IM Thorsten Michael Haub half a point behind
After 7 rounds of the Scandinavian open, the Ukranian GM Yuri Drozdovskij is leading the tournament. GM Drozdovskij has collected 5,5/7 points in what proves to be a very close competition. Only half a point behind is IM Thorsten Michael Haub and there are four players – IM Nils Grandelius, GM Miroslaw Grabarczyk, GM Carsten Høi, IM Hans Tikkanen – with 4,5/7. With 3 rounds left the final outcome is difficult to be predicted.
In round 8 the leader GM Drozdovskij will play against GM Carsten Høi, while IM Thorsten Michael Haub will meet IM Nils Grandelius.
Scroll down for round by round reports.
More about Scandinavian open
Previous rounds report
GM Carsten Høi and FM Daniel V. Pedersen
Tania Sachdev sharing the top women spot with 3,0/7
In round 5, nine out of the ten games were decisive, the players obviously being in an exceptionally belligerent mood.
On the top board, Yuri Drozdovskij and Nils Grandelius played a sharp Grünfeld game in which the Ukrainian grandmaster weakened his opponents king position with the pseudo-sacrifice 17.Bxf7+ and later exploited this to win a pawn. After 21.Qb5, grabbing the b2-pawn would cost an exchange after 21.- Qxb2 22.Qc4+ because of the threat of smothered mate. Grandelius threw in the towel on move 38 when he was about to lose a whole rook.
Thorsten Michael Haub again played a Hippopotamus setup, this time with black, and again with success. As is in the spirit of this venerable opening system, he managed to weaken the impressive looking white pawn center to such an extent that when Esben Lund had had enough on move 35, it lay completely in ruins.
Henrik Danielsen’s Polar Bear also went hunting but allowed its prey to escape and even strike back. In one of the notoriously sharp queen and opposite colored bishop positions, he optimistically declined Miroslaw Grabarczyk’s offer of a queen exchange in favor of a pawn grab but soon realised that Black’s pieces would be first to invade the weak squares around the enemy king and that the hunter had thus suddenly become the hunted.
In a rare version of the Ragozin Queen’s Gambit, Daniel Semcesen energetically took advantage of Daniel V. Pedersen’s risky decision to castle after playing h6 and g5. A piece sacrifice forcing the opening of the h-file left the black king utterly helpless before the unslought of White’s heavy artillery, and the neat 20.Nf4, leaving two pieces en prise, compelled Pedersen to give up decisive amounts of material in order to avoid mate.
Stellan Brynell clearly was not happy about being an accomplice to the only draw of the day and avoided repetition on several occasions. However, despite ingenious temporary pawn and exchange sacrifices and an active rook on the seventh rank, he eventually had to accept that Simon Bekker-Jensen’s position was too solid to break down.
In an attempt to protect her weak pawn on d5, Natalia Zdebskaja’s pieces discoordinated themselves and allowed Carsten Høi to win an exchange on move 22. Her hopes of counterchances with a passed d-pawn proved futile as White could simply take it and trade everything down to a won pawn endgame.
With Black against Stefan Christensen, Hans Tikkanen got the better end of a Ruy Lopez by acquiring the bishop pair and saddling White with an isolated d-pawn. After gobbling that up, he conducted the heavy piece endgame with great energy and caught the enemy king in a mating net.
When Axel Smith’s pawns came rushing toward her king, Tania Sachdev reacted cooly by infiltrating with her queen on the weak squares they had left behind and playing for control of the open d-file. After she had accomplished this and Black’s pawn storm had run out of steam, she simply took one of the far advanced infantrymen and converted this material advantage in a virtuosic rook endgame. One of the extra queens posted outside all boards finally came into use when she managed to promote both the e- and the g-pawn.
Björn Thorfinnsson seemed to break all principles of sound opening play by moving his bishop first to g5, then to f4 and then all the way back to c1, leaving his entire piece assortment undeveloped until move 10, but despite its eccentric appearance, this Trompowsky worked like a dream for him. After another 7 moves, Jasmin Bejtovic found himself down two pawns without adequate compensation, almost forcing him to try a desperate pawn thrust on the kingside which backfired and exposed his own king fatally.
After four defeats in as many games, Olli Sisättö finally got things going for him when he managed to smoke Bo Jacobsen’s king out of his foxhole by means of a bishop sacrifice on f7. According to Fritz, Black could have saved his king with an advantage by moving it to h6 on move 17, whereas the move played, 17.- Kg5, was just as dangerous as it looked. Five moves later it was mate.
As was to be expected after Tuesday’s bloodbath, round 6 saw the players in a more conciliatory mood, the drawing percentage going up from 10 to 70.
The first peace settlement was reached on the top board where Miroslaw Grabarczyk and Yuri Drozdovskij signed their scoresheets after only 8 moves. Nils Grandelius and Hans Tikkanen on the other hand slugged it out in an exciting Ruy Lopez game where White seemed to be on to something with his passed e-pawn and kingside structural advantage but had to accept total liquidation after accurate play from Black.
Apparently Björn Thorfinnsson and Henrik Danielsen had decided to pay tribute to their country’s literary heritage by reenacting a battle scene from one of the Icelandic sagas on the chess board. Already on move nine, after White had foolheartedly grabbed a central pawn and then refused to give it back, Danielsen seized the opportunity to inflict fatal wounds on his opponent. With 9.- Ng4 he prevented White from castling due to Qh4 and forced him to play the ugly 10.Rf1 to protect the weak point f2. The remaining 20 moves can be considered a long but eminently entertaining death struggle.
Carsten Høi fared considerably better with the black pieces against Stellan Brynell than he did in last year’s tournament. He managed to neutralize White’s pressure, and with an – admittedly weak – extra pawn, he could probably have played on without risk when the draw was agreed. But then again, saving energy for the evening round might not have been too bad an idea.
Natalia Zdebskaja played with great determination on the black side of an English opening against Bo Jacobsen and seemed to be steamrolling her way to victory with her connected passed c- and d-pawns. However, when a queen endgame had been reached, the pawns looking more dangerous than ever, she squandered her advantage by trying to keep them together. Instead of 49.- c4, Fritz wants to give a couple of checks and then post the queen on e2 from where it protects the h-pawn and secures the promotion of the d-pawn. The move played allowed Jacobsen to seize the initiative, and in the final position he was suddenly two pawns up, but probably too relieved to consider trying for a win.
Daniel V. Pedersen and Esben Lund played a Four Knights game with g3 where Black had some initiative in the rook endgame but White too few weaknesses to be in real danger. Simon Bekker-Jensen beat Tania Sachdev in a sharp Nimzo-Indian struggle where he won a pawn in the tactically loaded middlegame but had to live through some really hairy moments before being able to neutralize Black’s initiative. On move 37, the merciless engine points out that Black could have won a piece with Rc1!, the point being 38.Qxc1 Qe3+! After overlooking this in time trouble, Sachdev soon saw her position crumble.
Axel Smith gained a small advantage against Olli Sisättö, but in the rook and bishop versus rook and knight endgame, Black kept everything protected while his knight prevented White from making any progress. Thorsten Michael Haub’s game against Daniel Semcesen ended in an unusual repetition on move 17 after an even more unusual opening. Finally, Jasmin Bejtovic happily sacrificed a couple of pawns in a Winawer in order to prevent Stefan Christensen from castling short and then successfully threw the kitchen sink at him once he had castled long.
Top seed Yuri Drozdovskij has grabbed the sole lead of K41 Scandinavian Open after beating Daniel Semcesen convincingly in round 7, played Wednesday evening. The grandmaster was faced with an unusual opening system where Black gave up the bishop pair in return for damaging White’s pawn structure slightly. While he could probably claim an advantage due to his strong knight on d5, it was kept within reasonable limits until 26.- h5, which weakened the light squares around Black’s king and allowed White to exchange the bishop that was supposed to protect them by means of the nice pawn sacrifice 27.c5 followed by 28.Ne7. When White invaded with his bishop on f7 and his queen on e6, forking the two black knights, Semcesen was forced to resign.
Thorsten Michael Haub dropped to second place after an exciting draw with black against Miroslaw Grabarczyk. After giving up a pawn as well as the bishop pair in a Dutch stonewall, the German IM proved his securely entrenched knight on e4 and White’s doubled e-pawns to be quite reasonable compensation. A draw was agreed on move 36, and Haub still has excellent chances of scoring a GM norm.
Henrik Danielsen abandoned the Polar Bear in favor of a double fianchetto Reti system for his game against Nils Grandelius but still lost; he has now scored 1/4 with white as opposed to 2½/3 with black. At first nothing much seemed to be happening, but after a major exchange sequence on moves 16-20, Grandelius’ rook on the open d-file gave him a minuscule advantage which he slowly but systematically increased during the next 25 moves through exquisite constricting maneuvers reminiscent of Karpov. Having forced White’s pieces into ridiculously passive positions on the back rank, he put the icing on the cake with 47.Ba2! which put White in zugzwang and prompted immediate resignation.
Hans Tikkanen versus Simon Bekker-Jensen was a King’s Indian in which Black’s bishop pair turned out to be insufficient compensation for the damage inflicted on his pawn structure by the bishop for knight exchange. After the weak black c-pawn had succumbed to the white rooks’ relentless pressure, Bekker-Jensen sought his chances in a pawn down bishop endgame which he soon found was beyond saving.
For the second time in the tournament, Carsten Høi won in less than 20 moves. This time he only needed 14 moves to dispatch Daniel V. Pedersen who weakened his king’s pawn shelter with g5 in order to break the pin on his f6 knight and, clearly disgusted by his position, dropped a pawn to the tactic 14.Nxd5. Høi now shares third place and plays Drozdovskij on the top board in round 8. Esben Lund and Stellan Brynell played a slightly uncommon Nimzo-Indian where Black parted with the bishop pair as usual, only in this case it was the light squared bishop that was exchanged while the other one stayed. After the rooks had come off, White converted this advantage to a pawn (as they say, the good thing about the two bishops is that you can exchange one of them at the proper moment), which was then again converted to a direct and irresistible mating attack with queen a bishop.
Jasmin Bejtovic was a pawn down and seemed to be in trouble against Tania Sachdev, when his knight pair all by themselves created enough kingside counterplay to force a perpetual, despite Sachdev being a menacing passed pawn up. After a Berlin Ruy Lopez, Natalia Zdebskaja and Axel Smith agreed on a draw in a position adverse to breakthroughs of any kind. Björn Thorfinnsson showed great fighting spirit by declining Olli Sisättö’s offer of an early repetition and managed to win a pawn through active piece play, a material advantage he was unable to convert in the rook endgame, however.
Bo Jacobsen must have experienced heavy deja vu when Stefan Christensen, just like in their previous encounter less than two weeks ago at the Danish championship, sacrificed a knight on h6. This time, the knight clearly could not be taken, but again Jacobsen found an adequate response. After sidestepping the check and exchanging queens, he demonstrated that the brave knight could not retreat without allowing material loss. Christensen might have pinned his hopes on the knight fork on c7 (still the same knight by the way), but as this turned out to be a fata morgana due to 25.- Rh8, he was simply down a piece. With Black in control of the fantastic knight square d4 and White lagging behind in development, two pawns were nowhere near enough compensation, and Christensen gave up on move 30, thus making the game a full 77 moves shorter than their last one – but no less exciting, it should be added.
Drozdovskij is now on 5½/7, half a point ahead of Haub and a whole point ahead of the trio Grandelius, Grabarczyk and Høi.