Double Dutch on the podium, Jung Min Seo the Nordic champion

Tapani Sammalvuo 

The tournament victory was appropriately decided on the top two boards where the four leaders met. GM Lucas van Foreest’s Catalan proved to be a good choice against GM Victor Mikhalevski. White soon got a comfortable position and despite the Israeli’s tries to muddy the waters, went on to win a nice game.


IM Vilka Sipilä’s Petroff Defence turned out to be quite rusty and after his unfortunate novelty 13…dxc4? GM Robby Kevlishvili had no trouble getting a winning ending. The converting phase wasn’t necessarily the cleanest ever seen, but in the end the extra pawn made itself felt. Thus, the win was shared by tournaments two Dutch players, van Foreest being crowned as the tournament winner thanks to his better Buchholz.

IM Mika Karttunen’s Classical Nimzo-Indian may not have been the best choice, as GM Sergey Fedorchuk seemed to be much more at home in the opening. White fell badly behind in the development (4.Qc2 is actually a rather double-edged move: instead of developing his kingside, White moves his queen at an early stage of the game), and this was enough to cause his downfall.

GM Bartłomiej Heberla confronted IM Jung Min Seo’s Giuoco Piano with the rare 4…h6. White got a nice space advantage in the centre and the position started to resemble a Ruy López. In a constrained position Black sacrificed his h6-pawn but didn’t get any compensation. Sweden’s Seo shared the 3rd and the 4th places with Fedorchuk and was the best Nordic player, thus winning the title of Nordic Champion 2022.

GM Gábor Nagy was the most solid player of the tournament. So far, all his draws had been quite short, but the last round economics dictated that now he needed to win in order to get a decent prize. FM Elham Abdrlauf didn’t cooperate, however, and the game that started as a Symmetrical English (by transposition), always looked to be headed to a draw, which was agreed on the 42nd move.


Exciting eighth round leaves everything open for an electrifying final round

Tapani Sammalvuo

Just like in the fifth round, the first ranked GM Sergey Fedorchuk had the white pieces against the sole leader of the tournament, this time GM Lucas van Foreest. Whereas the fifth round game against Kevlishvili ended favourably for the “top dog”, now he got into real trouble and was lucky to salvage a draw in a difficult ending.

We have learned that GM Gábor Nagy doesn’t like to lose. Today he made already his fourth short draw, but to be fair, his tournament strategy seems to be working fine. GM Bartłomiej Heberla never had chances for an advantage on the white side of a Queen’s Indian Defence. In fact, Black was to be preferred in the final position.

GM Victor Mikhalevski won a nice technical game against IM Mikael Agopov.


IM Vilka Sipilä is known for his games that seem to defy all logic. He chose the Scotch Opening against GM Héðinn Steingrímsson, but it was Black who soon took over and at some point was already two pawns up in an endgame. White was definitely lost, but in the time-trouble Vilka-magic started happening. First, Vilka recovered his lost pawns and then, in a rook ending with equal material, Black got flustered and lost two more. Thanks to this game, Sipilä is now sharing the overall lead in the tournament and leads alone the Nordic Championship.

IM Tarvo Seeman’s English Opening didn’t succeed against GM Robby Kevlishvili. Black took soon over and for most of the game White was in trouble.

Van Foreest grabs the pole position – or study your endings and eat your greens, kids!

Tapani Sammalvuo

The seventh was again the second round of a double-round day, which seems to be a trigger for some short draws. Today’s top game FedorchukV.Mikhalevski ended peacefully in a known theoretical position of Open Spanish.

There was a little more fight in the game between GM Robby Kevlishvili and GM Bartłomiej Heberla, but their Neo-Møller Ruy Lopez always appeared to be in balance.

If the round had a theme, it would be endgame technique and, perhaps, the lack of thereof. GM Lucas van Foreest won a drawn pawn endgame against IM Jung Min Seo. We join the game after White’s 81st move.


The Fenno-Ugric encounter between IM Mikael Agopov and GM Gábor Nagy was cut short just when the things were about to get interesting. This game started as a Neo-Møller too and to my eyes Black’s position looked riskier than White’s in the final position.

There were various other games that were decided in the ending. GM Héðinn Steingrímsson ground out a win in an equal rook and knight endgame against IM Pekka Köykkä. The following position arose after White’s 28th move.


For a long time, FM Jari Järvenpää and IM Vilka Sipilä seemed to be heading for a solid draw, but in the diagram position Black had achieved some activity. The position was still a draw, of course.

Later, White reached the following drawn endgame position.


If the reader still isn’t convinced of the importance of the endgame play, the round offers additional study material in the form of the games PohjalaKeinänen, RönkäKorpa, KarttunenLuukkonen, A.MikhalevskiLehtosaari and TiittaNiemi. I want to stress that I myself wouldn’t have necessarily done any better. But do study your endings. And eat the greens!

Frontrunners draw their games allowing four more players to join the lead

Tapani Sammalvuo

The first board game between IM Jung Min Seo and GM Sergey Fedorchuk didn’t produce fireworks as the players agreed to a draw after sixteen moves of a Queen’s Indian Defence when most of the pieces were about to get traded.

Similar was the story on the second board, where grandmasters Gábor Nagy and Lucas van Foreest needed only nine moves of Queen’s Gambit Declined to start smoking the peace pipe.

GM Bartłomiej Heberla went for the rare Belgrade Gambit against IM Mika Karttunen. The surprise worked quite well as Black declined the gambit in a way that left White with a comfortable edge after a standard pawn sacrifice d6. Black was left struggling to develop his pieces and, indeed, the c8-bishop didn’t make a single move during the forty-six-move game.

GM Kaido Külaots and IM Mikael Agopov have a long history of Najdorf Sicilians in their past games. Today Agopov played the Classical Sicilian for a change, but the position soon got characteristics of a Najdorf anyway. White sacrificed a piece in the early middlegame but continued inaccurately.


GM Victor Mikhalevski opened the game with the English Opening, which FM Elham Abdrlauf met with the Keres Variation 3…c6. Black soon sacrificed his e-pawn for positional compensation and looked good for a long time. However, just before the time-control a complicated knight endgame was reached and here the experienced grandmaster outplayed his young opponent.

IM Toivo Keinänen played a kind of Tartakower-Makagonov Variation Reversed against GM Héðinn Steingrímsson. The players preferred to spend the sunny afternoon outdoors and a draw was agreed after eight moves.

IM Alexander Mikhalevski played the Open Spanish against GM Robby Kevlishvili. His brother Victor is a known expert of this variation, so this was not completely unexpected. In any case, Kevlishvili seemed to know the line better and soon got a strong pressure on the kingside, which soon led to material gains and a relatively easy win.

Fedorchuk crushes Kevlishvili, four players at the top

The fifth round pitted the leader, GM Robby Kevlishvili, against the first ranked GM Sergey Fedorchuk, the latter having the white pieces. This setting promised a lot of excitement for the spectators and the opening, a 6.Bg5 Najdorf, even more so. The play got sharp indeed, but Black got into trouble early and the thematic sacrifice 20.Nd5! decided the game in White’s favour.


On the second board GM Lucas van Foreest finally ended (or at least interrupted) the dream run of Tuomas Simola who had won all his three games so far (and taken a bye in round three). In an Open Catalan Black’s weakened king’s position gave White a lasting pressure and in the end Black’s king was duly mated.

On the third board FM Elham Abdrlauf chose the rare Vienna Opening (with transposition) against GM Kaido Külaots. The Vienna can sometimes lead to very exciting chess, but not today. Black equalized professionally and the balance was never shaken.

The computer pairings cruelly set brothers GM Victor and IM Alexander Mikhalevski against each other on the fourth board. With the older brother Alexander having the white pieces, I suppose most of us expected a quick draw and after twelve theoretical moves of Caro-Kann, this is indeed what happened.

We should remind you that this year’s edition of Heart of Finland is also the Nordic Championship. In this regard, the game between GM Héðinn Steingrímsson and IM Mika Karttunen had some added importance. The Icelandic had the upper hand after the opening (Ragozin Queen’s Gambit) and was clearly winning in the middlegame thanks to Black’s weak king. The Finn is known for his resourcefulness, however, and managed to muddle the position enough to escape.

Henri Lahdelma had swindled nicely GM Boris Chatalbashev in the previous round. Today he got a clear advantage against GM Gábor Nagy’s provocative opening. Yet on the 18th move he dropped a pawn and the Hungarian grandmaster converted his advantage with a steady hand.

IM Tarvo Seeman opened the game with a solid King’s Indian Attack against the young Swedish IM Jung Min Seo. Black was never in any trouble and slowly took over the important central squares. White’s troops got gradually uncoordinated and in the end, he was not able defend all his weaknesses.

Kevlishvili in the sole lead after four rounds

Tapani Sammalvuo

GM Gabor Nagy and GM Sergey Fedorchuk decided that they needed to take the afternoon off and agreed to a draw after only fourteen moves of a Double (Quadruple?) Fianchetto Hedgehog.

IM Mika Karttunen and GM Lucas van Foreest also didn’t rock the boat in a Berlin endgame, although the game lasted 53 moves.

GM Robby Kevlishvili managed to get an edge in a 2.c3 Sicilian against IM Mikael Agopov. White’s position certainly was easier to play and a couple of inaccuracies by Agopov allowed Kevlishvili to develop a dangerous initiative that was too much to handle for Black. He is now the only player who has managed to win all his games.

Just behind the leaders, FM Jari Järvenpää showed up insufficiently prepared against GM Victor Mikhalevski and was ruthlessly punished for his negligence.

Agopov beats Heberla, six players share the lead

Tapani Sammalvuo

The third round saw some excellent chess and tough fights on the top boards. Whereas after the second round whole twenty-two players had won both of their games, now only six players continue to have a perfect score.

Top-rated GM Sergei Fedorchuk slowly suffocated IM Toivo Keinänen in a quiet French Tarrasch.

On the second board, IM Mikael Agopov got a revenge for his recent Finnish League loss to GM Bartłomiej Heberla in a Ruy Lopez that started as a slow manoeuvring game but sharpened towards the end.

GM Lucas van Foreest (the younger brother of the top-GM Jorden van Foreest) convincingly exploited Black’s weaknesses IM Vilka Sipilä created in a non-theoretical Maróczy Bind.

FM Kalle Niemi got into some trouble early on against GM Robby Kevlishvili’s ”Dragadorf”.

GM Gábor Nagy stoved off FM Timo Pääkkönen’s attack and converted his extra pawn into a win in a Panno King’s Indian.

IM Mika Karttunen grabbed all the space he could against Samu Ristoja’s Nimzo-Indian and this proved enough to win the game.


Korpa the first grandmaster to stumble

Tapani Sammalvuo

In the second round the rating gaps got smaller and the games more interesting. The first grandmaster casualty was Bence Korpa from Hungary, who was outplayed by Tuomas Simola in an instructive Grünfeld Reversed. This was the kind of game all amateur players dream of in open tournaments!

Other notable results include Henrik Lönnqvist’s (2019) draw against FM Elham Abdrlauf and Sverre Lye’s (2009) draw against IM Alexander Mikhalevski who thus joined his brother GM Victor Mikhalevski on 1½ (the latter took a bye in the first round). Third round pairings promise a lot of excitement as titled players are finally starting to face each other.

First round brings few surprises

First round brings few surprises

Tapani Sammalvuo

The opening rounds of big opens tend to see vast rating differences between the opposing players. This was also the case in XXX Heart of Finland’s first round, and the favourites went on to trounce their opponents with a huge score. Only two upsets were seen (not counting a bunch of draws), Marko Remes (1834) and Sara-Olivia Sippola (1704) beating FM Henri Pohjala (2339) and CM Rickard Engman (2159), respectively.

Typical of the treatment given and received was IM Alexander Mikhalevski’s win over young Tamás Martinec.

Artikkelikuva: Panu Laine

XXX Heart of Finlandin kisasivut on avattu

Vuoden kovatasoisimman kotimaisen shakkiturnauksen eli XXX Heart of Finlandin viralliset kisasivut on avattu:

Kisasivulta löytyy linkit osallistujalistoihin ja pääsy livepeleihin onnistuu kivuttomasti kisasivujen kautta kilpailun aikana. Livepelejä tulee olemaan yleisölle tarjolla noin 20 pöydän verran useamman eri kanavan välityksellä. Sivuilla julkaistaan myös kilpailun aikaista raportointia ja muuta olennaista kilpailuun liittyvää tietoa.

Ja vielä ehtii hyvin myös kisaan pelaamaan, sillä ilmoittautuminen jatkuu 13.7. saakka. Mukana on nyt 141 pelaajaa. Eiköhän vähintäänkin ylitetä kirkkaasti 150 pelaajan raja! Kutsu ja ilmoittautumisohjeet löytyvät täältä.





Photos (Jarkko Penttinen)

Photos (Panu Laine)

Tournament is financially supported by FIDE Open Aid Project