Erik Blomqvist is the new Nordic Chess Champion

Interim bulletin from day nine by Daryl Taylor



The big chess news from Sastamala at 2 p.m. on Sunday is that Swedish GM Erik Blomqvist is the new Nordic Chess Champion and that 17 year-old Danish FM Martin Percivaldi is runner-up and also achieved a GM norm.

This was no short grandmaster draw, but a hard-fought encounter that saw IM-elect Percivaldi playing two pawns down with dynamic compensation at one stage. The tension continued all the way to a rook and pawn ending with an extra pawn that the Swedish GM was eventually unable to win. The was drawn by stalemate on the 49th move.

The occasion was also a veritable media circus, with a Finnish national sports television journalist and cameraman eager to capture the moment. For mass media purposes at least, tournament leader Swedish GM Erik Blomqvist was thereby cast in the role of Goliath against his young challenger. For chess enthusiasts, on the other hand, this was more about an up-and-coming master proving his worthiness for a GM result.

The opening was a Carlsbad variation of the Slav defence; a combative choice by both players suggesting that neither would be content with a draw. With the TV cameras rolling, play developed along a known line until the Swedish GM innovated with 13 Nxe5, giving black a choice of minor piece exchanges. The outcome slightly weakens the position of the castled white king, but black’s so far uncastled king also has a choice of rather draughty destinations, either towards the already blown open kingside or straight into white’s readymade queenside attack. On the other hand both players had the option of exchanging the queens to take the edge away from such attacking ambitions. Such an exchange soon occurred, and black was left in a position two pawns down with an active bishop pair. This is actually a lot more equal than it appears, and the young Danish contender was able to maintain the tension and claim the draw after some anxious moments.

A full report of the last tournament day will appear in English later this evening.