Euwe tournament: Peng wins group 1, van Kampen group 2
In a successful first edition of the Euwe Tournament, Zhaoqin Peng became the winner of group 1, and Robin van Kampen of group 2.
A statue of Max Euwe, by José Fijnhout, stayed in the playing hall during the game | All photos © Euwe Tournament by Nadja Voorham & Bas Beekhuizen
After our first report a bunch of big events took all our attention, but by now it's high time to return once more to the Euwe Tournament! Below you'll find reports by Eric van Reem on rounds 2-6.
Stuart Conquest played his first game in the Euwe Tournament in the second round, against the player with the highest rating, 17-year old Robin van Kampen. Due to weather problems in London, Conquest could not arrive on time for the first round. “I planned to take the ferry from Harwich to Hoek van Holland in the evening and stayed at the airport to get some work done. Then I suddenly heard a last call announcement for a flight to Amsterdam, so I ran to the gate and fortunately they had a seat for me”, Conquest explained.
Still, only three games were played this round. Fridrik Olafsson already had some problems with his stomach on Monday and he even had to see a doctor on Tuesday. He could not play his game against Cramling, so this game was postponed to the rest day on Thursday, together with Conquest and Arakhamia who still had to play their first round game.
Let’s take a quick look at the games. Conquest played a typical “English” opening, after 1.d4 d5 he played the move 2.Bg5. A lot of English grandmasters in the eighties and nineties played this highly popular move. If you want to learn something about this opening or 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5, check some older games of Hodgson, Adams, Short, Hebden or Norwood. In this game Conquest played the new move 10.Qa4 and Van Kampen had to solve some small problems.
After 24…Nc5?! Conquest missed 25. Rxc5 Bxc5 26.Bxd8 Bxd4 27.Be7 with a better position for white. Both players were in time trouble though, and the young Dutchman could not convert his advantage. He missed the tactical blow 33…Nf4! which would have given him some chances in the endgame. The game ended in a draw after 35 moves.
GM analysis, with Ian Rogers, Dimitri Reinderman and David Smerdon as kibitzers
The game Van der Sterren-Peng also ended in a draw. In an English opening, Van der Sterren had a slightly better position,
but after 18…a5 black could easily equalize. After 29 moves Van der Sterren offered a draw in a position which was “clearly better for black”, according to kibitzer GM Dimitri Reinderman in the commentary room.
Monika Socko won a nice game against Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant. The Scottish champion mishandled the opening completely but somehow managed to get an acceptable position. However, in severe time trouble she lost an important pawn on e6 and the position went downhill pretty fast. Socko had no problem to score the full point.
Monica Socko showing her game in the commentary room
On Wednesday, the spectators finally saw four games in one room. It was a good day to play with the white pieces, because all games ended in convincing wins for white: 4-0.
Van Kampen, who had played with the black pieces in the first two rounds and came close to winning against Conquest and Socko, was eager to win his first game with white against Arakhamia-Grant. She chose a solid Philidor opening, but the strange rook manoeuvre Re8-e5-g5 gave white a pleasant game. Van Kampen won a pawn and converted his advantage convincingly in his nice attacking style. He actually was the only man that won a game against a woman today, because in the other games the stronger sex showed their strength.
In the game Cramling-Van der Sterren, the position seemed to be quite dull after 16 moves, but like her compatriot Ulf Andersson, Pia Cramling likes these positions and carefully improved her position.
Van der Sterren told us after the game that he had underestimated 31. Nc6+! Cramling won a pawn, snatched another one and Van der Sterren resigned.
Pia Cramling and Paul van der Sterren analyzing
Girl power in the game Peng-Olafsson as well: in a King's Indian, both players played for a win, but the audience in the packed commentary room was a bit disappointed when Olafsson offered a repetition of moves. Peng, however, decided to play on and had to calculate when to play the decisive break-through move c4-c5. After she finally found the right moment, on move 43, Olafsson had to resign only a few moves later.
In the longest game of the day, Monica Socko had the upper hand against Stuart Conquest. Socko scored a fine 5.5/9 in the recent European Team Championship for her country Poland and seems to be in good form. In a long and complicated endgame she converted her advantage into a full point. Conquest said that he played the Dutch Defence to honor the hosts. It is not always a good idea to be polite, obviously.
During this round WGM Jennifer Shahade played a simul against kids in the Amsterdam library
In group 1 the frontrunners Cramling and Peng kept each other in balance. In a Queen’s Gambit Accepted Cramling adopted a modest set-up. For a moment it looked as if Peng would gain the advantage.
Looking back Peng didn’t like 18…f6: ‘I should have fixed the white pawn structure with b7-b5-b4.’
Just as in round 1, Van der Sterren and Olafsson got a Nimzo-Indian position on the board, Van der Sterren having the white pieces this time.
With 7. … b6 Olafsson played a variation ‘from the last century’, popularized by Paul Keres in the fifties. Van der Sterren was very disappointed that his memory failed him: ‘In the old days I could remember all those variations without effort!’ In an attempt to comfort him, Olafsson said that junior player Robin van Kampen probably didn’t know the system at all! Van der Sterren sacrificed a pawn for the initiative, but Olafsson counter-attacked well.
After 21. … Nc5 the black night had to be exchanged in order to prevent it dominating the white position from d3. After that Olafsson took all venom out of the position by playing 24…f6. Van der Sterren thought he could worry him with 25.Qd7, but Olafsson didn’t budge and replied instantly. After a forced exchange, the game ended in a repetition of moves. Commentator Arno Bezemer applauded Van der Sterren in the commentary room: ‘Olafsson scored 3 out of 3 in earlier games with this variation. So you did very well to draw!’
Paul van der Sterren
In group 2 the games were more lively. Van Kampen surprised Socko in a Sicilian Dragon by choosing 9.g4, a variation he hadn’t played before. Socko’s reply wasn’t adequate: she tried to get back in the main line through a different order of moves, but Van Kampen had anticipated that. He played the strong 13. a3 and gained two pawns in the first twenty moves, with an advantage of half an hour on the clock. Winning this was relatively easy. A disappointed Socko was impressed by Van Kampen’s opening knowledge: ‘I could have tried the French, but he’s very well prepared against that as well.’
Conquest had a better position against Arakhamia-Grant after the pawn attack 13. … f5 and 17. … d5, but the white position was not an easy nut to crack. When Arakhamia played Bf2,
allowing 24… e4!, a relieved Conquest decided the game with an exchange sacrifice and an attack on the king.
In round 5, Fridrik Olafsson and Paul van der Sterren won their games, resulting in a ranking whereby all players in group 1 had scored 2½ out of 5. Monika Socko beat Stuart Conquest in group 2 and Robin van Kampen drew against Ketevan Arakhamia. Socko and Van Kampen were leading this group with only one round left.
Paul van der Sterren was determined to win this time. After a Bogo-Indian opening he got the better structure; Pia Cramling ended up with an isolated pawn on d5. Around move 20, Van der Sterren successfully avoided a repetition of moves. When his opponent played the tactical mistake 24…Bf5 her position collapsed. In the commentary room, Van der Sterren said he was delighted with his win: ‘The last game of chess I won was over one year ago! And before that it was eight years ago.'
For a long time, the battle between Zhaoqin Peng and Ólafsson remained balanced.
In time trouble, Peng blundered with 31…Bc6 which cost a pawn without compensation. Had she only played 31…Qd6, the position would have remained fully equal. Olafsson, a seasoned player, did not allow the win to escape him. Peng attributed her mistake to a lack of night’s rest and the hard-fought draw with Cramling in round 4. Peng: ’I play for the points, Cramling for the game of chess. She just keeps on playing.’
Against Robin van Kampen's Sicilian, Arakhamia replied with the solid 3.Bb5+ after which she tried to simplify the position. Van Kampen did his best to keep the game going and even got the better position at some point. Just before the time control he finally won a pawn but the resulting rook ending turned out to be draw.
English GM Conquest chose to play the English opening against Socko. Around move 20 she was clearly better but then could not find the right follow-up and it was Conquest who gained a pawn. However, in time trouble he missed a simple win;
with 34.Ne6 he could have struck a decisive blow. Three moves later he blundered with 37.Qe2 after which he had to resign.
As said before, at the start of the last round all group 1 players had the same score. Only Peng, unhappy about her first game against Van der Sterren, managed a convincing win, obtaining outright first place. In group 2 Van Kampen trumped Conquest in time trouble and he also became the sole winner of his group.
Van der Sterren almost equalised against Peng with ... Bb4 and ... a5 in a Queen's Indian opening.
But 16... Ne4 turned out to be an ill-fated move. Van der Sterren had missed White's reply 17. Nf4, and then he committed the decisive mistake 17... f6. After this Black's position was beyond repair. Peng was happy with her revenge after having been reproached in round 2 for taking a draw too quickly.
Zhaoqin Peng, the winner in group 1
In the second game in group 1, a King's Indian, between Cramling and Olafsson, it looked as if Cramling had the initiative on both wings. However, Olafsson defended resourcefully and even reached an endgame with a pawn up. But Cramling had active play and didn't allow any winning attempt and so the game ended in a draw.
In group 2 Conquest played 4... Nge7 in the Ruy Lopez, currently a popular variation. Van Kampen was able to rely on his preparation with Grandmaster Ivan Sokolov. As he was sure Conquest would surprise him anyway he hadn't prepared anything in particular, preferring a good night's sleep instead. In the middle game Van Kampen got the advantagw and Conquest consumed a lot of time on the clock to work up some counterplay. Van Kampen thought for a long time; he had everything under control
but got worried when he couldn't play 23. g4 because of 23. ... Be2.
When Conquest played 30... Qa1 31. Qb1 Qa4 instead of the better 30... Nb5 Van Kampen dealt the decisive blow with 32.Nc6 winning at least the exchange. Conquest resigned after reaching the time control, disappointed that his original play had yielded so few points.
Robin van Kampen, the winner in group 2
In the other game Arakhamia-Grant gave it a go with black. She offered Socko an exciting game with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5. When Socko avoided this with 3.e3, Black easily obtained an equal position. After 20 moves the heavy pieces were exchanged and a drawn end game was all that was left. After about ten further moves it was indeed agreed drawn.
Euwe Tournament 2011 | Group 1 | Final standings
Euwe Tournament 2011 | Group 2 | Final standings
The prizegiving for the Euwe Memorial tournament took place in De Kring, a location already special on account of the many chess players and artists who made the club both famous and infamous in the 60s and 70s. On Sunday evening the setting was even more special as visitors were immeditaely confronted upon entry with a chess performance by Jennifer Shahade and her creation of Naked Chess. This time it was a simul against three chess playing, nude artists' models. The lighting created dramatic shadows against the back wall while Shahade walked from board to board in her beautifully stylized dress.
Jennifer Shahade in her Naked Chess performance
Against this back-drop Hans Böhm smoothly introduced the audience to the various acts. ICGA president David Levy reminisced about his conversations with Max Euwe on the future of computer chess. Hans Ree and Alexander Münninghof sang the Euwe March striking exactly the right degree of solemnity. Tex de Wit proved humor and chess certainly mix well, opening his stand-up act with thanks to tournament director Monique van de Griendt for meeting his exacting pre-conditions, which had apparently included having three nudes next to him on stage playing chess!
At the end the tournament participants accepted their prizes to loud applause. Thanks to them it was a fantastic tournament. The organisation therefore hopes that the Max Euwe Tournament will take place again in the near future.
Thanks to the organizers for providing these reports
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