Reports Jan 14, 2014 | 3:00 PMby Colin McGourty

Tata Steel Rd 3 – Six lead, two great escapes

Fabiano Caruana joined the leaders after claiming the scalp of fellow favourite Sergey Karjakin in Round 3 of the Tata Steel Masters. The day’s most memorable action, however, came in great escapes for Anish Giri and Hikaru Nakamura. Those games are analysed in sparkling style by chess24’s Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who also takes a look at an instructive king hunt from the Challengers.

Tata Steel Chess

Six leaders on 2/3

Italian wunderkind Caruana is now the only player without a draw in the Masters after bouncing back from a loss to Levon Aronian to win a model Catalan against Sergey Karjakin. The young Russian could only look on helplessly as his opponent first restricted his options and then pushed him off the board, but one thing you can’t criticise Karjakin for is giving up easily:

He's a piece and two pawns down, but at least threatening mate-in-one with Rh4. Caruana put him out of his misery with 71.Rxe1+! and White resigned before 71...Kxe1 72. Nd3+ picked up the remaining piece.

Pentala Harikrishna (right) defeated world no. 14 Leinier Dominguez | photo: official website

Pentala Harikrishna joined Caruana (and So, Aronian, Nakamura and Giri…) in the lead on 2 points by squeezing victory out of an endgame where he felt Cuba’s Leinier Dominguez underestimated the dangers of the position.

Not all draws are equal

Naiditsch – So was perhaps not the game you’d have picked for the day’s only quiet draw, but Wesley So played his first ever “Berlin Wall” and even a firebrand like Arkadij Naiditsch was willing to settle for a draw after opening with two losses.

Aronian was asked if he'd expected the opening Rapport chose: "Not really, but my opponent is a creative player so I thought he would try to get out of the opening earlier..." | photo: official website

Rapport – Aronian, meanwhile, was an unspectacular draw notable for the opening - Rapport tried the Trompowsky (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5), more popular at an amateur level – and the Hungarian talent’s eccentric doubled and tripled pawn structure. Don’t try this at home!

Van Wely – Giri, a match-up between the old and new leaders of Dutch chess, was also a Trompowsky, but there the parallels end. Van Wely summed up what he achieved: “Normally you win this position in 20 moves with blood all over the place”. Giri didn’t disagree, but remained philosophical:

I felt I was lost but I didn’t see how I was lost. We found out that White has a win but since I didn’t see it it doesn’t count :)

GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov looks at the game and what it tells us about Giri’s future prospects:

1. d4 ♘f6 2. ♗g5 e6 3. e4 h6 4. ♗xf6 ♕xf6 5. c3 d6 6. ♗d3 e5 7. ♘e2 ♕d8 8. 0-0 ♗e7 9. f4 0-0 10. ♘d2 exd4 11. ♘xd4 This unusual position after the opening looks a little unpleasant for Black - White's better development and central control are quite threatening. Still, there was no call for

11... ♖e8? , weakening f7 and really asking for it :)

11... ♘d7 and

11... ♘c6 were better moves.

12. ♕h5! ♘d7 13. ♗c4

13. ♕xf7+ looks good, but isn't quite enough :) 13... ♔xf7 14. ♗c4+ ♔g6!

13. e5! ♘f8 (13... ♘c5 14. ♗c2 ♗f8 15. ♖ae1± ) 14. ♘e4 looks really terrible for Black.

13... ♖f8 14. e5 ♘b6 15. ♗b3 c5 16. exd6 cxd4?

16... ♕xd6 17. ♘4f3 ♗e6! 18. ♗xe6 (18. ♘e4 ♕xf4 ) 18... ♕xe6 19. ♖ae1 ♕d7 keeps quite a reasonable position.

17. dxe7 ♕xe7 18. ♖ae1 ♕d8 19. ♘e4! dxc3 20. f5! Extremely energetic play! Black is dead lost now as he's unable to complete development. All he can do is hope for a miracle...

20... ♕d4+ 21. ♔h1 cxb2 22. f6! The threat is Qg6!

22... ♗e6 23. fxg7? This mistake will likely haunt Loeky for a while. The correct line, though it contains some quiet moves, wasn't really so difficult...

23. ♗xe6! fxe6 24. f7+ ♔h8 25. ♘g5! (25. ♖f6? ♕e3! is a deal-breaker :)) 25... ♕d3 Qg6 was a threat. (25... ♕d5 26. h4+− ) 26. ♘xe6+−

23... ♕xg7 Now the strong pawn on b2 saves the day for Black.

24. ♖f3

24. ♖e3 ♖fc8! Vacating the f8-square. 25. ♖g3 ♖c1 26. ♖xg7+ ♔xg7 27. ♕e5+ ♔g8 28. ♘f6+ ♔f8 29. ♕d6+ ♔g7 30. ♘h5+ , and it all somehow ends in perpetual check.

24... ♖ac8

24... ♖fc8 is also possible: 25. ♖g3 ♕xg3 26. hxg3 ♖c1 27. ♗xe6 ♖xe1+ 28. ♔h2 ♖h1+ 29. ♔xh1 b1Q+ 30. ♔h2 fxe6 31. ♕g6+=

25. ♖g3 ♕xg3 This gives White some new chances. After

25... ♖c1 26. ♖xg7+ ♔xg7 27. ♕e5+ f6 28. ♕g3+ ♔h8 29. ♗d1 b1Q 30. ♕g6 it's a draw.

26. hxg3 ♖c1 27. ♗d1

27. ♘f6+! ♔g7 28. ♕e5 ♖xe1+ 29. ♕xe1 ♖c8 (29... ♔xf6 30. ♕c3+ ♔e7 31. ♕xb2 ♗xb3 32. ♕a3+ ♔e8 33. axb3 ) 30. ♘h5+ ♔g8 31. ♔h2! ♖c1 32. ♕e5 ♖h1+ 33. ♔xh1 b1Q+ 34. ♔h2 maintains winning chances for White though, as we saw, this line is somewhat accidental...

27... b1Q 28. ♕xh6 ♘d5 29. ♕g5+ ♔h8 30. ♕h6+ ♔g8 A lucky escape for Anish - usually such gifts are reserved for the Anands and Aronians of this world - is this the sign that Anish Giri is becoming a truly top player? :)


Nakamura – Gelfand was in many ways the game of the day, and provoked GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov into some flights of fancy:

1. ♘f3 c5 2. c4 ♘c6 3. ♘c3 ♘f6 4. d4 cxd4 5. ♘xd4 e6 6. e4 ♗b4 7. ♘xc6 bxc6 8. ♗d3 e5 9. 0-0 0-0 10. ♗g5 h6 11. ♗h4 ♗c5 12. ♔h1 d6 13. f3 ♗e6 14. ♕c2 ♖b8 15. ♖ad1 ♗d4 16. b3 g5 17. ♗f2 c5 18. ♘b5 ♕d7 19. g4 ♔g7 20. ♕d2 ♘g8 21. ♗g3 f6 22. b4 ♘e7 23. ♘xd4 cxd4 24. b5 ♖fc8 25. ♖c1 ♖c5 26. ♖c2 ♘c8 27. ♖fc1 ♘b6 28. ♕e2 ♖bc8 29. ♗e1 ♘a4 30. ♗b4 ♖5c7 31. ♔g2 h5 32. h3 ♖h8 33. ♖h1 ♖cc8 34. ♖cc1 ♕c7 35. ♕c2 ♘b6 36. ♗a5 ♕c5 37. ♗xb6 axb6 38. ♕b3 hxg4 39. hxg4 ♖xh1 40. ♔xh1 d5 41. exd5 ♗xd5 42. ♔g2 ♖h8 43. ♕b1 Up to this point Gelfand had played a great positional game, but here he missed the chance to end matters with some machine-gun fire :)

43... ♗f7?

43... ♗xf3+ 44. ♔xf3 e4+ It's not instantly obvious, but White is just helpless here:

a) 45. ♔xe4 ♖h3 is mate.

b) 45. ♔g2 ♖h4! The most convincing option. (45... exd3 46. ♕xd3 ♕c7 ) 46. ♗e2 d3−+

c) 45. ♗xe4 ♕a3+! 46. ♗d3 ♖h3+ 47. ♔e4 (47. ♔g2 ♖xd3−+ ; 47. ♔e2 ♖e3+ 48. ♔d2 ♕a5+! ) 47... ♕c5 Note the picturesque location of the white king, resembling a random tourist entering the atmosphere of Venus in a T-shirt and sunglasses :)

44. ♖h1 And Hikaru survived.

44... ♖xh1 45. ♕xh1 ♗g6 46. ♗xg6 ♔xg6 47. ♕h5+ ♔g7 48. ♕e8 ♕xc4 49. a4 ♕c2+ 50. ♔g3 ♕c7 51. ♕c6 ♕d8 52. a5 bxa5 53. b6 d3 54. ♕c7+ ♕xc7 55. bxc7 d2 56. c8Q d1Q 57. ♕c7+ ♔h6 58. ♕e7 ♕g1+ 59. ♔h3


The missed win was a classic situation in modern chess, where computer-armed spectators instantly knew something the fantastically-gifted players didn’t. The brief post-game interviews gave us a reality TV style chance to see the players’ reaction on finding out what had happened.

US star Hikaru Nakamura was quickly forced to revise his assessment that although it looked bad he "was probably never losing":

He later tweeted:

Israel’s Boris Gelfand, who in 2012 came within a whisker of winning the World Championship, had also missed the …Qa3+ idea, but was wonderfully dismissive of the significance of computers:

But who cares about the computer. It’s a human game. I think it’s completely irrelevant and takes what happened in the game out of picture. Computer have their lives, humans have theirs. If someone in the press room would find it it would be great, but computers… for me it’s nothing.  I don’t compete with computers I compete with humans.

For now Gelfand is having a tough event, but there are still eight rounds to improve:

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      

6 games out of 7 decisive in Challengers

Bok and Jobava lead the Challengers on 2.5/3 after a brutal day’s play. Even the single draw was a hard-fought 50 moves rather than the formality you might have expected between Poland’s best player, Radek Wojtaszek, and their best hope, 15-year-old Jan-Krzystof Duda.

A tough lesson for Kayden Troff | photo: official website 

Rustam Kasimdzhanov’s eye was caught by Anna Muzychuk’s king hunt against young American Kayden Troff:

1. e4 c5 2. ♘f3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. ♘xd4 ♘f6 5. ♘c3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. ♘b3 b5 8. ♗g5 ♘bd7 9. a4 b4 10. ♘d5 ♗b7 11. ♗c4 ♕c8 12. ♘a5 ♘xe4 13. ♗e3 ♘ef6 14. ♘xb7 ♕xc4 15. ♘xf6+ gxf6 16. ♘xd6+ ♗xd6 17. ♕xd6 ♖c8 18. ♖d1 ♕c6 19. ♕xb4 ♕xg2 20. ♔d2 ♕c6 21. c3 ♖b8 22. ♕a3 a5 23. ♖hg1 f5 24. f4 ♕c4 25. ♔c2 ♕e2+ 26. ♗d2 ♕e4+ 27. ♔c1 ♕c4 28. ♖ge1 It was a sharp, unbalanced fight up to this position, where the young American player made a very instructive mistake.

28... ♖b3?

28... ♖g8! was the move, bringing the last piece into the action! Black is doing quite well here, and if White makes a couple of natural moves - 29. fxe5 f4! shutting down the bishop 30. e6 ♘c5! 31. exf7+ ♔xf7 we suddenly get a position of complete dynamic domination - White will be overrun here.

29. ♕d6 And now it's the exact opposite - Black doesn't have enough pieces in play.

29... e4 30. ♗e3 ♖xc3+ 31. ♔b1 ♕xa4 32. bxc3 ♕b3+ 33. ♔a1 ♕xc3+ 34. ♔a2 ♕c2+ 35. ♔a3 ♕c3+ 36. ♔a4 ♕c4+ 37. ♔xa5 ♕a2+ 38. ♔b5 Not the most difficult line, but still quite a nice royal walk :)

38... ♕b3+ 39. ♕b4 ♕a2 40. ♖xd7 ♔xd7 41. ♕d4+ ♔c7 42. ♕b6+


Etienne Goudriaan committed hari-kari in his game against fellow struggler Merijn van Delft, and is the only player in either event yet to make his mark on the scoreboard. 

1Bok, Benjamin25602918  ½   1    1  2.5
2Jobava, Baadur27102797    ½   1    12.5
3Saric, Ivan26372707½    1   ½    2
4Muzychuk, Anna25662673     ½ 1 ½    2
5Duda, Jan-Krzysztof25532737 ½        ½ 1 2
6Reinderman, Dimitri25932638  0½      1   1.5
7Brunello, Sabino260226010       ½  1  1.5
8Troff, Kayden W24572569   0      ½ 1 1.5
9Zhao, Xue25672581 0    ½      11.5
10Timman, Jan H26072506  ½½       0  1
11Wojtaszek, Radoslaw27112414    ½0 ½      1
12Yu, Yangyi267724690     0  1    1
13Van Delft, Merijn24302360    0  0     11
14Goudriaan, Etienne24312196 0      0   0 0

He may, however, be the easiest player in the tournament for most chess fans to identify with! After game 1:

After game 3 (you have to admire the optimism):

The participants in the Challengers play again on Tuesday 14th January, while those in the Masters have a rest day before switching to play Round 4 in the world famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.


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