10 Jul

All in the Family

Chess quite often runs in families. The most notable being the Byrne brothers, Robert and Donald, both contemporaries of Bobby Fischer; and then there is the Polgar sisters, Susan, Sofia and Judit; and also not forgetting the Shahades, brother and sister IM Greg and WGM Jennifer who - like the Byrnes - played in several US Championships, not to mention their father, Mike, also a very strong player.

After 30...Qxe3!!

They were all brought up in a family environment that played and encouraged chess - but none compares to the sibling rivalry of the chess-playing Van Foreest family in Groningen, the Netherlands, who recently featured in a one-hour TV documentary entitled ‘The theorem of Foreest, a chess family’ (in Dutch, but watchable), for NPO, the Dutch Public Broadcasting service.

The strongest and the eldest of the clan is Jorden, 18, a Grandmaster, followed by Lucas, 16, an International Master; but also on the Fide rating list, they have three chess-playing brothers and a younger sister - and all from a noble Dutch family that has a very strong chess tradition. Their great-great grandfather Arnold Enge Linus van Foreest was three times (unofficial) Dutch champion between 1889 and 1902, following on from his elder brother Dirk who was also champion three times from 1885-87.

And following in the family tradition, last year Jorden turned in one of the best performances of his career to-date by becoming the youngest-ever Dutch champion. But last week in Amsterdam, as the eight-player 2017 Deloitte Dutch Championship got underway, the defending champion had what transpired to be a disastrous defense to his title.

In the opening round, Jorden was unceremoniously defeated by a stunning queen sacrifice from Sipke Ernst that proved to be the popular winner of the Prof. Han Van der Mass 'creative move' of the tournament - and buoyed by that dramatic start, Ernst went on to score 4½/7 to tie with multi-time champion Loek Van Wely, with the veteran winning the blitz playoff to claim his eighth Dutch title.

GM Jorden Van Foreest - GM Sipke Ernst
Dutch Championship, (1)
Giuoco Piano
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 These days you rarely see the Two Knights Defence with 3...Nf6, once thought to be the best move here throughout a greater part of second half of the 20th century. But chess fashion is a fickle thing, and what the top players play - having deeply crunched the Two Knights - is what becomes in-vogue. 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 Back in the day, when I was learning the ropes like one of the younger Van Foreests', more popular was the energetic 5.d4 - but 5.d3 is the modern day positional way to play this, and a big favourite of Magnus Carlsen. 5...d6 6.a4 a6 7.0-0 Ba7 8.Bg5 h6 9.Be3 0-0 10.Nbd2 Ne7 11.Nh4 c6 12.Bb3 Bg4 13.Qe1 g5 14.Nhf3 Ng6 15.Bxa7 Rxa7 16.Qe3 Sneakily hitting the rook on a7 can't be bad, as your opponent may not notice it is under attack. That's not so silly as it seems, because at the weekend, in Leon, Spain, Wesley So, playing a much lower-rated opponent, failed to notice his queen on d1 was under attack from a bishop on g4, and embarrassingly had to resign early - his excuse was that he was only looking at ranks 2 through 8 in his analysis! 16...Ra8 17.Rfe1 Kg7 18.Nf1 Be6 19.Bc2?! Van Foreest starts to lose his grip on the game here, as all this does is give Black the green light to crash in on the kingside now. He should have played 19.Bxe6 fxe6 20.Ng3 looking to play d4 (to undermine the knight heading into f4) with equality. 19...Nh5 Looking to have a powerful knight outpost on f4 that will become the fulcrum for launching a powerful kingside attack. 20.d4 There's no time for 20.g3 as Black comes crashing in over the top with 20...g4 21.N3d2 f5! and a screaming attack. So instead, Van Foreest attempts to open the center to make Black think twice about the attack because his own king could well be vulnerable. 20...g4 21.N3d2 Nhf4 Admittedly, alarm bells should have been ringing loudly in Van Foreest's head here - Ernst's knight is very powerful on the f4 outpost, and he's cleared a path for the queen to enter the fray now on g5 or perhaps even h4. 22.dxe5 There's no time for 22.g3 as Black can come right over the top now with 22...Nh3+ 23.Kg2 h5! and White is in deep trouble. So, understandably, Van Foreest seeks to open the game up in an attempt to stymie the Black attack. 22...dxe5 23.Red1 Qg5 24.Qc5? It's almost as if White wishes to commit regicide here! White's definitely in for a tough time of it - but, in reality, he had to hunker down with 24.Kh1 and see where the chips may fall. There's no outright killing blow for Black - but at the same time, White faces an uncomfortable time to defend here. 24...b6 The same coming attack probably works just as well here without this - but it is tempting to gain a tempo on the queen that will end up seeing Black having a rook on the seventh to add to the growing attack. 25.Qxb6? With so many pieces aimed at the White king, it's almost impossible not to win this! If 25.Qxc6?? Nh4! 26.Ne3 Nfxg2! 27.Nxg2 Nf3+ wins. And if White attempts to retreat the queen now with 25.Qe3, then there comes 25...Nh4 26.g3 Nh3+ 27.Kh1 Qxe3 28.fxe3 Nf2+ and White suffers a heavy loss of material. 25...Rab8 26.Qxa6 I think Van Foreest has a death wish in this game! 26...Nh4 27.Ne3 Rxb2 28.g3 Nh3+ 29.Kf1 f5 Let's invite everyone to the party, as Dr. John Nunn would say here. 30.Rab1 Qxe3!! Who doesn't love a spectacular queen sacrifice? And here, this is right out of the Romantic-era playbook, as the tactic comes with either winning material or inflicting a very aesthetic mate with the rooks and knights. 31.fxe3 fxe4+ 32.Nf3 Rxf3+ 33.Ke1 Ng2+ 0-1 Van Foreest resigned, faced with 34.Kd2 (34.Ke2 Rf2#) 34...Rf2+ 35.Qe2 (35.Kc1 Rfxc2#) 35...Rxc2+ 36.Kxc2 Rxe2+ 37.Kc1 Nxe3 easily winning.

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