The Tata Steel Chess Festival is underway in Wijk aan Zee. The event sees much of the world chess elite descend on a small Dutch seaside town to compete for one of the year's most prestigious titles. Our first report looks at rounds one and two, with exclusive analysis from GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov.
to budget restraints the organisers were forced to make
some changes this year. Instead of three groups as in previous years the 76th edition features only two groups, while the line-up for the main group has been cut by two players. 2013 winner Magnus Carlsen is skipping the tournament in favour of an extended break after his World Championship heroics.
favourite for the Masters is world no. 2 Levon Aronian, closely
followed by Hikaru Nakamura, who in 2011 celebrated one of the biggest
triumphs of his career in Wijk aan Zee. No. 3 in the seedings is Fabiano
Caruana, one of the rising stars of recent years. Other strong contenders include the field's golden oldie, 45-year-old Boris Gelfand, and world no. 10, Sergey Karjakin.
Round 1 featured a heavyweight duel between Caruana and Gelfand. The 21-year-old Italian came out on top despite Gelfand choosing his beloved Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence.
chess24’s Grandmaster Rustam Kasimdzhanov annotates the game below:
1. e4 c5 2. ♘f3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. ♘xd4 ♘f6 5. ♘c3 a6 6. f3 e5 7. ♘b3 ♗e6 8. ♗e3 h5 9. ♘d5 ♗xd5 10. exd5 ♘bd7 11. ♕d2 g6 12. ♗e2 ♗g7 13. 0-0 0-0 14. ♖ac1 b6 15. h3⁉ ♖e8 The first critical moment of the game - while there's nothing very wrong with Re8, I'd prefer Nh7 to prevent g4.
17... ♘c5 18. ♔g2 ♕d7 was better, generating counterplay with e4! 19. ♖h1 e4 20. ♗h6 exf3+ 21. ♗xf3 ♘xg4 22. ♗xg7 ♔xg7 23. ♕f4 ♘e3+ 24. ♔g1 ♘xb3 25. ♕h6+ ♔f6 26. ♕h4+ is one random line ending in a draw.
Caruana was joined by three other winners in the first round. Sergey Karjakin wrestled Loek van Wely to the ground in a complicated rook ending, Wesley So hit back against Richard Rapport and Hikaru Nakamura profited from Arkadij Naiditsch’s wildly ambitious play.
Rustam Kasimdzhanov looks at the decisive moments of that game:
1. d4 ♘f6 2. c4 e6 3. ♘c3 ♗b4 4. ♕c2 0-0 5. a3 ♗xc3+ 6. ♕xc3 b6 7. ♗g5 ♗b7 8. e3 d6 9. f3 h6 10. ♗h4 ♘bd7 11. ♗d3 c5 12. ♘e2 ♖c8 13. ♕b3 d5 14. cxd5 ♗xd5 15. ♕d1 cxd4 16. ♘xd4 ♗c4 17. 0-0 ♗xd3 18. ♕xd3 ♘e5 19. ♕e2 ♘g6 20. ♗f2 e5 21. ♘b5 ♕e7 22. ♖fd1 ♖fd8 23. ♗e1 ♘d5 24. ♘c3 ♘xc3 25. ♗xc3 ♖xd1+ 26. ♖xd1 ♖d8 27. ♖d2 ♖d7 28. ♕d1 ♘f8 29. ♗b4 ♖xd2 30. ♕xd2 ♕d7 31. ♗d6 ♘g6 32. ♔f2 f6 33. ♕d5+ ♔h7 34. ♕d3 f5 35. h3 Nothing much has happened in the game until now, but in any Naiditsch game you should expect action.
35... a5 A perfectly good move, but the weakness on b6 will later come back to haunt Arkadij...
44. ♕c2 ♕g2+ 45. ♔c1 ♕g1+ 46. ♔b2 This might still look unclear, but in fact Black is lost in the long run because of the horrible weakness of the b6-a5 chain. Remember 35...a5? Once he got his chance Nakamura was merciless.
46... e4 47. ♕c8 ♕g6 48. ♗e5 h5 49. ♕d8 ♕g2+ 50. ♔a3 ♕g1 51. ♕xb6 f4 52. ♕b7 fxe3 53. ♕xe4+ ♔h8 54. ♗d4 ♕c1+ 55. ♗b2 ♕c5+ 56. ♔a2 ♕g5 57. ♗c1 h4 58. ♗xe3 ♕h5 59. ♗f4 ♕g4 60. ♕e3 h3 61. ♕g3 ♕e2+ 62. ♔a3 ♕e7+ 63. ♗d6 ♕d7 64. ♗e5 ♔g8 65. ♗c3
highlight of Round 2 was the game between Anish Giri and Arkadij Naiditsch. In
a Bogo-Indian Defence the 19-year-old Dutch player Giri had his German opponent
under pressure from the start and despite the limited pieces on the board he managed
to trap his opponent’s king in a mating net:
White mates in no more than five moves.
In the most critical encounter of the second round Levon Aronian defeated Fabiano Caruana. A Grünfeld Indian saw the Armenian win a pawn out of the opening and ultimately convert it into a victory in a long endgame.
provided the surprise of the day. The 17-year-old rising star from Hungary
defeated Boris Gelfand with Black. Rapport chose the Budapest Gambit, which is a very
rare guest at this level. The opening proved to be right on the money as his Israeli opponent found no antidote and ended up in a very unpleasant endgame which Black
dominated due to his active pieces.
Tata Steel Masters – Standings after Round 2
The Challengers features 14 players, with Poland's Radek Wojtaszek the top seed. He enters the tournament in top form after outclassing strong fields on the way to victory in two recent open tournaments in Zurich and Basel. His biggest rival, at least on paper, will be Baadur Jobava. The Georgian
grandmaster is known for his uncompromising style and is guaranteed to provide us with some highlights.
The tournament, however, began with a real surprise. Wojtaszek lost with White in the first round to Dimitri Reinderman and had to settle for a draw in Round 2 against American U14 World Champion Kayden Troff.
The game of the day was provided by Benjamin Bok. The young Dutch hope (class of 1995) defeated China's Yu Yangyi in Round 2. It was a tactical melee in which Rustam saw a missed possibility to create an "immortal" game:
1. e4 c5 2. ♘f3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. ♘xd4 a6 5. ♗d3 ♘f6 6. 0-0 d6 7. c4 ♗e7 8. ♘c3 b6 9. f4 ♗b7 10. ♕e2 0-0 11. ♔h1 ♘bd7 12. ♗d2 ♕c7 13. ♖ae1 ♖ad8 14. ♘f3 g6 15. f5 ♖fe8 16. fxe6 fxe6 17. ♘g5 ♗f8 18. ♕e3 This looked like a nice game to me until I realised the kind of beauty that remained undiscovered...
18. c5‼ What a shot! White frees the c4-square, to devastating effect. The following lines are too nice to cut :) 18... dxc5 (18... bxc5 19. ♗c4 d5 20. exd5 exd5 21. ♕xe8! and now it becomes like a game of checkers :) 21... ♖xe8 22. ♖xe8 ♘xe8 23. ♘xd5 ♗xd5 24. ♗xd5+ ♔h8 25. ♘f7+ ♔g7 26. ♗h6+ ♔g8 27. ♘g5+ ♔h8 28. ♖f7 ♘g7 29. ♖xg7! ♗xg7 30. ♗xg7+ ♔xg7 31. ♘e6++− ; 18... b5 19. a4‼ Maybe the most amazing line! White gets the c4-square and Black collapses. 19... b4 20. ♗c4+− ) 19. ♗c4 ♕c6 20. ♘xe6 ♖xe6 21. e5 ♘e8 22. ♗g5! ♖c8 23. ♗d5 ♕xd5 24. ♘xd5 ♗xd5 25. ♕f2!+−
Tata Steel Masters – Standings after Round 2
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