Magnus Carlsen made it five wins in a row by beating Baadur Jobava in Round 8 of the Tata Steel Masters. That gave him the sole lead after the famously erudite Vassily Ivanchuk fell into a well-known trap against Wesley So. Anish Giri, who had first publicised the idea, himself fell victim to preparation by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, while there were also wins for Fabiano Caruana, Teimour Radjabov and Ding Liren. Levon Aronian suffered a scare before holding the day's only draw against Hou Yifan.
Baadur Jobava set the scene for an incredibly combative Round 8 by punting Bent Larsen’s favourite first move 1.b3 against Magnus Carlsen. Coming from the Georgian no. 1 it’s unlikely that had any true surprise value, but Magnus admitted he was getting outplayed at some point during the game… until Jobava’s death wish took over (his more prosaic explanation was that he tried to play on Carlsen’s time trouble but missed that 41.Kg3 fails to 41…Be2!).
Jan Gustafsson looks at where it all went wrong… or right, depending on your point of view!
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After the game Magnus stopped by the live broadcast produced by chess24:
That win was enough to take Magnus into the sole lead, since Vassily Ivanchuk didn’t have one of his better days…
Russian team captain Evgeny Bareev once famously berated Vladimir Malakhov for a game at the 2010 Olympiad where he was surprised by a novelty, “that even the building’s cleaning lady knew about”. In Wijk aan Zee, Ivanchuk was surprised by the move Levon Aronian should have played against Vishy Anand in the first round of the Candidates Tournament in February 2014. It was pointed out by:
1. Anish Giri in the magazine New in Chess
2. Vlad Tkachiev in an article during the Anand-Carlsen match
As you can see in the article, the line was actually used by Yannick Gozzoli to beat Jean-Francois Jolly in the Andorra Open in July 2014. It’s worth keeping an eye on Vlad’s articles. Boris Gelfand’s fine win over Peter Leko in the TASHIR Petrosian Memorial was apparently inspired by the preview of the Carlsen-Anand match in Sochi.
3. Jan Gustafsson in his Review of 2014
Jan had reason to feel a personal grudge against Ivanchuk:
That Bundesliga game can be played through here,
and also received a mention in Jan’s look back at the chess year 2014. The video
should start at the point where Jan discusses the Anand-Aronian game that might
easily have altered the course of chess history:
Who better, then, than Marshall-expert Jan himself to explain what went so disastrously wrong in Wijk aan Zee:
Nigel Short had some sympathy for Ivanchuk, but it had its limits:
It was an unexpected bounty for Wesley So, who admitted he hadn’t
expected anything more than a forced draw against someone willing to go for the
line. He also reacted with customary modesty when it was pointed out that the
win took him to no. 6 in the live ratings, above Levon Aronian, Vladimir
Kramnik and Anish Giri:
Anish Giri’s theoretical stumble was of a more forgivable variety. He found Maxime Vachier-Lagrave better prepared for a variation of the Anti-Berlin, and seems simply to have been lost after the “overly clever” 20…c6? which ran into 21.Qh6! cxd5 22.Rad1!
The pin on the d-file combined with the mating threats (Bd3 and swinging a rook to the kingside) seem impossible to deal with, or at any rate Maxime’s attack flowed like clockwork until his opponent resigned in a lost rook ending.
The French no. 1 admitted afterwards he wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the position:
It can be cruel how fast fortunes change in chess, especially in a fiercely competitive round-robin event with nowhere to hide. Ivanchuk, after leading for 6 of 7 rounds, is now down in 5th place, while Radek Wojtaszek, who defeated Carlsen and Caruana and was having the event of his life, is now down in 8th on 50%. He was perhaps guilty of playing his Najdorf Sicilian too passively against Teimour Radjabov, although when push came to shove he seemed to get good attacking chances in exchange for a pawn. The Azeri player skilfully managed to neutralise the attack, though, and then impressively won a rook and opposite-coloured bishop ending, where Radek’s swindling chances initially looked good.
That win took Radjabov to +1, where he was, eventually, joined by Fabiano Caruana. It hasn’t been Caruana’s event so far, but if you offer him material he doesn’t need to be asked twice. Loek van Wely cracked with 26.Nf2?
26.Bxc4! Exploiting the pin of the e3-knight. Caruana’s advantage grew and grew, but Loek van Wely wasn’t going to give up easily. He may have been inspired by the Giri-Ivanchuk queen and pawn ending the day before, one that appealed to the 13th World Champion:
This one wasn’t quite so infernally difficult, though it was very picturesque:
In the play that followed Caruana was in top form and never put a foot wrong, with Loek van Wely eventually resigning on move 81 when the computer claimed mate-in-11. It’s notable that Caruana didn’t, for once in this year's tournament, get behind on the clock. Perhaps he’s ready to push on in the finishing straight?
Last, but by no means least of the wins, was Ding Liren’s victory over Ivan Saric. The Chinese star has now played seven decisive games in eight, and rejoined the chasing pack with a clean demolition of his opponent's over-optimistic play. He first broke correctly with 16.e4, followed by 18.e5, and then switched to the queenside with 19.b4!
He continued the minority attack with 20.b5 next move and when Ivan Saric recklessly captured on c6 with his queen the d5-point could no longer be held. The way it fell, though, is worth a diagram: 27.Nxd5!
Perhaps Saric had missed from afar that the knight wasn't as pinned as he'd like. 27…Rxb3 would of course now run into the knight fork 28.Nxe7+. Saric gave up the exchange with 27...Qxd5 and struggled on for another seven moves before bowing to the inevitable.
The only game that didn’t satisfy the audience’s appetite for blood was Hou Yifan – Levon Aronian, although it did have a curious conclusion. 36…c5?! was perhaps not the best pawn break the Armenian star had ever played:
After 37.Re5! Hou Yifan had the chances, if there were any, though the limited material and Aronian’s famed trickery meant the odds were against a decisive result. He did indeed hold on, though 10th place on -2 is hardly what the doctor ordered for last year’s winner.
So the now transformed standings are:
The players will have Monday’s rest day to recover before Round 9 on Tuesday sees Carlsen take on Radjabov in his quest to move to six wins in a row, while So – Vachier-Lagrave pits two of the players half a point behind the leader against each other.
In the Challengers event no-one can stop Wei Yi and David Navara, who are now 1.5 points ahead of the field on 6.5/8.
Afterwards Navara helped Yasser Seirawan analyse the day's games:
The Czech no. 1 also gave a free masterclass as he went through his own game. Watching, or rewatching, that might be a good way to spend the rest day! You can find it from 56:40 here.
Elsewhere Jan Timman lost his third game in a row, this time with the white pieces to Robin van Kampen:
That was the short version, but Robin also gave a press conference - the Tata Steel Chess organisers certainly don't short change us when it comes to video material!
The players are back in action for Round 9 on Tuesday 20 January, with the games again starting at 13:30 CET. Follow them live here on chess24! You can also watch every game in the Masters and Challengers using our free mobile apps:
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