Sahaj Grover holds Sipke in Groningen International chess

Groningen: International Master and Grandmaster norm holder Sahaj Grover held third seed Ernst Sipke to an easy draw in the second round of Groningen International open chess tournament here.

After a fine win in the first round, this turned out to be a good effort by Grover especially in the light of the fact that he had black pieces against Sipke, who is rated over 150 points than the Indian.

Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta was lucky for the second day running as he salvaged a lost position against International Master Robin Van Kampen of Holland.

Amongst the other Indians in the fray, Shiven Khosla scored an impressive victory over Thomas Willemze of Holland while Ashwin Jayaram met his nemesis in Grandmaster Dejan Bojkov of Bulgaria.

At the top of the table, seven players share the lead with a perfect score including defending champion Illya Nyzhnyk of Ukraine and Vahe Baghdarsyan of Armenia.

Sharing the eighth spot, amongst others are Abhijeet, Grover and Khosla on 1.5 points each while Ashwin has one point from his two games with seven rounds still to come in this strong open.

Grover employed the Queen’s Gambit and went for the Lasker variation, used by World Champion Viswanathan Anand twice against Topalov, successfully.

In fact, the opening gave Anand the vital victory in the last game of the world championship match against Topalov earlier this year and expectedly, Sipke did not fall in to any of the long-analysed variations.

The Dutchman chose a side line, got nothing in the middle game that ensued and played it safe when Grover exerted queen side pressure. The clock said it all, the Indian sub-junior champion had used very little of his allotted time when the game was drawn vide repetition of moves.

Abhijeet Gupta is clearly struggling with his form here. Playing black against Kampen, it was a French defense that Abhijeet employed for the first time and faced one of the topical variations. It was in the middle game that Abhijeet misplayed and lost the second pawn.

To make matters worse for the Indian, the queens also had been traded and the position was completely lost.

However, Abhijeet decided to put up the best resistance and the tactic paid off. Kampen first gave back one of the pawns and although the position remained much better for him, there were already many complications. Abhijeet finished the game by exchanging a couple of pawns and reached a drawn endgame.

Khosla was impressive in his triumph over Willemze. The Indian played the Sicilian Classical with black pieces and gave up a pawn early for the Bishop pair. Slow improvement and some passive play by Willemze gave Khosla easy access to act against pawn weaknesses on the king side and he gobbled a couple of them to ensure the full point.

Ashwin blitzed out the opening moves against Bojkov but felt the heat as the German appeared better prepared. Ashwin lost a rook for knight and never recovered.


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