Hans Niemann triumphant at TePe Sigeman & Co

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/9/2022 – Less than two weeks after winning the Capablanca Memorial, Hans Niemann claimed outright victory at the TePe Sigeman & Co tournament in Malmö. Niemann scored 5/7 points to finish a full point ahead of a three-player chasing pack, which consisted of Michael Adams, Nils Grandelius and Arjun Erigaisi. | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

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Closing on 2700

Only eleven days ago we published a final report from the Capablanca Memorial. In it, we praised the determination which allowed Hans Niemann to quickly climb up the rating ladder in merely two years. Now the US grandmaster, who is playing a marathon of back-to-back tournaments, added another remarkable victory to his record, as he became the clear winner of the TePe Sigeman & Co Tournament in Malmö.

Niemann’s demeanour on and off the board might prompt some to think he is older than he actually is. At 18, the grandmaster from San Francisco shows tremendous will to continue his rapid ascent. As Irina Bulmaga noted in her report from Havana:

I can’t help but admire [Niemann’s] resourcefulness and fantastic will to progress and win each game by all means — though never crossing the limit of fair-play boundaries.

In Malmö, the rising star was the seventh seed in an 8-player field which had Jorden van Foreest, Michael Adams and Alexei Shirov as the highest-rated participants. Niemann collected three wins and four draws to finish clear first on 5/7 points. On his way to outright victory, the youngster defeated Shirov, Saleh Salem and Arjun Erigaisi.

Arjun, who is also 18 and is also having a great year, was one of three players who shared second place with 4/7 points. Adams and local hero Nils Grandelius also finished with a +1 score. The tournament was particularly disappointing for Shirov, who arrived in Malmö shortly after beating Gawain Jones at the 4NCL tournament.

Thanks to his great performance, Niemann gained 17.8 rating points, which allowed him to climb to sixth place in the U20 live ratings list. Despite getting second place, Arjun grabbed 5.6 points and is now fourth in the same ranking.

Michael Adams, Saleh Salem

Michael Adams beat Saleh Salem in the final round | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

Niemann beats Arjun

In what turned out to be a crucial game, Niemann defeated Arjun with the white pieces in round 3. Arjun incorrectly offered a queen exchange, which was initially declined by the eventual winner of the event. Niemann gained a tempo by developing his bishop and only then exchanging the queens at the next opportunity.

 

What Black could have done instead is 19...b5 20.Qb3 Qb7, manoeuvring the knight to b6 and thus getting better counter-chances. There followed 19...Qc6 20.Qxc6 bxc6, which fragmented Black's pawn structure.

The position became far more unpleasant and difficult to play for Arjun.

 

The straw that broke the camel’s back came when Black played 43...g5. After 44.a4 it was a point of no return. There were no breakthroughs left for Black, which means that any chance to salvage the position was gone — 43...a4 was worth a try.

 

Additional reporting by Shahid Ahmed


Video analysis by IM Sagar Shah


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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.