Magnus Carlsen recorded the sole victory in Round 9, pulling him back to within a half point of So.
There was barely any movement in the standings of the top group at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament on Tuesday, as all but one of the games were drawn. That allowed Wesley So of the United States to stay in first for another day.
He now has six points, trailed by Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the World Champion, Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine, and Wei Yi of Chine, who each have 5.5 points.
Tata Steel Chess 2017
Magnus Carlsen, left, and Loek van Wely during their Round 9 game, which Carlsen won.
Carlsen was the only one who won as he beat Loek van Wely of the Netherlands in his trademark style of gaining a small advantage and then nursing it to victory. Van Wely, who is having a truly miserable tournament, having lost six games, tried a slightly offbeat variation in the Keres Attack of the Sicilian Defense. Unfortunately for van Wely, he underestimated a finesse that left him with a worse pawn structure — the kind of edge that Carlsen loves to have. After that, it was only a matter of time:
Carlsen, Magnus vs. Van Wely, Loek
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 9.1 |24 Jan 2017 |ECO: B81 |1-0
1. e4c52. Nf3e63. d4cxd44. Nxd4Nf65. Nc3d66. g4h67. Bg2Nc68. h3g5The move looks natural, but it hasn't been played many times before. Since White's idea does not include playing g5, there is no need for Black to do it. But van Wely wants to play Ne5 and then have the knight sit unchallenged on that square. Playing g5 makes f4 by White ineffective. 9. Nxc6!Spoiling Black's structure as White will follow-up with e5. This will Black with an isolated and weak pawn on c6. That is not a big deal yet, and might even turn out to be useful at points, but if the game gets to an endgame, the pawn structure does not bode well for Black. 9... bxc610. e5Nd511. exd6Qxd6
( 11... Bxd6Trying to create a more active setup might have been a better plan. The idea would be to try to take control and make use of the f4 square. 12. Ne4Be5I still prefer White's position as I think the weak Black pawn structure will be hard for him to handle. But having an active bishop on e5, and controlling the f4 square would have improved Black's chances. Now, White is already clearly better. )
12. O-OBa613. Re1Be7
( 13... Nxc314. Qxd6Bxd615. Bxc6+Ke716. Bxa8Ne2+17. Rxe2Bxe218. Be4And White is up a pawn. )
Though he had White, So played unambitiously against Levon Aronian of Armenia. So’s strategy of taking few risks when he is in a good position in a tournament is hard to criticize as it has brought him great success in the last year as won the Sinquefield Cup, the London Classic and the Grand Chess Tour.
Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland and Sergey Karjakin of Russia had an uneventful draw, as did Anish Giri of the Netherlands and Richard Rapport of Hungary. That was a bit of a surprise as Rapport often creates crazy complications. But in Round 9, playing Black, he was happy to neutralize Giri with some precise play in a Queen’s Indian Defense.
The other three games of the day were much more interesting.
Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia introduced a very interesting new opening concept in his game against Pentala Harikrishna of India. Harikrishna responded well initially, but quickly went wrong, probably because of the stress of playing against a well prepared idea. Fortunately for Harikrishna, Nepomniachtchi has not been playing his best at Tata Steel and missed multiple tactical ideas that would have put the game away:
Nepomniachtchi, Ian vs. Harikrishna, Pentala
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 9.3 |24 Jan 2017 |ECO: A34 |1/2-1/2
exd57. b4!?c4!?The more active reply. The pawn on c4 restricts White's development (Bd3, etc). Of course, Black also wants to develop his own pieces quickly.
( 7... cxb4Is, of course, the most natural reply, but Black may have been worried that after 8. Bb2His development would be too slow. Black will probably have to play f6 soon as well, after which White would have an easy way to develop pieces for example, Bd3, Qc2, etc. But still, Black would be up a pawn. This position definitely needs a lot more analysis before making any conclusion about White's compensation. One thing that is clear though: the game would be interesting! )
8. Bb2Bxb49. Bxg7Rg810. Be5!?The novelty, which was obviously prepared by Nepomniachtchi beforehand. David Anton Gujjaro, a Spanish grandmaster, had played the natural Bb2 in a previous game in which this position had arisen, but Nepomniachtchi evidently had the interesting insight that the bishop isn't particularly useful on b2. So he positions it on the less active-looking g3 square. But from there it blocks the g-file and makes White's kingside development easier as well. 10... Nc611. Bg3Bf512. Be2A very interesting position. Black has developed very quickly, but what does he do next? Clearly, he needs to do something quickly because in the long run his weak king position will be a big liability. Meanwhile, White's plan is simple: castle and play d3. 12... Be7!?13. O-Oh514. d3
( 14. h4Weakens the kingside. The reasons might not be immediately apparent, but after: 14... Bf615. Rc1Qe7!16. d3Rxg3!17. fxg3cxd318. Bxd3Qxe3+19. Kh2Qxd3And Black has a big edge. )
14... h415. Bf4d4!?
( 15... Bh316. Ne1!Nothing dangerous is happening on the kingside, and Black's is still in big trouble because of his weakness in the center. )
( 16. Nxd4Nxd417. exd4cxd3Is probably what Nepomniachtchi did not like. Now, if White played 18. Bxd3 Qd5! 19. g3 Bh3 with mating threats. So White has to be able to play Bf3. )
16... Nxd4Harikrishna saw that he now wins an exchange, but he failed to estimate how dangerous the position could become for Black.
( 16... Bh3!Was another way to go 17. g3Bxf118. Bxf1This position is clearly very complicated, but White's compensation is less of a problem for Black because White doesn't have such excellent development as in the game. )
17. dxc4Nxe2+18. Qxe2Bd319. Qe5Bxf120. Rxf1Black's lack of development makes his life difficult. 20... Rc821. Re1Rc622. Nd4
( 22. Qh5!?Would also create a lot of uncomfortable threats against Black, like Ne5. Black can put up a lot of resistance with passive moves like Rf6, but this is clearly less desirable than the more active plan of playing Rcg6. The problem is that is not a big threat: 22... Rcg623. Bg5f624. Bxf6 )
22... Rcg623. g3hxg324. hxg3Kf8There is no easy way for Black to fight White's dominantly placed pieces. 25. Rd1!White does not need to be in a hurry. 25... Qd726. Rd2Rf6?27. Qh5White had some very pretty tactics after
( 27. Nf5!Rxf528. Bh6+!Ke829. Qb8+Bd830. Rxd7Kxd731. Qxb7+And the exposed Black king will provide a constant target for the White queen as it goes around the board picking off Black's remaining pawns. 31... Bc732. Qe4Re533. Qh7 )
( 27. Nf5Qxf528. Bh6+!Is a nice little tactic as well. After Rxh6, Black would lose his queen: 28... Ke829. Qb8+ )
27... a628. Bg5Rd629. Bh6+Ke830. Qe5b631. a4Qb732. Bf4Rd733. Nf5Rxd234. Bxd2Rg635. Bb4Re636. Ng7+Kd737. Qd4+Rd638. Bxd6Bxd639. Nf5Qc640. Qf6Bc541. Qxf7+Kc8White is up two pawns, but converting that advantage into a win is actually not all that easy. At least one of his queenside pawns will fall, after which Black will have its own source of counterplay with his a-pawn. Also, the White king will become vulnerable to checks as he pushes his kingside pawns. 42. Qg8+Kb743. Qg7+Kc844. Qh8+Kb745. Qh7+Kb846. g4Qxa447. Qh2+Kb748. Qf4White has regrouped his pieces and now all of his pawns are well protected. Nevertheless, Black's a-pawn gives him enough counterplay. 48... a549. g5Qc650. Nd4Qg651. Nb5Qg752. Kg2a453. Qf3+Kb854. Qg3+Kc855. g6a356. Nd6+Kd757. Nf5Qg858. g7a259. Qg4a1=Q60. Nh6+Qe661. Qxe6+Kxe662. g8=Q+Kd7It appears as if White can still to win without taking much risk, but it's pretty hard to break through as the Black king is hard to target with the queen and knight. And it's also very hard to push the f-pawn without exposing White's king to a barrage of checks. 63. Qf7+Kc664. Ng4Qd465. Qf5Bd666. Ne3Qg7+67. Kf1Bc568. Qc8+Qc769. Qe6+Kb770. Qe4+Qc671. Nd5b572. Qh7+Ka673. Qe4Ka774. Qh7+Ka675. Nc7+Ka576. Nxb5Qf377. Qc2Kb478. Qd2+Kxc479. Qe2+
The tension and excitement in that game was nothing compared to the craziness in the match between Dmitry Andreikin of Russia and Eljanov.
Eljanov obtained a very comfortable position from the opening. After Andrekin’s quick loss in his previous game, it seemed very ominous for him, but Andreikin came up with some remarkable ideas to pull off an incredible save. There were several amazing moments in the game, including the final position with White’s king on c5 and passed pawns on b7 and c6 and Black having a queen and two rooks:
Andreikin, Dmitry vs. Eljanov, Pavel
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 9.5 |24 Jan 2017 |ECO: A45 |1/2-1/2
24... Nd325. Nd4Nxe126. Qxe1Re827. h4Re728. hxg5hxg529. Rb7!An amazing practical idea. White was probably going to have suffer for a long time because of his material deficit and broken pawn structure, but this move shakes up the position. 29... Bxb730. cxb7Rb8With hindsight, it was easy to say that Black shouldn't have allowed White to establish the two pawns on b7 and c6, but it was obviously not clear during the game. Black may also worried that White had some resources on the kingside, but he does not.
( 30... Qxb7!31. Bc6Qb832. Bxd5Re8!And White's threats are winding down already. It is important to note that Black's queen is keeping an eye on g3, which is perhaps something neither player noticed during the game. )
31. c6Things aren't so easy for Black anymore. I don't think Black made any obvious mistakes in the next few moves but his advantage dwindles very quickly: 31... Rbe832. Ne2!f633. Qd1Rh7
( 33... Qd6Might have been a better practical try. Giving up d5 seems to be asking for trouble. Black was obviously confident that he has a mating net on the kingside, but he does not. 34. f4!The position is not at all easy for Black. The pawns on c6 and b7 can quickly turn the game around. )
34. Qxd5+Kg735. g3Rd8
( 35... Reh836. f4Rh1+Now 37. Kg2 g4 will lead to a mate, but White has 37. Qxh1!Rxh1+38. Kxh1And with the Black queen permanently tied to preventing the White pawns from promoting, it is easy to imagine that White will be just fine in this position. )
36. Qe6Rdh837. f4Rh1+38. Kg2R1h2+39. Kf3!Amazing how quickly things have changed. It is impossible to say who was playing to win at this point. I think Eljanov still had hopes, but it isn't unreasonable to think that White also was optimistic. 39... Rf2+!40. Kxe3Rhh241. Bd1gxf4+
( 41... Qb6+42. Nd4!And White's advantage would be decisive. )
Last players sitting: Wei Yi, left, and Baskaran Adhiban were the last players to finish. Despite all that effort, the game ended in a draw.
The final game to end was between Wei and Baskaran Adhiban of India. Adhiban, the lowest ranked player in the field, has done very well in the tournament. But in Round 9 he was in trouble against Wei and ended up in a very unpleasant endgame. Down a pawn, Adhiban pulled off a stunning save as Wei clearly tired in the seventh hour of play:
Wei Yi vs. Adhiban, Baskaran
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 9.7 |24 Jan 2017 |ECO: A15 |1/2-1/2
80. Ng8Kd481. Ne7Kd382. Rc2Rxa5!83. Nxg6Ra2+!!A surprising resource. The White pawns can't advance quickly enough and the Black king is able to get back in time. 84. Kxa2Kxc285. h4
( 85. g4Kd2!86. h4Ke387. h5Kf388. h6Ng5! )
85... Nf6!86. Ne5Kc387. Kb1Kd488. Nf3+Ke3The king is in time to stop the White pawns. 89. Kc2Kf290. Kd3Kxg291. Nd2Kg392. Ne4+Kxh4
So has White against Wojtaszek in Round 10, and with so many players close behind him, I expect him to try a lot harder to push for a win than he did in Round 9.
Parimarjan Negi is an Indian grandmaster who is the second-youngest ever to earn the title (at 13 years 4 months and 22 days). Ranked No. 77 in the world, he is a junior at Stanford University. He can be found on Twitter at @parimarjan.
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