General Jul 6, 2017 | 8:22 PMby Colin McGourty

Some dramatic games you may have missed

The Grand Chess Tour recently took over chess coverage for two weeks (and with Garry Kasparov playing in St. Louis they’ve snatched a couple of days more!) so we’d like to take a brief look at some of the other action you may have missed. Queens were sacrificed with abandon at the Dutch Championship, a 10-year-old beat an experienced grandmaster in Corsica, 17-year-old Zhansaya Abdumalik beat three GMs to score her first GM norm at the World Open, Anatoly Karpov and other legends were in action in Spain and there’s been some wild chess at the Russian Higher League.

Sipke Ernst had the first and last laugh! | photo: Harry Gielen, Flickr/official website

1. Queen sacrifices in Amsterdam

18-year-old Jorden van Foreest’s bid to defend his Dutch Championship title didn’t get off to the best of starts. Sipke Ernst’s knockout blow here can be filed under “moves we’d all love to play”:


30…Qxe3!! The attacking potential of Black’s rook, knights and bishop is just phenomenal, and Jorden threw in the towel after 31.fxe3 fxe4+ 32.Nf3 (32.Ke1 Ng2+ 33.Ke2 Rf2#) 32…Rxf3+ 33.Ke1 Ng2+. It doesn’t get much more convincing than that.

Ernst would go on to tie Loek van Wely after seven rounds, including surviving a tough position in their individual encounter in the final round. That meant they played more chess at a faster time control, and ultimately Loek won his 8th Dutch title with a win in the second tiebreak game. 

Did Erwin l'Ami have some outside existence? | photo: Harry Gielen, Flickr

It wasn’t all plain sailing for LVW, though, since in Round 2 he was on the wrong end of a brilliant game by Erwin l’Ami:


21.Qxf7!! A queen sacrifice that leads to a familiar “windmill combination”: 21…Bxf7 22.Nxf7 Qc7 23.Nxg5+ Kh8 24.Nf7+ Kg8 25.Nxd6+ Kh8 26.Nf7+ Kg8:


27.Rd8!! The key blow, and it turns out any capture on d8 accelerates the end of the game. Loek fought on with 27…Qe7, though after mass exchanges the later 31.e5! put White on the path to victory. There were still swindling chances, but in the final position after 45.Re4! there’s no defence against Ba4 (45…Kf7 is met by 46.Bb3+ and the e-pawn queens).


The final standings looked as follows (you can click on any result to go to that game with computer analysis):

The postscript to the Championship is that Loek then immediately set off to play in the Greek Team Championship, where he was shown no mercy, being well-beaten by 2359-rated and untitled Greek player Georgios Kanakaris in Round 3. Note that all 170 games are being broadcast live from that event each day – a feat surpassed by few tournaments other than the Olympiad!

2. Abdumalik claims first GM norm, Petrosian takes the big prize

17-year-old WGM and IM Zhansaya Abdumalik already has a long and successful career behind her. The Kazakhstan player won the World U8 and U12 Championships and has finished with silver and bronze medals in the World Girls U20 Championship. This summer she’s been playing in the United States, and in the huge Independence Day weekend World Open held in Philadelphia she had her best result yet. 7/9 gave her shared second with Le Quang Liem, Jeffery Xiong, Quesada Yuniesky, Zhou Jianchao and Andrey Stukopin, though her $5,000 prize was bigger than all of theirs as she took clear first in the 2300-2449 rating category.

#NameRatingClubTotalPrizeAmount
1GM Tigran L Petrosian25957.51st$20500.00
2GM Liem Quang Le272672nd-6th$3960.00
3GM Jeffery Xiong265872nd-6th$3960.00
4GM Yuniesky Quesada Perez262472nd-6th$3960.00
5GM Jianchao Zhou259572nd-6th$3960.00
6GM Andrey Stukopin257772nd-6th$3960.00
7IM Zhansaya Abdumalik239771st 2300-2449$5000.00
8GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista26536.57th-10th288.89
9IM Dmitry Gordievsky26136.57th-10th288.89
10GM Illia I Nyzhnyk26126.57th-10th288.89
11GM Aleksandr Lenderman25856.57th-10th288.89
12GM Sergey Erenburg25506.57th-10th288.89
13GM Alexander Stripunsky25366.57th-10th288.89
14GM Oliver Barbosa25116.57th-10th288.89
15IM Eylon Nakar24766.57th-10th288.89
16GM Alexander Fishbein24666.57th-10th288.89

It wasn’t just the score, though, but how she did it. She drew with US junior stars Sam Sevian and Jeffery Xiong and beat GMs Elshan Moradiabadi, Gil Popilski and finally Yaroslav Zherebukh, the same player who crushed Fabiano Caruana during the recent US Championship. That gave her her first full GM norm.

Zherebukh was defending a tough position when he blundered with 37.Bg2?, allowing the killer blow 37…Ne2!


The problem is it threatens not just one mate with 38…Ng1#, but also 38…Nxf4# and there’s no defence that avoids massive material loss. Zherebukh resigned. You can replay that game with computer analysis here.

Zhansaya Abdumalik and tournament winner Tigran Petrosian | photo: Dr. Francine Silver, US Chess Federation/Twitter

As you saw, though, the big prize went to Armenia’s Tigran L Petrosian, who lost one game to Jeffery Xiong, drew another and won the rest for 7.5/9. Clear first gave him a healthy $20,500 prize! He finished in style by beating Oliver Barbosa in the last round as co-leaders Abdumalik and Xiong drew. The star move was the beautiful break 19.d4!!, punishing Black for the failure to develop and castle:


19…exd4 loses the knight on g4 to 20.Qf4!, while 19…cxd4, which occurred in the game, allows 20.Rac1!, threatening Nc7+. Barbosa played correctly with 20…Bxd5, but after 21.exd5 Nd7 22.Qxd4 Black’s position was falling apart. Oliver managed to keep the game going, but ultimately had to admit defeat on move 47. His prize after going into the last round in the joint lead? $288.89. Big US opens are winner takes all!

3. The battle for Russian Championship qualification

Maxim Matlakov is top seed in the Higher League | photo: Russian Chess Federation

The 9-round Russian Higher League, taking place just now in the Krasnaya Polyana ski resort above Sochi, is just as brutal. The main prize on offer is that the top five players in both the open and the women’s section qualify for the 10-player Russian Championship Superfinals to be played in St. Petersburg this December. As this is Russia, there are dozens of very strong grandmasters competing for that prize, with some top players taking part.

One player for whom the tournament looked as though it could be a milestone is 19-year-old Vladislav Artemiev, who with a rating of 2695 was ready to follow his contemporary Duda and compatriots Vladimir Fedoseev and Maxim Matlakov into the 2700 club. He may still do so, but losing with White to <2600-rated GMs in Rounds 2 and 3 mean he has an uphill struggle ahead!

The top seed is Maxim Matlakov, who recently won the European Championship and then, on the back of that result, was promoted to play in the Russian team for the World Team Championship. The same happened to Fedoseev, who got a bronze medal in Minsk, though that wasn’t without controversy – Dmitry Jakovenko and Ernesto Inarkiev had previously been selected to play.

15-year-old Andrey Esipenko scored a draw against Matlakov in Round 1 | photo: Russian Chess Federation

Their replacements justified their inclusion, but as Fedoseev said in a recent interview when asked if he was exhausted:

For me such a load is normal, but if after that I immediately had to play in the Russian Higher League as well I don’t know if I’d be up to it. I might simply not have enough energy. I’m amazed that Matlakov decided to do it.

Maxim didn’t get off to a flying start, with one win and two draws, but his Round 4 win over Dmitry Bocharov was spectacular. It also seems as though he might have been staying up late watching how Petrosian won the World Open… since he also played a beautiful break with his d-pawn: 16.d5!!?


Again the idea is to hit Black before he can consolidate, though the queen on a1 and knight on b6 make this a wild position. Again 16…cxd5 would be met by seizing the c-file, with 17.Qc2, though Bocharov found the best defence and played 16…Ra6! The game could have gone either way, but in the end Maxim’s bold chess was rewarded with a win in 31 moves.

In the same round there was also a crazy encounter between young star and defending Champion Grigoriy Oparin and the always dangerous Denis Khismatullin. Things had gone wrong for the youngster and it could have ended fast after his 30.Bg3:


30…fxe5! is playable, though you can see why 31.Bxe5+ Rf6 32.Rxf6 had Black worried! However, after 32…Kg7! White has no good discovered check, never mind a mate. Denis instead found the strong and, you might say, sublime 30…Rd4!, cutting off the queen’s escape route. If he’d won it might have made his best games collection, but alas, in a time scramble Oparin managed to give up his queen for enough material to scrape a draw. Quite a game!

You can follow the Russian Higher League using the selector below:

4. Kasparov isn’t the only veteran ex-World Champion who can still play

The World Chess Legends tournament was held from 27-30 June as part of the big chess festival in Platja d’Aro, Spain. After six rounds of rapid and six rounds of blitz Anatoly Karpov and Zoltan Ribli were tied in the lead ahead of Jan Timman and Ljubomir Ljubojevic:

65-year-old Hungarian Grandmaster Ribli emerged victorious against 66-year-old Karpov, though one game which caught the eye was a demonstration of endgame mastery and originality from Karpov against Timman in Round 6 of the rapid. Chess photographer David Llada was on hand to capture the event:

You can replay that game here.

5. Watch out for the kids!

A strong open is taking place just now in Purtichju on the French island of Corsica, with the likes of Gawain Jones and Michal Krasenkow fighting for the title. The most remarkable game so far, though, was an unlikely victory for a local hero: 10-year-old, 1841-rated Marc Andria Maurizzi. His victim? 2542-rated 33-year-old French Grandmaster Fabien Libiszewski!

The game was a reminder of how easily tables can be turned on a chessboard. Fabien was gradually asserting his authority, but slipped fatally with 54…c2?


Marc seized his chance with 55.Qb3!, threatening both mate on g8 and Bb2. He didn’t put a foot wrong and after 55…Rg7 56.Bb2 c1=Q 57.Bxc1 Rxg3 58.Kxg3 Qg7+? (58…Qe7 averts immediate disaster on the long diagonal, though White is still much better) 59.Kh2 Nf6 60.Bb2 there was no saving the game. A great scalp for a promising youngster and inspiration for us all!

You can follow much more chess here on chess24 on our Live Tournaments page


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