Mark Bluvshtein is taking part in the open section of the Groningen Chess Festival , a 9-round event that ends tomorrow. This is a good warm up tournament for the Wijk Ann Zee tournament that begins in early January. The event is a typical GM open in that part of the world: about a dozen GMs and about as many other titled players. There are 56 players in Mark’s section.
After today’s victory over GM Baklan (round 8) Mark’s score is 6 out of 8, which places him in a good position to win the tournament tomorrow.
Mark’s win over Baklan had all the trademarks of a top GM; a slightly freer position after the opening, some fine moves in the middlegame to build up threats and then a terrific sense of going in for the kill. The position after Black’s 24th move is :
Black is lost: his pieces lack harmony and all of White’s pieces are actively placed and dominate the entire board. But Baklan is never an easy player to defeat, and he is dug in deep. Mark finds the achilles heal in Baklan’s position:
Black can not take without losing material, but what to do about White’s threat of 26.Nxh7! and 27.Bc2….Baklan could find nothing better than25… h6 26. Nd7! Qb7 27. Qg3!
Very precise move order! Black is helpless against the threats of Rc7 and Qxg6. Black played on for a couple more moves before throwing in the towel.
According to Mark’s blog (link on this page; to the left) , after Wijk ann Zee he will be staying in Europe and his next tournament will be Moscow in February, always a super tough tournament. Mark will then head home after Moscow.
Traditionally, the 3 strongest open tournaments in the world are Gibraltar, Moscow and Cappelle. It appears that Mark will miss both Gibraltar and Cappelle. If I were Mark’s coach I would advise him to play all 3 of these events: they can make or break your reputation should you win them!SPRAGGETT ON CHESS