On Day of Missed Chances at Tata Steel, So Keeps the Lead
BySamuel ShanklandJan 22 — 11:00 AM
Image by Tata Steel Chess
Blunders and oversights plagued the players in Round 7, but at the end of the day, Wesley So still led, trailed now by three players.
Another day, another escape for Wesley So.
So, the leader of the top group of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, was in trouble in Round 7 on Saturday. But just as he had before, he went on to draw. That was enough to hold on to the lead.
So, who plays for the United States, now has 5 points, followed by Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the World Champion, Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine and Wei Yi of China, who each have 4.5 points.
Almost all of the games were lively and for a while it looked like there might be as many as six decisive results, but it turned out to be a day of missed opportunities for some players.
Wei moved into a tie for the lead by beating Loek van Wely of the Netherlands, who lost his fifth game of the tournament. It was an opening disaster for van Wely as he played a system that is known to be suspect. (I have certainly been aware of the problems with it since 2014.)
Wei Yi vs. van Wely, Loek
Tata Steel Masters |Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands |Round 7 |21 Jan 2017 |1-0
8. O-OQc5?I don't think this move is any good. 9. Bd5!e610. Re1!The point. Black has spent a ton of time trying to win the bishop pair, but it does not work as White can now leave the light-squared bishop on d5. 10... Be7
( 10... exd511. exd5+Kd812. Ne4White has a massive attack. )
( 11... exd512. Nf5Qc713. Nxg7+Kf814. Nf5And the Black king will almost certainly perish in the center. )
12. Bxe6!fxe613. Nxe6This position is extremely dangerous for Black. 13... Nc5?
( 13... Kf7This move was best, but even so, after: 14. Ng5+Kf815. f4White is having all the fun in this game. )
( 14. Nxg7+This looks more natural to me but of course the move played by White wins as well. )
14... Qxb415. Nc7+Kd816. N3d5Nxd517. Nxd5Qa3
( 17... Qa518. e5And Black's king will die in the center. )
( 18. e5I would be very tempted by this move. )
18... Rb819. Nc4The simplest solution. It takes a while to win, but there's not really any doubt of the final result.
( 19. e5This would have ended the game more quickly. )
19... Qb420. Nxd6Nd3The only possible chance to salvage a draw. 21. Qxd3Qxd622. Qxd6+!Simple and strong. With some forcing moves, White trades down to an ending with two extra pawns. 22... Bxd623. Rad1Kc724. Rxd6!Kxd625. Bf4+Ke626. Bxb8Bd727. Ba7Wei converted his advantage in the ending without any major problems. 27... Rc828. Rc1Rc429. f3Ra430. Ra1Rc431. c3b532. a3a533. Bb6Ra434. Bd4g635. Kf2g536. Ke3Bc637. Kd2h538. Kc2b439. cxb4axb440. axb4Rxb441. Kc3Ra442. Rxa4Bxa443. g3h444. f4gxf445. gxf4h346. Kd2Kd647. Ke3Bc248. f5Kc649. Kf4Bd350. Bb2Bc251. e5Kd552. Kg5Bd353. e6
Anish Giri after learning that he was almost checkmated in three moves, but Magnus Carlsen missed it.
One of the biggest missed opportunitites belonged to Carlsen. He had been in excellent form, winning effortlessly in both games in which he had White and drawing effortlessly in the games in which he had Black. It looked like he was about to pick up a third win, this time against Anish Giri of the Netherlands, until disaster struck:
Carlsen, Magnus vs. Giri, Anish
Tata Steel Masters |Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands |Round 7 |21 Jan 2017 |1/2-1/2
e3Carlsen had played a fine game so far and now had a winning position. He just needed to make a few more accurate moves. Instead, he faltered. 51. Rh7+!This move is a good start. 51... Ke8
( 51... Kf652. Rh6+!Ke753. Rxe6+Kxe654. Rd3And White wins the pawn, after which he should be able to win the game rather easily. )
52. Rxc7e2The pawn is very menacing on e2, but White has more than one way to win. 53. Bf3!
( 53. Rg5!?Even this move was good enough, but was more what a computer would play. 53... Kd854. Rb7!e1=Q55. Bxc6!Re2+56. Kh3Qf1+57. Kg4Black is out of checks and cannot stop Rg8. )
53... e1=Q54. Bh5+Kf855. Rf5+Kg856. Bf7+?A step in the wrong direction. White is still winning but now he has to be absurdly precise.
( 56. Rc8+This would likely have led to immediate resignation. For example: 56... Kg757. Rf7+Kh658. Rh8# )
56... Kh857. Rh5+Kg758. Bxe6+Kf659. Rh6+?The last mistake, though at this point it was very hard to win the game.
( 59. Bc4!This was probably still enough to win. Black would only have one check, and the White rooks would be very dangerous. 59... Ne560. Rh6+!Kf561. Bd3+!Carlsen may have overlooked this move. 61... Kg462. Rg7+Kf363. Rf6+Ke364. Bf1Nf3+65. Rxf3+!Kxf366. Bg2+!And Black will lose the queen to a skewer. )
59... Ke560. Bh3Qd2+!61. Bg2Qxh662. Rxc6This is a almost certainly draw, though I think it would be winning if White had the dark-squared bishop instead so that Black could not sacrifice the queen for the rook and g-pawn, as indeed happened. Still, White was able to push for a long time. I recall a similar thing happening in a funny blitz game between Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine and Peter Leko of Hungary. I saw the game on YouTube and I recommend watching it. 62... Qh763. Rc4Kf664. Rg4Qd765. Rg5Qc766. Rb5Qc267. Rb6+Kg768. Re6Qa269. Re7+Kf670. Re4Kg771. Kh3Qf772. Re2Qf5+73. Kh2Qf674. Be4Qf175. Rc2Qe176. Bf3Qf177. Bg2Qe178. Rc7+Kh879. Rc4Qe280. Re4Qd281. Re6Qa282. Re8+Kg783. Re7+Kh884. Re3Qd285. Rf3Qd786. Rb3And the game ended in a draw at move 123.
In an incredible turnaround, Baskaran Adhiban of India choked in a complex position against Radoslaw Wojtaszek and seemed certain to lose. But then Wojtaszek returned the favor, going from winning to losing in a few moves!
Wojtaszek, Radoslaw vs. Adhiban, Baskaran
Tata Steel Masters |Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands |Round 7 |21 Jan 2017 |0-1
36. Qb4Bxb5?This move should have led to Black's demise. White now has a clear edge. 37. Nd1!Black cannot stop the twin threats of Nc3 and Qxd6. 37... Kh7Black responds to the bigger threat, but... 38. Qxd6White's edge should now be decisive.
( 38. Nc3?Qc4The point of Kh7 39. Qxc4Black is not being checked, so he has time for: 39... Rxb2+ )
38... Be239. Qxe5Ra540. Qd6Ra241. Qb4?As soon as White makes the first time control and receives more time, he starts to err! Go figure.
( 41. Qd7Would have been virtually decisive. )
41... b542. Nf2Ne643. Ra1?Another error.
( 43. Qc3!White would still be clearly winning after this move. )
43... Rxa1!44. Bxa1Qa7!White is now in trouble as Black threatens Qa1 and Qe3. 45. Qd2Qe346. Qxe3fxe3Black now has good counterplay. 47. Be5b448. c7?I guess Wojtaszek missed that b4 clears the square a6 for the bishop?
( 48. Nh3 )
48... exf2!49. Kxf2Ba6!Black is up a piece and went on to win. 50. Ke3g651. Kd2Kg852. Kc2Bc853. Kb3Nc5+54. Kc4Na655. Bd6Be6+56. Kd4Kf757. f4b358. Kc3Ke859. c8=Q+Bxc860. Kxb3Kd761. Ba3Bb762. f5Bxe463. f6Bd5+64. Kc3Nc765. Kd3Ke666. Bc1Nb5
All-in-all, it was an extraordinary day of oversights, but I don’t believe there will so many missed opportunities in Round 8.
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, has his own site, and is also on Facebook.
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