In a thrilling final round that saw five decisive games, Wesley So won to finish a full point ahead of Magnus Carlsen.

Sunday, Wesley So added the Tata Steel Chess Tournament title to his growing collection of championships.

With a win in the last round, So, who now plays for the United States, took first with 9 points, a full point of Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian World Champion, who was clear second.  Baskaran Adhiban of India, Levon Aronian of Armenia and Wei Yi of China tied for third, each with 7.5 points.

So’s win, coupled with a loss at the Tradewise Gibraltar tournament by Fabiano Caruana, an American teammate of So’s, also catapulted So to the No. 2 ranking in the world on the Live Chess Ratings list. 

The Tata Steel title also continues a remarkable run for So, who has won the Sinquefield Cup and the London Classic in the last few months.

The last day of the tournament was action-packed as five of the seven games ended decisively. In addition to So’s win, over Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, Aronian and Wei, who started the day only a half point behind So, actually lost. Aronian’s loss was to Dmitry Andreikin of Russia — Andreikin’s first win of the tournament. Loek van Wely of the Netherlands, who had had a miserable tournament, losing six games, also picked up his first win, over Pentala Harikrishna of India.

So’s game against Nepomniachtchi was actually the shortest of the day. Nepomniachtchi played the Trompowsky, one of the side lines that has become surprisingly popular in recent years. (Carlsen used it in the first game of his recent World Championship match against Sergey Karjakin of Russia.) The players quickly went off the well known paths and then Nepomniachtchi seemed to lose all sense of danger and chose to make a mysterious pawn sacrifice. It turned out to be a disastrous decision as he overlooked So’s devastating replies:

Nepomniachtchi, Ian vs. So, Wesley
79th Tata Steel GpA | Wijk aan Zee NED | Round 13.2 | 29 Jan 2017 | ECO: A45 | 0-1
Qa5 8. O-O-O? A very mysterious move. The most likely explanation is that Nepomniachtchi overlooked Black's 11th move and the other possibilities seemed to be unclear. It is difficult to imagine why Nepomniachtchi would play like this as White's position is clearly close to the edge of collapse. But he excels in chaotic positions and when he is playing his best, he can trust his calculating ability. Unfortunately for him, he was not at his best in this event.
8. c3 e3 9. Qxe3 Bxc5 Or Qc5. Black seems to be doing just fine in either line. But White would also be more-or-less okay.  )
8... Qxa2 9. Qb5+ Nbd7
9... Nc6 Leads to a more complicated position, as no doubt Nepomniachtchi had been calculating.
10. Nxe4 Qa1+ 11. Kd2 Nxe4+ 12. Ke1  )
10. c6 bxc6 11. Qxc6 Bb7! The simplest line, though it wasn't the only way to achieve a decisive advantage. With the Black queen on a2 and White not particularly well developed, White should have probably suspected that opening more lines on the queenside wasn't the best idea.
11... Rb8 12. Nb3 Was possibly what Nepomniachtchi was expecting. Now after a move like Be7, it isn't clear how Black continues development after White plays Ne2. But even in this position, Black has the rather strong continuation:
12... Nd5! 13. Ne2 Ba3! 14. bxa3 Qxa3+ 15. Kb1 Bb7 The White Queen is rather awkwardly placed.
16. Qc4 Ba6! 17. Qd4 Bd3 Black's initiative is far too powerful.  )
12. Qxb7 Qa1+ 13. Nb1 Rb8 14. Qxb8+ Nxb8 15. Bb5+ Nfd7 16. Ne2 Be7 17. Bxe7 Kxe7 18. Nd4 Nc5 19. h4 Rd8 20. Rh3 Nd3+ 21. Bxd3 Rxd4 22. Be2 Rxd1+ 23. Bxd1 Qa5 24. Nd2 f5 25. Rg3 Qe5 26. Ra3 Nc6 27. g3 Qd4 28. Re3 Nb4

A surprisingly easy win for So. Perhaps like Carlsen, his opponents are becoming intimidated by his mere presence!

The So-Nepomniachtchi game was not the only one to feature the Trompowsky; it was also in the game between Richard Rapport of Hungary and Adhiban, and Black won there as well.

It was another theoretically unusual game as it ended up in a Sicilian-like position.  Rapport, like Nepomniachtchi, played a pawn sacrifice. Though Rapport’s sacrifice made more sense than Nepomniachtchi’s, Adhiban found the antidote:

Rapport, Richard vs. Adhiban, Baskaran
79th Tata Steel GpA | Wijk aan Zee NED | Round 13.6 | 29 Jan 2017 | ECO: A45 | 0-1
1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 c5 3. Nc3 cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nc6 5. Qh4 e6 6. O-O-O Be7 7. e4 This has basically become a Sicilian Defense.
7... a6 8. Nf3 Qc7 9. Bd3 d6 10. Rhe1 Bd7 Adhiban cleverly keeps the king in the center, which the preserves the option of castling queenside. White's pieces seem too focused on the kingside, so castling there would probably not be the wisest choice.
11. e5 Too soon!
11. Kb1 waiting to see where the Black king goes would have been a more practical choice. If Black castles queenside, then White can start transferring his pieces there and Black's counterplay seems limited. While if Black castles kingside, or plays moves on the queenside like b5 or Rc8, then White could start focusing on the kingside. I think the best move for Black would have been:
11... Ne5 Which preserves the option of castling on either side and prevents e5, at least for the time being.
12. Nxe5 dxe5 13. f3 O-O  )
11... dxe5 12. Ne4 Nd5! A precise move. This keeps the White threats under control. Now c4 would just expose the White king, so that isn't a big worry for Black.
13. Bxe7 Ncxe7 14. Ng3 f6! 15. Nh5 O-O-O! Castling on the queenside makes all of White's pieces appear misplaced.
16. Nxg7 Ng6 17. Qc4 Ngf4 18. Qxc7+ Nxc7 19. g4 Bc6 20. Be4 Clearly the players had spent a lot of time by now and now Adhiban takes this opportunity to repeat moves a couple of times to save time on the clock.
20... Ng2 21. Re2 Nf4 22. Ree1 Rxd1+ 23. Kxd1 Ng2 24. Re2 Nf4 25. Re1 Ng2 26. Re2 Rd8+ 27. Nd2 Nf4 Rapport finally gets tired of repeating moves - his position wasn't too pleasant either - and decides to sacrifice an exchange. But this only increases Black's edge.
28. Bxc6 Nxe2 29. Bxb7+ Kxb7 30. Kxe2 Rg8 31. Nh5 Rg6 32. Kf3 f5 33. gxf5 exf5 34. Ng3 e4+ 35. Kf4 Nd5+! 36. Kxf5 e3 37. fxe3 Nxe3+ 38. Ke5 Nxc2 39. Nde4
39. b3 Would have perhaps preserved the pawn, but his position does not very uncomfortable.  )
39... Rh6 40. Nf1 Nb4! A nice fork, winning either the pawn on a2 or b2 pawn (after Nd3+).
41. Nf6 Nxa2 With equal material, and weak pawns on both sides, the result was clearly not in doubt. Rapport resigns and brings his suffering to an end.

Over all, it was a stunningly impressive debut by Adhiban in his first elite event. (And, as for the Trompowsky, the two games may serve as warning that it should not be played in elite tournaments.)

Carlsen faced Karjakin, who seemed to be better prepared in the opening. Carlsen may have actually obtained a slight edge, but he never really had a chance to win:

Carlsen, Magnus vs. Karjakin, Sergey
79th Tata Steel GpA | Wijk aan Zee NED | Round 13.1 | 29 Jan 2017 | ECO: C53 | 1/2-1/2
8. Bh4 g5!? I am quite sure this was a prepared novelty as it looks dangerous to play such a move over the board. The computer evaluates this sacrifice to be good for White and perhaps Carlsen was even vaguely aware of this. But Karjakin had looked deeper. This seems to be one of those rare examples in which the computer seems to overestimate the initiative.
9. Nxg5 hxg5 10. Bxg5 Kg7 11. Qf3 Be6 Black's idea is to play Nb8 and Nbd7 and then free himself from the pin. It seems slow, but what is White supposed to do in the meantime? Carlsen finds a very interesting way to prepare for Nb8 but that also costs a lot time.
12. b4
12. h4 Nb8!  )
12... Bb6 13. Bd5!? Preparing Bxb7 if Black plays Nb8.
13... a5 14. b5 Nb8 15. Bxb7 Ra7 16. Bd5 Nbd7 Three pawns is usually good compensation for the piece, but it is hard to evaluate this position and say if one player has an edge.
17. Nc4 Bxd5 18. exd5 Qe8 19. Ne3 Rg8 20. O-O Nh7 21. Nf5+ Kh8 22. Bh4 Ra8 23. Rae1 f6 24. Re4 Nc5 25. Re3 Nd7 26. d4 Qg6 27. Ne7 Qg4 28. Nxg8 Rxg8 29. Qxg4 Rxg4 30. g3 exd4 31. cxd4 Bxd4 32. Re8+ Rg8 33. Re7 Rg7 34. Re4 Ne5 35. Kg2 Bb6 36. f4 Ng6 37. Kh3 Kg8 38. Rfe1 Kf7 39. Re6 Rg8 40. R1e4 f5! 41. Re2 Rh8 42. a4 Kg7 43. Rxg6+
43. Re1 Nf6!  )
43... Kxg6 44. Re6+ Kf7 45. Re7+ Kg8 46. Kg2 Nf8 47. Bg5 Rh7 48. Re8 Kf7 49. Rd8 There doesn't seem to be any way for Black to improve his position.
49... Kg8 50. Re8 Rf7 51. Bh6 Rf6 52. Bg5 Rf7 53. Bh6

The game between Andreikin and Aronian was dominated by White for most of the game. Andreikin finally broke through with a nice pawn sacrifice:

Andreikin, Dmitry vs. Aronian, Levon
79th Tata Steel GpA | Wijk aan Zee NED | Round 13.3 | 29 Jan 2017 | ECO: D11 | 1-0
Qd8 25. h4! This break was just screaming to be played, but it does require some precision from White to make it work.
25... gxh4 26. Bh6 Re8 27. Qh3! Now g5 is a real threat.
27. g5 Playing this move immediately doesn't give White too much of an edge after
27... Bf8! Which forces exchanges, or allows Black to play Bxh6 to force gxh6.  )
27... f5
27... g5 28. f4! Was a crucial line.
28... gxf4 29. g5 Ne3 30. Qxh4! Nxd1 31. Rxd1  )
28. gxf5 exf5 29. Nc5 Bg5 30. Bd5+ Kh7 31. Bxg5 Qxg5+ 32. Qg2! The exchange of queens works in White's favor. White has a solid edge in the endgame and does not need to hurry. The next few moves weren't particularly difficult:
32... Qxg2+ 33. Kxg2 Ndb6 34. Bc6 Rd8 35. Ne6 Rc8 36. Bxb5 Re7 37. Bxa6 Rxe6 38. Bxc8 Nxc8 39. Rdc1 N8b6 40. Ra7+ Kh6 41. Rc7 Na3
41... Nb2!? This would avoid a move like Rc5, as in the game, but that was a hard move to predict.  )

Andreikin still had a lot of work to do in the endgame until he found a brilliant finesse near the end:

Andreikin, Dmitry vs. Aronian, Levon
79th Tata Steel GpA | Wijk aan Zee NED | Round 13.3 | 29 Jan 2017 | ECO: D11 | 1-0
41... Nb2!? This would avoid Rc5 - as happened in the game - but that was a hard move to foresee.  )
42. R7c5!? Andreikin wanted to play Rc6 at this moment, but it does not quite work, as explained below. So he plays this clever move. It puts the pressure on Black to find something useful to do. White is threatening f4 and then d5, etc.
42. R1c6 Rxc6 43. Rxc6 Nd5 44. Rc5 Nxb4! 45. d5 Nd3 46. e6 Kg7! And Black is safe.  )
42... Kh5? Now Andreikin can go forward with his plan.
42... Kg5 This move might make more sense because the king stays closer to the e-pawn, but the king isn't very comfortable there either.
43. Kh3 f4 44. Rg1+ Kf5 45. Kxh4  )
43. Rc6! Clearly Andreikin had been calculating Rc6 on the previous move and was probably frustrated that it did not quite work because of Kg7. But now it is possible because the Black has moved farther away from the passed pawn.
43... Rxc6 44. Rxc6 Nd5 45. Rc5! Nf4+
45... Nxb4 46. e6! The knights are almost useless.  )
46. Kh1! g5 47. b5 Now it is all over.
47... Nxb5 48. Rxb5 g4 49. d5 h3 50. e6

Wei played Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland and outplayed him in the opening. Wojtaszek ended up losing a pawn, but he found a way to complicate the game by giving Wei a choice between two ways to continue, both of which seemed attractive:

Wei Yi vs. Wojtaszek, Radoslaw
79th Tata Steel GpA | Wijk aan Zee NED | Round 13.4 | 29 Jan 2017 | ECO: C88 | 0-1
20. Qe3!? A straightforward novelty following a game played by Fabiano Caruana of the United States. I was surprised that Wojtaszek did not seem ready for this move and quickly lost the b-pawn.
20... Ne8 21. Qc5 During his pre-game preparation, Wojtaszek probably only focused on the queen going to the kingside.
21... Nd6 22. Qxb4 Bb5 23. Ng3 c5 24. Qc3 Rac8 25. f4
25. Be3 Trying to force Black to play c4 also made sense.  )
25... Bc6! A good practical move. Wojtaszek gives Wei a choice: Either he can hope for a slight edge in the endgame after Qxe5 or he can go for a dangerous looking initiative with f5. Usually, allowing your opponent a dangerous initiative isn't the best strategy, but it does give Black more to do than just struggle for a draw down a pawn. Wei clearly prefers having the initiative.
26. f5 The safer, and better, move was clearly
26. Qxe5 Qxe5 27. fxe5 Nc4 White's pawn structure is worse than it was, but he will remain up a pawn and have chances to create pressure against the weak Black queenside pawns.
28. Nf5 or Be3!?
28... Rd7 29. b3 Nxe5 30. Bb2 Re8 31. Rad1  )
26... Qe7 The next few moves witnessed an interesting strategic battle and just as Wojtaszek had probably hoped, Wei went all in on the kingside. This let Wojtazek build his initiative in the center and the queenside while Wei lost his sense of danger:
27. Kh2 Nb5 28. Qf3 f6 29. Qf2 Nd4 30. Ra3 Be8 31. Nf1 Kf8 32. Rg3 Qb7 33. Rc3 Bb5 34. Ng3 Be8 35. Nh1 c4 36. Qh4 Qf7 37. Qf2 Ba4 38. Rd1 Qd7 39. Rf1 Qb7 40. Ng3 Nb5 41. Re3 Nd4 42. Nh5 Be8 43. Qh4 Bxh5 44. Qxh5 Qf7 45. Qh4 Nxc2 46. Rg3 Ke7 47. Rg6 Rd3 48. Qg4 Kf8 49. Qh5 Ke7 50. Qg4 Kf8 51. Qh5 Ke7 52. Rf3 Wei continues to try for more.
52... Nd4 53. Rxd3 cxd3 54. Bd2 Ne2 55. Qf3 Rd8 56. Qf2 Rd4 57. Be3 Rd7 58. Bd2 Rd4 59. Be3

In the end, Wei still had good chances for a draw, but he didn’t adjust his ambitions quickly enough and collapsed:

Wei Yi vs. Wojtaszek, Radoslaw
79th Tata Steel GpA | Wijk aan Zee NED | Round 13.4 | 29 Jan 2017 | ECO: C88 | 0-1
59. Be3 Kf8! After a long slog, it's Black who is trying for more! This must have come as a rude shock to Wei.
60. Qe1
60. Bxd4 exd4 61. Qf3 Qc7+ 62. e5! This opens up the diagonal for the White queen to jump into the attack.
62... Qxe5+ If Black plays d2, then White has a draw with Qa8+ and Qd5+
63. g3 d2 64. Qa8+! Qe8 65. Qb7 Qe7 66. Qa8+ And White should be able to draw.  )
60... Rxe4 61. Qd2 Rxe3! 62. Qxe3 Qd7 The Black pieces completely dominate the board and it is much harder for White to create a perpetual check.
63. Qb6 Nf4! 64. Rg3 d2 65. Qb8+ Kf7 66. Qb3+ Qd5 67. Qd1 e4 68. Qg4 g5! 69. fxg6+ Kg7 The king is perfectly safe.
70. Rc3 Qd6 Blocking all checks and White can't defend against the many threats, including d1=Q.

In the game between van Wely and Harikrishna, Harikrishna seemed to go wrong quite early in the game. Perhaps he wanted to play a more ambitious opening as van Wely had had such a terrible tournament and was clearly not in good form. But it didn’t quite work and Harikrishna ended up with a worse position. Van Wely kept up the pressure and played very precisely:

Van Wely, Loek vs. Harikrishna, Pentala
79th Tata Steel GpA | Wijk aan Zee NED | Round 13.5 | 29 Jan 2017 | ECO: E04 | 1-0
10. O-O White seems to have won the opening battle and is a little better, but Black should not panic. Instead, Harikrishna embarks on a plan to create counterplay for which he is not prepared:
10... Be7?!
10... Nb6 Trading pieces seemed like a better strategy. Black's position is cramped and exchanging even one piece would give him more room to breathe.  )
11. Rd1 Bf6 12. e3 I'm not sure how having the bishop on f6 is any better for Black. Meanwhile, White played two useful moves.
12... Ncb4?! This runs into some tactical problems.
13. Qd2 c5 14. Ne4!
14. dxc5 Nxc3 15. bxc3 Ba4! No doubt, this was Harikrishna's idea. Black should have no trouble restoring material equality.  )
14... cxd4 15. Nxf6+ Qxf6 16. e4! An unexpected retort. Black can't move the knight on d5 because the knight on b4 won't be defended anymore.
16... Rac8 17. Na3 Ba4 18. exd5 Bxd1 19. Qxb4 White has two pieces for the rook which is a sizable material edge.
19... Be2
19... exd5 Would have probably given Black better defensive chances without allowing White to play d6. But Black would have been quite passive, which is something that is not comfortable for any player. So Harikrishna tries to complicate the game, but his position falls apart rapidly:  )
20. d6! Rfd8 21. Bd2 b6 22. Re1 d3 23. Nc4 Maybe Black could have defended better, but his position just doesn't look good. Harikrishna also seems to have overlooked White's 27th move.
23... a5 24. Qb5 Rc5 25. Qa6 b5 26. Nxa5 Rc2 27. Nc6! The move Harikrishna almost certainly missed when he played a5, Rc5, and b5. It is indeed a very pretty idea and easy to miss.
27... h6 White's idea can be seen after
27... Rxd2 28. Nxd8 Qxd8 29. d7! Rc2 30. Qa8! And Black can't prevent the d-pawn from promoting  )
28. Nxd8 Qxd8 29. Qa8 Rc8 30. Qb7 It is all but over and White won soon.

The other game between Anish Giri of the Netherlands and Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine was always close to equal though Giri tried for a long time to create something in a drawish rook endgame. But Eljanov kept it all together and never gave White much of a chance.

Though this was So’s third consecutive victory in an elite tournament, this one was particularly significant as Carlsen had not played in the previous two events. So is beginning to have that aura of invincibility around him that great champions acquire as he has not lost in more than 50 games; he is unbeaten since June of last year. If he manages to become the challenger for the World Championship in 2018, he could be a real threat as he seems to be able to do what Carlsen does best — consistently play good chess and exploit his opponent’s mistakes.


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.