Nunn wins Second Tata Steel study solving contest

2/12/2011 – After the success of the first study solving competition held at Wijk aan Zee two years ago (unexpectedly won by Dutch player Twan Burg, with John Nunn second), the event was repeated this year. It was won by one of the oldest participants, none other than the world-class problem solver (and ChessBase photographer) John Nunn. Here's a pictorial report and a sample study to solve.

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Second Tata Steel Study Solving Contest

The event was organised by Yochanan Afek in conjunction with ARVES (a Dutch-Flemish organisation for endgame studies). It took place during the Tata Steel Super-GM tournament in Wijk aan Zee in January.


Chief organiser Yochanan Afek put in a lot of effort to make the event happen


The solvers at work, in the foreground Dr John Nunn
– photo taken by...


... Harold van der Heijden, using his own camera. Harold is famous for his database
of 76,000 endgame studies, and is also a keen photographer.

The 20 competitors had to solve nine original studies in three hours and, as in the first event, this proved quite a challenge. Remarkably, seven of the studies were composed by GM Jan Timman, with Yochanan Afek providing the other two. The final result was very close and, after an appeal regarding the marking of one study, the scores were (out of a maximum 45):

Rank
Solver
Country
Points
1
Nunn, John
GBR
36.0
2
Van Beers, Eddy
BEL
34.0
3
L’Ami, Alina
NED
33.0
4
Peelen, Piet
NED
32.5
5
Van Herck, Marcel
BEL
31,5
6
van Essen, Martin
NED
29.5
7
Murdzia, Piotr
POL
27.5
8
Burg, Twan
NED
27.0
9
Wissmann, Dolf
NED
26.5
10
Ypma, Peter
NED
26.0
11
Uitenbroek, Hans
NED
21.5
12
Rol, Guus
NED
21.5
13
van der Heijden, Harold  
NED
21.0
14
Meurs, Tom
NED
21.0
15
van Briemen, Willem
NED
21.0
16
van Rijn, Wouter
NED
21.0
17
Benak, Harm
NED
17.0
18
Parkkinen, Antti
FIN
15.0
19
Rogers, Ian
AUS
14.0
20
van de Gevel, Ed
NED
8.0

Nunn, a three-time winner of the grandmaster A tournament in Wijk aan Zee, scored 36 out of the maximum of 45 points to closely finish ahead of the top Belgian solver GM Eddy van Beers 34.


Second place went to top Belgian solver Eddy van Beers

The big surprise of the event was the third place finish of WGM Alina L'ami (member of the Romanian Olympic women team and the wife of Dutch GM Erwin l'Ami) who scored 33 points in her first solving tourney ever!


The best-ever result by a female competitor in a solving event? Alina L’Ami in third place

She was followed by Dutch IM Piet Peelen, ahead of Marcel van Herck 31.5, Martin van Essen 29.5, GM Piotr Murdzia 27.5 (the world's highest rated solver) , IM Twan Burg (winner of the first edition) 27, and GM Dolf Wissmann (the Dutch champion) 26.5. The best junior prize was won by Peter Ypma who ended in 10th place with 26 points.


Twan Burg, who won the first event, wasn’t so successful this
time but still finished a creditable eighth


The winner, GM John Nunn [photo by Harold van der Heijden using John Nunn’s camera]

Here’s one of the simplest studies for you to solve yourself.


White to play and draw

The solution will appear here, below the diagram, in the course of the coming week.

Solution to the problem by Yochanan Afek: 1.a7 Rb4+ 2.Kxa5 Rb5+ 3.Ka6 Rb1 4.Nxc6 Kxc6 5.b8N+ Kc7 6.Nc6 Ra1+ [6...Rb6+ 7.Ka5 Rb1 8.Ka6] 7.Na5 Rxa5+ 8.Kxa5 Kb7 9.Kb5 draw.


We can't have a piece about John Nunn without the usual gratuitous astronomy picture, so here it is:

The picture (click to enlarge) is of the galaxy M101 in Ursa Major, often called the Pinwheel Galaxy. It's about 25 million light years away and is approximately twice the size of our own Milky Way galaxy. Spiral galaxies vary greatly in appearance according to the angle at which we are viewing them. M101 appears almost face-on, which gives us the chance to appreciate its spiral arms and the large number of star-forming regions, which appear bluish in colour.

This picture was taken on remote telescopes provided by Global Rent a Scope, which I have been using with great pleasure for some time now. A description can be seen in my article Chess and Astronomy from June last year.

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