hours and 67 moves later on – and in a much more entertaining way. It all started as a Catalan in which white first seemed solid and slightly better, but then in the middle game black playing with an extra pawn and some attacking chances appeared better. White’s passed pawn on c5 however gave him some compensation, and although black just before 40 moves won bishop and knight for rook and pawn, white’s passed pawn and active rook made the following endgame promising for white. Dublan could have won the black bishop for the pawn and played on with rook and three pawns versus knight and five, but preferred to keep the pawn and snatch some pawns with the rook. Running seriously short of time for the game white missed an elegant win with 70.h7! (> 70.--- Bb5xRa6 71.h8Q or 70.--- Ng5xh7 21.Ra6-a7+ Kc7-d6 22.Ra7xh7), but still the following endgame with took and two pawns versus knight and bishop with the more active king was easily won for white. Galinskyi however fought on bravely, and with less than one minute left for both players Dublan was unlucky and lucky in the same move – blundering his rook to a knight fork, but in a way still sufficient for a draw… Close to but still half a point behind for still entertaining Dublan. While Galinsky hang on to save this game and his GM-norm chances. Chances however are at a low ebb as he following this result and the pairings of next round, needs both a win in the eight round and a win against a top rated GM in the ninth round…
On the fifth board, GM Vladimir Georgiev (2531) of Macedonia today hit back with a nice win as white against IM Eirik T. Gullaksen (2387). White came better from a rather closed King’s Indian opening line and upheld the pressure in the middle game. After white’s queen intervened on the queenside black could have trapped the queen and forced white to give up an exchange, but the compensation would have been tremendous. As black chose the wrong way of capturing the queen, white got one rook and two bishops with a completely winning position.
Better days still for the other Norwegian IM Petter Haugli (2303), still playing as in his second youth this tournament. Today’s victim was IM Iulia Mashinskaya (2293) of Russia. White did not have much from the opening, which was a closed Grünfeld transposing into some kind of Slav exchange. Following a tense middle game Haugli however stayed the distance better, as he first forced black into a difficult bishop versus knight endgame and then after 73 moves had demonstrated how to win it.
Still more interesting from the GM norm perspective was today’s win for the ambitious young Swedish IM Axel Smith (2478) against falling Ukrainian IM Dmitry Stets (2468). Obviously having made the better preparation as black in a dynamic Sicilian Scheveningen line, Smith came ahead on the clock with a very loaded position on the board. Tension grew as white castled long and black short. Black’s attack soon turned out to be the most dangerous one, and with white running desperately short of time the game ended after 29 moves following a strong exchange sacrifice. Smith with a performance close to 2600 is fully in the run for a GM-norm after this win, but will need at least 1.5/2 and possibly 2/2 in the final rounds to make it.
On board eight GM Sipke Ernst (2578) came back on the track with a working day win as white against Swedish junior champion Eric Vaarala (2241). White first got an initiative from the Bogo Indian opening, and then won a pawn in the middle game. Vaarala defended stubbornly into a rook and minor piece endgame, and just before 40 moves creatively sacrificed his knight to eliminate all the remaining white pawns. It turned out however that Ernst by an elegant intermediate move could keep his last pawn and so decide the game. Belarus GM Sergei Kasparov (2503) also is in the run for moneyprizes again after defeating the young Russian Alexey Zasypkin (2233) today. White got a pressure from the Scandinavian opening, and after white advanced a disturbing pawn to c7 black’s position anyway was about to collapse when he blundered and lost heavy material after 28 moves. Second seeded GM Eduard Rozentalis (2601) further down the rank of boards again won convincingly against a lower rated opponent. Now “up” at +1 with 4.0/7, Rozentalis very unexpectedly is one out of very few players not having drawn a single game yet in this tournament.
Not too many IM-norm candidates left in this tournament, but Vegar Koi Gandrud (2200) still is one after drawing as white against FM Kjetil Stokke (2409) today. Gandrud as white in a position Classical King’s Indian line held first a pawn and then an exchange for some moves, but as black became very active white returned the exchange to land in a drawn minor piece endgame before 30 moves. Gandrud’s performance is now below the necessary 2450, but 1.5/2 in the end probably will be sufficient for a norm. WGM Olga Dolzhikova (2259) also is in this run. But following a quiet 19 moves draw as white against talented young Aryan Tari (2202) today, she will have to win both the final rounds to make an IM-norm out of her very promising start.
In short: No clearification about the first prize in the seventh round either – to the contrary the number of players sharing first place still is increasing by one player each round… The lead at 5.5/7 now is shared between GMs Hasangatin, Del Rio and Solodovnichenko, with IM Smith, GM Georgiev, GM Rausis, IM Galinskyi,IM Haugli, GM Miezis and GM Dublan (all in the order of the Buchholz tie break system) following half a step behind at 5.0. And top pairings for round eight are: Del Rio-Solodovnichenko, Smith-Hasangatin, Miezis-Georgiev, Rausis-Dublan and Galinskyi-Haugli. Who will – and can – play for a win in the eight round?
THE (SHORT) LAHLUM ROUND REPORT 6
Many draws in the end, but still a lot of entertainment along the road on the first rank of boards today. Leading GM Hamil Hasangatin (2498) of Russia playing with two bishops versus bishop and knight came better as white in a Sicilian Kan duel against GM Normunds Miezis (2557) of Latvia. The tide however turned on the first board as Hasangatin spent much time without finding any good plan - except trapping in his own queen with few squares on the kingside. Miezis actually succeeded to catch the queen just before 40 moves. Hasangatin however defended creatively, giving up his queen for two bishops and one pawn. Miezis might well have been winning at some stage, but the final endgame with queen versus two bishops was soon drawn as white had a fortress with no pawn weakness.
First seeded GM Yuri Solodovnichenko (2615) of Ukraine is always sitting on the top three boards, but drawing as black against IM Timofey Galinskyi (2415) he missed his chance to catch in Hasangatin today. To tell the truth Solodovnichenko however was closer to losing than winning, as white in a Colle system first had some more space in the middle game and then an extra pawn in the minor piece endgame. Solodovnichenko however defended well, and in the bishop endgame white’s bishop was too passive for winning chances.
GM Salvador Del Rio (2533) on the third board used his chance better, outplaying IM Dmitry Stets (2468) by positional means in a Classical King’s Indian duel. It started in a classical style with white attacking on the queenside and black on the kingside, but white gradually came better on both wings and after advancing his e4-knight to f6 had a decisive attack well before 40 moves. Losing this game Stets for now is out as a GM-norm candidate, while Del Rio shares first place.
A Norwegian on shared first place was reported an option as GM Leif Erlend Johannessen (2503) having won a pawn and placed a knight on d6 for some moves had a large advantage against GM Igor Rausis (2481). Experienced Rausis however fought on well, and as Johannessen lost his concentration black got the necessary help to escape into a drawn rook endgame. More help with the margins had GM Marc Narciso Dublan (2534), as he after a complex middle game as black against FM Gerrit Prakken (2219) reached a rook endgame with h,-g- and f-pawns versus h- and f-pawn – and got the help needed to win it.
Sixth board saw another messy draw game with IM Axel Smith (2478) involved – this time as white against GM Vladimir Georgiev (2531). Playing an exchange up Smith for a change looked closer to winning than losing on the first sight today. But still optimistic Georgiev got a pawn and enough counterplay to balance the chances – and then draw was suddenly agreed after 26 moves in a still complex and double-edged position.
The so far difficult tournament of GM Sipke Ernst (2578) did not improve although he managed to scrape a draw in a difficult endgame as black against the young Russian Alexey Zasypkin (2233). Winning a piece for three pawns Zasypkin was better both in the middle game and the endgame, but Ernst fought on well and escaped into a drawn rook and bishop versus rook and pawn position. Draw also became the outcome at board eight, as GM Sergey Kasparov (2503) despite playing on into the sixth hour failed to win a slightly better knight versus bishop endgame. His opponent, the very talented young Norwegian Aryan Tari (2202), played very mature in a demanding King’s Indian fianchetto line and looks about to accelerate following a slow start.
Second best Norwegians still are the IMs. Eirik T. Gullaksen today got a sound attacking win within 30 moves against yesterday’s sensation man Stian Johansen (1961). While IM Petter Haugli (2303) although out as a GM norm candidate, is still very much in for a good tournament after keeping the initiative and winning a tactical game as black against WIM Tatiana Kasparova (2119). And young Vegar Koi Gandrud (2200) although slipping down towards 2450 in his performance, still is on schedule for an IM-norm after a balanced Queen’s Indian draw against IM Bedri Sadiku (2289). Having scored 50 % against three GMs and two IMs, Gandrud probably still needs 2/3 for a norm in the final third of the tournament.
No progress today for the women candidates as WGM Olga Dolzhikova (2259) made a not that exciting draw as black against underrated young Lars Oskar Hauge (2087), while WFM Ellinor Frisk (2181) came on the heels from her Queen’s Gambit opening and lost without too many chances as black against FM Kjetil Stokke (2409). Final entertainment of this round however came from IM Iulia Mashinsaya (2293) of Russia, after six hours squeezing a win with rook, e- and f-pawn versus rook and f-pawn against the technically somewhat unpredictable Greek Dimitros Kondopoulos (2023).
Danish representative FM Jesper Mørch Lauridsen (2269) also will get a chance to save his tournament, as he today convincingly defeated Christian Grundekjøn (2003) in a time trouble duel. Several interesting games were observed on the lower rank boards today – Christian Laverton (2086) winning a chaotic attacking battle against Svein Rishovd (1997), while the game between Vidar Taksrud (2075) and unrated Ole Morten Skogheim suddenly turned if favor of white as black ran short of time. And GM Eduard Rozentalis (2601) in case anyone wondered today won without any difficulties as white against still talented young Sondre Merkesvik (1791).
This meaning that GM Hasangatin at 5 out of 6 still has the pole position, but is now shearing it with GM Del Rio – ahead five GMs and one IM at 4.5! A tight run for the top prizes again was predicted when top board pairings came up for the seventh round: Hasangatin-Del Rio, Solodovnichenko-Johannessen, Miezis-Rausis and Dublan-Galinskyi.
THE (SHORT) LAHLUM ROUND REPORT 5
Not that unexpectedly it was a lot more fighting spirit at the top boards with a single round in round five than with a double round in round four… Top seeded GM Yuri Solodovnichenko (2615) accelerated again by defeating IM Eirik T. Gullaksen (2387) within three hours on third board. The game started as a closed Ruy Lopez in which white instructively built up an attack on the kingside, while black failed to get any real counterplay. White just after the time control crushed through by an elegant bishop sacrifice at g6.
Second board meeting between IM Dmitry Stets (2468) and GM Leif Erlend Johannessen (2503) finished around the same time, but without a winner. Still it was a real fight lasting nearly four hours. Johannessen actually blundered a pawn before entering the minor pieces endgame, but playing with a barking pair of bishops he still got sufficient activity for a 40 moves draw. Normunds Miezis (2557) later on won a double edged battle as black in the GM-meeting against Sergey Kasparov (2503). Kasparov after sacrificing a piece had an initiative for some moves, but still landed in a lost endgame after black proved able to exchange away the dangers.
Following this spotlight and pressure in the end of the fourth hour was on the tense first board Grünfeld meeting between GM Vladimir Georgiev (2531) and GM Ramil Hasangatin (2498). Georgiev playing on his passed d-pawn had an initiative in the early middle game, but both players spent much time in a loaded position. Following a probably dubious piece sacrifice from Georgiev the time trouble duel turned chaotic as both players went for a kingside attack on the opponent’s king. Hasangatin looked like a confident winner when playing 40.--- Re4!, pinning white’s queen and king on the fourth rank. He suddenly turned into a tomato as white replied with the elegant 41.Re7!?. Although creative it was still just desperation: As demonstrated by Hasangatin, black a piece up still had a simple win by exchanging first the rook and then the queens.
While first seeded Solodovnichenko and fourth seeded Miezis are in the fight, the other favorites had another hard round. Third seeded GM Sipke Ernst (2578) got his first loss in the tournament against IM Timofey Galinskyi (2415). The game started as a roughly balanced and double edged Queen’s Gambit exchange, which became less balanced and less double edged as white somehow blundered his vital d4-pawn. Galinskyi gave no discount for the ELO of his opponent, increasing the pressure by advancing the pawn to d3 and then returning it to reach a won knight versus bishop endgame. Galinskyi got a nightmare first try in Norway when he played Oslo Chess International last autumn, but looks much better so far in this tournament. Still Galinskyi like countryman Stets has met two low rated opponents, and still has a long road to any GM norm chances. Ernst down at 3.0/5 has made much less impressive start than he did in Oslo last year, and will now have a long road to reach any prize.
Worse still is the situation of second seeded GM Eduard Rozentalis (2601), down at 2.0/5 after again calculating too loose. Coming second best from the opening Rozentalis went for an overambitious kingside attack, and ended up a rook down as his young opponent Stian Johansen (1961) made the better calculations. This was by far Stian’s best game result so far, remaining to test out whether he can stretch against an IM-norm in the upcoming rounds.
In the shadow of the top boards, solid GM Igor Rausis (2481) picked up a pawn in the middle game and one time trouble duel later won the rook endgame against Swedish junior champion Eric Vaarala (2241). Spanish GM Gabriel De Angelis (2533) also won a patient win against surprise woman WGM Olga Dolzhikova (2259), increasing his initiative all the way until his active king decided in the rook endgame. Marc Narciso Dublan (2534) after having a positional pressure in an English game won a pawn but still not the game against stubborn Swedish IM Axel Smith (2478). Dublan as white probably had winning chances until exchanging queens at move 41, while the following endgame with different colored bishop turned out to be drawn despite his extra passed pawn. All this meaning that - GM Hasangatin is now alone in the lead at 4.5/5, ahead Solodovnichenko, Miezis, Johannessen, Rausis, Stets and Galinskyi all at 4.0/5!
No good round for the Norwegian IM-norm chances as Vegar Koi Gandrud (2200) failed to win despite as extra pawn in the minor piece endgame against IM Petter Haugli (2303). Drawing another IM as black, Gandrud however is still ahead schedule for the norm. FM Kjetil Stokke (2409) on the other hand is all out of it after losing a difficult rook endgame against FM Gerrit Prakken (2219). Prakken has played well to reach 3.5/5, but having met three opponents below 1900 he needs a score against more higher rated players soon to have any norm chances. The only WIM norm candidate, WFM Ellinor Frisk (2181) is luckily still on the track as she was today regularly outplayed by unrated Ole Morten Skogheim – until the still capable Lillehammer veteran instead of mating in a few moves blundered a rook… No norm chances but still a game win for WIM Tatiana Kasparova (2119), finally squeezing win out of a queen and pawn versus queen endgame after 90 moves.
Although Johannes Haug (1873) lost today it was still a promising round for the very young Norwegian. Lars Oskar Hauge (2087) made a draw in a hard fought game as black against IM Bedri Saduku (2289), after balancing on the edge for a while. Sondre Merkesvik (1791) also made another progress draw, this time in 24 moves as white against FM Jesper Mørch Lauridsen (2269). Black was able to pick up a pawn at e5 and to exchange queens in this Sicilian, but still did not want to test his luck further against white’s active pair of bishops. Not that many title norm candidates so far, but still a very tight tournament with many important games to follow in the sixth round – starting today at 13.30!
THE (SHORT) LAHLUM ROUND REPORT 4
The short draws suddenly rained over the tournament like a flood in the fourth round: The first four boards (GM Johannessen-GM Georgiev, IM Stets-GM Solodovnichenko, IM Smith-GM Ernst and GM Del Rio-GM Rausis) all were drawn within 16 moves and without any exciting moment worth to mention in this round report. Although a little disappointing the rain did not come that unexpected, as this was the second half of the double round. Players on the first four boards all had done well so far and now played opponents against whom a draw was acceptable. Still we hope for some more fighting spirit on the top boards in the upcoming rounds…
The first game winner came on board five, as Russian GM Ramil Hasangatin (2498) after getting a positional edge from the Reti opening kept up the pressure and gave Norwegian IM Petter Haugli (2303) his first loss of this tournament. Haugli as black still played a fair game, but running short of time in a crumbling cockpit on the board he did not get any of the necessary help to hit back and after 41 moves resigned two pawns down in a hopeless rook endgame. Overall a hard round for the Norwegian surprising men so far, as Vegar Koi Gandrud (2200) on the sixth board lost against GM Marc Narciso Dublan (2534). Otherwise just losing a pawn with a clearly inferior position after 18 moves, Gandrud as white preferred to enter tactical complications losing an exchange too. Having played three GMs he is however still en route for an IM-norm. Nice and efficient counterplay by Dublan, this round winning in 21 moves without getting the chance to run short of time.
Following this the lead at 3.5/4 now is shared between Johannessen, Georgiev, Stets and Hasangatin – with a crowd of eleven players following only half a point behind at 3.0/4. Apart from Hasangantin, the main winners of this round probably were GM Normunds Miezis (2557) and GM Sergei Kasparov (2503) – as both after winning two games today are only half a point behind pole position, despite their second round blackouts. Miezis today (for a change) came better from one of his white English Fianchetto openings, and having picked up an exchange in the middle game he had no problems to win the endgame against Russian Alexey Zasypkin (2233). Sergey Kasparov for sure is not the correct player to play a loose Blackmar-Diemer Gambit against, like Danish FM Jesper Mørch Lauridsen (2269) did with 1.e4 d5 2.d4?! today. Kasparov without ever moving any muscle in his face cashed in from the buffet first the gambit pawn, then some more pawns and then a piece, and won safely after only 29 moves.
The main loser of this awaiting round was second seeded GM Eduardas Rozentalis (2601), suddenly lagging one and a half point behind the top and having 22 players ahead of him after losing against WGM Olga Dolzhikova (2259) tonight. White apparently had an initiative from the opening, but probably he was too optimistic when creatively sacrificing a rook on f6. It turned out within a few moves white lost an exchange, as black had a strong intermediate maneuver with 22.--- Qd8 and 23.--- Bg6. Dolzhikova later sacrificed back the exchange to reach a won bishop versus knight endgame with an extra a-pawn. Rozentalis finally impressed the onlookers when laughing and pointing out his own mistakes during the analyses, but then it was much too late to save any point…
While Dolzhikova following this win is well ahead schedule for an IM-norm, WFM Ellinor Frisk (2181) had a setback on her WIM norm hunt as she lost with black against IM Timofey Galinskyi (2415). White however won well deserved in 32 moves, as he was a sound pawn up before black blundered and lost further material.
A 19 moves bank-box draw between Swedish Eric Vaarala (2241) and Norwegian FM Kjetil Stokke (2409) on the other hand hardly was good news for any of them regarding IM-norm chances. Second best Norwegian player so far is solid and patient IM Eirik T. Gullaksen (2387), reaching 3.0/4 by squeezing out Christan Laverton (2086) in an endgame with queen and five pawns versus queen, knight and one pawn. Gullaksen’s ELO average however is already much too low for any GM-norm chances.
Still there are surprisingly few surprises on the lower boards of this tournament. Johannes Haug (1873) however added further to his plus result by a draw against Aryan Tari (2202). Also being heavily underrated and also doing very well among the very young talents is Bergen player Sondre Merkesvik (1791), today drawing as black against WIM Tatiana Kasparova (2119).
In short: Still a very tight and awaiting tournament after four out of nine rounds, and that is in the top as well as on lower boards. Round five and six in this situation might be very important for the outcome of the tournament. Top board games in the fifth round will be GM Georgiev – GM Hasangatin and IM Stets - GM Johannessen; obviously they will be very important for all involved players as well as for all the hunters behind them…
THE (SHORT) LAHLUM ROUND REPORT 3
First half of the double round became another demanding one for the GMs. Seventh seeded GM Vladimir Georgiev (2531) of Macedonia true enough won as white against IM Timofey Galinsky (2415) of Ukraine. The game was a Queen’s Gambit Exchange line in which both players castled long. Having sacrificed a pawn white got some compensation, but it was still a game until black at move 35 blundered a piece and resigned. And the Norwegian hope, GM Leif Erlend Johannessen (2503), despite running short of time still looked laidback and convincing when he as black defeated WGM Olga Dolzhikova (2259). The opening was a French Advance line, in which white played too careless and lost her e5-pawn. Some fog was reported on the weathercast for this board as both players ran short of time with airy kings, but Johannessen made the much better calculations and was winning a piece with an ongoing attack when Dolzhikova resigned at move 32.
On the first board GM Yuri Solodovnichenko (2615) however failed to win a messy Sicilian Dragon battle as white against IM Axel Smith (2478) of Sweden. White won an exchange for a pawn in the middle game, but playing with an active bishop and a relatively safe king black still was able to hold together the position. Eager to defend the first board Solodovnichenko played on until 92 moves with rook versus bishop and pawn. Still he succeeded only to force himself sacrificing the rook on the pawn. The round became even more demanding for the GM on the second board. GM Marc Narciso Dublan (2534) of Spain, involved in another messy Sicilian Dragon duel, again ran desperately short of time in a complex position as white against IM Dmitry Stets (2468) of Ukraine. This time Dublan when having 30 seconds left for nine moves had three minor pieces for a queen, but Stets playing with a dangerous passed pawn and the better king still had the much easier position to play. Having won the white kingside pawns too, black playing with queen and about five pawns for one rook and two bishops was practically winning on the board when white at move 37 lost on time.
The Spanish GMs overall did not have a great round as GM Gabriel de Angelis (2533) on the third board played a not too exciting draw as black against still hard fighting IM Petter Haugli (2303). From a slow Pirc line play transposed into a semi-closed King’s pawn center position, in which the symmetry always gravitated towards a draw. No one suspect veteran IM Haugli to remain a GM-norm candidate in disguise for nine rounds, but anyway this is his best tournament start for many years (if not ever). Another surprising Norwegian game winner of yesterday, young Vegar Koi Gandrud (2200), also continued his good play today - drawing a long and tight game as black against GM Igors Rausis (2481). Still having the slightly better pawn structure Rausis played on in an endgame with knight and three kingside pawns versus bishop and three kingside pawns, but without coming really close to any winning chances. Gandrud at 2.5/3 after scoring 1.5/2 against GMs so far definitely qualifies as the best IM-norm candidate of this tournament.
As Rausis’ winning attempts also failed, Georgiev, Johannessen and Stets are the only players left with a 100 % score so far. All three of them have been playing solid and sound but not spectacular so far. Fourth round might be a critical test, with Johannessen playing white against Georgiev on the first board, and Stets playing white against Solodovnichenko on the second.
Meanwhile third seeded GM Sipke Ernst (2578) sacrificed an exchange for a decisive attack in the rooks and minor pieces endgame, finally bringing young Johannes Haug (1873) back on earth. Ernst following this is in the small group of players waiting at 2.5/3. Same is tenth seeded GM Ramil Hasangatin (2498) of Russia, after winning safely a long endgame against IM Bedri Sadiku (2289) of Kosovo. Second seeded GM Eduard Rozentalis (2601), fourth seeded GM Normunds Miezis (2557) and eight seeded GM Sergei Kasparov (2503) overcame their losses yesterday and also steams upwards – winning without too many nervous moments against much lower rated opponents. Despite many surprising game results for the GMs so far, all the big sharks are still in the lake.
Although Dolzhikova is still ahead schedule for an IM norm, best women title candidate so far is WFM Ellinor Frisk (2181) of Sweden. Frisk had to play into the sixth hour and for more than 70 moves today, but still saved a draw in a slightly worse rook endgame against IM Eirik T. Gullaksen (2389).
Not many surprises on the lower boards today, but the two surprising men from round one still looked inspired and did well today. Jan Arne Bjørgvik (1858) kept a rough balance all the way into a draw pawn endgame against WIM Tatiana Kasparova (2119), while Henrik Sjøl (1892) made a draw against FM Gerrit Prakken (2219). The latter game suddenly turned very interesting as Sjøl had two queens and three passed pawns versus two queens and two passed pawns (!). Such “four queens endgames” are very rare, and even more rare the player at move in this game was not able to mate in a few moves – as both kings could hide behind the pawns. Unfortunately one set of queens was soon exchanged, and as none of the players pushed their luck too far it all dried out with a draw in the remaining queen endgame.
The final entertainment in the last minutes of the sixth hour was provided by a turbulent endgame between Dag Andersen (1904) and Svein Rishovd (1997), in which white playing with queen versus rook chickened out and offered a draw as he after 93 moves had less than 30 seconds left on the clock. The final position was winning, but all taken together a draw probably was a fair result of this game…
Still a lot of fighting spirit with no short draws in the third round either, remaining to test out whether this will also be the case in the second half of the double round… The tournament is still intensifying as the GMs are now meeting each other and ELO-differences overall are getting smaller in most games.
THE (SHORT) LAHLUM ROUND REPORT 2
If the GMs had an easy ride through the first round of this Swiss tournament, many of them hit the wall all the more hard in the second round. True enough top seeded GM Yuri Solodovnichenko (2615) could be well satisfied after winning a tight four hours battle as black against FM Kjetil Stokke (2409). Starting as an English fianchetto the middle game appeared in dynamic balance, but with both players acting under some time pressure black demonstrated the better understanding and after 40 moves had a decisive kingside attack. On the neighbour board second seeded Lithuanian GM Eduard Rozentalis (2601) however lost more or less sensationally as white against Norwegian IM Petter Haugli (2303). White after an early queen exchange tried to keep an extra pawn at c5, but black got sufficient activity and was slightly better after winning back the pawn. The endgame with rook and knight versus rook and bishop still looked drawish. The old chess street fighter Haugli however played on and was rewarded as Rozentalis played much too passive, allowing black to establish a dangerous passed pawn. It turned out black could instructively escort in the g-pawn by hiding his king from the rook checks behind the white h-pawn. The following endgame with queen and pawns versus rook and pawn was an easy win Haugli had no problems to realize.
Third seeded GM Sipke Ernst (2578) had a short round, pragmatically accepting a 32 moves draw as black against solid IM Eirik T. Gullaksen (2387). The game was a sound but rather dry Ruy Lopez Chigorin line, in which both players lacked plans to improve their position in the end. Ernst still did much better than second seeded Rozentalis and fourth seeded GM Normunds Miezis (2557) – as the latter lost a long endgame as white against WGM Olga Dolzhikova (2259). White appeared better in the middle game following an English opening. This time however the GM was the one to lose the tread, while the WGM efficiently used her chance when it came – first blocking and then winning white’s passed pawn at e5. The knight endgame with two versus one pawn due to reduced material still looked drawn, but black’s passed g-pawn at least made it very difficult for white. Unpredictable Dolzhikova completed this game played very well, in the end sacrificing her second last pawn to promote her last pawn.
A third GM suffered an unexpected loss as GM Sergei Kasparov (2503) of Belarus proved unable to save a difficult knight endgame against the young Norwegian Vegar Koi Gandrud (2200). The game was a Benkö gambit in which black’s compensation gradually petered out, until he was just a pawn down in the endgame. While the double knight endgame still looked like a fair chance for black, the following single knight endgame was at best very difficult. Gandrud following this win of course had an excellent stat on his hunt for an IM-norm. Excellent start on the WIM-norm hunt had WFM Ellinor Frisk (2181), drawing a balanced and all the more closed 28 moves game as black against GM Ramil Hasangatin of Russia (2498).
The lower rated GMs apart from Hasangatin did better than the top rated GMs this round, as the Norwegian hope GM Leif Erlend Johannessen (2503) like GM Salvador Gabriel de Angelis (2533) of Spain, GM Vladimir Georgiev of Macedonia (2531) and GM Igors Rausis of Czech Republic (2481) won more or less convincingly. Still another GM was reported in danger as Spanish GM Marc Narciso Dublan (2534) was a pawn down with 30 seconds left for ten moves against Swedish junior champion Eric Vaarala (2241). Dublan with the more active pieces still had an easier position to play in this knight and rook endgame, and he was rewarded as Vaarala running short of time himself cramped and stumbled into a mating net.
Yesterday’s sensation men Henrik Sjøl (1892) and Jan Arne Bjørgvik (1858) was efficiently brought back on earth today, losing without much of a chance as black against IMs Axel Smith (2478) and Timofey Galinskyi (2415). As IM Bedri Sadiku (2289) after his first round draw came back on track with a win against still not acclimated WIM Iulia Mashinskaya (2293), the IMs scoring 5.5/7 did much better than the GMs this round.
Despite the predictable first round, the tournament following this jumpy second round has made a surprising start – and we are looking forward to an exciting and very important double round tomorrow…
THE (SHORT) LAHLUM ROUND REPORT 1
With ELO-differences around 400-600 points on all boards, first round as expected became a hard shave for players from the second half of the list in this Swiss tournament. First game win came on live transmission from GM Vladimir Georgiev (2531) of Macedonia, capturing the queen of his anonymous opponent (Leif Bjornes, Kristiansand) at d8 by a woken 10.Bc7! On the first board talented young Norwegian Lars Oskar Hauge (2087) with a King’s Indian set up offered reasonable resistance as black against the unusual 1.g3. But as Hauge made some inaccuracies and ran short of time, top seeded GM Yuri Solodovnichenko (2615) of Ukraine still won by an instructive kingside attack after 27 moves. Solodovnichenko afterwards sportily commented the game for a crowd of other finished players in the first “Grandmaster corner”.
Second seeded GM Eduard Rozentalis (2601) of Lithuania as black took a more patient path against Trondheim player Christian Laverton (2086), but getting first a positional advantage and then a pawn Rozentalis still won convincingly in the endgame. Third seeded GM Sipke Ernst (2578) of the Netherlands soon got a position Catalan grip on Norwegian veteran Vidar Taksrud (2075) and won before 25 moves as black following a misunderstood pseudo-sacrifice lost material. Fourth seeded GM Normunds Miezis (2557) of Latvia got the initiative as black, and after winning two bishops for a rook had no problems to complete the attack during the time trouble of his Greek opponent Dimitri Kondopoulos (2023). And so on - until the eleven GMs early in the fifth hour of play had a perfect score 11-0!
Most of the six IMs also won without too many difficulties in the first round. The exception was IM Bedri Sadiku (2289) of Kosovo. He was worse in the middle game and a pawn down in endgame some moves, before landing in a dead drawn pawn endgame against the heavily underrated young Norwegian Johannes Haug (1873). IM Eirik T. Gullaksen (2387) also had a tight four hours game as black against unpredictable Dag Andersen (1904). After Andersen had sacrificed a pawn and got enough activity to win it back, the endgame with queen, rook and four pawns on each side appeared drawish. Running short of time Andersen however blundered at move 40, allowing a decisive attack on his king by misplacing his rook at a7.
While Sadiku-Haug remained the only drawn game of the first round, the lower boards finally got two surprising wins for Norwegian players aged well above 40 and rated well below 2000. International Arbiter (but not International Master!) Henrik Sjøl (1892) tonight had one of his best days on the board, getting a sound position advantage as white against IM Iulia Mashinskaia (2293) of Russia in a closed Semi Slav game. After 30 moves white was a pawn up with a clear advantage, but losing on time at move 38 still was clumsy from a Russian point of view. 64 year old but still unpredictable Jan Arne Bjørgvik (1858) won an entertaining five hours battle as white against the Danish representative, FM Jesper Mørch Lauridsen (2269). This was a rather shaky Sicilian game in which black after 35 moves had the better pawn structure, but his king running around in the middle of the board. Bjørgvik efficiently used his chance as his opponent blundered a piece just after 40 moves, and completed the attack by mating the black king at g5 in move 53.
In short a few surprises but still first round was a day of transportation for all tournament favorites and title norm candidates. More tight games and more surprises are expected in the second round, when IM and IM norm candidates are paired against GMs on the top boards.