Vassily Ivanchuk accepted Wei Yi’s rook sacrifice and advanced his king into the centre of a packed board to win Game 3 of their match and take a 2:1 lead. The veteran Ukrainian also showed he wasn’t afraid to take his young Chinese opponent on in the Sicilian. Meanwhile local hero Jorden van Foreest and international hero Adhiban have traded wins in three exciting games to tie their match. 20-year-old Dinara Saduakassova from Kazakhstan had the only perfect 4/4 score in the open after smoothly outplaying Sipke Ernst in Round 4.
The highlight of the 21st Hoogeveen Chess Tournament is a fascinating encounter between 48-year-old Vassily Ivanchuk and 18-year-old Wei Yi. There may be a gulf in age and 6000 km between their birthplaces, but they both excite chess fans and were tipped as future World Champions as teenagers. Even if Ivanchuk has never quite fulfilled that potential in classical chess, he’s widely acknowledged as a match for absolutely anyone on his day.
You can play through all the games using the selector below:
The 6-game classical match in Hoogeveen started off quietly, with Wei Yi adopting what Jan Gustafsson in his 4.Qc2 Nimzo-Indian series calls the 6…d5 “roadblock”, a move popularised by Vladimir Kramnik.
Wei Yi then managed to surprise his illustrious opponent with 10…Nc6, although Hikaru Nakamura had played the move against Alexander Grischuk in a Paris Grand Chess Tour blitz game earlier this year. Ultimately Vassily had a nominal advantage, but some accurate defence saw the game fizzle out into a draw.
Game 2 was more like what we were hoping for, though! At the opening ceremony Wei Yi was asked where he would be if no-one played the Sicilian against him, and replied, “Then I would have 100 Elo points less!” Wei Yi has left a trail of the battered and bruised bodies of those who’ve tried (for instance: Wei Yi-Bruzon, Wei Yi-Nepomniachtchi and Wei Yi-Xu Yinglun).
What followed was what we've come to expect. Despite the Sicilian being so heavily studied Wei Yi found a way to vary, castling short rather than long on move 11 compared to a game he played against Alexei Shirov four years ago. Shirov himself had tried that and beaten Hoogeveen tournament organiser Loek van Wely, but soon the players were on their own, and then, as always seems to happen, Wei Yi took a deep think and came up with a sacrifice:
17.Nf5!? Ok, so far it wasn’t a real sacrifice (17…exf5 is of course met by 18.Qxd5), but Wei Yi insisted, responding to 17…Qe5 with 18.Bd3!?, offering the b2-pawn. Wei Yi said afterwards that he was impressed with Ivanchuk’s 18…g6 here and he once more insisted on a sacrifice with 19.Re1. Finally Vassily relented and took the pawn with 19…Qxb2:
What was the point? 20.Bxb5! and the queen can’t recapture due to a knight fork on d6, while after 20…axb5 21.Qxd5 White is doing well. It’s traditional for Wei Yi’s opponents to collapse at some point at around this stage, but Ivanchuk had everything calculated accurately and after 20…gxf5! 21.Bxd7+ Kxd7 22.Reb1 Qe5 23.c4 White had enough to force a draw by perpetual check, but no more. A high-quality encounter.
Blood was finally spilled in Game 3. Ivanchuk provocatively developed his king to f2, tempting Wei Yi into a tactical adventure with a fatal flaw. The odd thing, though, was that his sacrifice would have worked out one move previously:
17…Rxe3! is playable, and after 18.Kxe3? d4+ 19.Kxd4?? Black can force mate next move with 19…Rc4+!!
No-one would be surprised if Wei Yi spotted that, but Ivanchuk would no doubt also have spotted the trap and might have gone for 18.Bxf6! In that case Black is still doing fine (e.g. 18…Rxe2+! 19.Kxe2 Qa6+!), but there’s no win. Wei Yi’s choice, 17…g5?! 18.Bg3 took away that option, but crucially it meant there was no longer mate on e5 in the line given above. Nevertheless, after thinking for 35 minutes, Wei Yi went for 18…Rxe3? and Ivanchuk showed no fear: 19.Kxe3! d4+ 20.Kxd4 Re5 21.Bd3! Be6 and this is the insane position Wei Yi had been counting on…
He expected only 22.Rc8+ Kg7 23.Nc4 Bxc4, when Black is better if White captures with the king or bishop, but as our silicon friends point out, White is winning if he captures with any of his three heavy pieces. In the game Ivanchuk played the even better 22.Qxb7! and, tough as it is to believe, there’s no way to embarrass the white king on d4.
The game ended 22…Kg7 23.Ne4 Nd5 24.Bxe5+ Nxe5 25.Rc5 and Wei Yi resigned. An amusing final position!
India’s Adhiban and 18-year-old former Dutch Champion Jorden van Foreest are both known for attacking chess and have lived up to that reputation in Hoogeveen so far.
In Game 1 Adhiban sacrificed a piece in the opening, won a pawn, but couldn’t quite bring home a victory. Jorden then had White in the next game and looked as though he might punish his opponent for not taking that chance, until 15…Na5:
16.Bxh6! now was much better for White, but Jorden said he was worried by 16…Nb3 and only realised after the game that 17.Nh4 would be strong there. Instead after 16.Nh4? Qh5! Jorden had to give up a pawn with 17.Kh2 (17.g4 immediately doesn’t work because of the king position: 17…Nxg4 18.hxg4 Qxg4+ 19.Kh2 f6) 17…Nxc4 18.g4 Qxh4 19.Bxh4 Nxd2 Rxd2 and although he fought on to move 72 this time Adhiban made no mistake.
In Game 3, though, Jorden also won with Black to level the scores. Adhiban had correctly sacrificed a piece but gradually lost the thread and blundered with 30.Kf2? (30.Rxe1 Rxe1+ first was essential):
Jorden won the exchange with 30…Bxb4 31.Rxe1 Bc5+! 32.Kf1 Bxg2+! 33.Kxg2 Rxe1 and duly went on to win the game.
The matches are accompanied by a 9-round open, which while
not super-strong has an interesting mix of local talents and foreign players:
Multiple Girls World Champion Dinara Saduakassova from Kazakhstan is out in front after an impressive win over Sipke Ernst took her to 4/4.
The most curious game so far has been Xu Xiangyu’s win over Bardhyl Uksini. 24.Nxh7!? is a hard move to criticise since it provoked immediate resignation!
On the other hand, it turns out Black is winning after 24…Qb4! and crude threats such as taking on a4 and giving mate on a2.
Loyal chess24 viewers, meanwhile, have been following the fortunes of 13-year-old local Dutch talent FM Siem van Dael, who is perhaps better known as moderator Simba7. In Round 3 he scored a great win over Jorden’s IM brother Lucas Van Foreest:
How can White break through? 23.Bd3! followed instantly, and the threat of capturing on h5 and giving mate on h7 meant Lucas had to give up a piece with 23…Qf8 24.Rxh5 Qxh6+ 25.Rxh6. There was plenty of potential to go wrong after that, but Siem held his nerve to score a big win!