Sunway Sitges: Van Foreest’s Greek gift

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/15/2022 – Nineteen players are sharing first place on 3 out of 3 points in the main event of the Sunway Sitges Festival. Kushal O, a 17-year-old Indian player with an 1801 Elo rating, is among the leaders, as he stunned players in the 2250-2500 rating bracket on the first three days of competition. Big guns Yu Yangyi, Hans Niemann and Jorden van Foreest (pictured) are also sharing the lead. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

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Kushal, rated 1801, in the leading pack

Shortly after winning an amateur tournament in Benidorm with a dominating 8/9 score, Kushal O, aged 17, had a great start at the main event in Sitges. Kushal, rated 1801, is the only player with a rating lower than 2400 sharing the lead at the 10-round open tournament. After beating IM Gerard Ayats (2464), the Indian player will face sixth seed Andrey Esipenko in the fourth round.

Sharing first place with Kushal are no fewer than eighteen players, including the top three seeds that made their way to the coastal Catalonian city — Yu Yangyi, Hans Niemann and Jorden van Foreest.

In round 3, Van Foreest saw his opponent, Australian IM Rishi Sardana, leaving his king unattended in the early middlegame. The Dutch star immediately grabbed his chance, by employing the well-known Greek gift sacrifice on h7.


13.Bxh7+ Kxh7 was followed by the good-looking 14.Ne6, attacking the black queen both directly with the knight and discovering an attack with the white queen — besides threatening mate on g7!   

The knight jump forces 14...Qxg3 15.hxg3+, with a discovered check by the rook on h1, as White has not castled yet.


White has sacrificed a piece and has not executed a direct, winning attack. In fact, the queens have already left the board. But Van Foreest had seen further ahead, as here comes 15...Kg8 16.Nc7, forking both rooks, the final touch in the combination.

Converting White’s (rather modest) advantage was not trivial at all, however. Sardana put up a good fight, but Van Foreest showed proficient technique in the ensuing queenless position until eventually getting a 49-move victory. The Dutchman will face 18-year-old German grandmaster Frederik Svane in round 4.

Jorden van Foreest

Jorden van Foreest giving a lecture on Tuesday

Similarly to Van Foreest, Yu Yangyi won his game on the top board with a direct kingside attack. Yu also had the white pieces, and was facing Cuban IM Ernesto Fernandez.


Black is already in deep trouble, especially after 24.Rf6, preventing ...f7-f6 while threatening h4-h5-h6. There followed 24...Qe4 25.Raf1 Rae8 26.h5 Re6 27.h6


Defending with 27...Qh7 simply fails to 28.Qxg7+ Qxg7 29.hxg7, and White both has gained a piece and has a powerful rook pair on the f-file. 

Fernandez instead went for 27...Qxe3+ 28.Qxe3 Bxf6, grabbing a rook and a bishop for the sacrificed queen. But, unfortunately for the Cuban, White can continue his attack — 29.Qg4+ Bg5 (29...Kh8 fails to 30.Rxf6 Rg8 31.Qh4) 30.Qxg5+ Rg6


Resignation came after 31.Qxg6+, the simplest winning move, which had been foreseen by the Chinese star. The idea is that 31...fxg6 does not lead to a drawish rook endgame but loses immediately to 32.h7+ Kg7 33.Rxf8.

Yu will face Aravindh Chithambaram with the black pieces in Thursday’s fourth round.

Standings after round 3

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Puranik Abhimanyu 3 4
  Durarbayli Vasif 3 4
  Kushal O 3 4
4 Yu Yangyi 3 4
  Alekseenko Kirill 3 4
  Svane Frederik 3 4
7 Van Foreest Jorden 3 4
  Grigoryan Karen H. 3 4
  Sumets Andrey 3 4
  Samant Aditya S 3 4
11 Adhiban B. 3 3,5
12 Sanal Vahap 3 3,5
  Wadsworth Matthew J 3 3,5
  Velten Paul 3 3,5
  Sochacki Christophe 3 3,5
16 Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 3 3,5
17 Karthikeyan Murali 3 3,5
  Tahay Alexis 3 3,5
19 Niemann Hans Moke 3 3
20 Alsina Leal Daniel 2,5 4,5
21 Dardha Daniel 2,5 4,5
  Garcia Ramos Daniel 2,5 4,5
23 Aryan Chopra 2,5 4,5
  Bernadskiy Vitaliy 2,5 4,5
  Kollars Dmitrij 2,5 4,5
  Kraemer Martin 2,5 4,5
  Gines Esteo Pedro Antonio 2,5 4,5

...326 players

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.