Niemann Wins Capablanca Memorial and Tepe Sigeman

Are we witnessing the emergence of a new contender for America’s top player?

 

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Hans Niemann (Lars Hedlund)
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Hans Niemann (photo Lars Hedlund)

GM Hans Niemann has thrown down the gauntlet, winning two strong international events in recent weeks. The first victory came at the 55th Capablanca Memorial Tournament (April 19-28, 2022) which took place in Havana, Cuba and had an average rating of 2589. Hans dominated the 10-player round-robin, winning by two full points with a score of 7½/9 and a performance rating of 2857. He pocketed 23.40 ELO points in the process, raising his live rating to 2656. The only other American player to win this event in recent years was GM Sam Shankland in 2018. (GM Wesley So won it in 2014, but this was before his transfer to the U.S. was finalized.)

In round 5, Hans outlasted GM Surya Ganguly, longstanding second for GM Viswanathan Anand, in a 90-move battle. After 48 moves of play, Niemann emerged a pawn up in a rook ending and was able to bank the full point.

[pgn][Event "LV Capablanca Memorial Elite 2022"] [Site "La Habana"] [Date "2022.04.23"] [Round "5.3"] [White "Niemann, Hans Moke"] [Black "Ganguly, Surya Shekhar"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A34"] [WhiteElo "2642"] [BlackElo "2627"] [PlyCount "179"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] 1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Nc6 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Nc3 Nc7 7. d3 e5 8. O-O Be7 9. Nd2 O-O 10. Nc4 f6 11. f4 exf4 12. Bxf4 Be6 13. Qb3 Rb8 14. Bxc7 Qxc7 15. Bd5 Bf7 16. Bxf7+ Rxf7 17. Nd5 Qd7 18. e4 b5 19. Nce3 Nd4 20. Qd1 Bd6 21. Qh5 Qe6 22. b3 g6 23. Qg4 f5 24. exf5 Nxf5 25. Rae1 Bf8 26. Qg5 Nxe3 27. Nf6+ Kh8 28. Rxe3 Qd6 29. Ne8 Rxf1+ 30. Kxf1 Qd4 31. Qe5+ Qxe5 32. Rxe5 Rb6 33. Nc7 Kg8 34. Re8 Rb7 35. Rc8 Kf7 36. Na6 Rd7 37. Nxc5 Rd5 38. Rc7+ Be7 39. Ne4 Rxd3 40. Ke2 Rd4 41. Ke3 Rd1 42. Rxa7 Ke6 43. Ra6+ Kf5 44. Nf2 Bc5+ 45. Ke2 Rg1 46. g4+ Ke5 47. Nd3+ Kd4 48. Nxc5 Kxc5 49. Kf3 b4 50. Ra7 Ra1 51. Kf4 h6 52. Ra6 Rf1+ 53. Kg3 Rg1+ 54. Kh3 Ra1 55. Kg3 Rg1+ 56. Kh4 Rh1 57. h3 g5+ 58. Kg3 Rc1 59. Rxh6 Rc3+ 60. Kf2 Rc2+ 61. Ke3 Rxa2 62. Rh5 Rb2 63. Rxg5+ Kd6 64. h4 Rxb3+ 65. Kf4 Rb1 66. h5 Rf1+ 67. Kg3 Kc6 68. Re5 b3 69. Re2 Kd6 70. Rb2 Ke5 71. Rxb3 Rg1+ 72. Kh4 Kf6 73. Rb6+ Kg7 74. h6+ Kh7 75. Kh5 Rh1+ 76. Kg5 Ra1 77. Rb7+ Kg8 78. Kg6 Ra6+ 79. Kh5 Rc6 80. g5 Rc5 81. Rg7+ Kh8 82. Re7 Kg8 83. Kg6 Rc6+ 84. Kf5 Rc5+ 85. Re5 Rc1 86. Kf6 Rf1+ 87. Kg6 Rf8 88. Kh5 Ra8 89. g6 Rb8 90. h7+ 1-0 [/pgn]

Next up for Hans was the 27th Tepe Sigeman Tournament (May 3-9, 2022) held in Malmo, Sweden. This was an eight-player round-robin with a considerably stronger average rating of 2681, and an all-GM field featuring Michael Adams, David Navara, Jordan Van Foreest, Arjun Erigaisi, A.R. Saleh Salem, Alexei Shirov and Nils Grandelius. Hans was the 7th seed entering play, with only the “local Swede” Grandelius ranking lower.

After starting off the event with draws against Michael Adams and David Navara, Hans then shifted into overdrive and rattled off three consecutive victories against India’s top-rated junior talent Arjun Erigaisi, top Emirati player A.R. Saleh Salem and the Latvian-legend Alexei Shirov.

[pgn][Event "27th Sigeman & Co 2022"] [Site "Malmo SWE"] [Date "2022.05.05"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Niemann, Hans Moke"] [Black "Erigaisi, Arjun"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D12"] [WhiteElo "2637"] [BlackElo "2675"] [PlyCount "135"] [EventDate "2022.05.03"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Be4 7. f3 Bg6 8. Qb3 Qc7 9. Bd2 Be7 10. Nxg6 hxg6 11. O-O-O dxc4 12. Qxc4 a6 13. Kb1 Nbd7 14. h4 c5 15. Qb3 cxd4 16. exd4 Qb6 17. Qa4 Qc6 18. Bb5 Qc8 19. Bd3 Qc6 20. Qxc6 bxc6 21. Na4 Nd5 22. Rc1 Bb4 23. Bxb4 Nxb4 24. Be2 Nb8 25. g3 Ke7 26. Nc5 Ra7 27. f4 Rd8 28. Rhd1 a5 29. Bf3 Nd5 30. Re1 Nd7 31. Nd3 Kd6 32. Re2 Ra6 33. Rec2 Rc8 34. b3 Ne3 35. Rd2 Nd5 36. Nb2 Rc7 37. Rdc2 Ne3 38. Rd2 Nf5 39. g4 Ne3 40. Re1 Nd5 41. f5 Rc8 42. Nc4+ Ke7 43. h5 g5 44. a4 Nf4 45. Ka2 Rb8 46. Ka3 Rd8 47. fxe6 fxe6 48. Rc2 Rf8 49. Be4 Kd8 50. Nd2 Nf6 51. Bf3 g6 52. hxg6 Rg8 53. Nc4 Nd7 54. Rh2 Rxg6 55. Rh8+ Kc7 56. Rh7 Kd8 57. Reh1 Rf6 58. Rg7 Ng6 59. Be4 Ngf8 60. Ne5 Rf4 61. Rh8 Nxe5 62. dxe5 c5 63. Bf5 Ke8 64. Bg6+ Kd8 65. Bf7 Ke7 66. Bxe6+ Kxe6 67. Rh6+ Kxe5 68. Rxg5+ 1-0 [/pgn]

The game against Salem featured an impressive exchange sacrifice after 29…Kf6!.

[pgn][Event "27th Sigeman & Co 2022"] [Site "Malmo SWE"] [Date "2022.05.06"] [Round "4.4"] [White "Salem, A.R. Saleh"] [Black "Niemann, Hans Moke"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E54"] [WhiteElo "2690"] [BlackElo "2637"] [PlyCount "86"] [EventDate "2022.05.03"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 d5 6. Nf3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 c5 8. O-O cxd4 9. exd4 b6 10. Re1 Bb7 11. Bd3 h6 12. Bf4 Nc6 13. a3 Bd6 14. Be5 Be7 15. Qe2 Nxe5 16. dxe5 Nd5 17. Qe4 g6 18. Nb5 Bc5 19. Rad1 h5 20. Rd2 Qe7 21. Nd6 Bxd6 22. exd6 Qxd6 23. Ne5 Qe7 24. Bc4 Qg5 25. Rd3 Rad8 26. h4 Qf5 27. Qxf5 gxf5 28. Red1 Kg7 29. Bb5 Kf6 30. Nd7+ Rxd7 31. Bxd7 Nf4 32. Rd6 Bxg2 33. Bc6 Rg8 34. Bxg2 Rxg2+ 35. Kf1 Rh2 36. Kg1 Rxh4 37. Rd7 Rg4+ 38. Kh1 Nh3 39. R1d2 Ng5 40. R2d3 f4 41. Rxa7 f3 42. Rb3 e5 43. Rxb6+ Kg7 0-1 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "27th Sigeman & Co 2022"] [Site "Malmo SWE"] [Date "2022.05.07"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Niemann, Hans Moke"] [Black "Shirov, Alexei"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D12"] [WhiteElo "2637"] [BlackElo "2693"] [PlyCount "117"] [EventDate "2022.05.03"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Be4 7. f3 Bg6 8. Qb3 Qc7 9. Bd2 Be7 10. g3 a6 11. c5 Nbd7 12. Nxg6 hxg6 13. Na4 g5 14. O-O-O g4 15. Be2 gxf3 16. Bxf3 O-O-O 17. Rdf1 g5 18. Be1 g4 19. Be2 Rh3 20. Bd3 Rdh8 21. Qc2 Qd8 22. Qg2 Qg8 23. Nc3 Nh7 24. e4 Ng5 25. exd5 Nf3 26. Rxf3 gxf3 27. Qc2 exd5 28. Bf5 Qg5+ 29. Kb1 Qh6 30. Bd2 Rxh2 31. Bxh6 Rxh1+ 32. Bc1 R8h2 33. Bxd7+ Kb8 34. Nd1 Rxc2 35. Kxc2 Kc7 36. Bg4 Rf1 37. Bf4+ Kd8 38. Be3 Bf6 39. a4 a5 40. Kd2 Kc7 41. Bh5 b6 42. cxb6+ Kxb6 43. Bf2 Bg5+ 44. Kc2 f6 45. b3 Bh6 46. Bxf3 Be3 47. Bxe3 Rxf3 48. Bf4 c5 49. Ne3 cxd4 50. Nxd5+ Kc5 51. Nxf6 Rf2+ 52. Kd3 Rf3+ 53. Ke4 Rxb3 54. Nd7+ Kc4 55. Ne5+ Kc3 56. Nf3 Ra3 57. Bd2+ Kc2 58. Bxa5 d3 59. Ne1+ 1-0 [/pgn]

Heading into the final round, Niemann was leading the field by a full point with 4½/6. Knowing a draw would suffice for clear first place, only top-seed Jordan Van Foreest stood in his way. With a 60-move draw, Niemann finished a full point ahead of Adams, Erigaisi and Grandelius with a score of 5/7. This performance boosted Hans’ live rating to 2674.

Over the coming months, Niemann will be playing in several strong events, with realistic hopes of breaking the 2700 barrier. If he keeps up with performances like this, he will smash right through it.

Comments

Will the World Junior Chess Championship be held this year? Hans Niemann would be the American representative.

Wow!

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