Van Wely wins 75th Noteboom Tournament

by Sagar Shah
2/22/2015 – This tournament was held in the Congress Centre of Leiden, Holland, in memory of Daniel Noteboom, a very talented Dutch player who died at the age of 21 in 1932 – leaving the chess world one of the most exciting positions in modern chess theory, the Noteboom Variation. The top group of four GMs was won in a brave effort by Loek van Wely. Big two-part report.

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Brave Loek wins Corpus Vierkamp

On 15th of February, the third stage of the FIDE Grand Prix began in Tbilisi, Georgia. In the first round the top seed of the event, Alexander Grischuk, scored a win with the black pieces over Rustam Kasimdzhanov. The game was complicated, as our fellow editor Alejandro Ramirez pointed out in his first round report. But what interested me the most about the game was the opening choice of Alexander Grischuk. Let’s have a look at the initial moves.

[Event "FIDE Grand Prix, Tbilisi"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.02.15"] [Round "1"] [White "Kasimdzhanov, Rustam"] [Black "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Result "*"] [ECO "D31"] [WhiteElo "2810"] [BlackElo "2705"] [PlyCount "23"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. d4 ({The position after the first six moves is more popularly reached by the move order} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. Nf3 dxc4 5. e3 b5 6. a4 Bb4) 1... d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 dxc4 5. e3 b5 6. a4 c6 7. Bd2 a5 $1 8. axb5 Bxc3 (8... cxb5 $2 9. Nxb5 $16) 9. Bxc3 cxb5 10. b3 Bb7 (10... b4 $2 11. Bxb4 $16) 11. bxc4 b4 12. Bb2 {[%csl Ya5,Yb4,Gc4,Gd4,Ge3][%cal Ge1g1,Gf1d3,Ye8g8, Yg8f6,Yb8d7]} *

This is one of the most exciting positions in modern chess theory. Have you ever seen two black passed pawns on a5 and b4 after just 12 moves of the opening? In order to compensate for the same White has strong centre control with pawns on e3, d4 and c4. There are so many imbalances that an objective evaluation of this position is simply impossible. The result of this game depends entirely on the strength and accuracy of subsequent play of both the players. It is this unbalanced nature that has attracted masters of chaos like Shirov, Ivanchuk and Nakamura to give it a go from the black side.

After seeing this opening with unusual opening moves and atypical resulting position, it might be easy to assume that this was invented just a few years ago. It definitely looks like a hypermodern idea. But you will pleasantly surprised to know that it was first played on the third of May, 1931, by a player named Daniel Noteboom. And hence the name: Noteboom Variation.

Daniel Noteboom was a Dutch Chess player born in 1910. He gained prominence in the chess world after he scored 11.5/15 at the Chess Olympiad held in Hamburg in 1930. He was an extremely talented player whose life was cut short due to pneumonia. Noteboom died at the age of just 21 years in 1932. Though he had a very brief career, he made a lasting impression on the chess theory with the invention of the Noteboom Variation. As we saw, his idea has stood the test of time and is still played by the absolute elite.

A beautiful wooden chess board, DGT 3000, the winner’s trophy and a picture
of Daniel Noteboom in whose memory this tournament was held

The 75th Daniel Noteboom Weekend Tournament was held at the Corpus Congress Centre in the town of Leiden from the 13th to 15th of February 2015. The chief Sponsor for the event was Corpus. The tournament had three different groups. Group A was for players above the rating of 1900, group B for players between the rating of 1600 and 2000 and group C for players below 1700. All the three tournaments had six rounds. However, the main event was definitely the “Corpus Vierkamp” which had four of Netherlands best chess players pitted against each other in a round-robin tournament.

Participants of the Corpus Vierkamp, clockwise from upper left: Loek Van Wely (2657),
Jan Timman (2553), Predrag Nikolic (2588) and Jan Smeets (2625)

The playing venue was the conference hall in the….

….Corpus Congress Centre. The eye catching building which is in the form of
a sitting man is called “the journey through the human body”.

You can literally take a tour through the different human body structures within the building!

Round one of the Corpus Vierkamp

Coming back to chess! In the first round Loek Van Wely played a smooth positional game against Predrag Nikolic from the black side of the Vienna System and emerged victorious. In the other game, which was the battle between two Jan’s, Timman played the Pirc Defence against Smeets. It was a very interesting game in the topical line of the Austrian Attack. But after accurate play by both sides, the game ended in a draw. Thus Van Wely emerged as the leader after the first round.

[Event "75th Noteboom vierkamp"] [Site "Leiden NED"] [Date "2015.02.13"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Nikolic, Predrag"] [Black "Van Wely, Loek"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2588"] [BlackElo "2657"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2015.02.13"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4 {The Vienna is quite a sharp opening.} Bb4 6. Bg5 (6. Bxc4 Nxe4 7. O-O {is another gambit that has become popular recently.}) 6... c5 7. e5 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bxc3+ (8... Qa5 {is the main move but play usually transposes.}) 9. bxc3 Qa5 10. exf6 Qxg5 11. fxg7 Qxg7 12. Qf3 (12. Qd2 O-O 13. Bxc4 {is the way most of the people play these positions but Qf3 is also quite popular.}) 12... O-O 13. Bxc4 Nd7 14. Be2 {Takes the bishop away from the Ne5 fork.} Nc5 15. O-O e5 (15... b6 $1 {is a cute little move that was played by Litinskaya against Gaprindashvili in their Candidates Match of 1988. The simple point is that the rook is taboo because of Bb7 and the bishop develops itself on the long diagonal.}) 16. Nb3 Ne6 17. Rfe1 Kh8 18. Qg3 f6 {Black has a very solid position and has equalised quite easily. White on the other hand starts to go wrong in this position.} 19. Qxg7+ Kxg7 {Both sides have three pawn islands each. However, White's c3 pawn is easy to attack while Black's h7 is not.} 20. Rad1 Rf7 {[%cal Gf7c7]} 21. Bf3 {It seems as if Black has some problems developing his pieces but Van Wely's next move solves the issue.} Rc7 $1 {Attacking the c3 pawn but more than that making way for the bishop to be develop on d7.} 22. Re3 Bd7 23. Be4 {Ingeniously White has managed to set up an attack on the weakest point in the black army, which is the h7 pawn.} Ba4 24. Rh3 Kh8 25. Rh4 Nf4 26. Kh1 $6 (26. g3 {was quite normal. Black wins a pawn after} Ne2+ 27. Kg2 Nxc3 {But White sets up a nastly pin.} 28. Rc1 $11) 26... Rg8 27. Rd6 $6 (27. g3 $11) 27... f5 $1 {A strong move by Van Wely.} 28. Bd5 (28. Bxf5 Bc6 $1 (28... Nxg2 $2 29. Rxa4 $18) (28... Rxg2 $2 29. Rxf4 $18) 29. f3 Nxg2 $17) (28. Bf3 {was relatively best although} Rxc3 { does lose a pawn for no compensation.}) 28... Nxd5 29. Rxa4 (29. Rxd5 Bc6 $19) 29... Nxc3 {Black has won a pawn and White forces are completely un co-ordinated.} 30. Rxa7 Nb5 {A very consistent game by Van Wely.} 0-1

[Event "75th Noteboom vierkamp"] [Site "Leiden NED"] [Date "2015.02.13"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Smeets, Jan"] [Black "Timman, Jan H"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B09"] [WhiteElo "2625"] [BlackElo "2553"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "110"] [EventDate "2015.02.13"] 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 {The Pirc Defense is seeing some kind of a revival and it is quite possible that the Dutch players are responsible for it. Van Wely played quite a few games with it in the Tata Steel.} 4. f4 {The Austrian Attack!} Bg7 5. Nf3 c5 (5... O-O {is the other main move.}) 6. dxc5 { This is the current fashion. White's next move shows the line which has been creating maximum headache for the black players.} (6. Bb5+ {Of course is one of the sharpest lines in chess.} Bd7 7. e5 Ng4 8. e6 fxe6 9. Ng5 Bxb5 10. Nxe6 Bxd4 $1 11. Nxd8 Bf2+ 12. Kd2 Be3+ 13. Ke1 Bf2+ $11 {was a cute little drawing combination that was found by Yasser Seirawan against Gyula Sax in 1988.}) 6... Qa5 7. Qd4 $5 {This queen sortie looks very unusual. Who would want to place his queen right in the line of fire of the g7 bishop? But current chess theory is very concrete and White wants to force black's d6 pawn to move to c5. Once that happens he can happily play e4-e5 and shut down the g7 bishop.} O-O {This is the riskiest move but quite in the spirit of the position. Black has to take advantage of his lead in development.} (7... Nc6 8. Bb5 O-O (8... Qxb5 9. Qxf6 $1 Bxf6 10. Nxb5 $16) 9. Qa4 $14) 8. cxd6 {White picks up the gauntlet.} ( 8. Bd2 {was safer} Nc6 9. Qc4 {You can see how the queen does not leave the control of the c5 square.} Be6 10. Qb5 Qxb5 11. Bxb5 dxc5 12. Bxc6 bxc6 13. O-O-O $14 {With a small edge for white has seen in Bobras-Collins.}) 8... Nxe4 $5 9. Qxe4 Bxc3+ 10. bxc3 (10. Bd2 Bxd2+ 11. Nxd2 exd6 $15 {Black is not even a pawn down and has a great position.}) 10... Qxc3+ 11. Kf2 Qxa1 {The computer thinks that White has excellent compensation for the exchange.} 12. dxe7 Re8 13. Bc4 {Smeets shows some excellent preparation. In fact 11 games have already reached this position before and White has eight wins and three draws. It's surprising that Timman went into this variation.} Qf6 14. Ba3 Be6 15. Qxb7 $146 {The first new move of the game.} (15. Bxe6 Qxe6 16. Qxe6 fxe6 17. Ng5 { was seen in the 2014 game between Mohr and Kilgus.} Nc6 18. Ne4 Nxe7 19. Nf6+ Kf7 20. Nxe8 Kxe8 $11 {The game later ended in a draw.}) 15... Nd7 16. Bb3 Bxb3 17. axb3 Qb6+ {Timman goes for the most pragmatic decision of exchanging queens. It could be possible that he had some advantage after} (17... Qf5 18. Rd1 Nf6 19. Qxa8 Qxc2+ (19... Rxa8 {was also possible} 20. Rd8+ Kg7 21. Rxa8 Qxc2+ 22. Kg3 Qxb3 23. Rxa7 $11 {Black cannot wins this position.}) 20. Rd2 Qxd2+ 21. Nxd2 Rxa8 $15) 18. Qxb6 axb6 19. Bd6 Nc5 20. Re1 Ra2 21. Re2 f5 {The idea is to plonk the knight on e4.} 22. Ke3 Ra7 23. Ne5 Ne4 24. Bb4 Nc5 25. Kd4 Rc7 (25... Raxe7 26. Bxc5 bxc5+ 27. Kxc5 $14 {Only White can press from here.}) 26. Bxc5 bxc5+ 27. Kc4 Rexe7 {How do we assess this position. Materially you can say that Black is a pawn up. But the White knight and king are so well placed that it gives him excellent compensation. Along with that the c5 pawn is weak. I would say that the position is dynamically balanced but it is easier to play as White.} 28. h4 Kf8 29. c3 Re6 30. g3 Ke7 31. Rh2 Kf6 32. Ra2 Rb6 33. Nd3 Re6 34. Ne5 (34. Nxc5 {I wonder why Smeets didn't pick off the c5 pawn.} Re3 (34... Re4+ 35. Kd5 Re3 36. c4 $14) 35. b4 Rxg3 36. b5 $18) 34... Rb6 35. h5 g5 36. Nd3 Re6 37. Nxc5 gxf4 38. gxf4 Re4+ 39. Kd5 Rxf4 40. Ra6+ Kf7 41. Ne6 Rd7+ 42. Ke5 Rf1 43. Ng5+ Ke7 44. Nxh7 {White has managed to win another pawn but in that process has helped Black to activate his rooks.} Re1+ 45. Kxf5 Rd5+ 46. Kg6 Rg1+ 47. Kh6 Rd6+ $1 {Very nice judgement by Timman.} 48. Rxd6 Kxd6 49. Ng5 Kd5 50. Kg6 Rg3 51. c4+ Kd4 52. h6 Rxb3 53. h7 Rb8 54. Ne6+ Kxc4 55. Kg7 Kd5 {A very interesting battle and well fought by both the players.} 1/2-1/2

Round two

Nikolic beats Smeets in a topsy turvy game in the Classical Slav. But definitely the game of the day was Loek Van Wely vs Jan Timman.

Van Wely played an excellent positional game to emerge two pawns up with a completely winning position. He had such a dominant position that Timman’s resignation was on cards at any moment. Under time pressure Loek squandered quite a bit of his advantage. The technical task was no longer so easy. But what happened next was simply unfathomable.

In this position Van Wely played 41.Re4?? I am sure you notice the problem immediately!

Oh my God, it’s mate! Van Wely cannot believe what he had done.

[Event "75th Noteboom vierkamp"] [Site "Leiden NED"] [Date "2015.02.14"] [Round "2.1"] [White "Van Wely, Loek"] [Black "Timman, Jan H"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A21"] [WhiteElo "2657"] [BlackElo "2553"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2015.02.13"] {This game is an excellent example of, "It's not over until it's over." Van Wely plays the opening and the middlegame is absolute flawless fashion and then blows it away by falling into a mate in one.} 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Nd5 Bc5 (3... Be7 {is the other move here.}) 4. Nf3 c6 5. Nc3 d6 6. e3 Qe7 7. d4 exd4 8. Nxd4 {White gets a very comfortable position out of the opening. His f1-bishop goes to e2, he castles then and develops his c1-bishop on b2 with b3. The main problem for Black is a lack of good spot for the c8-bishop.} Nf6 9. Be2 O-O 10. O-O Rd8 11. b3 d5 12. cxd5 cxd5 (12... Nxd5 {could be possible if you do not want to end up with an Isolated pawn. But White keeps an edge after} 13. Nxd5 Rxd5 14. Bb2 Rd8 15. Qc2 $16) 13. Bb2 Nc6 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. Na4 { White's position is easy to play. Next up on the agenda is to play Rc1 followed by Qd4 in order to clamp on the c5 square.} Bd6 16. Rc1 c5 $6 {Timman loses his patience.} (16... Bd7 {was much better.} 17. Qd4 $14) 17. Bxf6 {The queen cannot recapture as the c5 pawn falls but taking with the pawn means that his entire kingside is ruptured.} gxf6 18. Bf3 Be6 (18... Bb7 19. g3 d4 20. Bxb7 Qxb7 21. Qg4+ Kh8 22. Qf5 $16) 19. Nc3 Be5 20. Nxd5 {White has won a pawn and Black has absolutely no compensation for it.} Qf8 21. e4 f5 22. exf5 Bxf5 23. Qd2 Bg6 24. Rfe1 Qd6 25. h4 $1 {Very nice play by Van Wely.} f6 26. Rcd1 (26. h5 Bxh5 27. Bxh5 Qxd5 28. Qxd5+ Rxd5 29. Bf3 $18) 26... Rab8 27. Qa5 Kh8 28. h5 Bc2 29. Rc1 Bf5 30. Qxc5 {And there goes the second pawn!} Qa6 31. h6 Rbc8 32. Qe7 Rd7 {This move falls to a simple deflection.} 33. Rxc8+ (33. Qa3 $1 Rd6 (33... Qb7 34. Nxf6 $18) (33... Qxa3 34. Rxc8+ Rd8 35. Rxd8+ Qf8 36. Rxf8#) 34. Qxa6 Rxa6 35. Rxc8+ Bxc8 36. Nxf6 $1 Rxf6 37. Rxe5 {This should be child's play for Van Wely.}) 33... Qxc8 34. Qb4 Qd8 35. Bg4 a5 (35... Bxg4 36. Qxg4 $18) 36. Qc4 Rxd5 37. Bxf5 Rd1 38. Qe2 Rd2 39. Qg4 Qg8 40. Qxg8+ $2 (40. f4 $1 {was the fastest way to finish the game.} Qxg4 41. Bxg4 Bd4+ 42. Kh1 Kg8 43. Re8+ Kf7 44. Bh5# {Would have been a very nice mate!}) 40... Kxg8 {Now to win is not so easy anymore as the a2 pawn is hanging and with the pressure on f2. This must have got to Van Wely who, I presume, makes the biggest blunder of his life.} 41. Re4 $4 Rd1+ {Game over!} 0-1

It’s not over till it’s over! Jan Timman emerged as the leader after two rounds with a score of 1.5/2.

[Event "75th Noteboom vierkamp"] [Site "Leiden NED"] [Date "2015.02.14"] [Round "2.2"] [White "Nikolic, Predrag"] [Black "Smeets, Jan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D18"] [WhiteElo "2588"] [BlackElo "2625"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2015.02.13"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 e6 7. Bxc4 Nbd7 (7... Bb4 {is the common move order but it just transposes.}) 8. O-O Bb4 9. Qe2 Bg6 10. Ne1 $5 {You can say that this is Nikolic's trademark move. He has played it twice before against Ivanchuk and Van Wely with draws in both the games.} ( 10. e4 {is commonly played. White is not afraid of giving up a pawn as after} Bxc3 11. bxc3 Nxe4 12. Ba3 $44 {He gets very good compensation.}) 10... O-O 11. Nd3 Ba5 (11... Bd6 {would have been much better. After} 12. e4 c5 $5 (12... e5 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. dxe5 Bxe5 15. f3 $11 {Nikolic-Van Wely}) 13. Nxc5 (13. e5 cxd4 14. Nb5 Bxd3 $1 15. Bxd3 Bxe5 $17) 13... Nxc5 14. dxc5 Bxc5 15. e5 Bh5 16. Qe1 Nd5 17. Nxd5 exd5 18. Bd3 Re8 $11 {with a balanced position.}) 12. Nf4 { The knight has done quite some acrobatic feats but his final aim is going to be fulfilled, to capture the g6 bishop.} e5 13. Nxg6 hxg6 14. Rd1 Qe7 15. dxe5 Nxe5 16. Ba2 Rad8 17. Bd2 Bb4 18. Be1 {With the two bishops, White's position is slightly more pleasant but it shouldn't lead to anything much.} g5 19. h3 g6 20. Rd4 a5 $6 (20... Bc5 {was better to remove the rook from d4.}) 21. Rad1 Rde8 $2 (21... Kg7 $142) 22. f4 $1 {Nikolic is alert and takes his chance.} gxf4 23. Bh4 {[%cal Gh4e7] The pin is extremely irritating.} Bc5 (23... fxe3 24. Ne4 $18) 24. Rxf4 Ned7 25. Kh1 (25. Ne4 {would have been better.} Qxe4 26. Rxe4 Rxe4 27. Bg5 $18) 25... Qe5 26. Qf3 Be7 27. Ne4 Kg7 (27... Nd5 28. Bxd5 cxd5 $14 {is a tenable position for Black.}) 28. Nxf6 Nxf6 29. Rf1 Qxb2 30. Bc4 (30. Bb1 $18 {would have finished the game. As the knight on f6 cannot move.} Nh5 31. Rxf7+ Kh6 32. Qxh5+ $3 {The main point behind Bb1.} gxh5 33. Rh7#) 30... Qc3 31. Be2 Ng8 $2 (31... Nh5 {was better.} 32. Rxf7+ Kh6 $14 {No clear finish is in sight.}) 32. Rxf7+ Kh8 (32... Kh6 33. Qf4+ $18) 33. Be1 (33. Qg3 Rxf7 34. Rxf7 $18) 33... Qe5 34. Rf4 Rxf4 35. exf4 Qc7 36. f5 Rf8 37. Bc3+ Bf6 38. fxg6 Kg7 39. Qh5 {A game filled with lots of inaccuracies by both sides but not without entertainment.} 1-0

– Part two of this report will follow shortly –

Pictures by Folkert Geersma

If you are interested to learn the Noteboom Variation the following DVD is perfect for you:

The Triangle Setup - A complete defense against 1.d4

by Michal Krasenkow

Languages: English
ISBN: 978-3-86681-457-8
Delivery: Download, Post
Level: Tournament player, Professional
€29.90 or €25.13 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$28.39 (without VAT)

The Semi-Slav defense (1.d4 d5 followed by ...e7-e6 and ...c7-c6) is one of the most popular opening set-ups for Black. Black can follow two entirely different concepts. One includes an early ...Ng8-f6 and leads to a number of popular and deeply analysed systems: the Meran, the Anti-Meran, the Botvinnik, the Moscow, the Anti- Moscow, the Westphalian, etc. The other, in which Black refrains from ...Ng8-f6 at an early stage, is presented by GM Michal Krasenkow on this DVD. Black keeps a choice between two double-edged interesting systems: the Noteboom variation (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 dxc4) and the Stonewall (...f7-f5) if White plays an early e2-e3. Of course Black’s decision to refrain from an early ...Ng8-f6 gives White other options, the most important being the Slav gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 etc.). Therefore Black’s set-up may lead to a whole range of different and interesting positions, which help the black player to broaden his strategic and tactical understanding. This makes the Noteboom/Stonewall opening repertoire a particularly good choice for young, aspiring players.

• Video running time: 5 hours 29 minutes
• With interactive training including video feedback
• Analysis texts of the variations by Krasenkow
• Exclusive database with 75 annotated Grandmaster games
• Including CB 12 Reader

Order Krasenkow's Triangle Setup DVD in the ChessBase Shop


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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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