With a win in Round 10, Wesley So now leads the field by a full point.
With three rounds to go in the top section of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, Wesley So of the United States is in excellent position to add another major title to his collection.
With a win in Round 10 on Wednesday, So now has seven points and leads the rest of the field by at least a full point. Five players are tied for second, each with six points.
So’s win in Round 10 over Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland was a strategic masterpiece. It was reminiscent of Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian World Champion, at his best. After the opening Wojtaszek seemed to be doing just fine, but So, who had White, created many small strategic problems for Black and played with uncanny precision to overwhelm Wojtaszek in only a few moves:
So, Wesley vs. Wojtaszek, Radoslaw
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 10.7 |25 Jan 2017 |ECO: E06 |1-0
h613. Bd2!Threatening b4. 13... a4This is the most natural way to prevent it, but practically it was perhaps not the best. Wojtaszek definitely did not expect the next move. 14. Bb4!This poses some interesting strategic problems for Black. He seems to have a lot of playable moves, but each one presents a challenge. 14... Nxb4
( 14... Bxb415. axb4!Nxd516. cxd5Nxb417. Qd2Nxd518. Nxe5And Black's pawns will be very weak on the queenside after Qxd4. )
( 14... Bd6!?Maintaining the status quo was perhaps the best move, but I can only say that with the knowledge of how the game went. During the game, this was a very hard move to make. )
15. axb4Nxd516. bxc5Nb417. Qd2Nc6Black seems to be doing just fine, but there was a powerful and unexpected resource that even the computer engines failed to estimate correctly a few moves ago: 18. b4!Qe719. Qb2Bg420. Re1!Another very precise move.
( 20. b5Nd821. Qb4f5And Black is doing fine. )
20... Rfd8The rook is misplaced on this square because it blocks the retreat of the knight on c6. And e4 is actually easy to stop.
( 20... f5!?Would have perhaps created more problems for White. It allows interesting moves such as Nh4, but at least White can't just continue making easy moves that entail no risk. 21. Nh4Kh7 )
21. Nd2!This makes the idea of Re1 very easy to understand. 21... Be622. b5Nb823. Qb4White is dominating the whole board. And the Black knight on b8 is very hard to develop. 23... f524. Nb3Nd725. Bxb7Some precise calculation by So. 25... Rab826. Rxa4Rxb727. c6Qxb428. Rxb4The endgame with the extra pawn is clearly very good for White. The rest of the game was just a matter of technique. 28... Rc729. cxd7Rxc430. Rxc4Bxc431. Rc1Be632. Rc8Rxc833. dxc8=Q+Bxc834. b6
In the past, So has been criticized for only winning when his opponent gets a bit too ambitious. But with games like this, So might soon become as intimidating an opponent for players as Carlsen.
Tata Steel Chess 2017
Levon Aronian communing with the pieces before Round 10. It worked as he played brilliantly.
Levon Aronian of Armenia and Sergey Karjakin of Russia both won their games with White, against, respectively, Richard Rapport of Hungary and Dmitry Andrekin of Russia to join the big pack at six points.
Aronian was in his element in Round 10. First, he uncorked a surprisingly simple novelty against Rapport’s favorite Queen’s Indian defence. The novelty helped him secure a nice edge. Aronian then followed with a stunning piece sacrifice a few moves later that was perhaps the prettiest sacrifice of the tournament so far.
Aronian, Levon vs. Rapport, Richard
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 10.3 |25 Jan 2017 |ECO: E18 |1-0
Bf69. Be1!?I think in the past people considered this move to be too slow, but, as Aronian demonstrates, it certainly deserves attention. In other lines, like after Qc2, Black used to take on d2 with the knight. Now that option is not possible. And the onus is on Black to make use of this move. 9... Re8?!This appears to be too slow, and the move "wasted" by playing Be1 is now fully justified for White. Black was obviously thinking this is a flexible setup, that he could still hope to play c5 or d5. But he misses some concrete options.
( 9... c5Makes the most sense to me but after 10. Qc2!?d511. Nxe4dxe412. Nd2Would be similar to the game, and I suspect what Aronian probably had in mind. It isn't clear if White is better, but he certainly has created an interesting shift in the position that could be uncomfortable for Black players. )
10. Qc2d5?!Rapport assumes that the symmetric nature of the position after Nxe4 should be ok for Black, but he underestimates the latent initiative in White's position.
( 10... Nxc311. Bxc3justifies White's setup. White could then try to play e4 and keep an edge. )
11. Nxe4dxe412. Nd2Bxd413. Rd1Qc814. Nxe4Bc515. Ng5f516. Bxb7Qxb717. Bc3Bf818. e4!h619. exf5hxg520. f6!The threat of Qg6 is crushing. Black needs to bring his queen over to try to protect his king. 20... c5
( 20... c6!was a much better defense. It might seem much more intuitive to play c5, but later on, while Black is struggling to develop, White can gain time with threats against the rook on a8. 21. f4!g422. f5 )
21. f4g422. f5gxf6
( 22... exf523. Rxf5gxf624. Rg5+!White would also have had an advantage after a simpler move like Rxf6. 24... fxg525. Qg6+Bg726. Qxe8+Kh727. Qh5+Kg828. Rd8+ )
( 22... e523. fxg7And f6 and f7 can't be stopped. Another problem with Black having played c5 can be seen after 23... Qxg724. f6Qf725. Qe4! )
( 23... Rxe624. Qg6+Qg725. Qf5!It is remarkable how Black's pieces are all tied up and the kingside will soon collapse. )
24. Qg2!Again Black's pawn on c5 is to blame. 24... Na625. Rd7!Qh526. Rxf6Black's kingside caves in. 26... Rad827. Rxf8+Kxf828. Qf1+
Karjakin’s win was much less spectacular. His countryman, Andrekin, seemed to be doing fine for most of the game, but then made some small errors to cede Karjakin an edge. A draw was probably still within reach, but Andreikin went further wrong to finally lose the full point:
Karjakin, Sergey vs. Andreikin, Dmitry
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 10.6 |25 Jan 2017 |ECO: C50 |1-0
28. exf5f6!?The simplest way to keep equality was:
( 28... Rfc8!29. Rxa8Rxa830. Ne4Rd831. Ra1d5Would have almost certainly led to a series of trades and a very drawish position. )
29. Ne4d530. Nd6b431. cxb4d4
( 31... Rab832. Ra5Nc8!And the exchanges would just lead to a draw. )
32. Ra5!Rab833. Ne4Rfd834. b5Nd535. Rc1Black finally got the knight to d5, but he is still down a pawn and his central pawns are not that imposing. 35... Rbc836. Rc6!The same theme as Ra5. 36... Nc337. Nd2!Rook endgames have a drawish reputation for good reason. Keeping the knights on the board clearly adds to White's winning chances. 37... e438. Rxc8Rxc839. Nc4d340. b6Black's central pawns remain woefully hard to push. 40... Ne2+41. Kf1Nd442. b7This actually required some very deep calculation on White's part.
( 42. Ke1Nxb343. Ra4 )
42... d243. Ra1Rb844. Na5Nb5The crucial move that White had to foresee before playing b7 was:
( 44... e3!?Seems tempting for Black but after: 45. fxe3Nc246. Rb1Nxe3+47. Ke2d1=Q+48. Rxd1Nxd149. Kxd1And White's advantage should be enough to eventually win the game. )
45. Rd1Nd646. Rxd2Nxb747. Nxb7!An elegant decision that demonstates a typical difference between how humans and computers think. In this position, the computer prefers not to exchange knights because it underestimates the the power of the White rook behind the passed pawn. Karjakin obviously knows better and plays flawlessly to convert the endgame: 47... Rxb748. Rb2h549. b4hxg450. Ke2g651. fxg6+Kxg652. Ke3g3
( 52... Kf553. b5Rb654. Kd4!The king penetrates Black's position. )
Karjakin played extremely precisely in converting the edge, particularly in how he coordinated his pieces around his passed b-pawn.
Carlsen played solidly with Black in his game against Pentala Harikrishna of India. There were a couple of moments where Carlsen seemed to be trying for more, but Harikrishna kept everything well under control and the game was drawn just before the 40th move.
Two other two draws in the round featured some curious moments around the first time control. In the game between Baskaran Adhiban of India and Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, Adhiban out-prepared and then outplayed Nepomniachtchi. But in the time pressure leading up to the 40th move, he made a few inaccuracies. It was a hard position to play and featured a slightly unusual combination of pieces and pawns and that contributed to Adhiban’s failure to find the precise way to attack the Black king:
Adhiban, Baskaran vs. Nepomniachtchi, Ian
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 10.4 |25 Jan 2017 |ECO: B96 |1/2-1/2
( 40. Rc4!Would almost have given White a decisive advantage. Black would be forced to play: 40... Qd541. Kc3Ke642. Qc7And now Qc6+ forces an exchange of queens, after which the endgame would be rather unpleasant to defend for Black. There are many plans he can try. One very interesting endgame arises after: 42... e343. Qc6+Qxc644. Rxc6+And Black would be suffering a great deal. White would have to be careful to take care of the pawn on e3 pawn: 44... Kd545. Rxa6Nc5!46. Rxh6f5Creating counterplay with the two pawns while keeping the White king at bay. It isn't clear how White could make progress. One possibility: 47. Rh4Ke548. Rc4Kd549. Rf4Ke550. Rh4!Zugzwang! The idea is that if Black plays f4, then after Rh5+ and Kd4, the White king manages to catch the pawns. And if: 50... Ne6If plays Kd3, then Nf4+ prevents White from making any progress. But White has: 51. Rc4!And only then Kd3. Once again, White manages to catch the pawns. )
40... Ke741. c4?Unfortunately for Adhiban, he didn't find the plan of trying to get his rook to Rc4, as mentioned earlier, or he could have still tried Qd8. It is actually surprisingly hard to find such moves because there are so many pieces crowded around these squares that it makes it hard to calculate everything precisely. 41... e3!The Black pawn on e3 poses such a threat that White is held in check. 42. Qd8+Kd643. Qc7+Ke744. Qd8+Kd645. Qc7+
It was definitely a lucky escape for Nepomniachtchi.
In the last game, Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine against Wei Yi of China, the game seemed headed for a quiet draw, until Wei injected excitement into the game with a piece sacrifice around move 40. He clearly overestimated his chances and things were soon very tricky for Black:
Eljanov, Pavel vs. Wei Yi
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 10.5 |25 Jan 2017 |ECO: A13 |1/2-1/2
39. Qc3Black is doing fine, but Wei decides to introduce some instability into the position. He certainly could have tried to force a draw in other ways, so he was clearly hoping for more: 39... Rxe340. fxe3Bxe3+41. Kh1Bxc142. Qxc1e3At first, the position does look a little scary for White, but he can defend everything after: 43. Bxa7e244. Qe1!And the bishop is able to come back to f2 to keep the queen in place. Now Black may actually have to worry about drawing the game. Wei doesn't panic though and finds a way: 44... Kh545. b5Kg446. Kh2Qh7+47. Kg1Qd348. Bb6f549. Ba5b6
( 49... f450. gxf4gxf451. Qf2!f352. Be1! )
( 50. Bb4Qe4And it's hard for White to actually make any progress. )
50... f4!51. gxf4gxf452. Bc5
( 52. Ba5Kh3!The key to the whole setup. 53. Qf2Qg6+!54. Kh1Qe4+ )
52... Qc453. Bb6I'm surprised Eljanov didn't try:
( 53. Kh2!Qxc554. Qxe2+And White can continue trying to win without any apparent risk. Of course, Black
has excellent drawing chances, but why not try for more? 54... Kh4! )
It seems hard to imagine So letting the tournament title slip from his grasp now. But Carlsen will play Adhiban with White in Round 11 and if he wins, he could still put some heat on So.
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