After a slight delay due to a small hiccup in the pairings, tournament director Koen Lambrechts opened the first round with a short speech. The opening phase of the round didn't give any quick results and after just over an hour the first results slowly came in. So far no upsets were recorded, but that would change as the afternoon progressed.
The results of the A group gave a surprising 5.5 out of 10 for the rating favourites on the highest boards, and the score could have been even lower with both WGM Mary Ann Gomes and Joris Gerlagh giving away promising positions against GMs Sipke Ernst and Evgeny Gleizerov. Ernst was probably lost for a couple of moves, however he managed to hang on in a difficult endgame. Gerlagh-Gleizerov was a tactically intriguing game in which both sides had their chances and in the end, the grandmaster prevailed.
The biggest upset of the day however occurred on board one where FM Nick Maatman beat the highest rated player on the list GM Michal Krasenkow in a game where Krasenkow blitzed out a somewhat unusual line in a Queen’s Gambit declined. After Maatman’s 17th move, the equalizing 17...Bxg2!, the tables started to turn. Not content with a draw, risks were taken by the grandmaster, after which Maatman consolidated his advantage and went on to win.
Nick Maatman wins against top seed Krasenkow in the first round of the Chess Festival Groningen! pic.twitter.com/Akeko5n8LI— Groningen-Chess (@GroningenChess) December 21, 2016
IM Mishra Swayams from India suffered a painful loss today, as he fell into an opening trap set up by his opponent Arjan Dijkstra, rated 2129. After 13 moves, the game was effectively over. The Indian tried to make the most of it being a piece down, but the dutchman finished the game in convincing style.
The longest game of the day ended in a draw after Jan Werle kept pushing to increase his advantage, unfortunately for him to no avail. In general the lower rated players in the top group scored well above the expected results.
Most of the favourites managed to win their first games in the B-group. A couple of noteworthy results were Feline Waardenburg-Marcel Pouw, in which the white player managed to hold a draw, despite being outrated by 300 points. A second surprising result was scored by Loek van de Hagen who overcame a 300 point rating gap playing an excellent game in a King's Indian Defense, resulting in a well deserved win for the 12-year old Loek.
Yochanan Afek - Jonas Hilwerda
Aside from the regular tournament, a match is taking place between Yochanan Afek and Jonas Hilwerda. The 64-year old IM from Israel is facing the promising 13-year old from Holland in a rapid match consisting of four games taking place on the 21st and 22nd. In the first round, Hilwerda had the white pieces, yet he never got a real advantage and after some precise play, a relatively quick draw was agreed. The second game of the day proved to be more difficult. Perhaps making some inaccurate defensive moves, Hilwerda soon found himself in a tough position and Afek managed to flag Jonas in an already winning position. Tomorrow, the match will see the final two 45-minute games in which Jonas will have to fight to equalize the score. At the moment, Afek is leading 1.5-0.5.