The huge number of players (566!) presaged a possible large tie for first place, as did the strong field of 20-30 GMs, and the prospect of few mistakes being made. And so it was: six players tied on 7,5, including two Russians.
But they both had to win "to order" in the ;last round. After a defeat in round 5, one of the greatest young hopes of Russian chess, who is getting stronger year by year, pulled himself together and dropped only half a point in the four remaining rounds. That was all that separated him on Buchholtz from the winner of the «Grenke-open», but he has nothing to be ashamed of, because his win over the top seed as Black in round 9 was worth a great deal!
Volodya has taken aim at the Achilles Heel of the white position, the pawn on c4. The Chinese player had no choice but to follow the principle "Onwards, and not one step back!". Black, in his turn, had to be very careful about the light squares round his king.
27.Bg6 – There is no time to lose, and maybe the knight should have come in at once. 27…Nxc4 28.Nf5 cxd5 29.exd5 Bc8 30.Nh4 Nd6 31.Qc2 Qc5 32.Bd3 Rfe8 33.Bg6 Re7 34.Kg2 Nc4 – The Russian has dealt accurately with the Chinese player's attack. The game is decided - how to defend against the fork?
35.Re1 Ne3 36.Rxe3 Qxe3 37.Bf5 Rb7 38.Ng6 Kg8 39.Bxc8 Rxc8 40.Qf5 Re8 41.d6 Qc5 42.Rd2 Qc6 43.Kg1 Rd7 White resigns (0:1). Vladimir has long been approaching 2700 and maybe Baden will be the impetus he needs to reach the desired goal?
Nikita Vitiugov's task looked a fraction easier, as he at least had White:
Alexander decided against the committal move с6-с5 and was left with a bad bishop. 24…Rb8 25.Bg4 Nf6 26.Nb3 h5?! – Driving the bishop where it wants to go anyway. 27.Bd1 Qb4 28.Nc5 Rfe8 29.Ba4 Qxc3 30.Rxc3 Rb4 31.Rd1 Kg8 32.Rb3 Rxb3 33.Bxb3 Rb8 34.Rb1 Kf8 35.Bc2 Rxb1 36.Bxb1 Ke7 37.f3! – The white bishop gets free, whilst its opponent continues to slumber.
Tough times for Alexander...
37…exf3 38.gxf3 – and White won on move 73 (1:0).
The women's Grand Prix was in the safe hands of Elizabeth Paehtz, who went through the event unbeaten (+4=5).
AS far as the fate of first prize is concerned, this was largely decided by this game from round 8:
Alexey had sacrificed a poiece, but failed to trick his opponent in a headspinning battle. This was the time to force simplifications 30.Qg8 Kd7 31.Qb8 Kc6 32.Qc8 Kxb6 33.Rb1 Ka7 34.Rxb7 Qxb7 35.Qxc5 Kb8 36.cxd5 Qxd5 37.Qxd5 exd5 – and the white trio neutralise Black's passed pawn, supported by his bishop. 30.Qe5?! Rxc4 31.g3 – He has to lose time to avoid mate… 31…Bc3 32.Ra8 Kd7 – The king is great here! On 32.Qb8 there follows 32…Kc6
33.Qe2 Bd4 34.Rb8 Kc6 35.h5 Kxb6 – White is a piece down, with no attack… 36.h6 Qc7 37.Rg8 Rc2 38.Qxe6 Ka7 39.Qxd5 Bxf2 40. Kf1 Bb6 41.Rg7 Rf2 White resigns (0:1).
The German junior (he is not yet 20!) showed his calm fighting qualities and was the deserved winner. And 7375 euros (prizes appear to have been split on the Hort system) for first place should be a good stimulus for further victories.
The veterans' prize went to Anatoly Donchenko, who currently lives in Germany.
Thus, the latest «Grenke Chess Open» comes to an end, and we wonder what novelties the organisers will present us with next year? What formula will they use to run the next tournament. We look forward to Baden in 2017!
Text: Sergey Kim
«GRENKE CHESS OPEN». SIX ON PLUS SIX