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Hoogeveen Matches 01: Adhiban’s Bang and Whimper

by Aditya Pai - 22/10/2017

Adhiban Bhaskaran kicked off with a scintillating knight sacrifice in his match against Jordan van Foreest at the Hoogeveen Masters. And just when he seemed to be cruising towards victory, the Dutchman returned the blow with a crafty exchange sac to try setting up a fortress. In the other game of the match, Chucky was impressed both by the game and Wei Yi's opening. "It was an interesting game," he said in his post-game comments. In the open tournament, Tania Sachdev played some thrilling chess to win against her much lower rated opponent. Here's report with games, pictures and analysis.  

The Dutch town of Hoogeveen is hosting the 21st edition of the Hoogeveen Chess Tournament from 21-28th October, 2017. The event comprises of two six-game exhibition matches: one between the current world rapid champion, Vassiliy Ivanchuk and the Chinese prodigy Wei Yi; and the other between Adbhiban Bhaskaran and Jordan van Foreest, two promising youngsters from their respective countries i.e. India and the Netherlands. Games will be played in a classical time control of 90 minutes for the first 40 moves and then another 30 minutes till the end of the game, with a 30 second increment from move 1. Alongside these matches, the event is also hosting a strong open tournament and a couple of amateur tournaments. 

The Matches: Round 1

Adhiban kept up the spirit of Diwali in his first game against ... | Photo by Leenart Ootes

... the 18-year-old Dutchman, Jorden van Foreest | Photo by Leenart Ootes

Keeping up with the spirit of the festival of Diwali, Bhaskaran Adhiban lit up the board with fireworks from the word go in his first game against Jorden van Foreest. Having traded queens very early in a Queen’s Gambit Accepted, perhaps van Foreest had little reason to think the game would go haywire. Things had gone smoothly thus far, the position was placid, life was happy. But after van Foreest’s 10th move, Adhiban went into a 30-minute-long think and lashed out with a knight sacrifice that was good enough to jolt even spectators and theoreticians off their chairs, leave alone his opponent. 

Believe it or not, this stunning novelty was an over-the-board find!

Soon after, Adhiban recovered his piece and emerged with a pawn for the good. But just when Adhiban seemed to be cruising towards victory, van Foreest craftily sacrificed a pawn and a rook to build a fortress. A swift discovered attack soon followed which won van Foreest his exchange back and left the Indian no option but to sign truce. 

The sac that saved the day!

"I should not have allowed it", said Adhiban with a sigh, after the game. "I had seen it, but not in combination with Black's 27...e5, which makes it better. So probably I should have played 27. Rb4 instead of 27. Rc7." Van Foreest too sighed, but that was a sigh of relief. "This was a narrow escape… it feels like a victory," he said.

The current world rapid champion, Vassily Ivanchuk was comfortably held to a draw by...

...the Chinese chess whizz, Wei Yi

The other game of the day, between Chucky and Wei Yi, seemed dull at the outset but in Chucky’s opinion, it was quite an interesting game. The 18-year-old Yi had no problems equalizing with the Nimzo Indian. Going for the classical line of the opening, he was able to break through in the centre and induce mass exchanges. The players soon reached a rook endgame where Yi showed some finesse yet again with 29. f5, after which there remained no doubt that the game was going to end in two results.

Sure white will be a pawn up. But tripled pawns don't win games.

In fact, even Ivanchuk seemed to be impressed with the young lad’s opening. "I think 10...Nc6 was an interesting move aiming for ...e6-e5. After that Black was OK", said Ivanchuk after the game. 

Round 1 Results

Tania showed some thrilling tactics

In the open section of the tournament, IM Tania Sachdev won a brilliant tactical game against Jan van der Veen from the black side of an Italian. 

The game, like any typical Italian, abound with slow maneuvres through much of the opening and middle game. However, Tania was able to equalise quite easily and pushed her opponent into passivity soon. Worth noting was the knight sac she played on the 41st move to prise open the floodgates to her opponent's king.

Of course, 40...Nh3 looks promising. But does it lead to checkmate?

This is where things began to get interesting. Unable to find a checkmate, the Indian went into an endgame with three pawns as compensation for the knight. She was still better, but the position was razor sharp. One false move could have cost her the game. And guess what, she played it!

Tania's 54...Be3+ was a blunder that could have cost her the game! Instead of 55. Nxe3 which was played in the game, 55. Ke2 Rb3 56. Rxg4 hxg4 57. Nfe5 Bg5 58. e7 forces resignation.

But her opponent missed the right continuation and allowed Tania an escape. A few exchanges later, the computer deemed the position as a dead draw. But when the material is imbalanced, it's hard to make such assertions for humans. Not to mention, Tania was the one with more pawns and had every reason to play on. Eventually, after approximately five and a half hours of valiant fighting, her efforts were rewarded as her opponent made a couple of inaccuracies and gave her the full point.

Rank after Round 1

Round 2 will begin today, 22/10/2017, at 14.00h CET (5:30 PM IST)

About the Author

Aditya Pai is an ardent chess fan, avid reader, and a film lover. He has been an advertising copywriter and is currently pursuing a Master's in English Literature at the University of Mumbai. He loves all things German and is learning the language. He has also written scripts for experimental films.
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