The tournament really starts in round 3, is a common saying among Grand Masters. You never hear this from strong players who dropped a point in the first round, but there’s probably some truth to it.

In round two we mentioned that Krasenkow had a good start in Groningen for change, but in round 3 Thomas Beerdsen brought him to a hold.

Krasenkow didn’t know how to handle a pawn sacrifice by Beerdsen. After 22.Ba2 he couldn’t come up with anything better than 22..Bb4 23.Rf5! Bxc3 (If the queen steps away white wins with Rf5-h5) 24.Rxe5 Bxe5.

A purely defensive queen sacrifice. Black hopes to hold the position via his control over the dark squares. This turned out to be in vain.

What followed was 25.Rf1 Nd7 26.h4 Bf6 27.h5 Kh8 28.Qf5 Rfe8 29.c3 b6 30.Rd1 Nf8 31.h6!

White opens up the position even further and it ends in a blood bath. Beerdsen is now on 3 out of 3.

Thomas Beerdsen plays 1.e4 versus Michal Krasenkow (Photo: Harry Gielen)

After a draw in the first round, Sergey Tiviakov has redeemed himself with two wins in a row. Today he seems to have delivered a masterly positional game, where he combined neutralizing the kingside offensive with pushing his free d-pawn. The final phase of his game versus Ivo Maris:

White’s last move – 36.d6 – wasn’t the best, but Ivo had already settled with his defeat and quickly played 36…f6 with a small hope for victory. ‘Tivi’ simply brought his king to safety with 37.Kd3 Bf1+ 38.Kc3 Qe5+ 39.Kb3 b5 40.d7 bxc4+ 41.Ka3 and black surrendered.

The engines and Ivo had seen that black could have given perpetual check with 36...Lf5+! 37.Kd4 Dg7+! 38.Ke3 Dg1+!

Ivo Maris right before the game versus ‘Tivi’. (photo: Harry Gielen)

Even after the game the Groninger FM could still smile. He will most likely ease the pain by crushing the SISSA Christmas Blitz tonight.

In a wild French game Nico Zwirs won over the black squares. We come after 28.Qb4…

Gleizerov had to deal with Rc3 so plays the human move 28…Kb8. Better was 28…Re8 to anwser 29.Rc3 with 29…Bc6, and black is still in the game. After 28…Kb8? it quickly went south for black. What followed was 29.Rc3 Qd7 30.e6! Qd1 31.Qf4+! and Gleizerov trew in the towel. A nice win for Zwirs, not every day you beat a Russian Grand Master.

Nico Zwirs, who’s planning to focus chess for at least a full year. (Photo: Harry Gielen)

Soon after Nico beat the one Russian GM, Sipke Ernst took care of Mikhail Ulybin. Gleizerov might have played to fast in a difficult position – this is not something that will easily happen to Ulybin. His problem: he spends way way to much time. His opening move took him 10 minutes and this trend continued. The game was decided by a blunder in time trouble 34…Qg6

After 35.e6 it might have been a real battle, but Ulybin went wrong with 35.Ph3? Not strange, with few seconds left, with Qxe7 and Nf4 in the air. Sipke’s reply must have been a cold shower. 35…Bxh3! 36.Qxh3 (of 36.Qxe7 Qc6! and mate on g2, this is the detail Ulybin missed) 36…Bb6 37.Ra2 Rf3! (Threatens both Rxg3+ and Rxc3, it’s all over) 38.Qc8+ Re8 and curtains.

Liam Vrolijk’s draw versus Shant Sargsyan is not one to spend to much time on. Although, credit where credit’s due, it’s not easy to play a game like this with black. White plays an opening with ‘two results possible,’ and the young IM held. Many top players have crumbled with this position with black.

Nikolas Lubbe and Alexandr Fier. Sipke Ernst watching in the background. (Photo: Harry Gielen)

GM Alexandr Fier suffered a tough loss versus IM Nikolas Lubbe. After the elegant 35…Be3! mate on h2 is unstoppable. The German is chasing after his second GM-norm.

Lucas van Foreest shared the point with Armenian IM Artur Davtyan. Benoni’s are often very dynamic and this game was no exception. Even in the analyses with the large wooden pieces, we saw one tactical variation after the other. Earlier, on the small board in the playing hall, the Dutch Champion had gone for a repetition of moves in a more or less equal position. Lucas mentioned he wanted to save some energy for the SISSA Christmas Blitz tonight…

Lucas van Foreest thinking and posing in one go. (Photo: Harry Gielen)

A final remark: Photographer Harry Gielen noticed that some players sink in to really deep thought. Or did they dislike their position this much?

Tomorrow another report, with some attention for the final games in the 4-person round robin tournament and the B-group!