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Fridman will have company in the finale

The penultimate round of the GRENKE Chess Open concluded with tournament’s sole leader, GM Daniel Fridman, agreeing to a short draw against Aleksey Sarana of Russia in the premier encounter of the day. Benefitting from this, three out of the thirteen pursuers at 6/7 caught up with the German Grandmaster in the lead. As it stands, Fridman is leading alongside Anton Korobov, Samvel Ter-Sahakyan and compatriot, Alexander Donchenko while just a half point behind is a crowd of 16 players, itching for their chance to catch up.

The leading four

On board two, Korobov kind of repeated the same tactic he had deployed in his fourth round game against Pier Luigi Basso. The difference this time was that it wasn’t as deadly, but it did yield him a better position.

Position after 28.Red1

Korobov was black here against GM Aleksey Sarana of Russia. After 27…d4, white decided to pin the ‘d’ pawn 28.Red1. But the thing with relative pins is that sometimes, they can be illusory. Korobov paid no heed to the fact that he might lose a rook and continued with 28…dxe3! And after 29.Rxd8, there followed 29…e2 30.Rxe8+ Nxe8 31.Rg1. And it was here that we saw a rerun of Korobov’s fourth round tactic.


31…Qxg1! (left) The queen sacrifices itself and resurrects soon after. Is this tactical motif a strangely befitting analogy to the Easter season? In a few more moves, Korobov had won a piece and had no problem converting the game.

Samvel Ter-Sahakyan versus Thomas Beerdsen also featured a tactical oversight. Beerdsen, playing black, also overlooked a pinning tactic on the 20th move of the game.

Position after 19.Bg4

Black’s 19…e5 here allowed Samvel to take the d7 bishop. If a recapture is made on d7, white can, of course, exploit the pin on the ‘d’ file with 21.Bxe5. Play continued 20.Bxd7 exd4 21.Bg4 g6 and 22.Bxh5. With so many pawn weaknesses, Beerdsen did not survive for long.

The game between Alexander Donchenko and Pere Garriga Carzola was a closed Catalan in which the latter went wrong very early in the game and ended up in a cramped position. With a strong attack and a much better position, Donchenko had little problems converting.

In the final round, the race for the title and a ticket to the Classic will be mainly between the four leaders who will be playing each other in the final round. Korobov is slated to Ter-Sahakyan while board two will see an all-German matchup between Donchenko and Fridman.

Round 9 pairings (top 10 boards)

1 3 Korobov, Anton 20 Ter-Sahakyan, Samvel   -  
2 28 Donchenko, Alexander 8 Fridman, Daniel   -  
3 31 Lopez Martinez, Josep Manuel 5 Kuzubov, Yuriy   -  
4 7 Sarana, Alexey 18 Svane, Rasmus   -  
5 11 Esipenko, Andrey 35 Gareyev, Timur   -  
6 37 Werle, Jan 12 Heimann, Andreas   -  
7 13 Banusz, Tamas 36 Neiksans, Arturs   -  
8 14 Bosiocic, Marin 42 Gukesh D   -  
9 15 Tabatabaei, M.amin 58 Engel, Luis   -  
10 17 Bluebaum, Matthias 65 Warmerdam, Max   -

Full pairings

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.