With Magnus Carlsen held to a draw his rivals had a chance to make their move, but it seemed at first they also preferred an extra rest day, as Ding Liren – So and Vachier-Lagrave – Wojtaszek ended in short, if spectacular, draws. Anish Giri and Fabiano Caruana showed more ambition, battling to wins with Black over Ivan Saric and Baadur Jobava to move within 1.5 points of the lead with 3 games to go. Loek van Wely also notched his first win, comparing himself to a blind squirrel as he beat Hou Yifan in a game analysed by Lawrence Trent.
Tata Steel Masters Round 10 results
All the build-up to Round 10 of the Tata Steel Masters was centred on whether Carlsen could “do a Caruana” and score seven wins in a row. When that plot-line was brought to the most abrupt of ends by Vassily Ivanchuk it left a void that could only partly be filled by a wonderful interview with Magnus.
On the boards the draws began to pile up:
Ding Liren 1/2 – 1/2 Wesley So (replay game)
If you’re going to go for what you know is a forced draw it’s always a bonus if, unlike the Ivanchuk-Carlsen game, you can choose something to at least entertain the spectators. Wesley So certainly did when he went up against a line championed by Mikhail Botvinnik and took a pawn on h4 that had long been considered poisoned. After the “refutation” 9.Qb3 he responded with the typically computeresque 9…g5!
He allowed Ding Liren to take a rook on a8, but in exchange for getting in an attractive blow on e3: 13…Qxe3+
“I guess So is still in his preparation - he's a lot of pieces down...” was Carlsen’s wry observation shortly after this point, and indeed, Wesley had correctly remembered his analysis and was able to force a draw by repetition – only the second non-decisive game for Ding Liren in the whole tournament. Wesley So, meanwhile, has been well-served by his policy of playing to hold with Black, since he remains the tournament’s only unbeaten player.
He joined the live show after his game:
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Radoslaw Wojtaszek (replay game)
The French no. 1 ignited this game with the pawn sac 14.d6!?
Since it was accepted in 50 seconds, though, we can be sure Wojtaszek had looked at it in advance. The play that followed was arguably even more spectacular than in the Ding Liren – So game, with Carlsen musing:
I don't really understand why White should be better. Maybe he isn't, maybe he's just doing this for fun!
The fun came to an end on move 32 in a dead drawn position with level material and opposite-coloured bishops.
Teimour Radjabov 1/2 – 1/2 Levon Aronian (replay game)
Games between representatives of Azerbaijan and Armenia always have an added geopolitical edge, but this one seemed to have theoretical draw written all over it. After playing the Marshall Attack, Levon managed the impressive feat of not thinking - or even moving about in the venue - for more than 22 seconds a move before move 32. By that point, as so often happens with deep theory nowadays, he was losing a pawn, but the only surprise about the game was that it took until move 56 before a draw was finally agreed – or rather, before the players decided not to contravene the laws of chess by playing on with bare kings!
After that, though, it was wins all round!
Loek van Wely 1 – 0 Hou Yifan (replay game)
Loek opened his post-game interview, which you can rewatch below, “Finally the blind squirrel found his nut,” adding, “If I were a serious chess player I would have committed suicide long ago after so many accidents in this tournament”.
Lawrence Trent takes a look at how Loek used the 3.Bb5 Sicilian to win a 24-move miniature against Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan:
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And here’s Loek talking about the squirrel:
Loek also explained his plans for the rest day:
First, tomorrow, I’ll play basketball with Magnus. I’ll try to dunk over him. I already made a plan with Peter Heine Nielsen that I’ll give him a lob and he’s going to posterize Magnus!
The photo evidence below doesn't seem entirely according to the plan, but it certainly looks intense!
Baadur Jobava 0-1 Fabiano Caruana (replay game)
Ivan Saric and Baadur Jobava starred in last year’s Challengers event, with Ivan in particular scoring a stunning 7 wins and no defeats. In this year’s Masters, though, they’re feeling the strain, with 5 losses and 1 win (vs. Jobava) now for Saric, and no less than 8 losses and 1 win for Jobava. Baadur has been adamant in his refusal to play more solidly, but when Fabiano Caruana is sitting opposite – even if not in the very best of form – creative openings can end up severely punished.
In our first experiment with new live broadcasts, Jan Gustafsson rounded up the action in Round 10. You can rewatch that on the Live Shows page: Wijk aan Zee: Round 10 recap show, or below. Jan talks about Jobava-Caruana from about 7:30 onwards (note there are some minor problems with the sound/picture skipping in the recording – just assume Jan is an absent-minded genius who occasionally thinks too fast to speak and it should still make sense ):
Ivan Saric 0 - 1 Anish Giri (replay game)
It was third time lucky for Giri as he managed to keep pace with Caruana by beating Saric. The Sicilian line he chose sees Black end up with no pieces developed but the queen, causing Carlsen to comment, “it’s not as stupid as it looks!” The first try was against Sergey Karjakin in the Tashkent Grand Prix. In that game Anish should have lost a miniature but did eventually succumb later on. After the game he commented, “I played the worst possible line”, but either that was to try and throw his rivals off the scent, or he simply changed his mind, since he played it again in Round 6 against Radjabov, a game that ended with a spectacular sac on f7 and perpetual check.
Against Saric, it was Black having all the fun.
Here Giri played the typical exchange sacrifice 30…Rxc3! which would have been good even if after 31.Qxc3 Nxe4 32.Qd3...
...there wasn’t 32...Nc3+! winning the exchange back immediately. The mopping up operation went very smoothly for Giri.
So Carlsen still leads by a full point, but Giri and Caruana have caught Ivanchuk and Ding Liren in the group 1.5 points back. A lot can still happen in the final three rounds!
On Friday, Carlsen takes on Vachier-Lagrave, who would catch him with a win. Wesley So might also fancy his chances of scoring a full point against Ivan Saric.
Magnus Carlsen wasn’t alone in seeing his winning streak end on Wednesday. Back in Wijk aan Zee David Navara was prevented from scoring five wins in a row by Vladimir Potkin, allowing Wei Yi to catch him again in the lead. The Chinese star, who Magnus Carlsen compared to himself at the same age, posed unsolvable problems for Erwin l'Ami with 16.g3!
16…Nxh3 would simply be met by 17.Kg2, while none of the other knight retreats work out any better (the queen coming to h5 gives White a devastating attack). Erwin l’Ami tried 16…g6, but he was soon simply a piece down.
Robin van Kampen beat Bart Michiels to stay 1.5 points behind the leaders, Jan Timman lost again, this time to Salem Saleh, and GM David Klein wasn’t going to let Anne Haast have her WGM title without a fight, testing her powers of resistance for 133 moves.
After the final rest day the Tata Steel Masters is back in Wijk aan Zee, with Round 11 starting at 13:30 CET on Friday 23 January. Follow the live commentary with a returning Yasser Seirawan here on chess24!
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