Erik Blomqvist pounced on a blunder by Harika Dronavalli to join Baadur Jobava in the lead as the TePe Sigeman & Co. Chess Tournament in Malmö crossed the halfway mark. Elsewhere a Sicilian thriller between Pavel Eljanov and Jobava ended in a draw only after both players missed opportunities in time trouble, while Nigel Short did every right in a Marshall against Nils Grandelius but missed an open goal when both players relaxed a little too soon at the end.
TePe Sigeman Chess is yet to have a round of all draws, and could in fact have seen three decisive games in Round 3:
The big winner of the round was of course Sweden’s Blomqvist, who has put his first round woes against Short behind him to hit back with two wins in a row. This one was built on excellent opening preparation in what Erik described as a “risky line” of the Sicilian.
He blitzed out his first 16 moves while Dronavalli was already deep in thought, although that dynamic changed on move 17:
The Indian no. 2 objectively should have kept following “theory” with the dramatic 17.Nd5! exd5 18.Be2, hunting the black queen. Blomqvist was prepared for that, though, so from a practical point of view 17.Qg1!? at least made it a game in which both players were on their own. Erik tried to keep things complex, which worked out perfectly in the end, though he admitted that by the critical moment of the game, “there were a lot of moves that kept the balance”:
Here, though, Harika Dronavalli decided to push the black queen around one more time with 28.Rd4?, only to run into 28…Nd7! – and it was instantly game over, though the players continued for another 22 moves.
The day’s other Sicilian was a great slugfest between Pavel Eljanov and Baadur Jobava, which was followed by an enjoyable post-mortem featuring both players:
Baadur responded to commentator and twice Swedish Champion Stellan Brynell with “you’re joking?” when he said that both players had been winning, since for most of the game it was Eljanov who was firmly in the driving seat. As in so many games from the recent Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir, Eljanov first built up a seemingly overwhelming position, with Jobava struggling to find moves and noting that “one move could decide everything”.
The clearest chance came after Jobava’s 29…Rc7:
Pavel could have gone for 30.Re6!, when Black’s chances would lie in the bleak ending after 30…Qh2 31.Rxg6 Qxg1+ 32.Qxg1 fxg6 33.Qb6!. Pavel had seen the move but surprised his opponent by not going for it.
There were still chances after that, but approaching time trouble the momentum swung in Jobava’s favour until he threw away a promising position on the final move before the time control, playing 40…Qa6?:
He hadn’t missed 41.Rxh5+!, but admitted that after 41…Kg8 he had only expected 42.a4 to defend against mate (actually that loses on the spot to 42…Qd3+! with the threat of giving a check on d1 and simply picking up the h5-rook). “It was like a cold shower” Jobava said of 42.Qb8+!, when White picks up the rook on d2 after 42…Kf7 43.Qf4+. Baadur thought for a moment he was simply lost, but in fact the position was still balanced, and although Eljanov could have pushed a little harder the draw was a very fair outcome of the game.
The final game to finish stretched to over six hours and saw Nigel Short come very close to proving that a pawn is a pawn, even in the Marshall. The novelty Nils Grandelius played on move 19 is unlikely to get too many followers, but by around move 60 he seemed to be out of the woods. He commented afterwards, “we both kind of thought it’s now a draw, so we lost focus”. He made the “very unnecessary” move 62…Rd1?, but was given a reprieve two moves later:
64.Re1! traps the black rook and makes it impossible to stop a white pawn from queening. With a fresh head and plenty of time Nigel would no doubt have gone for that, but in the circumstances it was very understandable that he played 64.Bb4? and let the game peter out into a draw:
So with two rounds to go Jobava and Blomqvist lead:
In Round 4 it’s top vs. bottom in Jobava-Harika, with the Georgian no. 1 in with a chance of staking a big claim to win the event. Short-Eljanov is a heavyweight clash, while Grandelius-Blomqvist will be a fight to show who’s the Swedish no. 1. Don't miss the action with live commentary here on chess24. You can also watch the games in our free apps: