Leuven Open day 2: still on a perfect score

I was looking forward to take a couple of longer walks through the city of Leuven, but the weather is not cooperating yet. The tournament is being held for the 32nd time. The list of winners consists of a mix of International Grandmasters and International Masters. The biggest names on the list of winners are probably the IGM’s Azmaiparashvili, Baklan, Glek, Torre, Chuchelov, Miroshnichenko and Epishin.

In chess circles Leuven got famous for staging two editions of the Grand Chess Tour, in 2017 and 2018. In 2017 Magnus Carlsen was present alongside all the other top players, whereas in 2018 most of the top players competed, but this time without Carlsen.

In this tournament the field is, of course, a lot less impressive. I am seeded 3rd, with 1 Grandmaster participating (Alexandre Dgebuadze), 1 other IM (Steven Geirnaert) and a lot of up and coming 2300s. After 3 rounds I am still on a perfect score.

In round 2 I played young Belgian player Fabio De Block. I sacrificed a pawn in the opening for strong pressure and Fabio could not keep his position together.

Koen Leenhouts (2413) – Fabio De Block (2011)

Black might be a pawn up, but he is also suffocating under an absence of space. I played a good move: 13. Nc5! trying to crack Black’s position open and take advantage of his lack of development and weakened dark squares. He responded with 13…Bxc5 14. dxc5 Qxc5 15. Ba3 b4 

Here, I had many possibilities and the strongest might have 16. Rac1, but I chose 16. e4 which wasn’t bad either, 16…Nf6 17. Nd3 Qc3 18. Qb1 bxa3 and here I won the exchange by simply taking on b7 19. Qxb7 and I won shortly afterwards.

In round 3 I was facing Martijn Maddens (2119) and playing with Black against players of this calibre is never an easy task for me. My goal was to just play solid, good moves and take the chance whenever there was one. This chance came when Martijn blundered badly in an innocent position.

Martijn Maddens (2119) – Koen Leenhouts (2413)

I was not dissatisfied with my position. White’s attack is not threatening at all and I might have some long term positional prospects, by taking control over the c4-square. Martijn desperately wanted to go for a4-a5, but he missed something quite important: 17.Bc1?? Bxc1 18. Rfxc1 Nxd4! and basically it’s game over.

There are still 8 people on 3 out of 3, so not a lot has been decided yet. The tournament link is: http://leuvencentraal.be/openleuven/paringen-open-leuven/