Reports Jan 13, 2014 | 3:00 PMby Colin McGourty

Tata Steel Chess in full swing

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.

Tata Steel Chess

Due 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. 

Tata Steel Masters

The 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.

15... h4? 16. ♗g5

15... ♘h7 16. g4 doesn't really work, but otherwise Black just plays h4... 16... hxg4 17. hxg4 ♗f6! with the classical plan to follow - Bg5, Kg7 and Rh8. (17... f5 looks messy.)

16. g4! hxg4 17. hxg4 ♘h7? Too late! Now Boris gets into trouble.

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.

18. g5! f5

18... e4 19. f4 leaves Black in trouble due to the open h-file - the b2-pawn isn't very valuable in this kind of position.

19. gxf6 ♗xf6 20. ♖f2 From now on the black king is in serious trouble - White's attack grows stronger with every move.

20... ♗g5 21. ♖g2 ♗xe3+ 22. ♕xe3 ♘df8 23. ♗d3 ♖a7 24. ♖f1

24. ♘a5 looks cute, but in fact distracts White from the main goal - the black king. 24... ♖g7 25. ♘c6 ♕h4 And Black might get some counterplay.

24... ♖f7 25. ♕h6 ♔h8 26. ♘d2! This is the right direction. There isn't much left to comment on - White just brings his pieces together and that's it!

26... ♖f4 27. ♖g4 b5 28. ♘e4 ♘d7 29. ♖xg6 ♖g8 30. ♘g5 Black resigned. A remarkable game, where a slight hesitation in the early middlegame had grave consequences.

1-0

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...

36. a4 ♘h4 Trying to rock the boat.

36... ♕c6 37. b3 e4 38. fxe4 fxe4 39. ♕d2

37. b3 ♕e6 38. ♕d1 ♕g6? This is really too much.

38... e4 39. f4 ♕g6 40. g3 ♘f3 looks nice for Black, but in fact the knight is doing less than you'd think... It's still about equal.

39. g3 ♘xf3 40. ♔xf3 ♕h5+ 41. g4 Perhaps Black missed this move? Anything is possible around move 40...

41... ♕xh3+ 42. ♔e2

42. ♔f2 was also possible, and in fact looks simpler: 42... ♕h2+ (42... fxg4 43. ♗xe5 ) 43. ♔e1

42... ♕xg4+

42... fxg4 43. ♕c2+ ♔h8 44. ♕c8+ ♔h7 45. ♕f5++−

43. ♔d2 ♕e4

43... ♕g2+ 44. ♕e2 ♕d5+ 45. ♕d3+−

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

1-0

The 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.

31. ♖g5+ ♔f4 32. ♔f2 Taking away the black king's escape squares on the third rank and threatening mate-in-one with 33. Rf7#.

32... ♖f8 33. ♖h7 Now White is threatening mate with 34. Rh4# and if Black prevents that with 33...Rh8 then 34.Rf7# will follow. So Black resigned. 1-0

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. 

Richard Rapport 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

  ScoreRatingTPR123456789101112
1Aronian, L.2.0 / 328122851  ½1   ½    
2So, W.2.0 / 327192858    ½  1   ½
3Harikrishna, P.2.0 / 327062900½     ½  1  
4Caruana, F.2.0 / 3278229080     1   1 
5Nakamura, H.2.0 / 327892863 ½        ½1
6Giri, A.2.0 / 327342840        ½½ 1
7Karjakin, S.1.5 / 327592720  ½0    1   
8Rapport, R.1.5 / 326912769½0        1 
9Van Wely, L.1.0 / 326722624     ½0  ½  
10Dominguez, L.1.0 / 327542579  0  ½  ½   
11Gelfand, B.0.5 / 327772481   0½  0    
12Naiditsch, A.0.5 / 327182474 ½  00      


Tata Steel Challengers

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!+−

18... h6 19. e5 ♘g4?

19... dxe5 was just unclear, amazingly enough... 20. ♘ge4 (20. ♗xg6 hxg5 21. ♗xe8 ♖xe8 22. ♕xg5+ ♗g7 ; 20. ♘f3 ) 20... ♘h5

20. ♕g3 ♘dxe5 21. ♘f7! and here White wins quite easily.

21... ♖d7

21... ♘xf7 22. ♗xg6

22. ♘xe5 ♘xe5 23. ♖xe5 dxe5 24. ♗xh6! A nice finishing touch.

24. ♕xg6+? ♖g7

24... ♖g7

24... ♗xh6 25. ♕xg6+ ♖g7 26. ♕xe8#

25. ♗xg6 ♖ee7 26. ♕h3 ♕xc4 27. ♗h7+ ♔xh7 28. ♗xg7+ ♔xg7 29. ♕g3+ ♔h7 30. ♖xf8 ♖g7 31. ♕h3+ ♔g6 32. ♕g3+ ♔h7 33. ♕h3+ ♔g6 34. b3 ♕d4 35. ♕xe6+ ♔h5 36. ♕f5+

1-0

Benjamin Bok found a tactical masterstroke in Round 2 | photo: official website


Tata Steel Masters – Standings after Round 2

  ScoreRatingTPR1234567891011121314
1Bok, B.2.5 / 325602912  ½   1    1  
2Jobava, B.2.5 / 327102790   ½    1    1
3Saric, I.2.0 / 326372712½    1   ½    
4Duda, J.2.0 / 325532742 ½        ½ 1 
5Muzychuk, A.2.0 / 325662677     ½ 1 ½    
6Reinderman, D.1.5 / 325932638  0 ½     1   
7Brunello, S.1.5 / 3260226010       ½  1  
8Troff, K.1.5 / 324572569    0     ½ 1 
9Zhao, X.1.5 / 325672581 0    ½      1
10Timman, J.1.0 / 326072502  ½ ½      0  
11Wojtaszek, R.1.0 / 327112409   ½ 0 ½      
12Yu, Y.1.0 / 3267724650     0  1    
13Van Delft, M.1.0 / 324302355   0   0     1
14Goudriaan, E.0.0 / 324311769 0      0   0 

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