For the second day in a row, there were three decisive games, but there was no change to the at the top as Pavel Eljanov continues to lead the event.

For the second consecutive day at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, there was plenty of action in the top section, but the leader remained the same.

After winning his first two games, Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine only drew on Monday (against Pentala Harikrishna of India), but he held on to the lead. He now has 2.5 points, followed closely by five players, including Harikrishna, who each have 2 points.

There were three decisive results on Monday in Round 3, just as in Round 2, but the winners were all different. This time it was Sergey Karjakin of Russia, Wesley So of the United States and Wei Yi of China who chalked up victories, moving them into the group who each have 2 points.

Karjakin won a pretty smooth game over Loek van Wely of the Netherlands, getting a clear edge from the opening, and then capitalizing when van Wely erred in the middlegame.

Karjakin, Sergey vs. van Wely, Loek
Tata Steel Masters | Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands | Round 3 | 16 Jan 2017 | 1-0
16. dxe5 Nxe5? A blunder that gives White a big advantage.
16... Qe6 Good or bad, Black had to try this move.
17. Qxe6 Bxe6 18. a3 And White has a pleasant endgame with an edge in space.  )
17. Nxe5 Qxd1+ 18. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 19. Kc2 Bxe5 Black has two rooks and a pawn for the queen and seems fine, but Karjakin has a nice shot:
20. Bxg6! Winning a critical kingside pawn. Black is in big trouble
20... Rd6
20... hxg6 21. Qxg4  )
21. Qxg4? I don't know why White wanted to trade bishops
21. Bd3 This would have led to a decisive advantage.  )
21... Rxg6 22. Qe4 Bxh2 23. Qxb7 Even after some errors, White is still winning. His pieces coordinate beautifully, Black's king is open, and his queenside is falling.
23... a6 24. a4 Bf4 25. Bd4+ e5 26. Bc5 Re8 27. Qxc7 Another pawn falls!
27... Rxg2+ 28. Kb1 Rg6 29. Qf7 Ra8 30. b4 There is no stopping the White pawns. Wan Wely could not put up much more resistance.
30... Bh6 31. b5 axb5 32. axb5 Rc8 33. Qd5 Bf8 34. Bxf8 Rxf8 35. Qxe5+ Kg8 36. Kc2 h6 37. c4 Rg5 38. Qe6+ Kg7 39. Kc3 Rf7 40. b6 h5 41. Kb4 h4 42. c5 Rf1 43. Qe4 Rgf5 44. Qxh4 R5f4+ 45. Qxf4 Rxf4+ 46. Kb5 Rf1 47. b7 Kf6 48. c6 Rb1+ 49. Ka6 Rc1 50. Kb6

So’s victory over Richard Rapport of Hungary was anything but smooth. In fact, he was absolutely busted at one moment! But chess can be unforgiving and a winning position can turn into a lost one with one or two bad decisions. Rapport built up a big advantage but he did not manage to find his way in a very complicated position and went from dead won to dead lost in just two moves.

So, Wesley vs. Rapport, Richard
Tata Steel Masters | Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands | Round 3 | 16 Jan 2017 | 1-0
33. Qb1 Qf7?
33... c6! This would have been a nasty move. White would not be able to stop an Invasion by Black.
34. bxc6 Qa7 And mate would soon follow on f2.  )
34. Ne2! White is managing to pull his defense together.
34... Qg6? 35. Ne7! Black must lose material. A rapid turnaround!
35... Rf2+ 36. Kxf2 Qg2+ 37. Ke1 Rg3 38. Rxg3 Qxh1+ 39. Rg1 Qxf3 40. Nxf4 Qe3+ 41. Ne2 Nd3+ 42. Qxd3 Qxd3 43. Ng8 Qf3 44. h5 Kh8 45. Rg6 Qh1+ 46. Kd2 Qxe4 47. Nf6 Qb4+ 48. Ke3

Wei punished what looked like a really poor opening by Ian Nepomniatchi of Russia.

Wei Yi vs. Nepomniachtchi, Ian
Tata Steel Masters | Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands | Round 3 | 16 Jan 2017 | ECO: B96 | 1-0
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 h6 8. Bh4 Qb6 9. a3 Nbd7?! This move looks bizarre.
9... Be7 This is the more common move.
10. Bf2 Qc7 With a complicated position, as has been seen in many games between top players.  )
10. Be2
10. Bc4!? Why not? Now the variation given earlier no longer works:
10... Be7 11. Bf2 Qc7 12. Bxe6! And Black is in big trouble.  )
10... e5 I don't understand this move. It allows White to put his knight on f5 and Black loses a lot of time.
11. Nf5 g6
11... exf4 If I were playing Black, I would take the pawn so that at least I would have a material advantage as partial compensation for having the worse position.  )
12. Bf2 This is a good move, but not the best.
12. Ne3! This was a nice idea, the point being
12... Qxe3 Fails to
13. Bf2 Qxf4 14. g3 Qg5 15. h4 When Black's queen is trapped.  )
12... Nc5 13. b4! gxf5 14. O-O! White is only down a piece for a moment, but Black is badly underdeveloped and his king has no safe haven.
14... Nfxe4 15. Nxe4 fxe4 16. bxc5 dxc5 17. fxe5?!
17. Qd5! This move was stronger.  )
17... Be6 18. Rb1 Qc6 19. Bg4! b5 20. Bh4! Wei positions all of his pieces to attack.
20... Rg8?
20... Bg7 This move was necessary, though White would still be better after:
21. Bf5 Bxe5 22. Qg4  )
21. Bxe6! Qxe6 22. Rf6! Qg4
22... Qxe5 23. Rxa6! This move is the point.
23... Rxa6 24. Qd8#  )
23. Qd2! Be7
23... Qxh4 24. Qd5 And White has a decisive edge.
24... Ra7 25. Rd1! With mate to follow.  )
24. Rf4 Qd7 25. Qxd7+! It seems weird for White to exchange queens when he is attacking, but there is an important point:
25... Kxd7 26. e6+! Nepomniachtchi may have missed this move. By luring the pawn to e6, the square is no longer available for Black's king.
26. Rxf7? Rae8 27. Rd1+ Ke6! The point. If Black has a pawn on e6 instead of an empty square, he loses a piece  )
26... fxe6 27. Rf7 Rg5 An unfortunate necessity for Black.
27... Rae8 28. Rd1+! The reason White played e6: Black cannot play Ke6, so he loses a piece.  )
28. Rd1+ Ke8 29. Rh7 b4 30. a4 c4 31. Bxg5 hxg5 32. Rh8+ Bf8 33. Rf1 Ke7 34. Rh7+ Kd6 35. Rh8 Ke7 36. Rh7+ Kd6 37. Rhf7 Bh6 38. Rd1+ Ke5 39. Rc7 c3 40. Kf2 g4 41. Rc5+ Kf6 42. Ke2 Rb8 43. Rb1 Rd8 44. Rf1+ Ke7 45. Rc7+ Kd6 46. Rc4 Ke7? Wei let up a bit and gave Nepomniachtchi real drawing chances. But after Black's last move, the young Chinese star never faltered again.
46... Ke5! And Black can continue to put up a real fight. The threat of Rd2 compels White to play
47. Rd1 But after
47... Rb8! It's hard for White to avoid b3.  )
47. Rd1! Rb8 48. Rdd4! b3 49. cxb3 Rxb3 50. Rc7+
50. Rxe4 This would have been easier for White.  )
50... Kf6 51. Rxe4 Rb2+ 52. Kd3 Rd2+ 53. Kxc3 Kf5 54. Re1 Rxg2 55. Rc5+ Kf6 56. Re4 Rxh2 57. Rxg4 a5 58. Kd3 Rd2+ 59. Ke4 Re2+ 60. Kf3 Re3+ 61. Kf2 Re5 62. Rg6+ Kxg6 63. Rxe5 Bd2 64. Rxe6+ Kf7 65. Re4 Kf6 66. Ke2 Bc3 67. Rc4 Be5 68. Rc5 Ke6 69. Rxa5 Bc7 70. Rb5 Kd6 71. Kd3 Kc6 72. Kc4 Bb6 73. a5 Ba7 74. a6 Bb6 75. Rb3

In Round 4, I am looking forward to the game between Magnus Carlsen, the World Champion from Norway, and Wei, who at 17, is China’s top rising star .


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.