Three of the seven games in the top section were decisive, including a win by the World Champion.
The pace picked up in the second round of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament with three of the seven games in the top section ending decisively. One of those victories was by Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine, the leader after Round 1, so he kept his lead and now has 2 points.
The other wins were posted by Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian World Champion, and Pentala Harikrishna of India. Carlsen and Harikrishna trail Eljanov by half a point.
The annual Tata Steel tournament is one of the premier festivals in the world. In addition to the elite players in the top, or masters, group and in the challengers section, there are hundreds of players also competing in the De Moriaan sports hall where the competition is held.
Tata Steel Chess
The De Moriaan Sports Hall during Round 1.
Eljanov’s victim in Round 2 was Loek van Wely, one of the two players representing the host country in the elite group. Eljanov had Black and took advantage when van Wely erred in a complex, but balanced middlegame.
Eljanov, Pavel vs. van Wely, Loek
Tata Steel Masters |Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands |Round 2 |15 Jan 2017 |0-1
Bxc7This position is roughly balanced, with the White knight's occupation of the strong outpost on e5 compensating for his slightly compromised kingside pawn structure and Black having the bishop pair. But
now van Wely begins to go astray. 28. Ne1Bxe529. fxe5Ne430. Rd4?!The rook was already well positioned.
( 30. Qd7!The queen would have been pretty annoying on this square. He could then try to play Rc1 and Rc7, increasing the pressure. )
30... Rc8!Black grabs the c-file. 31. Nd3h632. h4Kh733. Nf4?A blunder that leads to loss of material.
( 33. Qd7!Once again, this move was best. Black would then have to worry about White playing Nb4, so the best way for him to continue would be: 33... Rd834. Qc7Rc8And a draw would likely be the result. )
33... Rc1+!34. Kh2Qd8!White has no good answer to the threat of Qxh4. 35. Nh3Qxh4The rest was easy for Eljanov. 36. Qe8Rc4
( 36... Rc2This was more accurate, but the move played by Eljanov was certainly good enough. )
( 37... Nxf2!This would have led to mate, but Black is winning in any event. )
38. Qf7White has a little activity, but Eljanov plays accurately: 38... Qg4!Stopping Qxf5+ 39. e6Ng5!40. Nxg5+Qxg541. Bh3
( 41. e7White is a tempo too slow. 41... Qh4+42. Kg1Rc1+43. Bf1Qg4+44. Kh2Rxf1And the White king dies despite having two wives. 45. e8=QRxf2+46. Kh1Qg2# )
Carlsen beat Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland in his trademark style as he intentionally played a non-theoretical move in the opening that did not seem to promise him any advantage, even though he had White.
Carlsen, Magnus vs. Wojtaszek, Radoslaw
Tata Steel Masters |Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands |Round 2 |15 Jan 2017 |1-0
a66. a3!?Nowadays, people are trying all sorts of nonsense against the Najdorf Variation; I've seen Nb3 as well. Despite this move, Carlsen manages to win a nice game. 6... e5Wojtaszek responds with the most principled continuation.
( 6... e6This would be my choice as the move a3 looks really out of place against a Scheveningen setup. )
( 6... Nc6This should also be fine as Black could play an improved variation of the Dragon Sicilian. 7. Be2g6 )
7. Nf5d5!8. Bg5d49. Bxf6Qxf6
( 9... gxf6!?I would seriously consider this move to prevent the White knight from reaching d5. 10. Nd5?Bxf511. exf5Qxd5 )
10. Nd5Qd811. Qg4Carlsen was clearly prepared up to this point. 11... Bxf5!
( 11... g6?A tempting move, but a poor one. 12. Qg3!And Black is in big trouble: 12... Nc613. Nxd4!Nxd414. Qxe5+ )
12. Qxf5Bd6The computer evaluates this position as equal, but it looks very unpleasant for Black. The light squares are chronically weak and White's bishop will be better than the Black counterpart. 13. h4!?An interesting way to develop the rook.
( 13. Bc4I'd probably go for the obvious move. )
13... Nc614. Bc4b515. Bb3Ne716. Qg4O-O17. Rh3I really don't understand how the computer can evaluate this position as equal. Black has no activity and no targets to attack, while the White bishop on b3 is a monster. 17... Nxd5
( 17... Qc818. Qg5! )
( 18... Qc819. Qg5!White does not worry about the c2 pawn since 19... Qxc2Loses to 20. Rg3g621. h5With mate soon to follow. )
19. Rg3Qf620. a4!White prepares to activate his other rook. 20... Bb4+
( 20... b4It's worth considering keeping the a-file closed, but after 21. a5!Black has weak pawns on b4 and a6 that will require a lot of attention. And once again, though the computer considers this position to be equal, I dont understand how that is possible. )
21. Kf1bxa422. Rxa4a523. Ra1Rc724. Bb3!Patient. Black cannot attack anything in White's position, and White has all the time in the world to swing his other rook over to the kingside. 24... Ra825. Kg1Bf826. Qh5g6?This just gives White a target to attack.
( 26... Raa7Black should wait and overprotect f7. His position would still be unpleasant, but at least White could not immediately open any more files for his attack. )
27. Qg4Ra628. h5!Now Black is really coming under fire. 28... Qf429. Qe2Qf630. Qb5Qc6?I do not understand this move.
( 30... Rc531. Qd3Black is suffering but the game goes on. )
31. Qxe5!Simple and strong. White wins a pawn. 31... Re7
( 31... a432. Rxa4!Rxa433. Bxa4Qxa434. Qxc7 )
32. Qf4It's possible Black missed that 32... Qxe4 would run into 33. Bxf7+ when he played Qc6. 32... a4
( 32... Qxe433. Bxf7+!Kg734. Qxe4Rxe435. Bc4White's edge should be decisive. )
( 33... Qxc2Restoring material equality fails to 34. Rc1Qxb235. Rc8And Black would be mated. )
34. Qd2White has consolidated his extra pawn and Black still has all the same problems he had when material was equal. The game is all but over. 34... Qb635. Ra2Rc736. Rf3Qb437. Qe2Rb638. hxg6hxg639. g3Kg740. Kg2Rd741. Qd1Rf642. Rxf6Kxf643. c3dxc344. Rxa4
I had predicted after Round 1 that the clash between the two Indian players in the masters section, Harikrishna and Baskaran Adhiban, would be a lively one. It wasn’t that exciting, but it was decisive.
Harikrishna, Pentala vs. Adhiban, Baskaran
Tata Steel Masters |Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands |Round 2 |15 Jan 2017 |1-0
29. Ree1Black has the slightly more pleasant position, but now he begins to falter. 29... Kg6?!The king is vulnerable here
( 29... Bg6I prefer this move as I believe in safety first. )
30. Nd2Kg731. Nf3Kg632. g4!?Harikrishna boldly decides to play for a win.
( 32. Nd2Would repeat the position and lead to a draw. )
32... Bc833. Nd3!Black must now take time to defend c6. 33... Bd734. h4!The point of White's previous moves -- Black cannot take on g4. 34... gxh4
( 34... Bxg435. Rxc6 )
35. Nxh4+Kg5!A necessary move.
( 35... Kf736. Nf5The position would be very bad for Black. )
( 36... Kg637. g5!Black has problems because 37... fxg5Fails to 38. Nde5+!Kf539. Rg1! )
37. Rh1White is trying to create a mating net. 37... Kf5!
Looking forward to Round 3, the key game would seem to be between Eljanov and Harikrishna.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.
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