Something black in Denmark

10/18/2003 – What is with the Samba Cup in Skanderborg, Danmark? With seven of nine rounds played we count nine wins for white, which is not so unusual, but ten for black, which certainly is. Not just that the players are collecting points with the black pieces, they are doing so in spectacular style. See for yourself.

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First Samba Cup, Skanderborg, Denmark

The venue of the First Samba Cup is the Hotel Skanderborghus, Dyrehaven 3, DK 8660 Skanderborg (Tel. +45-86 52 09 55). The town is located close to Arhus. With players like Ivanchuk, Short, Bologan, Kasimdzhanov, Sasikiran and PH Nielsen participating it sports a Category 16 and is possibly the strongest ever held in Denmark.

After seven of nine rounds there are three player sharing the top of the list: Sadvakasov, Nielsen and Short. On Saturday the latter two clash, with a chance to decide matters between them (Short then faces Alekseev, while Nielsen has Kasimdzhanov in the last round). The Kazakh GM Sadvakasov has the very dangerous Viorel Bologan and 17-year-old Davor Palo from Denmark.

Current Standings

We spoke to Nigel Short to ask him about round seven. Although Nigel had beaten Curt Hansen with the black pieces (naturally!) it was two other games he drew our attention to. It is especially the final combinations that had caught Nigel's fancy. We present the positions as puzzles for you to solve.

Palo,D (2510) - Nielsen,P (2626) [D45]
1st Samba Cup Skanderborg DEN (7), 17.10.2003

Black to play

Here top Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen, who occasionally works with Vishy Anand, played a cruncher, a combination that Nigel Short called "very unusual and very pretty." Can you find it? We tried and did not succeed.

Ivanchuk,V (2710) - Sadvakasov,D (2595) [E12]
1st Samba Cup Skanderborg DEN (7), 17.10.2003

Black to play

Darmen Sadvakasov, with black to play, has three pawns for a knight and is obviously winning. But how did the 24-year-old GM from Kazakhstan finish off this game? Hint: he did it with a flourish! The games and continuations are given on a Javascript replay board at the bottom of the page.

Picture Gallery


The venue: Hotel Skanderborghus. From Hamburg it is very easy to find: take the autobahn north for 300 km, exit at Skanderborg, then follow the main road until you hit the hotel.


The hotel is surrounded by a beautiful park and a lake on three sides


Fishermen enjoying the October sun


Ducks doing the same


A Dane in a hurry, captured in a bronze statue in front of the hotel

The inscription at the base is "Dronning Dagmars Dreng". We are not sure who the lad is, where he is going, or why he is in such a hurry. But thanks to Google the statue brings those immortal Danish words to mind:

Dronning Dagmar ligger udi Ribe syg,
til Ringsted lader hun sig vente:
alle de fruer i Danmark er,
dennem lader hun sig hente.
I Ringsted, der hviler Dronning Dagmar.

"I henter mig en, I henter mig to,
I henter mig af de vise:
I henter mig liden Kirstin,
Hr. Karls søster af Rise."

You can find all 24 verses of this epic poem here.


Another bronze figure which conjours deep feelings among the players


Nigel Short, Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Darmen Sadvakasov enjoying some Danish wine

Since these players are destined to greatness we want to get their names right: Rustam is "kaa-SIM-zaa-noff", while Darmen is "saad-vaa-KA-soff" (with the stress given in capitals). Nigel is "short".


All three playing simultaneously on the Playchess.com server, with Viorel Bologan looking on

While we are on the subject: his friends and family call him "vee-oh-rel", which is basically three syllables but with the final one sounding a bit like "ree-ell". The phonetically challenged can call him Viktor.


Viorel (aren't we cool!) bashing up Playchess.com visitors

Solutions to the combinations

Did you solve the two combinations given above? Why don't you go back and try one more time? The games (including Nigel Short's very nice win) can be replayed on our Javascript board.


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