Reports Jan 13, 2015 | 12:33 AMby Colin McGourty

Tata Steel 2015 R3: Carlsen and Aronian KOed

Wojtaszek has already beaten the likes of Caruana, Nakamura and Radjabov in the past, but it doesn't get much better than beating the World Champion | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook

And breathe! One of the most extraordinary days of chess in recent memory saw World Champion Magnus Carlsen smoothly outplayed by Radek Wojtaszek, while Levon Aronian committed a gruesome blunder to allow Wesley So to snatch the US number 1 spot from Hikaru Nakamura. Vassily Ivanchuk took his chance to join Caruana in the lead with a beautiful crush of Loek van Wely, but every single game was a thriller. Don’t miss video analysis from both Jan Gustafsson and Lawrence Trent!

Each round of this year’s Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee has been exciting, but you wonder what on earth they put in the water before Round 3. Weird and wonderful openings appeared on all boards, and while such experiments often flatter to deceive at this level the players simply never took their feet off the gas.

Maybe the players were inspired by the Tata Steel Chess mobiles? | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook

Tata Steel Chess 2015 Round 3 results


Ding Liren set the tone by scoring the first win of the day after his opponent, Baadur Jobava, raced to his ruin. The Georgian thought for no longer than 2 minutes 29 seconds a move until he encountered 16.b4!


Then he thought for a mammoth 54 minutes and 26 seconds, but the horse had already bolted. Ding Liren demonstrated his win with truly lethal precision. Somewhat ominously for the rest of the field he put his Day 1 loss down to jetlag:   

Back to the drawing board for Baadur Jobava | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook

Update: IM Lawrence Trent has now analysed Ding Liren's win as well as Ivanchuk-Van Wely and So-Aronian. Watch the video below!

Loek van Wely didn’t crumble quite so fast, but his Sicilian was eventually blown to pieces by some vintage Ivanchuk. 16.Bxa6!! was a star move, while the final position is the sort of thing that used to appear on chessboards in the 19th century:


We can’t put off some sensational results any longer, though. Radek Wojtaszek had been having an enormously tough time in Wijk aan Zee this year, surviving lost positions in the longest games of the day against Wesley So and Loek van Wely. 


Then in Round 3 he was paired against World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who had beaten him in a crushing game at the Olympiad last summer, with Magnus clearly extra-motivated since Wojtaszek was Anand’s second. Wojtaszek had the white pieces this time, though, and he scored one of the wins of his career so far. Jan Gustafsson takes us through it:

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Afterwards Wojtaszek said he wasn’t surprised by his opponent’s opening choice and added, “it’s hard to express how pleased I am now”:

Carlsen didn't look on top of the world when facing the Norwegian press after his ordeal - he felt he got too optimistic in the opening | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook 

One superstar getting blown out of the water would be enough for any round of a supertournament, but instead we got two. While Wesley So’s Scotch didn’t initially look the most convincing weapon with which to unsettle Levon Aronian, it worked! The game lasted 54 moves, but 33 of those weren’t strictly necessary after the Armenian no. 1 managed to overlook a simple tactic.

Oops! If Aronian had simply retreated his knight to d7 not g8 it would have blocked the h3-c8 diagonal that's about to open up with lethal effect.

The win was not only sweet revenge for a defeat in Tata Steel 2014 for So, it also moved him up on the live ratings list to become the top US player ahead of Hikaru Nakamura!

To remain no. 1 all Wesley has to do is... avoid losing to Caruana in Round 4! | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook


Ideally we’d just skim through the remaining draws, but the truth is every game had something to savour. It boggles belief that Ivan Saric survived after following up 15.h4?! against Hou Yifan with 16.a4??. The white king was suddenly about as exposed as a king can get, but the win slipped through the fingers of the women’s no. 1 on move 18. Saric thought for nearly 30 minutes before playing 18.Be3:


It was time well-spent, since after Hou Yifan’s 18…Qf8?! the bishop came to c5 and Black ended up having to sacrifice the exchange to avoid a repetition. Instead the simple 18…Rxa4 would have given Hou Yifan every chance of scoring a full point. It has to be said, though, that Saric deserved some luck after clearly underscoring, given the positions he obtained, in his first two games.

Not wanting to be left out of the party Vachier-Lagrave vs. Radjabov suddenly flared up just when it seemed headed towards a draw. Teimour has played 28…d4?


Now 29.Qf3! had a neat sting-in-the-tail, since after 29…Rcc8 there was 30.Nc7!, winning at least a crucial pawn. Radjabov ignored the attack on his rook with 30…d3!? and after 31.Nxa8 d2 32.Qd3 Rxa8 33.Qxd2 Bxa3 it suddenly became clear that Radjabov may have known exactly what he was doing all along. Black had a fortress against which the French no. 1 could find nothing better than taking a draw by perpetual check.

The last game to finish, Giri-Caruana, naturally saw the higher-rated player down material (in this case an exchange), but while Anish stretched every sinew to try and press home his advantage Fabiano once again proved to be the most reliable man in chess when it comes to finding only moves regardless of time pressure. In fact Giri might have had the occasional uncomfortable flashback to what happened against Karjakin in Stavanger last year when he similarly tried to press with rook vs. bishop.

All that was missing at the start of the game was for Anish Giri to take out his torture implements | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook

So although Fabiano couldn’t continue his rampage it was a very satisfying half point against his even younger opponent. He remains in the lead, now joined by Ivanchuk:

1Caruana, Fabiano28203000
2Ivanchuk, Vassily27152982
3So, Wesley276222926
4Wojtaszek, Radoslaw274422888
5Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime275722836
6Ding, Liren273222865
7Radjabov, Teimour27342713
8Giri, Anish27842826
9Carlsen, Magnus286212638
10Van Wely, Loek266712606
11Aronian, Levon279712612
12Saric, Ivan266612638
13Jobava, Baadur2727½2461
14Hou, Yifan2673½2445

One grandmaster quipped:

It’s tough to be a conquering hero. Wojtaszek now has Black against Aronian, while So gets Black against Caruana! Carlsen may fancy his chances of bouncing straight back against Loek van Wely:


The Challengers: Dutch parricide

It might not quite have lived up to the excitement of the Masters, but 21-year-old Dutch talent Anne Haast absolutely obliterating Dutch chess legend Jan Timman is the kind of thing that doesn’t happen every day.

As Tartakower almost said, it's not enough to be a chess legend, you must also play well... | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook

The gender roles were more conventional in the all-Russian encounter between Vladimir Potkin and Valentina Gunina. At this stage the game is long gone...


...but how did Vladimir (playing White) finish off his opponent?  You’ll find the answer here.

So all that remains is to encourage you to watch what’s sure to be another action-packed day of chess tomorrow. It starts once more at 13:30 and can be followed live here at chess24. Don’t worry, after that we all get a rest day during which to recover!

See also:


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