Have you been to Bruges?

by Meri Grigoryan
8/17/2018 – The Bruges Masters (or Brugse Meesters in Flemish, if you prefer!) ran from August 12th to 16th in the picturesque Belgian town known for its old-fashioned streets, peaceful canals, world-class chocolate and — once a year — an international open chess tournament. This year's winner was GM Oleg Korneev, the 49-year-old Russian who now lives in and plays for Spain. Korneev stormed through the field winning all of his games before acquiescing to a draw in the final round. | Photo: Meri Grigoriyan

The Reliable Petroff The Reliable Petroff

The Petroff (or Russian) Defence which is characterised by the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 has been popular at the highest levels for many years and enjoys the reputation of being an extremely solid defence.


Korneev clears out the competition

Oleg Korneev played a forced "Swiss gambit" of sorts, by taking two half-point byes as he wrapped up a week of competition in Linares at the Spanish Team Championship before flying north.

He joined five other grandmasters at the top of the tournament rankings in a field numbering 220 players in all. Playing two games per day, Korneev proceeded to win six straight games, beating two of his GM colleagues from China along the way. In the last round he was all set to complete a fantastic winning streak and take clear first when his opponent IM Vitali Koziak fell into a typical Sicilian trap.


Try to spot the strong combination for White

Black's last move is a blunder, but he's in good company — it is the third most popular move Black has tried in this position played in at least a few dozen tournament games in our database.

Curiously, if you look for the highest rated player who has played 14...Nc5, you'll find...Vitali Koziak! He previously tried this in 2013 against a French FM who played the second best move for white 15.fxe6. Back then White obtained a winning position which he maintained for most of the middlegame, but Koziak, who outrated his opponent by 300 Elo points eventually wore him down, got back to equal and went on to win the endgame. Perhaps that explains why he never fully acquainted himself with the even stronger refutation of 14...Nc5:

15.Bxb5! axb5 16.Ndxb5 Qe7 17.Nxd6+ Kf8 18.Rhg1 and Koziak was in serious trouble.

Korneev soon cashed in his attack for material, obtaining two pieces for a rook, and was completely winning with passed pawns on the queenside and a dominant knight on d5.


White has an overwhelming advantage, but here Korneev decided not to press on, and instead offered a draw. By this point, it was clear that a draw would secure a two-way tie for first with GM Wan Yunguo, and Korneev preferred the "bird in hand" — a safe €950 then to take any risk to go for the €1,200 prize for sole first.

Van Foreest and Wan Yunguo

Wang Yunguo (right) defeated Lucas van Foreest in the final round | Photo: Schaken in België


Lucas van Foreest, who will soon be awarded the GM title, has maintained equality throughout the game, but here suffered a blackout. 43.Qe3? runs into the nasty refutation 43...Qb8 — the pin is deadly.

The finish was also pretty, and can serve as a simple checkmating exercise:


Round 9 results (top 10)

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Korneev Oleg 7 ½ - ½ Koziak Vitali
Van Foreest Lucas 0 - 1 Wan Yunguo
Vav Rajesh ½ - ½ 6 Ravi Teja Sanka
Lai Hing Ting 6 0 - 1 6 Nikolov Momchil
Galunova Tsveta 6 0 - 1 6 Zeng Chongsheng
Chintagunta Mehar chinna reddy 6 ½ - ½ 6 Tomov Georgi
Turner Matthew J 1 - 0 Townsend Paul
Dgebuadze Alexandre 1 - 0 Dauw Sterre
Boffa Mauro 0 - 1 Geirnaert Steven
Pel Bonno 0 - 1 Ponnuswamy Shyaamnikhil

Text: Macauley Peterson

WFM Meri Grigoriyan offers a photo-tour of her experience in Bruges in 2017

A fairy-tale city-break

by Meri Grigoriyan

I was lucky enough to come across the British-American black comedy crime film 'In Bruges' back in 2016. Not the plot, nor Ralph Fiennes, nor Colin Farrell but the setting itself made me fall in love with the film. As I was planning my 2017 summer chess training I was in a euphoric state when I discovered that there was a tournament in Bruges, and without any hesitation, I booked my trip to this magical city! 

The tournament had a double round each day apart from the last, therefore I arrived two days before the event in order to explore the city.

My first visit was to the heart of the city, the “Markt” square, full of historical sights. Then, although not being a beer lover, I walked towards the famous “Beer Wall” (Wollestraat 53) to taste some fruity beers…

The Belfry of Bruges: A 13th century bell tower in the Markt Square

Panoramic view of the Markt Square (click or tap to enlarge)

The Beer Wall:

Beer wall

"He was a wise man who invented beer.’’ — Plato
"Here’s to alcohol the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems" — Homer Simpson

Beer haiku

A beer haiku

City Theatre

City Theatre


Statue of Papageno, Mozart’s fictional character from The Magic Flute opera, in front of the City Theatre

city canal

(Click or tap to expand) The city canals reminded me of those in Amsterdam and Bruges has also been called 'The Venice of the North' — only the Venetian gondolas missing…

Geert Bailleul

Chief Arbiter Geert Bailleul

The tournament organisers kindly invited the players for an evening walking tour, and our guide told us many interesting historical facts, but the most memorable part was that the city of Bruges was the first to have introduced new forms of economic exchange and that the Bourse, the first stock exchange in the world, was opened in Bruges at the beginning of the 14th century.

Bruges is the capital city of West Flanders in the Flemish region. It is also known for The College of Europe, an elite postgraduate university for European Studies.

town hall panorama

Panoramic view (click or tap to enlarge) of Bruges Town Hall: Chess players on the right

Bruges night

(left) Bruges by night
(right) Beerbraserie Cambrinus where you can taste over 400 different flavours of beer!  

Meri, Tintin, bicycle

(Left) Not only Hercule Poirot but also Tintin and the Smurfs are Belgian!
(Right) You do not have to use public transport! Instead, you can hire a bicycle or rent an Airbnb flat that offers free bicycles — a healthy and enjoyable ride despite the weather!

Final standings (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Korneev Oleg 7,5 1,0
2 Wan Yunguo 7,5 0,0
3 Vav Rajesh 7,0 0,0
4 Zeng Chongsheng 7,0 0,0
5 Nikolov Momchil 7,0 0,0
6 Koziak Vitali 7,0 0,0
7 Tomov Georgi 6,5 0,0
8 Turner Matthew J 6,5 0,0
9 Van Foreest Lucas 6,5 0,0
10 Ponnuswamy Shyaamnikhil 6,5 0,0
11 Chintagunta Mehar chinna reddy 6,5 0,0
12 Geirnaert Steven 6,5 0,0
13 Dgebuadze Alexandre 6,5 0,0
14 Ehmann Thilo 6,5 0,0
15 Ravi Teja Sanka 6,5 0,0
16 Ouaki Mark 6,0 0,0
17 Lai Hing Ting 6,0 0,0
18 Bisby Dan 6,0 0,0
19 Frayna Janelle Mae 6,0 0,0
20 Baba Masahiro 6,0 0,0

All available games



Meri is a British-Armenian living in London. She won Yerevan Women’s and U21 Open Championships at the age of 12 and 15 respectively. She was a multiple winner of Armenian Girls’ Championship. She is a polyglot, professional chess coach, and Director of Organic Chess LTD, which trains and employs chess teachers in the UK.


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