Wei Yi recorded the only victory of Round 11 to draw within a half point of the leader.
Wesley So may still win the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, but there is a little more pressure on him after Round 11. So, of the United States, drew in Round 11, while Wei Yi of China beat Sergey Karjakin of Russia won to pull within a half point.
Six of the seven games ended in draws, but there was still plenty of exciting chess. The exception was So’s game against Dmitry Andreikin of Russia. With a one-point lead before the round, and playing Black, So, was clearly more than happy to play solidly against Andreikin, who also did not play particularly ambitiously.
There was some drama between Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the World Champion, and Baskaran Adhiban of India. Carlsen, who had White, clearly had high hopes of beating the lowest-ranked player in the event. But Adhiban, who has been playing some unnusual openings throughout the tournament, surprised Carlsen with the Scandinavian. He equalized without trouble and then began to slowly outplay Carlsen. Carlsen didn’t seem to sense any danger, leading up the following position in which Adhiban had a beautiful tactical trick, but overlooked:
Carlsen, Magnus vs. Adhiban, Baskaran
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 11.1 |27 Jan 2017 |ECO: B01 |1/2-1/2
34. Bd2Qc6Thus far, Adhiban had not shown signs of being intimidated by his formidable opponent, but now he missed a killer blow:
( 34... Qg4!There aren't many ways to defend the rook. 35. Re1Re3!A move that was probably overlooked by both players. 36. Bxe3dxe337. Qxd5exf2+!Black will take all of the White pawns. 38. Kf1fxe1=R+39. Kxe1Qxg3+Alas, Adhiban was probably not looking for a killer blow -- an understandable psychology when playing Carlsen. The game now simplifies quickly from a series of exchanges. )
35. Ne2Qf636. Rc1Qf5The game is headed towards a draw. 37. Qxf5gxf538. Kf1d339. Nc3Nxc340. Rxc3Bd441. Rb3g642. f3Be543. g4fxg444. fxg4Bf645. h5gxh546. gxh5Re547. h6Kh748. Rxd3Rf5+49. Ke2Bxb2
It is remarkable how Adhiban has managed to switch between openings in the tournament. The difficulty of remembering so many lines is no small task. This was apparent in Wei’s game against Karjakin. They followed a line that has been analyzed and is known to be bad for Black. Karjakin, who was playing Black, had clearly forgotten preparation and found himself in an almost lost position right after the opening:
Wei Yi vs. Karjakin, Sergey
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 11.6 |27 Jan 2017 |ECO: C65 |1-0
11. Nd2This position has been played three times before in games between elite players and White has done rather well each time. It pays to know your openings, and unfortunately for Karjakin, he was not familiar with this one. 11... cxd4A novelty, but not a particularly good one. Karjakin obviously did not have it prepared and tried to find a solution over the board. But he winds up in a bad endgame after some precise play by Wei: 12. Nxe4dxc313. Qf3!Bb714. Bxf6Bxe415. Qxe4Qxf6
( 15... gxf6Was possible, but I guess Karjakin thought that his drawing chances in the end game would be better. Perhaps the fact that Wei is an excellent tactician, but has sometimes had trouble in the endgame played into Karjakin's decision. In any case, White would have a rather pleasant initiative after: 16. Nc6Qd617. Rad1Qe618. Qf3If Black continues 18... cxb219. Rfe1!Qxa220. Qxf6And mate will soon follow. )
16. Nd7Qg617. Qxg6hxg618. Nxf8cxb219. Rab1Kxf820. Rfd1A nice intermediate move. Things wouldn't really be different after Rxb2, but not letting Black take the d-file is good, too. Wei did not let up on Karjakin the rest of the game: 20... Ke721. Rxb2g522. Rbd2Rh823. g3Rh524. Kg2Kf625. h3Rh626. Rd8Ke727. R1d7+Ke628. Rd2Rf629. Rg8Rg630. Re8+Kf631. Rd7
In the game between Anish Giri of the Netherlands and Pentala Harikrishna of India, Giri, who had White, got the upper hand as he outprepared his opponent in an ultra sharp variation. But Harikrishna found some interesting resources to create counterplay. There was even a moment where Black could have won:
Giri, Anish vs. Harikrishna, Pentala
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 11.2 |27 Jan 2017 |ECO: A34 |1/2-1/2
e6At this point, Giri came up with an unexpected novelty 12. c6!With the White king still in the center, this does not feel so dangerous, but the main idea is that the Black pieces are stuck and hard to develop. It is particularly hard to deal with such novelties during a game: 12... b413. Qd4Rc7
( 13... Qe7Was possibly a better move. Now, after Nxa4 and exd5, White can't recapture with the pawn because of the pin on the e-file. But the position remains very unclear and White has many other options. I am pretty sure that Giri had prepared a lot more surprises for Black in this position. )
14. Na4exd515. exd5To finish his development, Black has to give up the pawn on g7 as well. 15... Be7A practical choice. Giving up the pawn on g7 opens up files for the Black
pieces and gives him chance to increase the activity of his pieces.
( 15... Qf6It seems as if exchanging queens would be a relief for Black, but his position is also rather hard to play in the endgame: 16. Rhe1Qxd417. Nxd4Be718. Kd3O-O19. Rxe7!?Not necessary. A move like Nb6 would have given White a more stable edge. But it's hard to resist a move like Rxe7. 19... Rxe720. Nb6f621. Kc4Black's pieces are really tied down. 21... a522. Kb5 )
16. Qxg7Bf617. Qh6Re7+18. Kf1Qxd5!?Another interesting practical choice. Black's position is very far from pleasant, so Harikrishna decides to sacrifice some material in return for obtaining a small initiative. This decision seems catch Giri off guard, and he begins to make some small mistakes in the next several moves. 19. Qxf6Rg820. h3Not best; g3 was better. The move Bh3 might have seemed annoying, but it posed no real threat to White.
( 20. g3!Black should probably play Re6, but then compared to the actual game, White would have an extra tempo. 20... Bh3+21. Kg1And it isn't clear what Black will do next. 21... Re622. c7!The problem with Bh3. )
( 25. Qxd6Rxd6Would have given White a solid edge. It was also more in spirit of how Giri usually plays. But there are some defensive chances in the endgame and Harikrishna is quite resilient. So Giri decided on a different path. )
25... Qf626. Rce1Qxb2Clearly the players were getting low on time. White had many tempting moves, but instead he forces Black's pieces to improve their positioning with every move - not the best strategy! 27. Na4?A bad miscalculation. 27... Qa328. Nb6Bb7!The bishop and queen are perfectly placed and the knight on f3 knight is in trouble. 29. Nd5Rge6Both the players seem to have missed that
( 29... Rd6!Would have changed the game. 30. Nxe7Ne5!!31. Qf4Qxf3+32. Qxf3Nxf3And White will probably lose! )
30. Qc5Rxe131. Rxe1Rxe132. Nxe1White once again has an initiative against the Black king, but it is much harder to convert this advantage. The ups and downs clearly took their toll on the players, and Giri no longer makes a serious effort to win. 32... Qxa233. Nf3Kd734. Kh2Qe235. Nf6+Kc736. Nd5+
Hungary’s Richard Rapport continued to play obscure openings. In Round 11, he tried Larsen’s opening (1.b3, which is named after the great Danish grandmaster) against Loek van Wely of the Netherlands. It was a close and strategically complicated game throughout. But Rapport’s patience got the better of him, and he couldn’t resist playing some fancy tactics that nearly led to his defeat:
Rapport, Richard vs. Van Wely, Loek
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 11.3 |27 Jan 2017 |ECO: A01 |1/2-1/2
hxg523. g4?!Rapport gets credit for making the game interesting, and I can understand why it is so hard to resist playing such a move, but there was really no need for this.
( 23. Ne6!Bxe624. dxe6White would have had a pleasant position. He will still be able to play g4 in the future, but without sacrificing a piece. )
23... gxf424. gxf5fxe3!25. Qxe3Nxf5!26. Qg5
( 26. Rxg7+!?Kxg727. Rg1+Kf728. Qg5Would have led to some crazy complications, but it doesn't look like White had a winning position. 28... Ke7 )
26... exf3!Very precise defense by Black. He is in time to launch his own counterplay against the White king. 27. Bxf6Rxf628. Qxf6Qe3+29. Kb1Qxf230. Qd8+Kf731. Qc7+Kf632. Qd8+Kf7
( 32... Ke5Would have been a fun continuation, but White would have been fine. 33. Bc2Qd434. Re1+!Kf435. Re4+The only way to save the game. I don't know what is happening after: 35... Qxe436. Bxe4Kxe4 )
33. Rxg7+?Rapport continues to be very ambitious.
( 33. Qc7+!Was really necessary. Clearly, Bd7 isn't enough to stop his position from collapsing, so he would have to accept the repetition of position. 33... Kf8 )
33... Nxg734. Qc7+Kg8If this was the only move, then Rapport's idea made sense because:
( 34... Bd7!!Would have forced the White queen to become misplaced and it would not have any checks on the eighth rank. Now the mating threats on the queenside are deadly. 35. Qxd7+Kg836. Bc2Qg2And the f-pawn will soon promote. In addition, Re8 will follow. Meanwhile, there are no threats against the Black king. )
35. Bc2Black does need to solve some problems as Bh7+ looks quite annoying. But van Wely finds the best defense. 35... Bf5Forcing a draw. 36. Qxb8+Kf737. Qc7+Kg838. Qd8+Kf739. Qc7+Kg8
The remaining two games weren’t quite as exciting. From a technical perspective, the nearly effortless draw by Levon Aronian of Armenia against Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland, despite being down a pawn for much of the game, was impressive:
Wojtaszek, Radoslaw vs. Aronian, Levon
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 11.7 |27 Jan 2017 |ECO: D19 |1/2-1/2
35. axb5White seems to have a very solid edge -- an extra pawn without any clear compensation for Black. But Aronian, having played, the Marshall for many years, is used to defending a position like this down a pawn. In the rest of the game, he never seemed to have any particular problems. 35... Rc1+36. Kf2Rh137. Kg2Rb1!The rook is placed rather nicely on b1 -- It targets the pawn on b2 and keeps White's pieces tied up. 38. Re5White needs to try and do something to find counterplay.
( 38. h3Bf5!And the pawn on b2 will fall. )
38... Bd339. Rd2Bf1+40. Kf2h641. f4Bh3!?42. Nd8Kf8It is possible that White had better moves in the next stage of the game, but Aronian defends without difficulty. 43. Rxe7Kxe744. Nc6+Kf645. fxg5+hxg546. Ne5Bf1!47. Nd7+Ke648. Nxb6Bxb549. Rc2a450. Kf3Be851. Re2+Kf752. Nc8Kf8The pressure on the pawn on b2 remains. 53. Rf2Bh5+54. Ke3+Kg755. Nd6a3!56. bxa3Black has a perpetual with Rb3 and Rb2+.
Of course White could have perhaps improved his play, but I think Aronian never was in serious danger.
In the game between Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia and Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine, there was a very curious moment in which White’s pieces were completely passive, but Black didn’t really have any obvious ways to exploit that:
Nepomniachtchi, Ian vs. Eljanov, Pavel
79th Tata Steel GpA |Wijk aan Zee NED |Round 11.4 |27 Jan 2017 |ECO: A45 |1/2-1/2
Nf419. Bf1!Pretty much the only move to maintain the balance. White's position looks very suspicious at first, but he has plenty of threats as well. And the passive placement of his pieces is only temporary. Perhaps Black could have tried to be more ambitious, but it is not obvious what he should do. Instead, he rapidly traded pieces and simplified: 19... exd420. Bxd4Bc521. g3Ne622. Bxc5Ndxc523. exd5cxd524. b4!?White has a more or less normal position. The battle continued for a while, but neither player was ever close to having a significant advantage.
The crucial matchup in Round 12 is between So and Wei. It is hard to imagine that the ever-pragmatic So will take many risks, but perhaps Wei will try to do something out of the ordinary to create some chaos and some winning chances.
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