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In the third round of the NH Chess Tournament the Rising Stars increased their lead over the Experience team to 8.5-6.5. The first result of the day was a short fightless draw, but the rest of the afternoon was brimming with excitement and tension and produced a rich harvest of hair-raising moments. In the individual standings Dutch grandmaster Jan Smeets improved his chances to win the coveted ticket to Monaco with a second win, this time at the expense of Ljubomir Ljubojevic.

Round III /Friday August 24-th/:
13.30	Beliavsky - Stellwagen	  0 - 1
Nikolic - Cheparinov 1/2 - 1/2
Khalifman - Karjakin 1/2 - 1/2
Jussupow - Negi 1 - 0
Ljubojevic - Smeets 0 - 1

The dramatic encounter between Ljubomir Ljubojevic and Jan Smeets was the last one to finish after six hours of play and 97(!) moves. The game saw a quiet start with modest manoeuvring, but when White pushed 19.e4, he allowed Black to start thinking about some activity again. Smeets began looking for his chances and when his queen finally invaded the white ranks it was clear that White was in trouble. Smeets might have saved himself a lot of work if he had seen what visiting IM Manuel Bosboom was quick to point out: after 52.Ke4 he could have struck with 52…Rxf4! when 53.Kxf4 Bh6+ should be winning for Black and 53.Qxf4 f5 is mate! Having missed this opportunity Smeets was condemned to a considerable detour that nevertheless brought him a precious second win.

The most spectacular game of the day was the one between Alexander Beliavsky and Daniel Stellwagen. The Dutchman chose the razor-sharp Botvinnik Variation to steer for a complicated battle. And that’s exactly what he got. As he said jokingly at the press conference after the game (which was broadcast live on the tournament website!): ‘As a youngster you have to be confident that you can outcalculate your opponent.’ With 11…Qa5 he went for a variation which hasn’t been played much since the 1980s and has a bad reputation. But if you look at it these days with the help of a computer (as Stellwagen had obviously done!) there’s a good chance that you’ll find new ideas. The result was an explosive position with a strong black initiative, but also with an exposed black king. After 20.Qg4, Stellwagen was on his own again (he had mainly looked at 20.Qe2 in his preparation), but when he paused to have a closer look after 22…cxd3 he very much liked what he saw. The following developments were pretty forced. Black’s main task was to calculate accurately that White wouldn’t escape with a perpetual. Stellwagen confessed that he was confident he had calculated correctly and indeed he hauled in the point with a steady hand.

Artur Jussupow scored his first full point, and the first full point for the Experience team for that matter, at the cost of Parimarjan Negi. The 14-year-old Indian hasn’t been very fortunate so far. In his first two games he had good reason to hope for a win, but had to settle for draws, while today he failed to fight for the draw in an uncomfortable position. The opening which was new to him went quite satisfactorily and also after Yusupov had won a pawn, Black seemed to have reasonable compensation. But things were not easy and when Negi tried to complicate the position he was asking too much. The idea he had missed was White’s 14.Rad1 and 15.Qe1 after which Black was clearly worse. In the remainder of the game there were moments when he could have played better, but essentially he was fighting a lost cause.

The Experience team came close to a second win, but it was not to be. After he miraculously managed to make a draw against Predrag Nikolic, an incredulous Ivan Cheparinov walked out of the playing room shaking his head and admitting that he had been completely lost. Just like his ‘boss’ Veselin Topalov, the young Bulgarian likes to play actively in Benko-Gambit style positions, but today the approach didn’t really work. Playing confidently and efficiently Nikolic managed to neutralize the initiative that Black almost inevitably gets in return for the sacrificed pawn and for most of the game Black was with his back against the wall. The direct win that Nikolic missed was 48.Qxd5 (instead of 48.Ra6) 48…Bb6 49.Qxb7! and Black can resign. As it went, White lost the mighty passer on a7 and had to resign himself to a draw.

The shortest game of the day, barely two hours, was the one between Alexander Khalifman and Sergey Karjakin. The Russian grandmaster tried an idea that Karjakin was not familiar with (9.e3 followed two moves later by 11.Nfd2) and that he believed would give White an enduring plus. The Ukrainian junior wasn’t so sure, particularly after 14.Bb2. He believed that 14.f4 would have been more ‘principled’ after which he intended to play 14…f6. On move 16, Khalifman White offered a draw, which Karjakin accepted. Couldn’t he have played on?, was a predictable question when he walked into the press room a few minutes later. Karjakin looked slightly puzzled. With black against Khalifman? His look said enough about his respect for his opponent and fully answered the question.

The ‘Experience’ team:
1 Alexander Beliavsky	Slovenia	2653
2 Predrag Nikolic Bosnia 2646
3 Alexander Khalifman Russia 2632
4 Artur Jussupow Germany 2583
5 Ljubomir Ljubojevic Serbia 2550

‘Rising Stars’ team:
1 Sergey Karjakin	Ukraine		2678
2 Ivan Cheparinov Bulgaria 2657
3 Daniel Stellwagen The Netherlands 2631
4 Jan Smeets The Netherlands 2538
5 Parimarjan Negi India 2529

Individual standings /after Round III/:
Smeets		2.5
Jussupow 2
Stellwagen 2
Cheparinov 1.5
Karjakin 1.5
Khalifman 1.5
Beliavsky 1
Ljubojevic 1
Negi 1
Nikolic 1

Team standings /after Round III/:
Rising Stars	8.5
Experience 6.5

Official NH Chess Tournamet site: http://nhchess.quinsy.net/
(1310 reads)

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