Stefansson wins Teplice Open (1)

by Sagar Shah
7/2/2015 – It is a town in the Czech Republic that is fraught with chess history: Rubinstein, Réti, Tarrasch, Spielmann and Tartakower played there. The Tenth International Teplice Open in June saw 150 players, some of them world-class GMs and theoreticians, participating in an impeccably run tournament, with some exciting battles for the top spot. Big illustrated report with game analysis.

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Stefansson wins the Teplice Open

Report from the Czech Republic by Sagar Shah

In October 1922 a Schachkongress was held at the resort spa of Teplitz-Schönau, Czechoslovakia. Fourteen European chess masters were invited to participate in the round robin event. Despite the absence of World Champion José Capablanca, former champ Emanuel Lasker, and Alexander Alekhine, the tournament was extremely strong, thanks to the participation great masters like Akiba Rubinstein, Siegbert Tarrasch, Rudolph Spielmann, and Savielly Tartakower. Representing Czechoslovakia were Richard Réti and Karel Treybal. Reti, the hyper-modernist, and Spielmann, the romanticist, tied for first place, each with nine points out of 13 rounds. The tournament achieved attention through its seven brilliancy prize games of amazing artistic and technical skill.

The participants of the Teplitz-Schönau 1922. Standing from left: 1. Borislav Kostic, 2. Paul Johner,3. Karel Treybal, 4. Ernst Grünfeld, 5. Richard Réti, 6. Friedrich Sämisch, 7. Rudolf Spielmann, 8. Saviely Tartakower 9. Not known. Sitting from left: 1. Akiba Rubinstein, 2. Geza Maroczy, 3. Siegbert Tarrasch, 4. Not known, 5. Jacques Mieses, 6. Heinrich Wolf, 7. Richard Teichman, 8. Not known.

Teplice is located near the north western border of Czech Republic and is 89 kms away from Prague and 68 kms from the German city of Dresden

As you can see the city of Teplice has a rich tradition when it comes to the royal game. It is a host to a fine international open tournament that has already reached its tenth edition in 2015. The 10th Teplice International Open took place at the Dum Kultury from the 13th-21st of June, 2015. Thirteen grandmasters and 21 International Masters in a field of 175 players arrived in Teplice to fight for the first prize of 40,000 CZK (approximately US $1640) and a total prize fund of 100,000 CZK (US $4098). The prize fund was not particularly impressive but thanks to the wonderful conditions offered, the organizers were able to rope in some very fine to take part in the event.

Sergei Movsesian with a rating of 2655 was the top seed. It must be mentioned that Sergei, who now resides in Prague for almost ten years, had a peak rating of 2751 in January 2009, and was ranked number ten in the world.

The tournament began with Movsesian taking the sole lead with 4.0/4, and the fifth round already pitted the two top seeds against each other.

Evgeny Postny (left) emerged victorious against Movsesian in what was one of the
most important rounds of the tournament [picture from the official website].

Strong Israeli grandmasters are opening experts. This has become especially true after Boris Avrukh wrote one of the best opening books ever for Quality Chess with 1.d4 for white. Evgeny Postny is no exception. With the white pieces he is an extremely well prepared opponent with vast opening knowledge. So, when Movsesian tried to play a highly fashionable line in the Catalan that involved long castling with the black pieces, it became not only an interesting game but one with great theoretical importance. Avrukh mentions the same ideas in his update to the 1.d4 Catalan book and I feel that Postny playing them cannot be a mere co-incidence. Although I can be wrong!

[Event "Teplice op 10th"] [Site "Teplice"] [Date "2015.06.17"] [Round "5"] [White "Postny, Evgeny"] [Black "Movsesian, Sergei"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E04"] [WhiteElo "2634"] [BlackElo "2655"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "2015.06.13"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "CZE"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2015.06.26"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 {Postny is one of the biggest experts from the white side of the Catalan.} dxc4 5. Bg2 Bd7 {That's the new line we are talking about. Black intends to post his bishop on c6 and neutralize the Catalan bishop. Of course White doesn't allow it.} 6. Ne5 Bc6 7. Nxc6 Nxc6 { The logical question that can be asked at this point is: How can Black play in this fashion allowing White to gain an unopposed monster on g2. The answer to that lies in the fact that the c8 bishop is often the problem piece for black in the Catalan and thanks to White making three knight moves (Ng1-f3-e5-c6) Black has a developmental edge.} 8. O-O Qd7 (8... Nxd4 {is no good due to} 9. Bxb7 Rb8 10. Bg2 $14) (8... Qxd4 {is of course not possible!} 9. Bxc6+ $18) 9. e3 O-O-O {Clear battle lines have been drawn. Black intends to attack on the kingside with h5-h4 while White would like to play on the queenside. I find it difficult to believe that black can ever launch a successful attack when there is an unopposed fianchetto bishop on g2. As you will see in the game, the g2 bishop is a brilliant defender as well as a dangerous attacker. But Black's strategy is much deeper than just crude attack. He would like to create a blockade on light squares with moves like Nd5, f5, followed by g5-g4.} 10. Qa4 Nd5 11. Qxc4 h5 {And there we begin. It must be said that even though the chances of Black breaking through are slim, he has a headstart with regards to the attack.} 12. Bd2 h4 13. Rc1 hxg3 14. hxg3 f5 {Cementing the location of the knight on d5.} 15. b4 $1 {This is not a new idea but had already been tried by another Israeli player just a month ago: Danny Raznikov.} Kb8 $6 {In this sharp variation, this could well be a huge mistake. Black had to be brave and pick up the b4 pawn.} (15... Bxb4 16. Bxb4 Ncxb4 17. Nd2 $40 {With open files against the black king, White should be clearly better.}) (15... Ncxb4 { would have been the best option.} 16. Nc3 (16. a3 Nc6 17. Nc3 Kb8 18. Qb3 Nb6 19. Ne2 e5 20. Rxc6 bxc6 21. a4 e4 22. a5 Rh6 23. axb6 cxb6 24. f3 exf3 25. Bxf3 g5 26. Bg2 $14 {analysis by Avrukh.}) 16... Kb8 17. Rab1 $13 {And even though this position is dynamically balanced, White has the easier play.}) 16. b5 Nce7 17. a4 {White's attack is just quicker now.} Nc8 18. Qb3 Nd6 19. Nc3 Nxc3 20. Bxc3 Ne4 21. a5 Qd5 22. Qb2 Bd6 23. b6 $1 {White has crashed through. In a practical game, it is extremely difficult to defend as Black here.} Rh6 ( 23... cxb6 24. axb6 a6 {is the usual way to keep lines closed in such situations, but here White breaks through with} 25. Ra5 $1 Qc4 26. Bf1 Qc8 27. d5 $1 Nxc3 28. Rxc3 Qd7 29. Bxa6 bxa6 30. b7 $18) 24. Bb4 Rdh8 {This was based on a miscalculation, but Black's position is already very difficult to defend.} 25. Bxd6 Rh2 26. Bxc7+ Ka8 27. Qa2 $1 {After Rxg2 Kxg2, there would be no good discovered check. A fine logical game by Postny.} 1-0

In the end, Evgeny Postny, remained unbeaten with a score of 7.5/9 and finished second

For the owners of Mega Database or ChessBase Magazine, the high quality annotations of Postny are well known. He has annotated a mind numbing 745 games for the Mega Database! It was a great gesture from him that he readily agreed to annotate his favourite game from the event. In spite of winning against the top seed, Postny considered his third round attacking win against IM Andrew Ledger to be his best achievement. Learn from the master!

[Event "10th Teplice Open 2015"] [Site "Teplice CZE"] [Date "2015.06.15"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Postny, E."] [Black "Ledger, A."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E15"] [WhiteElo "2634"] [BlackElo "2392"] [Annotator "Postny,E"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2015.06.13"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "CZE"] [Source "Mark Crowther"] [SourceDate "2015.06.15"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 {I didn't expect this opening from my opponent, but I have enough experience in Queen's Indian with both colours.} 5. Qa4 Bb7 6. Bg2 c5 7. dxc5 bxc5 8. O-O Be7 9. Nc3 O-O 10. Rd1 d6 11. Bf4 Qb6 12. Rab1 Rd8 $6 {This is inaccurate. The main move here is 12...Nbd7 which was played by Gelfand, Navara and Wojtaszek among others.} ({The idea is that after } 12... Nbd7 13. b4 Rfb8 {and Black is in time to protect the light-squared bishop.}) 13. b4 Ne4 $1 {The best reply, played after a long meditation.} 14. Qc2 $6 (14. Nxe4 Bxe4 15. bxc5 Qxc5 16. Rb5 Bc6 (16... Qc8 17. c5 d5 18. Nd4 Nc6 19. Bxe4 dxe4 20. Be3 $14) 17. Nd4 $1 {I didn't see this in my calculations.} Bxb5 18. Nxb5 Nc6 19. Be3 Qb4 20. Qxb4 Nxb4 21. Bxa8 Rxa8 22. a4 {and White is going to win a pawn, though not sure if it will be enough for a win.}) 14... Nxc3 15. Qxc3 Be4 16. bxc5 Qxc5 17. Rb5 Qc7 $6 (17... Qc8 {is safer.}) 18. c5 {Strategically White is not doing so well, so trying to make use of my temporary initiative.} e5 $2 ({Again} 18... Qc8 {was the cool-blooded reply, keeping the position playable.}) 19. Nxe5 $1 {This works and White is crashing through.} Bxg2 20. Nxf7 $1 {It's no wonder that all lines are in white's favour as Black has two pieces still undeveloped.} Bf6 ( 20... Kxf7 21. Qb3+ Ke8 (21... Kf8 22. cxd6 Bxd6 23. Rf5+ Ke8 24. Qg8+ $18) 22. cxd6 Bxd6 23. Rf5 $18 ({Or even simple} 23. Kxg2 $18)) 21. Nh6+ $1 {I had to see this before playing 19.Nxe5.} Kh8 (21... gxh6 22. Qxf6 $18) 22. Qb3 gxh6 23. Kxg2 Qe7 ({It would have been more stubborn to occupy the long diagonal:} 23... Qc6+ {Still, after} 24. f3 {White has an overwhelming position.}) 24. Qf3 $18 Nd7 25. Rb7 Qe8 26. Bxd6 (26. Rxd6 Nxc5 27. Rxf6 Nxb7 28. Bxh6 {was even more convincing.}) 26... Bg7 27. Rd5 Qe6 28. Rf5 Kg8 29. Qg4 Qxa2 30. Be5 { Mate is inevitable.} 1-0

French Defence expert GM Mikhail Ulybin

Mikhail Ulybin was leading the tournament alone until round seven with a score of 6.0/7. He had won a nice game against the talented Israeli player Nabaty Tamir in the sixth round. But Ulybin found his nemesis in Postny in the penultimate round. The Russian grandmaster had a completely winning position and a few accurate moves would have almost sealed first place in his favour. But he went wrong and before he knew it the game was already over thanks to a swift counter-attack. A tragedy for Ulybin. He lost his final round too, and finished a distant sixteenth.

However, the man of the tournament was definitely Icelandic
GM Hannes Stefansson, the winner of the tournament

Stefansson and Postny both scored 7.5/9, but the former was crowned the champion thanks to a better tie-break. Hannes played the entire tournament with great consistency, scoring wins over strong players like IM Sebastian Plischki (2395), IM Lukasz Butkiewicz (2433), GM Tamir Nabaty (2597) and IM Pawel Weichhold (2399). He performed at a rating of 2687 and gained 13 Elo points. Most importantly, he achieved this in spite of suffering from an infection of his left hand on which he spent a lot of energy during the event.

“That, my friend, really hurts!”

After the tournament, Stefansson was naturally happy and relaxed. He had expected to finish second after Postny, but the tie-break turned out in his favour. In a short interview he spoke about his favourite game from the tournament, his daily routine and how he fought health issues to finish first.

Interview with the winner Hannes Stefansson

Below is Stefansson’s favourite game from the event:

[Event "Teplice op 10th"] [Site "Teplice"] [Date "2015.06.20"] [Round "8"] [White "Stefansson, Hannes"] [Black "Nabaty, Tamir"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D17"] [WhiteElo "2580"] [BlackElo "2597"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2015.06.13"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "CZE"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2015.06.26"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 Na6 7. e3 Nb4 8. Bxc4 e6 (8... Nc2+ $4 9. Qxc2 $1 Bxc2 10. Bxf7# {would be a sad end!}) 9. O-O Bd6 10. Qe2 h6 11. e4 Bh7 12. Bf4 {Athough optically it seems as if White should be better, Black has all his pieces quite optimally posted and hence has excellent chances to equalise.} O-O 13. Rad1 Qe7 14. Bg3 (14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. e5 Bb8 16. exf6 Qxf6 $11 {leads nowhere.}) 14... Bc7 (14... Nd7 {avoiding the pin with Bh4 could have been better.} 15. f4 $13) 15. Bh4 $1 {This pin is quite irritating and Black has to weaken his king position in order to get out of it. } g5 16. Bg3 Rad8 17. f4 $1 {A very nice purposeful move making use of the hook created by the g5 pawn.} Bb6 18. Bf2 ({Much stronger was} 18. fxg5 Rxd4 19. Rxd4 Bxd4+ 20. Kh1 hxg5 21. Qd2 $1 $18) 18... gxf4 19. Kh1 Nd7 20. Nf3 { Avoiding the exchange of pieces in order to make better use of his extra space. } Kh8 21. Bb3 f6 22. Nh4 Rde8 23. Qg4 c5 24. dxc5 Nxc5 25. a5 $5 Bc7 (25... Bxa5 {would have been a bold decision which was not at all easy to calculate.}) (25... Nxb3 26. axb6 $16) 26. Bxc5 $1 Qxc5 27. Bxe6 Qg5 28. Qh3 Rd8 29. Bf5 Rxd1 $6 (29... Be5 $14) 30. Rxd1 Rd8 31. Rxd8+ Bxd8 32. Bxh7 {Because of the threat of Qd7, Black just loses a piece.} f3 33. Nxf3 Qc1+ 34. Ng1 Qd2 35. Qc8 Nd3 (35... Kxh7 36. Qxb7+ $18) 36. Qxd8+ Kxh7 37. Qc7+ Kh8 38. h3 Nf4 39. Qc8+ {followed by Qg4. Hannes Stefansson was able to outplay Tamir Nabaty in the kind of complex positions where the latter excels.} 1-0

Alexander Rakhmanov of Russia finished third with 7.0/9

Rakhmanov is known as a grinder of minute advantages. He plays on for long hours and has excellent technique to convert his small plusses. After the tournament when I asked him whether he was motivated to play in this fashion by the reigning World Champion, Rakhmanov wittily replied, “It should be the other way around! After all I am a year elder to Magnus!”

– Part two will appear shortly –

Pictures by Amruta Mokal

Official tournament website



Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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