''The cozy closing ceremony was a warm end to the great tournament and the next day I was heading back to school…''
Anish on Sigeman tournament with his annotation

After a nice score 4.5/5 last year, it was a pleasure for me to come back to the city of Malmö in Sweden. The top-tournament Sigeman & Co is being organized for the 19th time already and is one of those traditional tournaments with long history and perspective future. I had an opportunity to play there only once before, the last year, when I was facing five Scandinavian players. This time there were again six participants, but just three of them were Scandinavian- Nils Grandelius, Jonny Hector and a relatively new name in the top-Swedish chess Hans Tikkanen. I didn't have to fight the Vikings alone this time, as I was joined by Alexei Shirov and Wesley So.

As last year my pairing wasn't the best, since I had 3 blacks out of 5 games and that certainly counts in such a strong and tough tournament. Somehow I had black against both, Shirov and So, and eventually both games went rather well and at the same times sadly for me, while I was never in real danger I had absolutely no winning chances in both of them. So I knew that when I will be playing Nils Grandelius, also a young player from Sweden, in round 2 in between my games with the favorites, I better use my chance with White.


After that game I drew Shirov. That game started with the quiet bishop opening, probably Shirov was trying to get me into the Italian game and avoid Petrov defense this way. I took some time in the early middlegame and made a few exact moves after which white's edge seemed to be vanishing. At some point, however, I underestimated a certain nuance and unnecessarily ended up in an unpleasant position. Yet, there was nothing better for Alexei then to enter a rook+knight endgame with 3 against 3 on the king side and an extra d-pawn. In time trouble Alexei rushed with the d-pawn and by the end of the time trouble he lost it and we agreed a draw. Perhaps he should have played more cautiously, but still I have the feeling that in those days such endings mainly end in a draw, one way or the other.

For my next game, against Hector I prepared very hard, as I was sure that I will get one of the f6-slavs that Jonny played against Shirov. During the game I was lucky enough to accidentally remember my preparation, but then I got carried away with a cheap tactical idea and blew all my edge in one move. I did win a pawn, but ended up in a very unpleasant position. It took me a lot of time to find what seemed like the only moves to me during the game and at some point Jonny lost the thread. Yet, I was too happy with the fact that the roles have changed and somehow I was unable to pose any real problems, even though there was a certain point when I was able to get something realistic out of my pawn.

At the same time the leading group with +1 emerged, it was me and Tikannen, while Shirov and So were one step behind with just 50%. In general the standings were very tight and I was pretty unhappy to blow away a nice opening advantage against Hector. Nevertheless, I was hoping to get my chance in the last round, with black against Hans Tikkanen, a Swedish player, who became a grandmaster just a year ago. His progress over the last year is astonishing especially taking into account that he is not such a young player for the modern prodigy-standards and is in his mid-twenties.
I opted for a Grunfeld defense and we quickly reached the main-line, the dangerous Bc4 variation. I wanted to play ambitiously, as already with his move Qc1, Hans temporarily sacrificed the d4-pawn (taking would lead to major simplifications and a very likely immediate draw). Instead I decided to sacrifice a c5 pawn at some point and while it felt absolutely correct to me, I then quickly realized that again, I have no winning chances at all. And indeed the position was just equal and after some major simplifications I took back my pawn and while I did try to create some small problems for my opponent in the time trouble, the balance was never even close to be broken.

At the same time Wesley brought his king from g8 all the way to f2 and was congratulated by his opponent, Hector. It was funny that during the last dinner, Wesley mentioned that he liked to go forward with my king, as I did with Kd6 vs Nyback and Kd6-d5-e4-d3 against Postny, both with Black. He probably wanted to show me, that if he wants he can also do that, and can do even better. Well I take that as a challenge.
So at the end it was Wesley (or "Wesley at the end it was So"), Hans and me, who all shared the first place with the modest +1 (also the expected score, with my Elo). I must say I'd rather make one draw and win the rest, like it was last year, but I was pretty much content with one win and all draws as well, as my play wasn't that bad.

The cozy closing ceremony was a warm end to the great tournament and the next day I was heading back to school, where dozens (ok, I do exaggerate a bit...) of papers and tests were awaiting me. I hope to be back in Malmö again next year, as for now, the next target is the Dutch Championship in Boxtel...We'll see what it brings.