Three-way tie in Malmö
The 2011 Sigeman Chess Tournament ended in a three-way tie between Anish Giri, Hans Tikkanen and Wesley So. The three GMs finished on 3/5. Alexei Shirov scored 50%, Nils Grandelius 2/5 and Jonny Hector 1.5/5. Final report with photos and video impressions.
The 19th Sigeman Chess Tournament took place June 9-13 in the City ('Hipp') Theater of Malmö, Sweden. It was organized by the Limhamn Chess Club and like last year, six players played each other in a single round-robin tournament. Last year's winner, 16-year-old Dutchman Anish Giri, defended his title against Alexei Shirov, Wesley So, Jonny Hector, Nils Grandelius and Hans Tikkanen.
The entranceat at Kalendegatan no. 12
As we already mentioned last Saturday, the author of this report travelled to Malmö together with co-editor Arne Moll. The weather was great, and so we not only visited the tournament but we also went for a long walk. We took our camera with us and so we could provide the following video with some impressions of the pleasant town of Malmö.
(For anyone who missed our first report: the students at the start of the video were celebrating their graduation.)
After two rounds of the five rounds Anish Giri, Wesley So and Hans Tikkanen were sharing the lead with 1.5/2, followed by Alexei Shirov (1), Johnny Hector (0.5) and Nils Grandelius (0). On Saturday the top encounter between Shirov and Giri was scheduled, and so Arne and me decided to postpone our plans to visit Copenhagen by one day.
After the expected moves 1.e4 e5, Shirov avoided Giri's Petroff Defense by playing 2.Bc4. However, it was the Latvian who needed some time on the clock at move 5 already, when Giri gave a check with the bishop. The idea - not new by the way - was to provoke c2-c3 in a position where White wants to play his knight to c3.
Shirov's decision to swap on d5 and continue with 11.c4!? was slightly surprising, and probably a way to create a real fighting game. Giri had some problems to solve and ended up in an endgame a pawn down, but the Dutchman's 30...g6!? confused Shirov a bit (he had expected 30...g5) and soon he lost his advantage.
Giri and Shirov analysing their game
Hans Tikkanen played the Exchange Variation against Wesley So's Queen's Gambit Declined. A standard position was reached in which knight on g3 looked a bit weird (it made Black's break d5-d4 much easier), but it did allow White to gain the bishop pair thanks to the Ng3-f5 possibility. This was not enough to create serious winning chances.
The longest and most interesting game was played between Nils Grandelius and Jonny Hector. Slightly under pressure in an endgame, Hectore played a dangerous exchange sacrifice in return for two passed pawns. Eventually this led to an interesting endgame where Hector had a bishop, a knight and a pawn against a rook and a pawn for Grandelius.
While Alexei Shirov and his wife were waiting, together with Hector's wife, for him to finish - to have dinner together - Hector tried everything he could find to win the position. When the time began running out (in Malmö the classic time control of two hours + one hour + half an hour without increment was used), he gave up the winning attempts at move 101. There was a way to win the white pawn, as GM Stellan Brynell pointed out, but then it would have taken many more moves to win the game (in fact more than fifty with perfect defence...)
The three boards in the playing hall
On Sunday night Johan Sigeman updated his status on Facebook with 'Sweden vs Rest of the World 2-1 today!!' Tikkanen and Hector drew their games, while Grandelius won his first.
Against Shirov, Tikkanen defended himself with a line popularized by Ivan Sokolov (who, incidentally, celebrated his birthday on that day). Shirov got a space advantage but Black's position was very solid. Just when Shirov seemed to be cashing the full point, Tikkanen went for an exchange sacrifice that was enough to draw the game.
Giri and Hector followed the first-round game between Shirov and Hector for a while. At move 12 Hector deviated and the game got quite interesting. Giri won a pawn but in return Hector had very active pieces. In timetrouble Hector played some inaccuracies which led to an ending with an extra pawn for Giri, but it was never winning.
The fight between So and Grandelius quickly became the main attraction in the commentary room. In a sharp variation of the Nimzo-Indian Grandelius sacrificed a couple of pawns, but the price White had to pay was high. His king went to d1 and his development in general wasn't too well. Grandelius' finish was impressive. The queen manoeuvre a5-a4-d7-e6-f6 was unexpected but absolutely crucial for what eventually became a pretty victory.
Visible from just about anywhere in Malmö: the Turning Torso, the tallest skyscraper in Sweden and the Nordic countries, designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The tower reaches a height of 190 metres (623 feet) with 54 stories.
And so the tournament had the clash between leaders Tikkanen and Giri nicely scheduled for the last round, on Monday. Here too, Tikkanen showed impressive chess and excellent preparation. In an Exchange Grünfeld Giri played a thematical pawn sacrifice, but his Swedish opponent managed to consolidate and reach an ending where he could play for two results.
As Giri managed to hold the position, the two players were joined by Wesley So in first place. The Philippine, who now lives in Canada, was well prepared for Hector's Alekhine-Chatard Attack and completely outplayed the oldest of the three Swedish GMs. Grandelius and Shirov drew after 24 moves in a Semi-Slav where 17 moves were known before.
We'll probably hear more of Tikkanen in the future. The Swedish GM made lots of progress lately and showed very mature chess in Malmö. Giri, who won last year, played slightly below par, especially taking into account that he has a virtual 2700+ rating. His next events will be the Dutch Championship and then Dortmund.
After León, Alexei Shirov again had a somewhat disappointing event. He'll have something to work on for his next event, which is Biel. Shirov substitutes Vugar Gashimov, who seems to have solved his problems with the Azerbaijan Chess Federation and will play for the national team at the upcoming World Team Championship in Ningbo, China.
Games rounds 3-5
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