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Daniel Fridman emerges as the new sole leader

The leaderboard of the Grenke Chess Open remained characteristically volatile at the conclusion of the third day. While most leaders in the seven-player pack signed peace in their games, German Grandmaster, Danil Fridman scored his second straight win of the day and to take sole lead in the tournament with just two rounds to go. On the third board, Fridman got the better of the Dutch GM Jorden van Foreest. With two rounds to go, thirteen players remain within striking distance at 6/7.

GM Daniel Fridman exploited a tactical oversight by Jorden van Foreest to clinch the full point and take sole lead | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Fridman’s win could have hardly been predicted. As Black, he had countered Van Foreest’s 1.e4 with the Petroff. The game soon reached a rather insipid position. But just when it seemed that the game was headed towards a draw, Van Foreest overlooked a back rank tactic that forced immediate resignation.

Position after 25…Nf7

White’s back rank looks absolutely safe due to the absence of the ‘h’ pawn. And perhaps, Jorden also fell for this optical illusion and lifted his rook to d3. There followed 26...Qe1+ 27.Kh2 and then came the double attack 27…Ne5! White has no way to save the exchange due to the deadly threat of 28…Ng4.

Meanwhile, Anton Korobov, after having brought down tournament leader Aleksander Indjic in the previous round, went for a short draw to conclude the day. Playing against GM Andreas Heimann of Germany, he agreed to a draw merely 12 moves into a Nimzo-Indian Defence.

GM Amin Tabatabaei | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Most of the other top games were played out similarly into draws. However, Amin Tabatabaei seemed to have come to the board with a clear intention: to annihilate the enemy king. In a French Defence game, the Iranian grandmaster went for a sharp sideline in the Winawer defence and sacrificed an exchange very early in the game and opened lines against the enemy king. Once white’s heavy pieces had maneuvred their way onto the queenside, a powerful mating attack looked imminent. By the 32nd move, Tabatabaei had forced resignation.

Going into the final day of the event, German GM Danil Fridman will surely be a favourite to win the tournament thanks to his half point lead over the rest of the field. But then again, as many as thirteen players are hot under his heels, will try to overcome the score deficit the first chance they get. Pairings of the first ten boards of round 8 could be found below. 

1 8th Fridman, Daniel 7 Sarana, Alexey   -  
2 30 Goganov, Aleksey 3 Korobov, Anton   -  
3 12 Heimann, Andreas 31 Lopez Martinez, Josep Manuel   -  
4 36 Neiksans, Artur 15 Tabatabaei, M.amin   -  
5 42 Gukesh D. 17 Bluebaum, Matthias   -  
6 20 Ter-Sahakyan, Samvel 60 Beerdsen, Thomas   -  
7 28 Donchenko, Alexander 77 Garriga Cazorla, Pere   -  
8th 40 Pavlidis, Antonios 1 Bacrot, Etienne   -  
9 5 Kuzubov, Yuriy 45 Then, Matthias   -  
10 47 Basso, Pier Luigi 6 Chigaev, Maksim   -  

The video team of the GRENKE Chess Open shoots numerous videos every day. The interviews and impressions of the events in Karlsruhe can be viewed on the YouTube channel GRENKE Chess.

Text by Aditya Pai