(1) Rothuis,Vincent - Hendriks,Willy [A00]
After yesterday's exciting events Amon Simutowe, who appeared to suffer from a cold, took a slight break with a draw against Panno. Dibyendu Barua grabbed his chance by overcoming Bianca Muhren in a tough game. Nona Gaprindashvili stayed in Barua's tracks by means of an attractive attacking victory over Helgi Dam Ziska. And Vincent Rothuis... well, he keeps playing some kind of alien chess.
Rothuis - Hendriks
9...b5 In the commentary room the crazy 9...Nd5!? was suggested here. This already looks quite awkward for White but it does not win outright, for example: 10.Qd2 Nxc3 (10...Ncb4?! 11.Nxd5!) 11.Qxc3 Qxa2. Also possible was 9...Nb4 10.Rh3 Nfd5! However, Hendriks was satisfied with the text move and did not investigate these lines any further. He slowly increased his advantage and finally his knights came galloping into the white position.
26.g3 Also hopeless is 26.exd5 Nxd5 27.Ne4 Nb6. 26...Nh5 The position contains some amusing tricks for Black: 26...Nxf3 27.Nxf3 Ne2+ 28.Kd2 Nxd4 29.Nxd4 dxe4 or also 26...Ne2+ 27.Nxe2 Nxf3 28.Rh1 Nxd4 29.Nxd4 dxe4. But Black does not need to resort to such tricks. After an exchange on e4 this pawn was just going to be lost and when it became clear that this was inevitable, Rothuis threw in the towel.
Gaprindahsvili re-established herself in the higher ranks. Young Ziska was downed in a classical attack by the lady veteran, but of course it was in the Modern Defence!
Ziska - Gaprindashvili
17...Rxa2! 18.Bxa2 Qa5 19.Kb1 Ne4 Also attractive was 19...Nf6 followed by 20...Bf5 and 21...Rc8. 20.Qe1 Ba6 21.Bd2 Or 21.Ne2 Ra8 22.Nc1 Bc4! and it's over. The battery on the a-file is too strong. 21...Nxd2+ Again 21...Bc4! was possible: 22.Bxc4 Nc3+ 23.bxc3 Ra8. 22.Qxd2 Ra8 23.Rh3
23...Bd3! All bishop moves are good, but this is certainly the prettiest! 24.Qxd3 Qxa2+ 25.Kc1 Bh6+ 26.Re3 Nc5 27.Qe2 Ne4! and White resigned. It is mate in 6.
The leader of the pack, Amon Simutowe, ceded his first half point today. Things seem to go better for him with black than with white. Today he wasn't able to overcome Oscar Panno's smooth positional play.
Simutowe - Panno
This queenless middlegame looks quite favourable for Black. Panno had achieved this with a very subtle treatment of the French, gaining a tempo by using a cunning move order. 'Your 5...g6!? was brilliant', said Simutowe. 'I liked it very much and I got frustrated with my position.' The following is strategically quite interesting. 19...Rfe8 On this level, capturing on d5 is not even calculated. Panno: 'White cannot live without his light-squared bishop here.' 20.Kf1 Rac8 Simutowe feared 20...Bg4 here, for instance 21.Rd2 (21.Rd3? Bxb2! 22.Bxb2 Be2+) 21...Rac8 and White may not have to run the gauntlet, but he will have to walk on eggs. The problem compared to the game is that he does not have the blockade 22.Nd4 on account of 22...Rc4. 21.Nd4! Bg4 22.Rd3 Kg7 Black is planning ...Nc4, for instance after Be3, without having to reckon with a check on d5. 23.h3 Simutowe called this a waste of time afterwards. Perhaps he should have tried 23.Be3 anyway, for example: 23...Nc4 24.Bxd5 Nxe3+ 25.fxe3 and Black is doing very well ('I'm almost crippled'-Simutowe), but there are no concrete winning lines in sight. 23...Bd7 24.Bd2 Na4 25.Bc3
In this position a draw was agreed. The probable continuation was 25...Nxc3 26.bxc3 Bxd4! (less good is 26...Rc5 27.Re1). Black voluntarily surrenders his bishop pair and Panno gave an interesting lecture about his motif: 'In Manilla 1979, in a similar position against Spassky, I thought for forty minutes. He had blocked my bishop diagonal too with a well-supported knight. Of course I didn't want to surrender my bishop pair just like that. But finally I realized that in such positions the knight can still play, but the bishop cannot. That's why you have to give your bishop for the knight in such cases, and you have to do it as soon as you can.' These are lessons you don't find in books! Commentator Herman van Riemsdijk had already told his audience that Panno not only plays very subtly, his post-mortems are also a joy to listen to. There follows: 27.Rxd4 (27.cxd4?? Bb5) 27...Rxc3 28.Rxd5 Bc6 29.Rd2 Re7 and the black advantage has shrunk to a minimum.
Barua, second on the list, tried his utmost to catch up. In a theoretical Taimanov Sicilian Muhren deviated from a rapid game Shirov-Ljubojevic (2000) with 20…f6 instead of 20...Bf6, with which Ljubo eventually won the game. Muhren's move weakened her structure, especially the e6 pawn, but she put up some stiff resistance. Barua's exchange sac on the 39th move was an ultimate attempt and three moves later he would probably have done better to exchange queens by 42.Qe3+. Eight moves later he got another chance. 'With the queens on Black always has sufficient counterchances against my king, her own king was quite safe', reported the Indian GM. So when Muhren finally forced the queen exchange herself on move 57, he jumped to his feet and relatively easily won the endgame after all, and now he is trailing Simutowe by half a point only.
By way of a quiet Sicilian – yes, they do exist! - Fridrik Olafsson soon ended up in a pleasant endgame, but he was not able to convert his advantage against Puchen Wang. 'It was a good game', he said, 'but it wasn't easy to win. I would have, in the old days.'