Understanding before Moving 67: Changing sides

by ChessBase
2/20/2022 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books about chess training and chess strategy. In the 67th instalment of his ChessBase show "Understanding before Moving", Herman reveals why it is important to play against strong opponents to improve and shows how important it is to keep a flexible mindset. | Photo: Tommy Grooten

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To improve, young, talented players should measure themselves against strong opponents. In the  past, talents from the Netherlands were given the opportunity to travel to Russia to play in tournaments against Russian players. This often was not easy but those who did make it - even under sometimes miserable  circumstances - turned out to be good enough to compete with the world's best.

One of the great talents in the Netherlands is Jorden van Foreest. At the age of 16 he surprisingly became champion of the Netherlands. But was he good enough to compete with the elite?

By winning - very surprisingly - the Tata Steel Tournament 2021 in Wijk aan Zee (ahead of players such as Carlsen, Caruana or Giri) Jorden answered this question with a resounding "yes". But how did Jorden get this far? By competing against top players!

In 2015, at the age of 15, Jorden made his first GM norm in the Aeroflot Open in Moscow. A demanding tournament. One of his opponents was Ian Nepomniachtchi, who in 2021 challenged Carlsen for the World Championship.

After the opening Jorden had a reasonably good position, but he then was outplayed in the middlegame. It is instructive to see how "Nepo" turns his advantage into a win. In the diagrammed position the contours of the white actions on the a-file are still visible. However, it is not easy to see how White can make progress. But the maneuver that  "Nepo" had in mind is downright beautiful. What did he play and what was his idea?


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