Magnus Carlsen, the World Champion, and Wesley So also won to stay within a half point of first.
Pavel Eljanov continues to do enough to stay in front of the elite field in the masters section of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament. Tuesday, Eljanov, a Ukrainian grandmaster, won his third game of the tournament to push his score to 3.5 points after four rounds.
It turned out that he needed that win as two of his closest pursuers, Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian World Champion, and Wesley So of the United States, who is ranked No. 4 in the world, also won. They now each have three points.
Eljanov’s latest victim was Baskaran Adhiban of India. Eljanov outplayed him from a level position after Adhiban became a bit complacent.
Adhiban, Baskaran vs. Eljanov, Pavel
Tata Steel Masters |Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands |Round 4 |17 Jan 2017 |0-1
29. gxh4The position looks pretty level. White's extra pawn is meaningless and it appears that neither side has any serious plan to create an advantage. 29... c430. Qe2?White allows Black to execute his only idea for an advantage in the position.
( 30. Qc1This move looked best. If Black cannot play c3, he has nothing to do apart from agree to a draw. )
30... c3!31. bxc3Qxa3!Now White has serious problems. The outside passed Black a-pawn is very strong. 32. Kg2a5
( 32... Qxc3?33. Qxa6 )
33. Qc4Qa434. Qxa4Bxa435. Ba2Bc2The computer suggests that this ending is defensible for White, but the computer is wrong. Eljanov's technique was excellent from this point on. 36. Kf3e5!Fixing the e-pawn on a light square. 37. Ke3a438. Bd5a3This pawn is incredibly strong and White cannot quite get his king over to attack it. 39. Ba2Otherwise Black would play Bb1, with an elementary win.
( 39. Kd2?Bxe4! )
( 39. f3Bb1 )
39... Kf840. f3?On the last move before making the first time control, White misses his last chance to put up real resistance.
( 40. c4The computer suggests this move, but after 40... Ke741. Kd2Bxe442. Kc3Kd643. Kb4f544. Kxa3Kc5Black would retain good winning chances. )
40... Ke741. Kd2Ba442. Kc1
( 42. c4Kd643. Kc3Kc5And Black should win because 44. Bb3Loses to 44... Bxb345. Kxb3a246. Kxa2Kxc4And the king-and-pawn endgame is a simple one for Black to win. )
42... f5!Well played by Eljanov. Black needs to create another passed pawn. 43. exf5Bc644. Kd2
Magnus Carlsen, left, talking with Yasser Seirawan, the on-air commentator, after Carlsen beat Wei Yi.
I thought that Carlsen would go after Wei Yi, China’s rising star, and this turned out to be correct:
Carlsen, Magnus vs. Wei Yi
Tata Steel Masters |Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands |Round 4 |17 Jan 2017 |1-0
16. d4Bf4?!I don't like this move. Black's bishop looks excellent on f4, but the problem is that it cannot necessarily stay there.
( 16... Bf6This would have been my choice, after which Black would have been fine. )
( 17... Bh618. h4!And Black would have some problems to solve. )
18. Kg2exd4?!Asking for trouble.
( 18... Rfe8A simple move like this one would have been better. I don't love Black's position, but he would still be pretty solid in the center. )
19. Nfxd4!White can take the bishop later; it is not going anywhere. 19... Rfe8
( 19... Be5?20. f4!Bxf421. Rf1And White should win. )
20. Nxf4Qxf421. f3This structure is a disaster for Black. If white can play f4 at some point, he will have a large edge. There seems to be no apparent way to stop this plan. 21... Nb6
( 21... d5Perhaps this move was best, but after: 22. exd5cxd523. Rxe8+Rxe824. Ba4!Black would have faced a long and unpleasant defensive task. )
22. Qc1!Exchanging the queen on f4 to clear the way for the White pawn. 22... Qxc123. Raxc1White is about to play. Black tries to slow it down with a semi-drastic measure, but it comes up short. 23... d5!?
( 23... a524. f4 )
24. e5Nd725. f4White's pawn majority on the kingside is much more dangerous than Black's on the queenside 25... Bxc226. Rxc2Nc527. Re3Rad828. Kf3Ne4The knight on e4 looks nice, but Carlsen just skirts around it. Eventually, c4 will undermine the knight's defense. 29. b4
( 29. c4I would be very tempted to play this move now, but I suppose Carlsen did not want to allow Black to play Nc5. )
( 29. g5The engine recommends this move. It looks bizarre; I much prefer c4 or b4. )
( 29... f6!Good or bad, Black had to play this move to have any chance. 30. e6Nd631. f5White is clearly better. )
30. c4!White's king will be quite happy on f4, while Black's knight on e4 is in trouble. 30... c5?
( 30... Rd7This move was more resilient, but Black would still have been much worse after: 31. cxd5cxd532. h4!? )
31. Nb5gxf432. Kxf4cxb433. cxd5Wei resigned as he would lose a lot of material after 33... Nc3
So won his second game in a row, this time against Loek van Wely of the Netherlands who is struggling badly as he has only managed half a point so far in the tournament.
van Wely, Loek vs. So, Wesley
Tata Steel Masters |Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands |Round 4 |17 Jan 2017 |0-1
Bc7In this tense position, Black is up a pawn, but the White pawn
On d7 is obviously dangerous. If it can be contained or captured, Black will have a big edge. 31. b3?
( 31. Rxd3!This was the way to continue. It looks a bit scary for White, but after 31... exd332. Rc1!Black cannot avoid the loss of the d-pawn. For example: 32... b633. Rc3d234. Rd3And White would be fine. )
( 31... Bd8!After this move, White is in trouble. )
32. Be7?White misses his best chance.
( 32. Rc1!c433. bxc4b434. Bf6!And White would have a fair amount of counterplay because the pawn on d7 cannot be taken immediately. 34... Kf735. Bd4And in this messy endgame, chances would be about equal. )
32... c433. bxc4bxc434. Rc1Rxd735. Ba3Be5Black loses one of his extra pawns, but his one-pawn advantage is more than enough for a player of So's strength. 36. Rxc4a437. Rc6Rd338. Bc5a339. Rxg6+?
( 39. Bxa3This move was more resilient. 39... Rdxa340. Rxg6+Kf741. Rg5And White can continue to resist a bit. He might even be able to draw. )
39... Kf740. Rg5a241. Rxf5+Ke642. Rxe5+Kxe543. Bd4+Rxd4!White resigned instead of facing 44. exd4+Kxd445. Ra1Kc3When Black will be able to promote the a-pawn after Kb2.
Wednesday is the first rest day of the tournament. When play resumes Thursday, I will be interested to see how Eljanov will handle White in his game against Levon Aronian of Armenia.
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.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
After 9 days of intense chess battles at the last leg of the World Chess Grand Prix series 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, the two winners of the series were finally determined: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, overall 340 points in the series) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 336,4 points). They qualified for the Candidates Tournament – the next part of the World Chess Championship cycle, which leads up to the Championship match.
The sole leader of the Palma de Mallorca Grand Prix Levon Aronian made a quick draw with Evgeny Tomashevsky today, inviting the group of rivals to join him at the top. But same as in the previous rounds all games on the top boards finished peacefully and not a single player came close to catching up with him.
After seven rounds Aronian is in the lead with 4,5 points. A group of 8 players is half a point behind, including Vachier-Lagrave. In order to qualify for the Candidates, the Frenchman needs to win at least one more game. Boris Gelfand defeated Alexander Riazantsev, Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer, while Teimour Rajabov outplayed Li Chao. After the victory the Azerbaijani Grandmaster still hopes to qualify, but in that case has to win both games.
Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, made the first symbolic move to start the fourth round, which turned out to be the most exciting round of the tournament so far, with six decisive games out of nine.
In the Third Round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Palma de Mallorca games between the four leaders, Vachier-Lagrave-Aronian and Rajabov-Giri, finished in a draw. Peter Svidler joined the group of leaders by beating Jon-Ludvig Hammer in the third round.
The world’s best chess players and chess establishment came together in Bellver Castle to celebrate the opening of the final leg of the FIDE 2017 World Chess Grand Prix Palma de Mallorca – a prestigious qualifier for the World Chess Candidates Tournament.
Katerina Lagno, one of the strongest Russian women-grandmasters won the historic Moscow Blitz Tournament, beating her fellow Russian Olympic team members Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya.
After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players