First tournament of 2022: Roquetas de Mar (rounds 1-3)

With the sudden surge of the omikron variant in the middle of December, it was very unclear whether I could a play a tournament during the Christmas break and I was already preparing to study chess instead of playing. Fortunately for me, the Roquetas de Mar Open is being held as planned and so I travelled to Spain to play another open, together with my friends Tom Piceu and Steven Geirnaert. It’s nice to play a tournament again and the weather at this time of year is great in Spain: 17 degrees and lots of sun.

Roquetas de Mar is a touristic town in the south of Spain. In winter it seems to be mainly a resort for seniors from the northern part of Europe. Fortunately, we are not yet part of that group!

The tournament started yesterday afternoon with one match, immediately followed by two matches today. As always it is important not to make mistakes against the players with a lower rating and I managed to do that quite convincingly. My opponent in round 1 played the opening way too passively, so I soon had a very big advantage in a position in which I could always choose between many good moves. The end of the game was still entertaining.

Koen Leenhouts (2419) – Jose Miguel Gonzalez Capacete (1961)

There are probably many wins, but easiest is 33. Qe6+ Kg7 34.Qe5+ and the king has no good square to go to. If he goes to f7 or g8, I can play 35.d6+ winning the queen and otherwise he will lose the rook on h8.

In round 2 I was presented with a player from Peru. He played the opening too hesitantly as well, which led to a big advantage for me. Although my technique was not flawless, I still won without any major problems.

Jose Humbert Rodriguez Melenendez (2156) – Koen Leenhouts (2419)

Here, i had a nice win: 38…c3+ 39.bxc3 b3 and after the only move 40.Kc1 I have 40…Ba4! and one of the pawns will queen.

In round 3 I played the second seed GM Daniil Yuffa (2574). I could write a lot about this game, but tomorrow I have to play 2 rounds again, so I so suffice to say it was an exciting draw where I missed a clear chance to win. The game can be seen here. However, I am quite happy with my level of play so far and with my score of 2.5 out of 3, so I won’t complain. Tomorrow I will have to play my higher rated countryman Liam Vrolijk with the black pieces, which will be a challenge.

Live games can be followed here: https://chess24.com/en/watch/live-tournaments/roquetas-open-2022/3/1/2
Tournament pairings can be seen here: https://info64.org/roquetas-chess-festival-2022-xxxiii-international-open-274685