Reports Jan 16, 2014 | 1:30 PMby Colin McGourty

Tata Steel Rd 4: Aronian takes the lead

For Round 4 the Tata Steel Chess Masters switched from Wijk aan Zee to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Dominguez and Caruana were especially inspired as they played on for over six hours. Levon Aronian moved into first place after beating Hikaru Nakamura. Rustam Kasimdzhanov annotates their duel and also takes a brief look at Karjakin-Rapport.

Tata Steel Chess

Group photo of the Masters participants against the backdrop of Rembrandt’s most famous group portrait in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam | photo: Evgeny Surov,

Aronian wins key clash

Round 4 featured a duel between the tournament favourites on paper – Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura, but instead of an all-guns-blazing battle we got a more subdued affair. Aronian’s win struck our chess24 colleague Rustam Kasimdzhanov as a good example of the Russian Chess School at work:

1. d4 ♘f6 2. ♘f3 g6 3. c4 ♗g7 4. ♘c3 d6 5. e4 0-0 6. ♗e2 e5 7. ♗e3 ♘g4 8. ♗g5 f6 9. ♗h4 g5 10. ♗g3 ♘h6 11. c5 g4 12. ♘h4 ♘c6 13. cxd6 cxd6 14. dxe5 dxe5 15. ♗c4+ ♔h8 16. ♕xd8 ♖xd8 17. 0-0 ♘d4 18. ♖ad1 ♗e6 19. ♗xe6 ♘xe6 20. f3 gxf3 21. gxf3 ♖xd1 22. ♖xd1 ♖d8 23. ♖xd8+ ♘xd8 24. ♗f2 a6 25. ♔f1 ♔g8 26. ♔e2 ♔f7 27. ♗e3 ♔e6 28. ♘a4 ♗f8 29. ♗xh6 ♗xh6 30. ♘c5+ ♔f7 31. ♔d3 ♗f4 32. h3 ♗g5 33. ♘f5 Aronian has managed to outplay his opponent completely - in this position Black is utterly helpless. White will proceed with b4, a4, Kc4 and there's nothing Black can do. Hikaru tries a last-ditch attempt.

33... ♘e6! This move loses, just as all the other moves in the position would. It gets an exclamation mark because it actually works!

33... ♗c1 34. ♔c2 ♗f4 35. b4±

34. ♘xe6? Quite uncharacteristically for him, Levon failed to calculate the main line with the necessary clarity. After

34. ♘xb7! ♘f4+ 35. ♔c4 ♘xh3 36. b4 White is completely winning. 36... h5 (36... ♘g1 37. a4 ♘xf3 38. a5 h5 39. b5+− ) 37. a4 ♘f4 38. a5 h4 39. b5 axb5+ 40. ♔xb5 h3 41. a6+−

34... ♔xe6 White's position is still pleasant, but it really should be a draw.

35. ♔c4 b6 36. a4 ♗d2 37. b3! The Russian Chess School at it's best! Make a waiting move and let your opponent play!

37... h5? A move I fail to understand - now the weakness of h5 will be that legendary second target. After

37... ♗c1 38. b4 (38. h4 ♗d2 39. h5 ♗c1 40. b4 ♗d2 ) 38... ♗d2 I don't see any winning chances for White.

38. b4

38. ♘g7+ ♔f7 39. ♘xh5? ♗e1 doesn't happen at this level :)

38. ♔d3

38... a5!

38... ♗e1 39. ♘e3 ♗f2 40. ♘d5±

39. bxa5 bxa5 40. ♔b5 ♔d7? Move 40... Amazingly enough, after the cold-blooded

40... ♗e1 Black still has enough play: 41. ♘e3 ♔f7! 42. ♘c4 (42. ♘d5 ♔g6 43. ♔c6 f5! 44. ♔d6 ♗g3 45. ♘e7+ ♔g5 46. ♘xf5 h4= ) 42... ♔g6 43. ♘xa5? ♔g5 44. ♘c6 ♔h4 and now it's White who has to fight for survival.

41. ♘g7 The second weakness, as promised above.

41... h4 42. ♘f5 ♗e1 43. ♘e3 ♔e6 44. ♘c4 Typical somehow. Everybody makes mistakes, but Levon wins :) Respect!


The 31-year-old Armenian gave his reaction immediately after the game:

It was a special day for the tournament as for the first time in its long history a round took place somewhere other than Wijk aan Zee or Beverwijk. It probably wasn’t down to the surroundings, but if you’re going to produce a 108-move opus of a game a museum probably isn’t a bad place to do it. Curiously Leinier Dominguez and Fabiano Caruana played on so long that they were almost alone at the end, as at 20:30 the building staff already wanted to close the doors. Ultimately some fine manoeuvres helped the Cuban win a bishop ending. 

The game between Sergey Karjakin and Richard Rapport was a much shorter affair. The 17-year-old Hungarian followed his tournament strategy of choosing unusual openings and posed a real test to his Russian opponent. Rustam shows us that the Rapport missed a good opportunity before he ultimately fell to defeat.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. ♘c3 ♗b4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 ♗xc3+ 6. bxc3 ♕c7 7. ♕g4 f6 8. ♘f3 c4 9. h4 ♘c6 10. ♕g3 fxe5 11. ♘xe5 ♘f6 12. ♗f4 ♕a5 13. ♘xc6 bxc6 14. ♗c7 ♕a4 15. ♔d1 0-0 16. f3 e5 17. ♗xe5 ♗f5 18. ♖a2 ♖f7 19. ♗e2 ♘d7 20. ♖e1 ♖e8 21. f4 After a mutually shaky opening the game arrived at this unusual position. The young Hungarian player had a nice chance.

21... ♘f6?

21... ♘xe5! Actually a very difficult move to make! White can solve his structural issues now and even gets a passed pawn on e5, but much more importantly Black now gets the b-file. White has to tread very carefully.

a) 22. dxe5 ♖b8 23. ♔d2 ♕a5 24. ♖d1 ♖ff8 25. ♔e1 (25. ♕e3? d4 ) 25... ♗e4 and somehow White finds it really tricky to make a sensible move.

b) 22. fxe5 c5! 23. ♖f1 (23. dxc5 ♕b5 ) 23... ♕a5 24. ♕e3 cxd4 25. cxd4 ♖b8 26. ♗f3 ♖b1+ 27. ♔e2 ♕b6 28. ♖f2! and White isn't losing just yet, but his position... hmm, it isn't pretty :)

22. ♗f3 ♘e4 23. ♗xe4 ♗xe4 24. h5 h6 25. ♔d2 From this point on Richard Rapport never managed to find a plan. White went on to convert his pawn into a full point.

25... ♕b5 26. a4 ♕b7 27. a5 a6 28. ♕g4 ♕a7 29. ♖b2 ♗f5 30. ♕g3 ♕e7 31. ♖b6 ♖c8 32. ♖eb1 ♕a3 33. ♖b7 ♕a4 34. ♖1b2 ♖xb7 35. ♖xb7 ♕xc2+ 36. ♔e1 ♕c1+ 37. ♔f2 ♕d2+ 38. ♔f1 ♕d3+ 39. ♕xd3 cxd3 40. g4 ♗e4 41. f5 c5 42. ♖xg7+ ♔f8 43. f6 ♖c6 44. ♔e1


Round 4 results. Giri – So: ½-½ , Gelfand – Naiditsch: ½-½, Aronian – Nakamura: 1-0, Karjakin – Rapport: 1-0, Dominguez – Caruana: 1-0, Van Wely – Harikrishna: ½-½

Tata Steel Chess Masters - Standings after Round 4

1Aronian, Levon28122933 ½    11 ½  3
2Harikrishna, Pentala27062838½ ½  1  ½   2.5
3Karjakin, Sergey27592801 ½    0 11  2.5
4So, Wesley27192822    ½  ½ 1½ 2.5
5Giri, Anish27342804   ½ ½  ½ 1 2.5
6Dominguez Perez, Leinier27542724 0  ½ 1 ½   2
7Caruana, Fabiano278227760 1  0     12
8Nakamura, Hikaru278927570  ½      1½2
9Van Wely, Loek26722650 ½0 ½½      1.5
10Rapport, Richard26912678½ 00       11.5
11Naiditsch, Arkadij27182564   ½0  0   ½1
12Gelfand, Boris27772554      0½ 0½ 1

Jobava in dominant form

Round 4 of the Tata Steel Challengers took place on Tuesday back in Wijk aan Zee, while the players in the Masters had a rest day before the switch to Amsterdam. There was certainly no resting in Wijk, as all seven boards produced a winner. 

Baadur Jobava seized the sole lead with a win over Merijn van Delft. The 30-year-old Georgian exerted pressure from the start in a Slav Defence and pushed his 34-year-old Dutch opponent into a decisive middlegame error.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. ♘c3 ♘f6 4. ♘f3 e6 5. ♗g5 h6 6. ♗xf6 ♕xf6 7. e3 ♘d7 8. ♕c2 g6 9. cxd5 exd5 10. ♗d3 ♗d6 11. 0-0 0-0 12. e4 dxe4 13. ♘xe4 ♕e7 14. ♖ae1 ♘b6 15. ♘c3 ♕f6 16. ♘e5 ♗f5 17. f4 ♖ad8 18. ♗xf5 ♕xf5 19. ♘e4 h5 20. ♕b3 ♔g7 21. ♘xd6 ♖xd6 22. ♕a3 Black has so far withstood the pressure but now takes a bite from the forbidden apple on d4.

22... ♖xd4

22... ♘c8 would instead have held everything together and White would struggle to find a winning idea.

23. ♕c3 The rook can’t move due to the threatened discovered checks with the knight jumping from e5.

23... ♖fd8 24. ♘f3 Black simply loses the exchange.

24... c5 25. ♖d1 ♕f6 26. ♘xd4 cxd4 27. ♕d3 ♖d7

27... ♘a4 28. ♕b5 ♘b6 29. f5+−

28. b3 a6 29. f5 White gets things rolling on the kingside.

29... g5 30. h4! A nice move, claiming the f4-square for the rook.

30... g4 31. ♖f4 ♕xh4 Black could have resigned, but decides to play on to mate.

32. f6+ ♔h6 33. ♖xd4 ♖c7 34. ♖d8 g3 35. ♕e3+ ♔h7 36. ♖h8+ A neat conclusion.

36... ♔xh8 37. ♕h6+ ♔g8 38. ♕g7#


For the time being luck has deserted Benjamin Bok, who after Round 3 was sharing Naiditsch’s place in the limelight. Against Zhao Xue the Dutch hope had a promising position until he dropped a pawn and then completely lost the thread. Instead of defending a worse but not yet lost endgame he let the white pieces infiltrate his camp and quickly fell apart.

Anna Muzychuk is the other woman in the Challengers and the 23-year-old Ukrainian is on a roll, poised just off the top with 3/4. In her match against Jan-Krzystof Duda she showed a keen feel for the initiative.

1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♘c6 3. ♗b5 a6 4. ♗a4 ♘f6 5. d3 b5 6. ♗b3 ♗c5 7. 0-0 d6 8. a4 b4 9. a5 h6 10. ♘bd2 0-0 11. h3 ♖b8 12. ♗c4 ♗e6 13. ♘b3 ♕c8 14. ♗xe6 ♕xe6 15. ♘xc5 dxc5 16. b3 ♘e8 17. ♘h4 ♘d6 18. f4 f5 19. ♘xf5 ♘xf5 20. exf5 ♕xf5 21. ♗e3 exf4 22. ♖xf4 ♕d5 23. ♖c4 ♘d4 24. ♗xd4 cxd4 25. ♖xc7 ♕d6 26. ♖c4 ♖be8 27. ♕d2 ♖e3 Black has excellent play for the pawn and White, rather than pulling the emergency brake, will go on a foolhardy mission to win the b4-pawn.

28. ♖f1?

28. ♖e1 ♕g3 29. ♖f1 ♖xf1+ 30. ♔xf1 ♕h2 31. ♖c8+ ♔h7 32. ♖f8 h5! with the idea of …h4 would still give Black good play for the pawn.

28... ♖xf1+ 29. ♔xf1 ♖e8! White had clearly overlooked this fine retreat.

30. ♕xb4

30. ♔g1 would be met by 30... ♕g3 , with tempo. 31. ♔f1 ♕h2 The rook check on f8 is decisive in many variations.

30... ♕f4+ 31. ♔g1 ♖e2 White is powerless against Black’s heavy pieces.

32. ♖c8+ ♔h7 33. ♖f8 ♕g3 34. ♕b7 ♖e1+ 35. ♖f1 ♕e3+ White resigned, as he’s losing the rook.


No. 1 seed Radek Wojtaszek claimed his first victory in a top-vs-bottom clash. Etienne Goudriaan keeps on trying, but his position was left in disarray after little more than 20 moves with the white pieces.

Other winners included Ivan Saric, who fought off a bold attack by Kayden Troff, Jan Timman, who scored a fine positional victory against Sabino Brunello, and Dimitri Reinderman, who benefitted from a huge blunder by Yanyi Yu.

Tata Steel Challengers - Standings after Round 4

1Jobava, Baadur27102833     1 ½    113.5
2Saric, Ivan26372745   1½ ½   1   3
3Muzychuk, Anna25662743   ½  ½1  1   3
4Reinderman, Dimitri25932736 0½     1  1  2.5
5Bok, Benjamin25602709 ½   0   1 1  2.5
6Zhao, Xue256726640   1    ½   12.5
7Timman, Jan H26072621 ½½      1 0  2
8Duda, Jan-Krzysztof25532604½ 0     ½   1 2
9Wojtaszek, Radoslaw27112509   0   ½  ½  12
10Brunello, Sabino26022514    0½0    1  1.5
11Troff, Kayden W24572497 00     ½   1 1.5
12Yu, Yangyi26772400   00 1  0    1
13Van Delft, Merijn243023470      0  0  11
14Goudriaan, Etienne243121880    0  0   0 0


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