Reports Jan 26, 2020 | 8:27 PMby Colin McGourty

Tata Steel 13: Fabiano Caruana finishes in style

Fabiano Caruana scored the only win of the final round of the Tata Steel Masters to match the 10/13 last scored in Wijk aan Zee by famous legends Magnus Carlsen in 2013 and Garry Kasparov in 1999. His +7 score left him a full two points ahead of Magnus, who finished in clear second place after Wesley So was content to take a 9th draw in a row. David Antón shrugged off his loss the day before to get the draw he needed to win the Challengers and qualify for next year’s Masters.

Fabiano Caruana receives his trophy, with Magnus Carlsen 2nd and Wesley So 3rd | photo: Tata Steel Chess

Check out 8-time Russian Champion Peter Svidler's recap of how Fabiano Caruana won the 2020 Tata Steel Chess Masters:

You can replay all the games from the Tata Steel Masters by clicking on a result in the selector below:

And here’s the final commentary for a while from Peter Svidler and Jan Gustafsson:

Sunday is the LAST CHANCE to take advantage of both the 30% off special offer when you Go Premium and enter the voucher code TATA2020 and also the old Premium pricing!


And don't miss GM Pascal Charbonneau's round-up of the event at 22:00 CET:

Fabiano Caruana saves the day

The final round of the 2020 Tata Steel Masters looked destined to be an anti-climax. The dream scenario would have been for Wesley So to come out fighting after eight draws in a row and try to beat Magnus Carlsen and snatch second place, but, to no-one's great surprise, he didn’t. 

Not a game for the ages | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook

Even Magnus wasn’t feeling entirely in the mood:

To be honest today I was ok with the draw. The disappointments, if any, were two days before. Before the last rest day I felt like I had legitimate hopes of contending for first, but then the last two days it all sort of fell apart. Today I didn’t have much to play for. Obviously I wouldn’t have particularly minded if he wanted to fight, but I don’t think he particularly did.

A long theoretical line of the Scotch Four Knights would have ended in a draw even sooner if not for one strange move (33.h6!?) by Wesley, which stirred the World Champion’s competitive spirits:

I think I’m very slightly better, so if you feel like you have 1% equity of winning the game you should continue at least a little bit - why not just torture him a bit?

In the end it came to almost literally nothing:

Few of the other players saw any hope of changing how the long tournament had gone with last-round heroics, so we got an 18-move draw in Kovalev-Vitiugov, a 23-move draw in Duda-Anand and a 16-move draw in Firouzja-Dubov. That meant that Alireza Firouzja ended on 50% after setting the tournament on fire for 7 rounds.

Fabi keeps an eye on Alireza Firouzja and Daniil Dubov | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook

The 16-year-old reflected on the event and his consecutive losses to Carlsen, Caruana and Anand:

Of course I was satisfied before the three games that I lost. I played very good chess, but after I played three interesting games, actually. I should learn from them… I think the only way to improve is to play long games with them and see how they play, so this is how it goes.

There’s obviously a lot more to come from Firouzja, while for 23-year-old Daniil Dubov a +1 score in his first Tata Steel Masters was an impressive result that took him to the brink of the 2700 club (2699.1).

Yu-Xiong saw Yu Yangyi win an exchange in the middlegame, but just when it seemed as though there might be some light at the end of a tunnel that had seen him lose four games and win none he agreed a draw – the urge to put the event behind him was perhaps too strong.

Jorden can claim to be the Dutch no. 1, at least for one event... | photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit, Tata Steel Chess Facebook

That left us with two storylines. One of them was somewhat local – Jorden van Foreest and Anish Giri fighting for who would finish as the top Dutch player in the tournament. Anish said afterwards:

At some point in the middle of the tournament I realised I should switch from trying to overtake Carlsen to overtake Jorden, because Jorden had one and a half points more than Magnus briefly, but finally it didn’t really materialise, because given my positions I could have scored from -4 to +5 probably, which is why at some tournaments in Wijk aan Zee I score -4 and some +5, but this time it was just 50%.

Jorden, the 20-year-old bottom seed, was ultimately almost the only player after Fabiano who could be truly satisfied with his performance. He held a tricky position against Giri to finish on +1, gaining 23.1 rating points and climbing 40 places from world no. 110 to no. 70. “This tournament was amazing, simply, beyond all expectations!” he concluded:

If that had been all, the round would still have been a big disappointment, but luckily for us the tournament winner wasn’t going to let the final day end with a whimper. 2020 Fabiano Caruana looks an awful lot like the 2018 Fabi who terrorised the chess world and nearly knocked Magnus Carlsen off his perch. His game against Vladislav Artemiev wasn’t as dramatic as the final round of the Berlin Candidates – when Caruana risked it all to play on and beat Alexander Grischuk when he could take a draw and become the challenger – but there was still no burning need for Fabi to keep fighting for a win. He did it because he could and, in this kind of form, it’s just what he does!

Caruana made it clear he'll be the man to beat in the Candidates | photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit, Tata Steel Chess Facebook

Caruana had the black pieces but as in 2018 that made little difference, and he gradually took over until it was Artemiev who was facing an uphill struggle to survive. The young Russian dug in and could have made it until he spent 26 minutes on 44.Rd1? (44.Qe1!):


Fabi did some calculation of his own and came up with 44…Qc4! 45.Qc3 Qa2+ 46.Nd2 Qc2 47.Qe5 Bxd2 when Vladislav began to give checks with 48.Qxe6+:


If Black can move the d2-bishop with check he’ll win the game, and the speed of the play that followed made it clear that both players had realised that it was indeed only a matter of time. A dance of the queen and king began until the black monarch finally found refuge on b2:


It was time for 61…Bb4+! and the final mopping up operation didn’t take long:

Fabiano Caruana had won 6 of his last 7 games to finish with a brilliant 10/13, putting him a full two points ahead of Magnus with a 2944 rating performance. Fabiano managed a 3103 performance and a 3-point gap to the field in his out-of-this-world 2014 Sinquefield Cup performance, but other than that it's hard to beat:

David Antón seizes his chance

David never looked in trouble as he picked up the draw he needed | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook

The loss in the penultimate round was a shock for 24-year-old Spanish Grandmaster David Antón, but although it seemed that with a half-point lead he could easily be caught that wasn’t really the case. His tiebreaks were so good that he knew he’d be the champion if he scored a draw against Lucas van Foreest, and that’s just what he did.

It means he qualifies for the first real super-tournament of his career, but he wasn’t allowing the interviewer to scare him too much with the prospect of what lies ahead:

I didn’t know it was so bad for the previous champions but I think it’s normal. I will be one of the weakest players so I think it wouldn’t be so strange if they beat me so many times but I will just try my best. I think I’ve done good games against good players so I’ll try to do a good tournament.

A tournament that had seemed to be dominated by experience turned again at the very end, as 15-year-olds Vincent Keymer and Nihal Sarin beat “seasoned” Grandmasters Nils Grandelius and Rauf Mamedov, while 19-year-old Max Warmerdam won a 2nd game in a row… and what a win!

15-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov also fell just short of tying for 1st place and you wouldn't bet against him getting an invite next year in any case. Here are the final standings in the Challengers (you can click on a result to open that game with computer analysis):

So that’s all for Tata Steel Chess 2020. We hope you’ve enjoyed the shows and coverage and don’t forget to switch to the Gibraltar Masters, which is really heating up before this week’s final four rounds!

See also:


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