A breath of fresh air – Leiden Open and the city!

by Sagar Shah
8/2/2016 – In the first part of our report on the 10th Leiden Chess tournament we saw how Roeland Pruijssers played a superb tournament to emerge victorious. In the second part we describe some of the fresh and novel ideas introduced by the organizers and also take you on a trip through the beautiful city of Leiden – using the best mode of transport! Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal tell you everything you need to enjoy the 2017 edition of the tournament!

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A breath of fresh air – Leiden Open and the city!

Report by Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal from Leiden

IM Arthur Pijpers finished sixth with 6.5/9. While he had a pretty good tournament, he will remember his seventh round game against Frank Van Tellingen. The reason: that battle won the best game prize of the tournament because of some fantastic play by Frank.

[Event "Leiden Chess Tournament"] [Site "DC Leiden"] [Date "2016.07.22"] [Round "7"] [White "Pijpers, Arthur"] [Black "Van Tellingen, Frank"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B94"] [WhiteElo "2473"] [BlackElo "2211"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:10:31"] [BlackClock "0:12:17"] {This game was awarded the best game prize of the tournament. Let's have a look at how Frank Van Tellingen, rated nearly 250 points below his opponent, was able to win in spectacular style.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 {The Najdorf is always a recipe for interesting chess.} 6. Bg5 Nbd7 (6... e6 {is by far the main move.}) 7. Bc4 Qb6 8. O-O Qc5 $5 {With this move Black starts extremely concrete play by attacking the bishop on c4 and the one on g5.} 9. Bd5 {The only way to fight for an advantage.} (9. Bxf6 Nxf6 $11 {is completely fine for Black.}) 9... e6 10. Re1 $1 (10. Nxe6 {was tried in a game but cannot be any good} fxe6 11. Be3 Qa5 12. Bxe6 Ne5 {Black was fine in Krivoborodov,E (2514)-Eliseev,U (2473) Moscow 2012, 0-1 (52)}) {[#]} 10... Ne5 $5 $146 {Frank's novelty for the game. He had clearly come very well prepared.} (10... Be7 {was the move played in all the eight games before.} 11. Be3 Qa5 12. Bxe6 fxe6 13. Nxe6 Kf7 14. Ng5+ {And now all the three moves Kf8, Kg8 and Ke8 have been played. Immersion in this position might be a good way for you improve your analytical ability.}) (10... exd5 {is too risky as after} 11. exd5+ Kd8 (11... Be7 12. Nf5 $16) (11... Ne5 12. f4 $1 $16) 12. Qd2 $44 { White has long term compensation and it is very difficult for Black to wriggle out of the mess.}) 11. Bxf6 $6 (11. Bb3 {might have been better.}) 11... gxf6 12. Bb3 {White tries for the simplistic approach to save his piece. But as we all know very well, in a sharp line of the Sicilian Najdorf such an unambitious approach means that Black gets easy equality.} h5 13. Na4 Qa7 14. c4 {White's Maroczy structure without the dark squared bishop holds no danger for Black.} Bd7 15. h3 Rc8 {Consistent and simple: Black brings all his pieces into play. He will soon open the position for his bishops with b5.} 16. Rc1 b5 $1 {Maybe objectively this is not the best move but it leads to some very interesting complications.} (16... Rg8 $17 {Keeping the position was also possible.}) 17. cxb5 {White tries to play tactically but this is out of desperation as his position is falling apart.} (17. Nc3 bxc4 {is quite depressing.}) 17... Rxc1 $1 {A brave decision not fearing the move b6.} 18. b6 $1 {One must congratulate Arthur for finding this idea. The game becomes extremely sharp as we see Black sacrificing the queen and the rook picking up all the white major pieces.} (18. Qxc1 Qxd4 $19) 18... Rxd1 19. bxa7 Rxe1+ { When was the last time you saw a rook picking up three enemy major pieces in three moves!} 20. Kh2 {The king has moved to safety and the a-pawn cannot be stopped from queening.} Bg7 21. a8=Q+ {A new queen is born and the material is around equal on the board - two rooks for a queen.} Ke7 22. Qa7 (22. Qb7 { The computer recommends this move but I think it is pretty difficult for a human to understand why this would be better than Qa7. Although if we try to understand deeper we realize that}) 22... f5 {This is not the best move as White can take advantage of it with some straightforward play.} (22... h4 23. Nb6 Bh6 24. Nc6+ Nxc6 25. Qxd7+ (25. Nxd7 {And now you cannot take on d7 with the knight because the queen on a7 is hanging. That's the reason why Qb7 was better but who could even imagine all of this!}) 25... Kf8 26. Qxc6 Bf4+ 27. g3 hxg3+ 28. Kg2 $13 {with unclear play.}) 23. f3 $2 {Missing the chance.} (23. Nb6 Ng4+ 24. hxg4 hxg4+ 25. Kg3 {This looks scary but White is surviving after} Be5+ 26. f4 Bxd4 27. Qxd7+ Kf6 28. Nd5+ $1 Kg7 29. exf5 exd5 30. Bxd5 {and the king on g3 is safe.}) 23... h4 (23... f4 $1 $17) 24. exf5 $2 {The final mistake of the game. Although by this point it is extremely difficult to condemn White's play as the position is so complicated.} Bh6 $1 {The mating net around the white king is tightened.} 25. fxe6 Bf4+ 26. g3 hxg3+ 27. Kg2 Rxh3 $1 {Rh2 mate is threatened.} 28. Nc6+ (28. Kxh3 Rh1+ 29. Kg2 Rh2+ 30. Kf1 g2+ 31. Kg1 Be3+ 32. Kxh2 g1=Q+ $19) 28... Kf6 29. Kxh3 Rh1+ 30. Kg2 Rh2+ 31. Kf1 Bxc6 {Bb5+ check is a threat and so is g2 followed by g1=Q. A very interesting game and one that was optically quite beautiful. Kudos to both the players Pijpers and Tellingen, because it always takes two to tango!} 0-1

For his brilliant victory Frank van Tellingen won the prize of the best game of the tournament. He received eight issues of New in Chess Yearbook. Frank was playing a competitive Swiss tournament after a period of twelve years. However, he showed some excellent chess, beating not only Arthur Pijpers but also GM Csaba Horvath and IM Sagar Shah to finish eighth. It was after a long time that Frank was away from his family, and this helped him concentrate on the game. He was reminded of the days of his youth and this was the secret why he could perform so well. After the tournament van Tellingen said that his wife had henceforth agreed to allow him play one tournament per year!

As it was the tenth edition of the Leiden Open the organizers had instituted a special prize:

All the players were given this piece of paper in the third round. They had to guess which player would finish on the tenth position. If your guess was correct, you would win 64 Euros! Thanks to this prize even the people whose tournament was not going so well were excited right until the very end!

Vyacheslav Ikonnikov finished tenth, and the surprising part was that absolutely no one guessed his name! Hence, Ikonnikov himself took home the prize of 64 Euros!

The famous author Milos Pavlovic scored 6.0/9 and finished twelfth.

Milos' books on openings have received critical acclaim. Watch for the two volumes that have been recently released by Thinker’s Publication on the Grunfeld and the King’s Indian.

In the last round I was paired against Amruta. When you open the tournament website to check the pairings and see yourself paired against your own wife, it is quite a distressing moment. You have travelled thousands of kilometres to play against different opponents from different countries, but there you are, sitting across from your better half – a game that you could have very well played in the comforts of your home! At such points it is possible to take the easy path: decide on a draw, put your mind at ease and just enjoy the day. Why go through all the stress and nervous tension of playing against someone you love and facing the unenviable task of trying to win against them. But we decided to fight it out. Isn’t that what chess teaches us – to fight the uncomfortable situations and become stronger? During the game I kept in mind the words of Akiba Rubinstein: when asked who he was playing tonight, Akiba replied, "Tonight I am playing against the black pieces!” In the end I was able to win, but it was a very interesting game that could have gone either way.

In spite of losing to me, Amruta had a good tournament and won the prize of the best player under 2150, for which she received a DGT 2010 clock, while I finished eleventh in the event.

Two players who made their way from Webster University in the United States: IM Eric Rosen and the 2014 Asian women’s champion Irene Kharisma Sukandar. It was the first time that Eric set his foot on European soil. He finished 17th with 5.0/9 and Irene was 14th with 5.5/9.

As this was the 10th edition the organizers did something for the top women players of Leiden. The theme of the year was female chess players. They formed a crown group of four players: WIM Ioana Smaranda Padurariu (2188), Martine Middelveld (2101), Leonore Braggaar (2088) and Rosa Ratsma (2027). It was a double round robin tournament. Rosa (centre in the picture) was the deserving winner, remaining unbeaten and scoring 5.0/6. Second place went to Ioana Smaranda (3.5/6) followed by Martine (3.0/6) and Leonore (0.5/6).

Ioana Smaranda Paduraria had a big supporter in the form of her boyfriend Jan Smeets. Jan, who has a current rating of 2604, is a multiple Dutch Champion and an extremely strong player. He has now retired from professional chess and works as a trader in the European Stock Market.

Two sisters Maaike (wife of Jan Bey) and Judith Vaalkenburg took care of public relations of the event. In their chess themed attire, with a smile on their faces, they made sure all the players felt at home in Leiden.

The closing dinner was quite a grand affair prepared by Maaike and her friends. All the invited players went home with fond memories and their stomachs filled to the brim with the delicious food! The Leiden tournament also has a tradition of closing speeches. The first person would give a speech and nominate another person to give the next one. It was quite entertaining as most of the people had not prepared anything to say and were caught off guard.

Who said chess players aren’t colourful!

GM John van der Wiel is one of the most famous grandmasters from the Netherlands. He was seen in the tournament hall on many occasions giving commentary or analyzing some of the most interesting games. Did you know John was famous as a computer killer and hardly every lost against computers in his career?

On a personal note

Amruta and I arrived in Leiden ten days before the tournament began. This gave us enough time to explore the city and prepare ourselves for the tournament. We had booked an Airbnb apartment.

Our hosts Eric and Maria and their daughters Sofia and Alisa were wonderful people and we highly recommend staying at their place if you decide to play in Leiden.

The view from our room

The place where we were staying was six kilometres from the tournament hall. Some of the rounds began at 7.p.m in the evening and it was highly possible that they would drag on beyond midnight. Around 00.00 is the time when the bus service stops in the city. Of course walking six kilometres at midnight was impossible… but there was a solution!

Renting a bicycle! To tell you the truth, it was the best decision we made. Apart from helping us to keep physically fit, the bicycle gave me and Amruta great freedom to explore the city and we did not have to waste time waiting for the public transport. The best place to rent a bicycle is the Easy Fiets shop in Haagweg. The daily rent of the second-hand bikes is quite high (nearly €7.50 per day). Hence, we rented them for a month and paid €36 per bike, which turned out to be quite reasonable, considering the fact that we were in Leiden for 20 days.

Cycling in Leiden is a joy. There are dedicated cycling tracks and it seems as if almost everyone is using a bicycle. Just imagine cycling through these beautiful streets and stopping wherever you want to take a picture or to eat an ice cream!

The famous water tower near Wilhelmina Bridge

A colourful shop

Every Saturday a thriving market is set up in the Botemarkt region of the city near the new Rhine Canal. The market is a must visit for every chess player who plays the Leiden Open to get a feel for the place.

One thing which Leiden is known for: Leidse Kaas – Leiden Cheese

You see the different fruits and vegetables in a bowl? Each and every bowl costs one Euro. We found this way of buying very convenient. You know exactly what you are getting and how much you are paying for it. And believe me, it was nearly 50% cheaper than what we could find in the supermarkets.

A wide variety of breads on display …

… that go extremely well with these Mediterranean dips

Netherlands is known for tulips and roses

Burcht van Leiden (Fort of Leiden), of the famous structures of the city, was constructed in the eleventh century. From its elevated level it offers a nice view.

Something wrong with the perspective? The humans in the background are tool large, compared to the people in front of the white building and on the ship. Welcome to Madurodam, the miniature city! It is located in Den Haag, which is 30 minutes from Leiden by train. If you do not have time to explore the country, Madurodam can give you an excellent idea of all the important structures in the Netherlands. All of them are 25 times smaller than their real size.

Madurodam shows you how cheese is transported in the Netherlands!

On the rest day we were also able to visit the capital city of Amsterdam. How can any chess player’s visit to the Netherlands be complete without being at the Max Euweplein (square)?

It’s a popular spot in Amsterdam with cafes and a giant chess set where people are playing all the time!

That’s the city of Leiden for you!

You can stop your bicycle every few minutes in Leiden and enjoy such spectacular views! If playing a relaxed tournament (one round a day with a rest day) and spending time in a quiet and beautiful city is your kind of thing, then the Leiden Open is the right event for you!

Contact Jan Bey, the tournament organizer (janbey1@gmail.com)

Photos by Amruta Mokal

Editorial comment: A few days ago GM Lalic Bogdan wrote on Facebook: "IM Sagar Shah is a very dangerous guy – wherever he plays a lot of Indians follow him. In last year's Zalakaros Open was only three players from Indian, when he played this year were 19. Same with the other European tournaments (Benasque, Montcada, etc.). BEWARE." We consider this to be a great compliment to Sagar who with his meticulous reports and the founding of ChessBase India is opening new avenues for the chess players of India.


You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to replay the games in PGN. You can also download our free Playchess client, which will in addition give you immediate access to the chess server Playchess.com.

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. 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 and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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