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Josh Friedel on a Stylish Win but a Mediocre Result Print E-mail
By GM Josh Friedel   
October 30, 2009
GM Josh Friedel, Photo Betsy Dynako
This fall is going to be busy.  The plan was to play the Unive Open in Hoogeveen, Netherlands , followed by Bad Wiessee in Germany , and then finally off to participate in the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.   I left the states on the 16th of October, and will return in late November, possibly even December if I make it far enough in Siberia.  GM Jesse Kraai, one of my study partners/neighbors is playing in the first couple of tournaments with me.  I’m writing from Amsterdam, fresh from the Unive Open. For those looking to play in a European Open, I would recommend Unive highly.  As GMs, Jesse and I got an appearance fee, and had meals and lodging provided for us.  Unlike most tournaments where the players are put up at hotels, we stayed in a bungalow park approximately four miles from the playing site.  Before the event we were worried that this would be a pain, but the bungalow was quite nice, and transportation was provided to and from where the games were played.  The biggest logistics problem we faced all tournament was finding the correct bungalow in the middle of the night.

Unfortunately, chess-wise the tournament wasn’t much of a success.  For the first time in a while, I was actually the #1 seed in a tournament, making my standards for this tournament higher than most.  I scored a respectable but unimpressive 6/9, performing just under my rating.  Jesse had an even rougher event, scoring only 5/9.  Nevertheless, there were a few positive moments.  I gave up a draw in round one, but managed to claw my way back to 2.5/3.  In round four I was paired with Dutch FM Migchiel De Jong.  In a Kan, he played a somewhat risky line, then in a dubious position blundered with 11… Bxe3. 

Position after 11...Bxe3

He missed that instead of simply recapturing, I could play the even stronger 12. axb5.  This led to a winning pawn up position.  I found the powerful move 16. Ra7, then sacked the exchange on move 17.  He missed his best defensive try with 21… Qc6, and played Qd8 instead, which allowed a pretty combination to end the game. 

White to Move and Win

Show Solution

I thought it was a nice game, but I was quite surprised when several spectators shook my hand vigorously after the game, and [Peter Doggers], who started the chessvibes website wanted to do a video on me.  


The next day, it was the main game in “Chess Today.”


It even won the brilliancy prize for the whole tournament, and at the closing ceremony I was presented a glass trophy and interviewed for Dutch TV.  This was a particularly odd feeling, as participants of the crown group were also present, which included chess legends Vassily Ivanchuk and Judit Polgar.  I mean, they have Polgar and Ivanchuk there, and they want to interview me?  And I didn’t even win the tournament!  It was quite a unique experience, and at the beginning all I thought was that I played a nice game.

After that game, the rest of the tourney was a bit of a blur.  I drew comfortably as Black against the then tournament leader Ukrainian GM Michail Brodsky, and then was paired as White against English GM Stewart Haslinger.  I knew this was the game I needed to win to propel myself into first.


I had a nice advantage, but threw it away with the horrible blunder 20. Nf4.  I had missed Nd3-b4 in my earlier calculations, and was thus afraid of it, though after simply Ra1 after Nd3, I seem to maintain a nice edge.  Instead I ended up with my pieces totally tied up. I sacked the exchange, but I didn’t have anywhere near enough comp, and I succumbed later in the bishop ending.

After losing that game, I was pretty much out of contention for first, while Haslinger ended up going winning it clear with 7.5/9.  It never ceases to amaze me how many tournaments hinge on one game.  This was  particularly true in the crown group, where Tiviakov scored the only win of the tournament against Polgar, while every single other game was drawn!  Talk about a pivotal game. 

So while the chess wasn’t ideal, the rest of the trip has been quite enjoyable.  I got to know a lot of the Dutch players, particularly a group of kids that stayed in the bungalow next to us.  There was a soccer game every night, a poker game, and of course tons of blitz and bughouse.  Jesse was very into learning Dutch, which is rather close to German, which he speaks already.  There is a special kind of trashcan in Holland, known as a “blikvanger,” which is basically a bag by the side of the road that bikers can pitch cans into as they pass.  We weren’t believing this at all, of course, and we had to ask several people to make sure it wasn’t some practical joke.  After the tournament, we went to Amsterdam, where I hung out before heading to Germany.  Afterwards, I’ll stay in Switzerland and then get on my sled to Siberia. Until then, Ciao!

Find out more about GM Josh Friedel on his official website. Also look for more dispatches from Josh as he continues his adventures in Bad Wiessee in Germany
, from October 31-November 8 and the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia (Nov.21-Dec.13).


October - Chess Life Online 2009

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