Worldchess’s columnist writes about some of the great performances and games in the very strong Hasselbacken Open, which ended earlier this week.

After Sam Sevian’s impressive victory over Alexei Shirov in the Hasselbacken Open earlier this month, he went on to have an excellent tournament, scoring 6.5/9, and finished in a tie for 14th through 31st (he was 15th on tiebreaks). In six games against opponents rated over 2600, he went undefeated, which pushed his own rating over 2600. An impressive result, but he was not the only young player to have a superior performance in the competition. Two others also did very well and they both won attractive games in the last round.

One of them is the aptly named Awonder Liang, a 13-year-old American international master, who finished with 7 points and tied for 3rd through 13th places (13th on tiebreaks). He started slowly with just 2/4, but finished the tournament with five consecutive wins. Liang has improved steadily the past few years – if it makes sense to use such a modest description of the progress of a player barely in his teens and rated over 2400 – and while he’s too late to break Sergey Karjakin’s record for the youngest-ever grandmaster, he’s well on pace to becoming a grandmaster in the next year or two. Here’s what he did in the last round to someone who already possesses the title:

Liang, Awonder vs. Landa, Konstantin
Hasselbacken Open 2016 | Stockholm SWE | Round 9.11 | 08 May 2016 | ECO: B10 | 1-0
1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 Nf6
3... Bg4 is the most popular choice, typically surrendering the bishop pair (after 4.h3 Bxf3) for a very solid setup. Black plays ...e6, when his pawns on light squares nicely complement his remaining bishop, which monitors the dark squares.  )
4. e5 Ne4 5. h3 White leaves the central tension intact, and takes time out to play against Black's light-squared bishop.
5. Ne2 is the most principled move, arguing that Black's knight is clumsy on e4 - d2-d3 is a bit of a threat.
5... Qb6 6. d4 e6 is usual, and now White generally chooses between two ways of ousting Black's pesky knight on e4.
7. Nfg1 is the other. It looks a little ridiculous, but f2-f3 is a big threat. Play generally continues
...  f6 8. f3 Ng5 9. exf6 gxf6 10. f4 Nf7 11. Nf3 when it's still unclear if White is better or if Black has equalized.  )
5... e6
5... Bf5 is possible, but the bishop could come under fire in several ways, including
6. Ne2 followed by either Ned4 or g4 followed by Nf4.  )
6. Qe2 Both sides are making clumsy-looking moves, but they always have a point. Of course White would prefer to have the bishop come to d3 instead, but then Black has ...Nc5.
6... Nxc3 7. dxc3 Qb6
7... c5 is a reasonable alternative, used successfully in a battle between two Chinese GMs in 2013.
8. Bg5 Qc7 9. g4 Nc6 10. c4 dxc4 11. Bg2 b5 12. a4 Bb7 13. axb5 Nd4 14. Qd1 h6 15. Bd2 Be4 16. O-O Qb7 17. Ra3 Bd5 18. Ne1 Bxg2 19. Nxg2 Rd8 20. f4 Nxb5 21. Rg3 Nd4 22. f5 Qe4 23. Rf2 Be7 24. Qf1 exf5 25. gxf5 Qxe5 26. Bf4 Qd5 27. Ne3 Qe4 28. Qxc4 Bh4 29. Rxg7 Bxf2+ 30. Kf1 Rd7 0-1 (30) Lu,S (2551)-Ding,L (2707) Danzhou 2013  )
8. c4! Qb4+ This may not be best. Black's king will be safe after the queen trade, that's true, but White's extra space gives him a definite positional advantage.
9. c3 Qxc4 10. Qxc4 dxc4 11. Bxc4 b6 Giving Black two options for his bishop: offer a swap on a6, or play ...Bb7 followed by an eventual ...c5, hoping to use the long light-squared diagonal.
12. Bd3 White's bishop is a good piece in general, so Liang avoids the swap (he'll meet ...Ba6 with 13.Be4), and in any case it wasn't doing much on c4. Therefore the bishop retreats, most likely heading to e4 even if it's not to avoid the trade.
12... Nd7
12... Ba6 should perhaps have been played anyway.  )
13. Be4 Bb7 14. Be3
14. Bf4  )
14... Bc5 Apparently Black is eager to swap any pair of bishops that he can. Once again, Liang is unwilling to do so. This time it's not because his dark-squared bishop is a particularly good piece, but because Black lacks space. His bishop is on c5, but his knight might prefer to have the square instead. (For that matter, so would Black's c-pawn, once the bishop on b7 is protected!) So it makes sense for White to leave Black with a jumble of pieces all fighting for the same small set of squares.
14... Be7  )
14... O-O-O  )
15. Bf4! a5
15... h6  )
15... Be7!?  )
16. Nd4 Rc8 17. O-O-O Be7 18. h4 Not bad, but
18. Nb5! was better.  )
18... h6
18... Ba8! protects the bishop, taking away White's Nb5 trick.  )
19. Bf3
19. Nb5!  )
19... Nc5 A second piece tries its luck on the c5 square.
19... Ba8!  )
20. Be3 Not a particularly dangerous move in its own right, but it set a trap Black fell for, head over heels.
20... Nd7?? Landa may have thought that Liang was offering a draw: the bishop would return to f4 to protect the e-pawn, after which Landa could play ...Nc5 again, Liang could play Be3 again, etc. One problem:
21. Nxe6! With queens on the board Landa would never have missed such a blow; with queens off, however, one's diligence is often dulled.
21... fxe6 22. Bh5+ Kd8
22... Kf8 23. Rxd7 is just as hopeless for Black.  )
23. Bxb6+ Rc7 24. Bf7 Or
24. Bg4 .  )
24... Kc8 A mistake, but there weren't any particularly good moves available.
25. Bxe6! Rd8 26. Rxd7!
26. Rxd7! Rcxd7 27. Rd1! Kb8 28. Bxd7  )

The second player is even younger — 11-year-old Indian Nihal Sarin. His rating is already 2351, and his outstanding last-round victory over the experienced Latvian grandmaster Eduardas Rozentalis will give his rating a nice upward bump. Like Sevian, he too scored 6.5 points; he finished 30th on tiebreaks.

Rozentalis, Eduardas vs. Nihal, Sarin
Hasselbacken Open 2016 | Stockholm SWE | Round 9.17 | 08 May 2016 | ECO: B53 | 0-1
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 a6 5. Be3 Aiming to create a queenside bind.
5... Nc6 6. Qb6 Qxb6 7. Bxb6 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Nd5 Kf8 Forced.
10. O-O-O
10. Bc7 Bg4 11. Nb6 Re8 12. h3 Bxb2! 13. Rb1 Bc3+ Black has a safe extra pawn.  )
10... Nf6
10... Bg4 is also possible.  )
11. Nxf6 Bxf6 12. h3 Stopping ...Bg4.
12... Be6 13. a3 Kg7 14. g4 h6 15. Kb1 Rhc8 Hoping to eventually have something for the other rook to do on the b-file.
16. Be3 b5 17. g5 hxg5 18. Nxg5 Bc4! 19. h4
19. Bg2 b4! 20. b3 bxa3! 21. e5! Bxe5 22. Bxc6! Rxc6 23. bxc4 Rxc4 24. Ka2! Rb8 25. Rb1 Bb2  )
19. Bxc4?! bxc4 20. Ka2 Rab8 21. c3? Ne5  )
19... Bxf1 20. Rdxf1 Rh8 Preventing h4-h5 and preparing to pressure the h-pawn.
20... b4!?  )
21. f4 Rh5 22. Nf3 Rah8 23. Bf2 e5
23... b4  )
24. fxe5?
24. Rd1 Be7 is still a little better for Black, but White should still hold.  )
24... Nxe5 25. Bg3 Nc4 26. c3
26. b3 Nxa3+ 27. Kc1 Rc8 28. Rf2 Rhc5 29. Rhh2 Rc3! 30. Bxd6 Rxb3  )
26... Bxh4! 27. Bxh4
27. Nxh4 Nd2+ 28. Kc2 Nxf1 29. Rxf1 Rxh4 30. Bxh4 Rxh4 31. Kd3 Rh2 Black should win thanks to the strength of his passed g-pawn.  )
27... Rxh4 28. Rxh4
28. Nxh4 Nd2+ transposes to the previous note.  )
28... Rxh4 29. Nxh4
29. b3 Ne3 30. Re1 Rxe4  )
29... Nd2+ 30. Kc2 Nxf1 31. Kd3 Kf6 32. Nf3 g5 33. Ke2 g4! 34. Nd4
34. Kxf1 gxf3 35. Kf2 Ke5 36. Kxf3 d5 37. exd5 Kxd5 38. b3 a5 followed by ...a4, winning.  )
34... Ng3+ 35. Ke3 Kg5 36. Nc6 f5 37. exf5 Nxf5+ 38. Kf2 g3+ 39. Kf3 Kh4 40. Nb4 Kh3 41. Nd3 Nh4+ 42. Ke4 Kh2 43. Nf4 Kh1!
43... Ng6?? 44. Nxg6 g2 45. Nh4 g1=Q 46. Nf3+  )
44. b3 Ng6 45. Ne2 g2 46. c4 bxc4 47. bxc4 a5 48. a4 Ne7 49. Kd4 Kh2 50. Ke4 Nc8 51. Kd5 Nb6+ 52. Kxd6 Nxc4+ 53. Kc5 Nb2 54. Kb5 Nd3 55. Kxa5 Nc1 At long last, the winning deflection.
56. Nxc1 g1=Q 57. Nb3 Qa7+ 58. Kb5 Qb7+ 59. Kc4 Qa6+ 60. Kb4 Kg3 61. a5 Kf4 62. Nc5 Qc6 63. a6 Ke5

Liang and Sarin are likely to be a big large part of chess’s future. The present, at least for this year’s Hasselbacken Open, belonged to grandmasters Dmitry Andreikin of Russia and Baskaran Adhiban of India, both of whom won in the last round to finish with 7.5/9. Adhiban won his game with a splendid attack, making great use of his pre-match preparation to defeat fellow grandmaster Victor Mikhalevski of Israel.

Adhiban, Baskaran vs. Mikhalevski, Victor
Hasselbacken Open 2016 | Stockholm SWE | Round 9.4 | 08 May 2016 | ECO: D70 | 1-0
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 A popular anti-Gruenfeld variation nowadays.
3... d5
3... Bg7 4. e4 d6 invites a transposition to the Saemisch King's Indian, though White commonly avoids the move that would achieve it - 5.Nc3 - and instead plays
5. Ne2 , e.g.
5... O-O 6. Be3 often followed by Qd2. Sometimes the b1-knight will go to c3 after all, but another scheme sees the e2-knight go there instead, while the other knight goes to d2 or even a3.  )
3... c5 is a third approach, heading for a Benoni or even a Benko Gambit structure.  )
4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nb6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2 e5
8... Nc6 is even more common, but nowadays these moves may deserve co-main line status.  )
9. d5 c6 10. h4 cxd5 11. exd5 N8d7 12. h5 Nf6 13. hxg6 fxg6 14. O-O-O Bd7 15. Kb1 Rc8 The players are still deep in theory. Now Adhiban departs from the most well-worn paths, those formed by 16.Ka1 and 16.d6.
16. Nh3 Rare, but not unknown.
16... e4 17. d6 But this move is new.
17... exf3 18. gxf3 Na4? The engine prefers the obvious
18... Nc4 , and time will tell if White has an objectively strong idea here, or if this was a novelty for a single game.
19. Bxc4+ Rxc4 is more or less forced, and here White has the freedom to try various plans. In case of the most direct move,
20. Bh6 , Black should sac the exchange:
20... Rxc3! 21. bxc3 Bxh6 22. Qxh6 Qa5! 23. Rc1 Be6 24. Rh2 Rc8 25. Ng5 Bf5+ 26. Ka1 Rxc3 27. Ne4 Rxc1+ 28. Qxc1 Nxe4 29. Qc4+ Kg7 30. fxe4 Qe5+ 31. Rb2 Bxe4 32. d7 Bf5! Without this nice resource, White would be winning. For Mikhalevski to spot this back on move 18, especially when there are so many other lines to work out, would be next to impossible.
33. Qe2 Qd4! 34. d8=Q Qxd8 35. Rxb7+ Kf8! 36. Qe5 Qd1+ 37. Kb2 Qd2+ 38. Kb3 Qd3+  )
19. Nxa4 Bxa4 20. Ng5!?
20. Rc1 is also very good.  )
20... Bxd1
20... Bc2+!? makes sense, aiming to drive the king to the corner before taking on d1. White is better there too, but the best move is
21. Qxc2! , when
21... Rxc2 22. Kxc2 gives White a decisive advantage. The immediate threat is Bc4+, and if Black tries to stop it with
22... Qc8+ 23. Kb1 and now
23... h5 to safeguard his king, White has
24. d7! Nxd7 25. Bh3  )
21. Qxd1 Black is a full exchange ahead, but White threatens Qb3+ and Ne6, for starters. Black's king is extremely weak, and White's pieces are very active.
21... Qa5
21... Rc6 22. Qb3+ Kh8 23. Bd3! Qxd6 24. Bxg6 h6 seems to be the best Black can do, and it's unlikely to be enough after
25. Nf7+ Rxf7 26. Bxf7 /+-  )
22. Qb3+ Kh8
22... Qd5 23. Qxd5+ Nxd5 24. Bh3 regains the material (White threatens both Bxc8 and especially Be6+ and Bxd5) with a winning advantage.  )
23. Bd3! More problems for Black, this time on g6 and h7. Black is up an exchange, but White's pieces are so active it looks as if he has the material advantage.
23... Nh5 24. Nxh7! Rxf3
24... Kxh7 25. Qe6 Rf6 26. Qg4! This is even better than taking on c8, which also wins.
26... Rf5 27. Rxh5+! gxh5 28. Qxf5+! Qxf5 29. Bxf5+ Kg8 30. Bxc8  )
25. Ng5! One hammer blow after another.
25... Rf5
25... Rxe3 26. Rxh5+! gxh5 27. Nf7+ leads to a sort of smothered mate:
27... Kg8 28. Nh6+ Kh8 29. Qg8+ Rxg8 30. Nf7#  )
26. Qe6! Qd5 27. Rxh5+! White has many winning moves, but this is the strongest of the lot.
27... gxh5 28. Nf7+! Kg8 29. Qxc8+ Kxf7 30. Qxf5+
30. Bc4 was most precise, but Adhiban's move is also good enough to force resignation. Great preparation, and great play afterwards as well.  )

As for Andreikin, a former candidate for the World Championship, he took first on tiebreaks. His last round victory was with Black against Borki Predojevic, a Bosnian grandmaster. Both players seemed to be in an experimental mood in the opening, but the experiment backfired for Predojevic:

Predojevic, Borki vs. Andreikin, Dmitry
Hasselbacken Open 2016 | Stockholm SWE | Round 9.1 | 08 May 2016 | ECO: B06 | 0-1
1. e4 g6 A slightly provocative opening move, but one must generally take some chances to defeat a strong opponent with Black.
2. h4!? Clearly White wants to play for a win as well.
2... Nf6!? 3. e5 Nh5 4. Be2 d6! 5. d4?! White should play
5. exd6 Qxd6 6. d4 White cannot win a pawn with
...   )
5... dxe5 6. dxe5 Qxd1+ 7. Bxd1 Nc6 Black is already better. His small opening gamble has paid off very quickly; White's gamble backfired.
8. Nc3 Be6
8... Bd7 is even better. Black is wise to avoid the temptation of taking on e5. White's position is worse; Black needs only to finish developing to enjoy a serious advantage.  )
8... Nxe5?! 9. Nb5! gives White some counterplay.  )
9. Nh3 Nxe5 No problem with taking now.
10. Ng5
10. Nb5 O-O-O 11. Nxa7+ Kb8 12. Nb5 Bg7 Half of White's army is undeveloped, and the half that is doesn't cohere at all.  )
10... Bc4
10... Bf5  )
11. b3 Bg7! 12. Bxh5
12. bxc4 Nd3+! 13. Kd2? Nxf2 14. Bxh5 Rd8+ 15. Ke3 Nxh1  )
12... Nd3+! 13. Kd2 Rd8
13... Nxf2  )
14. bxc4
14. cxd3 Rxd3+ 15. Kc2 Rxc3+ 16. Kd1 Rd3+ 17. Kc2 Bxa1 18. bxc4 Rc3+ 19. Kb1 gxh5 20. Kxa1 Rxc4  )
14... Nxf2+ 15. Ke3 Bd4+! 16. Kf3 Nxh1 Black is completely winning. No one wants to resign a big-money last round game, especially after just 16 moves, so Predojevic fights on.
17. Bb2 Nf2 18. Bg4 h6 19. Nh3 Nxg4 20. Kxg4 f5+
20... Rd6!  )
20... g5!  )
21. Kf3 e5 22. Rb1 Kd7
22... Kf7 was more precise.  )
23. Nd5 Bxb2 24. Rxb2 b6 25. Rb1?
25. c5  )
25... c6 26. Ne3 Ke6 Black has finally consolidated, and can start reeling in the point. Sometimes two minor pieces make a match for a rook and a couple of pawns, but this is rarely the case when neither of the minor pieces is a bishop. Add to the mix White's lousy pawn structure and the dominance of Black's pawn center, and the result is an easily won game for Andreikin.
27. Re1 Rd4 28. g3 g5!? 29. Nf2
29. hxg5 hxg5 30. Nxg5+?? Kf6 leaves the knight trapped.  )
29... e4+
29... gxh4  )
30. Kg2 Ke5
30... gxh4  )
30... f4  )
31. c3 Rd7? A strange move. Time pressure?
31... Rd2  )
32. hxg5
32. c5!  )
32... hxg5 33. Nc2?
33. c5!  )
33... c5
33... Rd2  )
34. g4?
34. Re2  )
34... Rd2! 35. Ne3 f4 36. Nf1 Now for the star finish.
36... Re2!! Not the only winning move, but it is the nicest and best.
36... Re2 If White's rook moves away, then 37...e3 wins the knight, while if
37. Rxe2 f3+ 38. Kg1 fxe2 the only way to prevent ...e1Q is
39. Nd3+ exd3 40. Kf2 , which is hopeless every which way.
40... Rf8+ 41. Ke1 exf1=Q+ 42. Kd2 Rf2+ 43. Ke3 Qe2#  )


Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.