Swedish no. 1 Nils Grandelius beat 18-year-old Hungarian talent Benjamin Gledura to take an early lead in the 5-round TePe Sigeman & Co. Chess Tournament in Malmo, Sweden. It could have been a perfect day for the local players if Linus Johansson had also beaten Alexander Morozevich, but an ending that suddenly got razor-sharp eventually ended in a draw, while Tari-Vidit was a theoretical battle where neither player gave an inch.
Replay the games and check out the pairings below:
You can replay the Round 1 commentary from Grandmasters Yasser Seirawan, Stellan Brynell and Ferdinand Hellers (the winner of the tournament’s first edition in 1993), including interviews with Nils Grandelius and Vidit and Aryan Tari, below:
The TePe Sigeman & Co. Chess Tournament was held in Malmo from 1993-2014. That seemed to be that, but then it was reborn in 2017 as a 6-player single round-robin, and it’s returned in the same format this year. The venue is again the Hipp Theatre, and the line-up features five ambitious young players and 40-year-old Alexander Morozevich. The Russian star once hit world no. 1 on the live rating list and commented for the official site on how he used to prepare:
During my professional chess career it was very regular to have peaks of 12 hours 12 days in a row when I was forcing my preparation for top events. Nowadays I am on my leisure time.
I stopped playing professional chess at the beginning of 2015, so as a chess player I have no goals. As a chess master I still have goals and duties – to share my knowledge, to raise my students, to contribute to the popularization of chess all over the world.
This should be a good chance, and with just five rounds it shouldn’t be too tiring for someone out of regular chess practice.
The short distance of course increases the importance of any win, and it was Nils Grandelius who got off to a fast start on day 1.
18-year-old Hungarian Grandmaster Benjamin Gledura is already rated over 2600 and can claim Vishy Anand among his scalps, but he had a bad day at the office on Friday. If playing the Sicilian was calculated to surprise 24-year-old Nils Grandelius it succeeded – “I was very surprised on the first move – I was expecting 1…e5” – but after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.Bc4 it was Nils who had caught his opponent off-guard:
Nils explained to Yasser Seirawan that “the point is that 5…b6 isn’t supposed to be very good”, but Benjamin played it anyway after a 10-minute think. Nothing fatal had happened, but the situation became critical after 10…f5 (Nils thought 10…f6 might have been safer):
11.Nd6! Bxd6 12.exd6 Qf6?! After this queen move Black’s position was on the verge of strategically lost, while after 12…Qb6!, threatening to win back the pawn, it would still have been in the balance. Things escalated fast, and after 13.Re1 Nb6 14.Bf1 f4!? 15.a4 Bd5? 16.a5 Nc8 17.Ra4! it was clear only a bad blunder from White would stop this from being a crushing win:
Just look at the pitiable position of the black cavalry and a8-rook, while the threat of taking on f4 here saw Black go for 17…g5, allowing 18.Ne5! The rest was more or less smooth, with Yasser reminding Nils of some Mikhail Tal wisdom when the Swedish no. 1 complained about not being sure if he’d found the best win: “All you need is one win per game!” Black could have put up some more resistance (24…d6! had to be tried while Black had the chance), but it was a richly deserved win.
Nils had commented beforehand on how he’s altered his approach in the last year:
In general, I have tried taking a broader perspective on all aspects of chess. There is a great difference between knowing a lot about chess and playing well; something I previously didn’t appreciate enough.
You could call this the battle of the chess amateurs. We already noted that Morozevich is no longer working 12-hour days on chess, while 23-year-old IM Linus Johansson also doesn’t have a lot of time to devote to his current goal of becoming a grandmaster:
I feel like I am not even close to being a chess pro, even though it was a dream when I was a kid. Today I am occupied studying computer science at Chalmers, and most of my chess ’training’ comes from blitz games online, on the tram or at home, but also from playing in the Swedish and German leagues.
It was Linus who seemed to come closer to a win, when Morozevich decided to go for a sharp, forcing line in what looked like a dry position:
Morozevich told the official site when it was suggested he was an unorthodox player:
A popular opinion about my play, but strangely enough, I always considered myself to be a classical and positional player.
Perhaps, but here he went for 27…f5!? 28.e5! f4+!? 29.Kxf4 Nd5+ 30.Ke4 Nb4+ 31.Ke3 Nxa2 32.Ne6+! Kg8:
The move that’s crying out to be made here is 33.Bc4, hitting the knight and threatening to win a piece with Nd8+ discovered check, but Black is holding on there with 33…Nb4! 34.Nd8+ Bd5. Instead, though, 33.Bd3! has the more prosaic goal of winning an important pawn, and it turns out there’s no way of stopping that e.g. 33...g5 runs into 34.Nxg5! and now Bc4+ really would win a piece. Instead after 33.Nd8 Bd5 the game fizzled out into a draw.
23-year-old Indian GM Vidit is the tournament top seed and this year won the Tata Steel Challengers to qualify for next year’s Masters. He told the Sigeman website:
I managed to cross 2700 elo rating in August 2017 and then increase it all the way to 2723. I think the main reason for my success in Tata Steel was my consistent play. I got a bad position in one game only, where I managed to make a draw, and in most of the other games, I was pressing for a win. Whereas my competitors lost more than one game.
Vidit told Yasser that his recent nightmare was that he was playing a simul not against 10 human players but 10 computers!
One of those competitors was reigning World Junior Champion Aryan Tari from Norway. The 18-year-old had White against Vidit in Round 1 in Wijk aan Zee, just as he did in Round 1 in Malmo. The earlier game began 1.e4 e5 and ended in a draw, with Vidit commenting, “This time at least I was hoping to funk it up from the beginning!”
Vidit played the Sicilian and what followed was the kind of highly theoretical line you don’t want to stumble into unprepared. White lost the right to castle on move 11 and Black was in no hurry either, with the position after 17…Be4 having occurred in a handful of games between strong players before:
18.Qd6, 18.Be2 and 18.b3 had all been tried, but Tari instead went for 18.Rg1!? Even Yasser felt that was perhaps too greedy an attempt to hold onto a pawn, but the Norwegian noted, “I had [Rg1] somewhere in my notes, but I wasn’t sure if it was in this position or not”. The computer evaluation suggests it might well have been this position, and White seemed to have the advantage for a while until Vidit eventually forced a draw in dramatic fashion:
30…Nc3+! 31.Qxc3! e4 32.Bxe4 Bxe4 33.Kd2 Qxh2 34.Kc1 Qxg2
35.Rg1 Rf1+ 36.Rxf1 Qxf1+ and perpetual check followed on the light squares.
So a fun first day left Nils Grandelius as the man to beat, and Vidit has a chance to do just that in Round 2, when he has the white pieces against the Swedish no. 1. Follow all the action from 14:00 CEST on Saturday here on chess24!