The first rounds in a Swiss tournament are always tricky. Seasoned veterans know that there’s always at least one upset and hope that they are not involved in that upset. GM Hagen Poetsch took matters into his own hands against top talent Machteld van Foreest by using an opening from the Romantic era: the Evans Gambit.
After 7… exd4 8. Qb3 Qe7 9. 0-0 black has some issues to solve: 9… Nf6 is risky because of 10. Ba3. Maggie blundered with 13. Nxe4 and black was already close to lost after GM Poetsch pushed his D-pawn up the board.
Board one saw the top seed GM Tiviakov against the Groningen talent FM Joris Kokje. The grandmaster missed some opportunities but had a good position out of the opening.
Black already had to find the antipositional defense 14… Bh6 to stay in the game, however after 14… Rc8 15. Nxa7 would have been very strong for the first player. The game continuation was not bad, however after some inaccuracies, a drawn ending was reached and Tivi offered the draw. A great result for Kokje.
The first board to finish was GM Shant Sargsyan who had the white pieces against Tim Grutter. He demolished the Kings Indian Defense in a very fine game.
After 21. d6 Qd7 22. Nc7 the Armenian had a wonderful position, which he did win a few moves later on.
Another nice game was played between the Singaporian William Woon and GM Michal Krasenkow. The Polish GM kept the extra pawn from the King’s gambit.
15… h5 16. Qf1 g4 17. Hxg4 hxg4 18. Nh2 Qh4 and the white king is in serious trouble. For example 19. Bd3 g3 20. Qh5 and the slow motion plan consiting of Bg4 and taking on f3 with mate to follow is hardly stoppable. Krasenkov chose the equally crushing 19… f3 and went on to win.
However, there was a possibility of an upset: FM Esper van Baar had a crushing tactic against GM Evgeny Gleizerov.
27. Rc7! Qxc7 28. Ne6+ Ke7 29. Qxg7+ Bf7 30. Nxc7 Nxe1 31. Nxa8 would have been a big advantage for white, however with little time on the clock and the resulting position still being a relative mess Van Baar chose 27. Nxd3 Re8 28. Rc5 and his queen never got out of her voluntary imprisonment. ‘The Count’ Gleizerov admitted that he saw the combination too late, however that he was lucky Van Baar never saw the killing moves.
GM Lucas van Foreest also beat his opponent Rembrandt Buil after white blundered 32… Rc1! after which the game is effectively over. Before the blunder, white seemed to have the better chances yet he had too little time to find the adequate response.
Na 32. Tf1? (beter was 32. Td2) kwam 32…Tc1! en wit hield het niet meer droog: 0-1
A side event during today’s first round was the Student Christmas Chess. Oleksandr Zheliuk won the rapid tournament after winning all four games. The tournament is for students with a rating below 1500 or students who are not a member of a chess club. Second became Jim Klooster and the bronze was for Bargan Ogurlu. He had a lost position in the final game but he managed to find a nice trick.
That’s it for today’s roundup and let’s hope for an exciting second round. A modern classic is the matchup between Krasenkow and Nick Maatman. It’s the third time they play each other in Groningen, with IM Maatman beating the GM once and drawing him once. Certainly, a game to keep your eyes on!