The live transmission of the games had some problems during the first two rounds. Hopefully that is now a thing of the past and everybody not watching at the playing site can also fully enjoy the show.

In the senior group nobody won both games, so perhaps we can expect a tight race. The games were entertaining, of which you can see a couple of examples below. In the juniors, this years Finnish champion Toivo Keinänen is trying an early breakaway, while in the girls’ section the Elo favourite Mai Narva suffered a first round upset.

Bengt Hammar – Bragi Halldorsson
1.e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Bc4 Nf6 7. N1e2 e6 8.O-O Bd6 9. f4

An old favourite of Keres. His game with Golombek in Moscow 1956 went 9…Qc7 10.f5 exf5 11.Nxf5 Bxh2+ 12.Kh1. But 9.f4 weakens the central squares and makes the c1-bishop less effective; the legendary 17th match game TalBotvinnik 1960 featured similar positions. Seirawan and the very young Kasparov have tried 9…Qd7.

9… Bf5 10. Nxf5 exf5 11. Ng3 g6 12. Re1+ Kf8

This has been the modern treatment – an old recommendation of Makogonov’s. Black’s control of e4 and the e-line gives good compensation for the pair of bishops and pawn structure. An idea for white is 13.b3 and Bb2, and then playing a rook to e5, leaving it there to be taken. The prototype for such an exchange sacrifice, now a standard procedure, is another Botvinnik game, against Liublinsky in 1943.

13.Bb3 h5 14. a3 Nbd7 15. Qf3 h4 16. Ne2 Ne4 17. c4 Ndf6 18. Bc2 Kg7 19. b3 Re8 20.Bb2 Kg8 21. Nc3

A tactical slip, which could be punished with 21…Bxa3. White loses the knight after 22.Bxa3 Qxd4+, but that is the best he can do. 22.Rxa3 Qxd4+ 23.Qe3 Nxc3 24.Qxd4 Rxe1+ 25.Kf2 and now 25…Rae8 was not so easy to visualize. Black threatens 26…R8e2+ 27.Kf3 Rf1#, but also 26…Ng4+ 27.Kf3 Nxh2+ 28.Kf2 Rf1#, or 27…Re3+.

21… Qc7 22. g3? hxg3 23. hxg3

23… Nxg3 24. Qxg3 Bxf4 25. Qh3

25.Qf3 Ng4 26.Ne4 would make it more difficult for black.

25… Kg7 26. Qf3 Ng4 27. d5 Be3+ 28. Kg2 Qh2+ 29. Kf1 Bd4 30. Ne2 Bxb2 31. Ra2 Ne3+ 0-1

In the junior group, another Botvinnik idea was tested. He first played 7.g4 in the match with Petrosian in 1963. The idea is not so much to start attacking on the kingside, but to restrict black’s minor pieces. Nowadays g2-g4 is played in all conceivable positions.

Karolis Juksta – Toivo Keinanen
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 c6 6. e3 Bf5 7. g4 Be6 8. h3 Nd7 9. Bd3 g5 10. Bh2 h5 11. f3 Nb6 12. Qc2 Bd6

A typical, strategically unclear position for this variation. Preparing the normal push e3-e4 is double-edged: the d4+e4 pair can be also weak. For black a normal reaction is c6-c5, to get at the e3-pawn; but with no safe place for the king on the kingside, the knights a long way from c6, and particularly after the exchange of the bishops, it is no longer so alluring.

13. O-O-O Nf6 14. Bxd6 Qxd6 15. Nge2 O-O-O 16. Kb1 Kb8 17. Qd2 Qe7 18. Ng3 Rde8 19. Rde1 Qc7 20. Qf2 Bc8

21. h4

This is probably just an oversight, missing 23…h3.

21…gxh4 22. Nxh5 Nxh5 23. gxh5 h3 24. Qh4 Rh6 25.Rhg1 Reh8 26. Rg5 f6 27. Rg6 Rxh5 28. Qxf6 Nc4

Black managed to keep the material balance, but the h-pawn outweighs the possibility of building a passed pawn in the centre. The problem for black is that there is no obvious way of proceeding. Most probably he should find the best way of exchanging the h-pawn for one of white’s.

29. e4 Qb6 30.Bxc4 dxc4 31. Rh1 h2 32. Ne2 Qa5 33. Rg2 Rh3 34. Qf4+ Qc7 35. Qxc7+ Kxc7 36. Kc2 b5 37. b3 cxb3+ 38. axb3 a5 39. Nc3 R8h7 40. Rf2 Be6 41. Nb1 Rd7 42. Rhxh2 Rxh2 43. Rxh2 Rxd4 44. Nd2 a4 45. bxa4 bxa4

Gradually the game has levelled and white should have no particular problems.

46. Kc3 Rd8 47. Rh7+ Kb6 48. Rh1

48.Nc4+ is an easy draw. Was white perhaps entertaining ideas of winning – after all, he has connected passed pawns?

48… a3 49.Ra1 a2 50.Nb3 Rf8 51.Nd4 Bg8 52.Nf5

52.Kb2 and then Nb3 had to be played. White may have to sacrifice his knight for black’s last pawn and show that he can draw with rook vs. rook and bishop.

52… Kc5

Suddenly white is powerless against the rook’s infiltration. The knight cannot protect d3.

53.Rc1 Rb8 54.Kc2 Bc4 55.Ne3 Rb1   0-1


In the second round, a Fischer classic came to mind.

Kjetil Strand – Bengt Hammar
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O b5 8. Bb3 Nbd7 9. Re1 Nc5

Black can not afford this, but now he was without a good move already. The bishop sacrifice on e6 was in the air. 8… Be7 was played repeatedly in 1993 Kasparov – Short match.

10. Bd5 exd5 11. exd5+ Kd7 12. b4

Now the knight, having provoked a strong sacrifice, loses yet more time. In Palma de Mallorca 1970, Fischer had beaten Rubinetti after 8… Bb7 9.Re1 Nbd7 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bh4 Nc5 (here 11…g5 12.Bg3 Ne5 is playable) 12.Bd5 exd5 13.exd5+ Kd7 14.b4 Na4 15.Nxa4 bxa4 16.c4 Kc8 17.Qxa4 Qd7 18.Qb3 g5 19.Bg3 Nh5 20.c5 dxc5 21.bxc5 Qxd5 22.Re8+ Kd7 23.Qa4+ Bc6 24.Nxc6 1-0.

12… Na4 13. Nxa4 bxa4 14. c4 Kc7 15. Qxa4 Bb7 16. Bf4

Black cannot prevent white opening lines against the king with c4-c5, and as the white rooks are ready to open fire, losing the piece back in the game makes no real difference.

16… Nh5 17. Nc6 Qd7 18. Be3 Bxc6 19. Qa5+ Kc8 20. dxc6 Qxc6 21. Qxh5 g6 22. Qg4+ f5 23. Qd4 Rg8 24. b5 Qb7 25.bxa6 Rxa6 26. Rab1 Bg7 27. Qd3 Qc6 28. Qb3 Ra8 29. Bf4 Rd8 30. c5 Be5 31. Bg5 Rd7 32. cxd6 Qxd6 33. Qg8+ 1-0