Reports Jan 17, 2019 | 2:00 PMby Colin McGourty

Tata Steel 2019, 5: Magnus breaks the streak

Magnus Carlsen beat Jorden van Foreest with the black pieces in Round 5 of the 2019 Tata Steel Masters to finally end a sequence of 21 draws in a row. That puts him half a point behind leaders Ian Nepomniachtchi and now Ding Liren, who punished the slightest of mistakes by Sam Shankland to overtake Shakhriyar Mamedyarov as the world no. 3. Peter Svidler and Jan Gustafsson provide expert analysis of those encounters. The other games were drawn, though Teimour Radjabov and Vidit came close to extracting blood from Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Vladimir Fedoseev.

Alkmaar is best known for its cheese market, so a cheesy photo was a must! | photo: Alina l'Ami, official website 

For Round 5 of the Tata Steel Masters the players were on tour in Alkmaar, but the trend of Black dominating continued:

Replay the day’s commentary from Jan Gustafasson and Peter Svidler:

Go Premium to watch Jan and Peter live. Now’s a great time to try it out as the voucher code TATA2019 will give you 30% off all subscriptions!

Magnus kicks the draw habit

As is traditional, Magnus and his second Peter Heine Nielsen had no need to take the bus! | photo: Alina l'Ami, official website 

Magnus Carlsen commented after winning his first game of classical chess since October 13th last year:

It did bother me, obviously. I’m not used to going that long without winning a game, and not having too many chances either, but I’m very happy now to have kicked that one.

His opponent was 19-year-old Dutchman Jorden van Foreest, who took his life in his own hands by heading straight into the Nd5 Sveshnikov lines that Carlsen had defended against Fabiano Caruana in the World Championship match in London. 

At a glance that looked foolhardy, but there was some logic behind it. Firstly, Jorden came with some ideas of his own:

I checked this line a little bit also before the tournament just in case I play him with White, and the black position is also kind of dangerous, and I also just wanted to play a game against him, and why not this line where both players have chances?

Magnus backed up that assessment, but pointed out why he’d still rather play Black:

I think the main thing is that the positions are kind of easier to play for Black, I feel, but objectively it’s very, very dangerous for Black.

The play followed the second game of the World Championship tiebreak, that Magnus won in 28 moves, until the World Champion varied with 14…f5 instead of his earlier 14…a5. That was the second choice of our engine, and it was already a bad sign that Jorden stopped for a 15-minute think before deciding to castle long. He commented,

I expected it to be a lot of fun but it was a tough game, so it started out very quickly to be a little less fun.

Any lingering fun was essentially over after the decision he took on move 17:

It was time to bite the bullet and take the bait with 18.Bxh5. Black’s compensation is obvious, but at least Jorden would have had something to fight for. He admitted he’d have gone for it against, “a slightly weaker opponent, but somehow I was afraid of his attack and tried to play it safe, which was not the right way”. After 18.Bd4?! things went downhill fast, with Jan Gustafsson quipping live:

Poor Jorden, I haven't seen a Dutchman do so much damage to himself since Van Gogh!

Check out Jan’s full analysis of the game:

And here are the players afterwards:

It was at least a great day for Jorden’s Twitter following, as he followed Jan’s pro-tip that it’s useful to occasionally actually tweet:

Ding Liren climbs to world no. 3

Ding Liren has become accustomed to the big stage in the last year or two | photo: Alina l'Ami, official website 

The rise and rise of Ding Liren continues, and the Chinese no. 1 has been extremely impressive in the Tata Steel Masters so far this year, both for his general play and his opening preparation. With Black against Sam Shankland, however, he didn’t come up with any deep novelty but simply a clever sidestep. He explained he avoided his usual 9…d5 in an Anti-Marshall to avoid Sam’s preparation, instead choosing 9…d6 and going for natural moves. It worked to perfection, since Shankland already started to think and chose a somewhat unnatural plan that led to 18.Ng4?! (it was time for White to play for a draw with 18.Nxd5):

Peter Svidler comments:

This is the reason I like this game by Ding so much. In a game against an extremely strong player he punished what amounts to one seemingly absolutely normal move (which yes, the computer says is an inaccuracy) so severely that Sam basically never comes back into this game.

Don’t miss Peter’s full analysis:

After Kramnik-Mamedyarov ended in a sharp but well-played draw, Ding Liren has now overtaken his opponent not only on the rating list but in the race to claim what is likely to be only one rating spot in the 2020 Candidates Tournament:

Here’s Liren talking about the game:

Missed chances

The remaining games were all drawn, but not without some adventures. Even the quickest and least eventful draw, Giri-Anand, left one or two questions:

If Vishy played 15…Bd7 he’d have been following in the footsteps of Rustam Kasimdzhanov (who lost to Peter Leko) and Sergey Karjakin (who drew with MVL), but instead he came up with the novel idea 15…Bc4! 16.Ng3 d5! 17.e5 Ne4!, as he explained afterwards:

The question is why the game ended abruptly after 19…Qd5 20.Qf3!? Bxd4 21.cxd4 Re6 22.Rf4:

Black has over-achieved in his aim to equalise the position, since after 22…Qxb5 he seems to be clearly better. 23.Rxf7 is not an option, since it would lose on the spot to 23…Rg6! with Bd5 to follow.

Nepomniachtchi didn't manage to spoil the day out for Richard Rapport and his wife Jovana | photo: Alina l'Ami, official website 

Co-leader Ian Nepomniachtchi was scathing about both his own play and that of his opponent Richard Rapport:

By this stage he felt there should be “only one result possible” i.e. a white win, describing Black’s position as, “strategically very dangerous or almost lost… you have two bishops but you’re not developed”. Richard had actually won a similar position against Joshua Friedel in last year’s Reykjavik Open, however, and managed to wriggle out of this one as well.

The last two games were a lot more dramatic! Jan-Krzysztof Duda was caught unprepared by Teimour Radjabov in a major branch of the Bishop’s Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4) and soon found himself in dire straits. He could probably have been blown away by a quicker white attack along the h-file, but his 22…g5!?, that after 23.Qf5 looked only a desperate, weakening move, was the start of a fight back:

White has full control of the e-file, d5-is attacked twice, gxh4 isn’t possible as the h5-bishop is hanging, and most moves by Black worsen his position… but Duda’s 23…Nc6! was just in time. The knight joined the defence with 24.Nf3 (also 24.g4 Ne7!) 24…Ne7 25.Qb1 Ng6 and the swing in the evaluation of the position was severe enough that Radjabov decided to take a draw by repetition in a position where it seems he was still objectively better.

Vladimir Fedoseev got by without any headware! | photo: Alina l'Ami, official website 

The last game of the day to finish again featured Vidit, this time against Vladimir Fedoseev, and he came very close to winning a second game in a row and joining the leaders. Barely had Jan finished explaining that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Queen + Bishop actually slightly outperforms Queen + Knight, than Vidit seemed to get a winning advantage on the knight side. It was fiendishly difficult, though, as we saw when Vidit played 60…Qa3 instead of 60…Qb4!

Why was that a “blunder”? Well, the computer’s short answer was 61.Bb2!, but while it’s easy to see that taking the bishop would mean a draw – White immediately gives perpetual check with Qg6/h5+ and Qe8+, what has White gained if Black now plays 61…Qb4 instead. For that you need to dig a bit deeper, and it helps that you can simply try out moves in our system. Eventually you realise that that the bishop being on b2 instead of d4 is crucial in the following line, where otherwise Qb1+ next would be a winning move for Black:

The b2-bishop blocks Black's winning idea

Fedoseev missed that resource, but a few moves later Vidit had in any case stepped off the narrow path to a win and the game finished drawn in 74 moves.

That means that going into the first rest day of this year’s Tata Steel Masters we have two leaders, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren, with the chasing pack of Carlsen, Vidit, Giri and Anand just half a point behind:

The two Ks take the lead

Meanwhile back in Wijk aan Zee there was more success for Black, with no less than three wins to White’s zero in the Challengers:

In this case, however, it was more down to rating and experience. Top seeds Anton Korobov and Vladislav Kovalev overwhelmed Stefan Kuipers and Benjamin Gledura, while old stager Evgeny Bareev finally tricked Dinara Saduakassova in the Benko/Volga Gambit. There was, however, one fleeting chance for White to make an impact:

The trick was first to sacrifice a pawn here with 30.g4!! Qxg4 and then launch an attack with 31.Rxf6!! Bxf6 32.Qh7+ Kf8 33.Nf5! and White wins. The immediate 30.Rxf6? fails, since at the end there’s the slight problem of 33…Qxf1#, though 33…g6 would also stop White's fun. Forcing the queen to g4 avoids both those issues:

Instead after 30.Nf5 Erwin l’Ami held a draw, and Kovalev and Korobov now lead the Challengers on 3.5/5 ahead of five players on 3/5.

When play recommences on Friday all eyes will be on Carlsen-Mamedyarov and whether the World Champion can start a run of victories, though all seven encounters in the Masters are potentially exciting. Meanwhile, though, what to do on the rest day? Well, some of the players are taking the chance to play some basketball:

Here on chess24, meanwhile, we have Banter Blitz with Peter Svidler at 16:00 CET. If you’re a Premium member you can challenge him to a game, while anyone can tune in to enjoy the action!

Then the live commentary with Jan and Peter will be back at about 13:20 CET on Friday for Round 6 in Wijk aan Zee: Tata Steel Masters | Challengers

See also:

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