Magnus Carlsen is the sole leader of the Tata Steel Masters with 3 rounds to go after beating his great rival Vishy Anand in a 6.5-hour grind. Ian Nepomniachtchi, their co-leader at the start of the day, was put to the sword by Jorden van Foreest, but Anish Giri is only half a point behind after a fourth win with Black, this time against Vladimir Fedoseev. There was action everywhere, with Richard Rapport grabbing a first win with the move of the day, while Vladimir Kramnik sank to new depths as he was blown away in the opening by Vidit. The Challengers was just as dramatic, with Maksim Chigaev still leading after winning a lost position against Praggnanandhaa.
All but two games were decisive in Round 10 of the 2019 Tata Steel Masters:
And here’s Jan and Peter’s live commentary on the round:
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After a slow start in Wijk aan Zee everything is suddenly going Magnus Carlsen’s way. The World Champion has now scored 5/6 in the last six rounds and has pulled away from Fabiano Caruana to open up a 14.6 point gap at the top of the rating list.
On Wednesday in Leiden he ended a sequence of 9 draws against Vishy Anand with the kind of win that first propelled him to the World Championship title back in 2013. The game only finally swung in the current World Champion’s favour on move 70:
70…b5? was losing in multiple ways, while 70…bxa5! was still objectively a draw, though as Peter Svidler explained the real blame for the loss lay in decisions taken earlier, when Vishy could have achieved a comfortable draw. It’s easier said than done against an in-form Magnus, however, with Svidler commenting of the Norwegian’s talent:
To continue thinking of ways to ask questions, thinking of ways to demand micro-decisions which require precision from Black, is also a very specific skill, and Magnus is arguably the best in the world at that. And also because there are so few people who can ask those questions properly, people actually have much less experience defending positions like this against a persistent inquisitor than you would think… This part of the game doesn’t get trained nearly as much as some others.
Here’s Svidler’s in-depth account of the game:
A happy but exhausted Magnus commented afterwards:
Obviously it was a huge win today. I never at any moment thought it was very likely. I was always better but… a very, very tough day!
On paper, facing the outsider and with the heavyweight Carlsen-Anand clash favourite to end in a draw, this was a great chance for Nepomniachtchi to snatch the lead going into the final weekend. Instead it ended in a crushing defeat for the Russian star, after things went wrong as early as move 8 of a Najdorf:
8…exf4?! was flagged as a mistake not only by Jorden but by Anish Giri, who commented afterwards:
It was very funny because I looked at this line before today’s game as well, and the point there is that White goes Be3 first, and then exf4 Bxf4, and Nepomniachtchi took on f4 with the bishop still on c1, so he got a theoretical position a tempo down. And the theoretical position not a tempo down is also very unclear… You might give a tempo in the Berlin and be still surviving, but in the Najdorf you cannot give a tempo!
Things went almost like clockwork for White after that, though 26.Qg2?! was a get out of a jail card for Nepomniachtchi. He could have played 26…Ne3!, but he let his chance slip with 26…Nf6?
27.Bxh6! saw Jorden begin to crash through, though the reverse of that move, 31.Bc1!! was even better.
Jan takes us through a great game by the Dutch rising talent:
And here’s Jorden afterwards:
The only thing stopping Magnus having a full point lead after Round 10 is that Anish Giri managed to win a 4th game with the black pieces in this year’s Tata Steel Masters.
Curiously it was also Giri’s third game and third win with Black against Vladimir Fedoseev, but their previous two games took place over a decade ago when they were both kids. In Tata Steel Vladimir seemed to be in top form, having won two games in a row after impressing in a draw against Magnus in Round 7. The game against Giri began with an offbeat closed Sicilian, though it later developed into the kind of messy position where you might think Fedoseev was the favourite. Anish has been reminding us of late what an all-round player he is, though, and on move 30 he brilliantly turned the tables:
30…d5!! completely flummoxed our commentary team, but it turns out simply to be the best move in the position. 31.Qxb4 is met by 31…dxe4! 32.Rxf4 Bxd3! and Black wins back the piece, while in the game we saw a nice fork with 31.Nxf4 Nxd3 32.Nxd5 Qd6+. Ultimately it was the d-pawn that was the decisive factor:
38…Bc4! and there was no stopping the pawn from advancing (of course 39.Qxc4 drops the rook to 39…Qxg3). Giri commented after that fine win:
Giri now faces Shankland and Radjabov in Rounds 11 and 12 before he has the white pieces against Magnus in the final round, where he might get a chance to take revenge for the tiebreak loss in last year’s Tata Steel Masters. Magnus was asked about that clash:
How important is it that you’re half a point ahead in the final round?
I don’t know, I’m not afraid of him!
It’s become painful to watch Vladimir Kramnik in this year’s Tata Steel Masters, and the former World Champion now finds himself 1.5 points adrift at the bottom of the table after 5 losses, 5 draws and 0 wins:
That’s seen him plunge from world no. 7 to world no. 15, and a lot of the damage has been self-inflicted, with Vladimir insisting on playing for a win at all costs. Usually, however, that’s only come after relatively solid opening play, while in Round 10 we got an opening disaster. 13…b5!?, played after just seconds, may already have been a serious mistake:
14.e4! is a pawn sacrifice Vidit said he’d been told was good by a coach and friend while walking to the bus on the morning of the game. After 14…dxe4 15.fxe4 Nxc1 16.Qxc1 Bxg4 Black has the pawn, but at the price of gifting White a huge mobile pawn centre backed up by the bishop on g2. Kramnik later said that he “totally confused” all his analysis, and within a few moves “the position just plays by itself” (Vidit). The final move, however, was sweet:
29.Qf4! wasn’t strictly necessary, but it eliminates any possible counterplay with Qxe5 - of course 29…Nxf4 runs into 30.Rf8#. Kramnik resigned
Watch Vidit talking about his first game against one of his heroes:
Kramnik also graciously agreed to be interviewed:
There was so much to enjoy in Round 10 of the Tata Steel Masters, but we can’t overlook Richard Rapport’s win over Jan-Krzysztof Duda. There were some question marks over Richard’s early play…
…but he went on to equalise, and then with just one and a half minutes on his clock Duda went for 32.Qd8?, threatening mate or perpetual check (32.Qb2! was the way to do it, later picking up the b3-bishop for an almost certain draw):
Richard Rapport spotted the flaw in that plan: 32…Rc1+! 33.Kf2 Qf1+ 34.Kg3 f4+ 35.Kxf4 Rc4+! (35…g5+ would probably also have won, but at the cost of depriving us of what followed) 36.Kg3 Qe1+ 37.Kh3:
It would now be a draw if not for the exquisite 37…Rc8!! and however Black captures on c8 a bishop check from e6 will win the game. It finished, 38.Rxc8 Be6+ 39.g4 hxg4+ 40.fxg4 Qxe3+ 41.Kh4 Qf2+ and White resigned (after 42.Kg5 Bxc8 White can’t capture on c8 without allowing mate-in-1).
The other two games, Shankland-Radjabov and Ding Liren-Mamedyarov, were drawn, with it notable that Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is the only player other than Kramnik yet to win a game this year. He was worse the whole time against Ding, but it wasn’t enough for the Chinese no. 1 to close what is now a 1-point gap to the leader. The full standings look as follows with 3 rounds to go:
There’s no space to go into much detail, but Round 10 of the Challengers proved it wasn’t just that there was something in the water in Leiden. The players back in Wijk aan Zee also engaged in wild battles, with Maghsoodloo-Bareev and Korobov-L’Ami in particular defying description or analysis:
It was also a day of turnarounds, as Vladislav Kovalev beat 14-year-old Vincent Keymer from a bad position, while 13-year-old Praggnanandhaa had a great chance to take down the leader Maksim Chigaev:
18.Rf3! was the most forceful approach, and if 18…dxc3 19.Bxc3 it’s easy to see the black king position is in ruins. Instead after 18.Ne4?! Praggnanandhaa got only an endgame a pawn up, and ultimately things ended in disaster. It seemed with h1 the “wrong” colour (Black’s bishop can’t cover the square) it should be trivial for White to defend against the h-pawn queening, but that doesn’t mean some precision isn’t required!
45.Ke3?? was a careless losing move, since after 45…Bg3! 46.Kf3 Be1! Black’s path to h1 was cut off. White can push the queenside pawns, but when eventually they all fall he’ll have to play Kg4 and the h-pawn queens. Instead simply 45.Ke2! would have left White able to deal with the h-pawn – if now 45…Bg3 then 46.Kf1.
That means Chigaev remains the leader with three rounds to go, though 16-year-old Andrey Esipenko’s win over Lucas van Foreest leaves two players only half a point behind:
In Round 11 Magnus has a tricky pairing as Black against Radjabov, while the chasing pack have games they’re likely to press to win: Giri-Shankland, Nepomniachtchi-Fedoseev, Rapport-Ding and Anand-Duda. Kramnik-Van Foreest might also be seen as a big game for Vladimir’s chances of at least avoiding an ignominious last-placed finish!
Before that on Thursday we have the final rest day of the tournament. You can use that to watch some of the Gibraltar Masters, while we’ll also have Banter Blitz with Peter Svidler, starting at 14:00 CET. Premium members can challenge Peter to a game, while everyone is welcome to watch.
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