Reports Jan 18, 2014 | 9:00 AMby Colin McGourty

Tata Steel Rd 5: Fireworks in Wijk aan Zee

Only a single game finished drawn in the fifth round of the Tata Steel Masters, and even that was a spectacular miniature between Nakamura and Karjakin. Elsewhere Aronian continues to lead after beating Harikrishna, but Giri, So, Dominguez and Caruana also won to remain within striking distance. Jobava and Saric lead the Challengers on 5/6, and chess24’s Rustam Kasimdzhanov takes a look at Jobava’s crushing win against top seed Wojtaszek.

Tata Steel Chess

A tale of three “novelties”

Masters Round 5 - Friday, 17th January
Harikrishna, P. - Giri, A.0-1
Caruana, F. - Van Wely, L.1-0
Rapport, R. - Dominguez, L.0-1
Nakamura, H. - Karjakin, S.½-½
Naiditsch, A. - Aronian, L.0-1
So, W. - Gelfand, B.1-0

The Masters players had a rest day to recover from their museum trip to Amsterdam, and were clearly in a mood to fight. The first game to finish was one of the key encounters of the round. Hikaru Nakamura sprung a near novelty with 13.Ke2 (Magnus Carlsen and Michael Adams had both played 13.Nd2 against Alexander Morozevich), although when he was told about it after the game the American suggested it was an accidental one:

Then clearly I just forgot my preparation.

True or not, despite both players burning time to find something better (see the screenshot with the time usage shown in our chess24 broadcast software) a few moves later the game ended in an attractive and logical draw, with 19...Rxe3+ in this position opening up the white king to perpetual checks.

Wesley So also wasn’t too impressed with his own near novelty of 8.Qd2, which he said he found at the board against Boris Gelfand. His Israeli opponent has been in abject form, however, and it seems his usual dynamic style has deserted him. A few passive moves in a row saw his position crumble until he resigned on move 29 with material still level:

Wesley So was asked afterwards if the resignation was premature, but smiled when remarking, “his final position wasn’t very good.” That may be something of an understatement, as Black has no defence against the simple a6 and Rxb7.

The most spectacular opening surprise of the round, however, was young Hungarian Richard Rapport’s 3.g4 against the experienced Cuban Leinier Dominguez. Such daredevil early pawn pushes in front of your king have become commonplace since computers overturned decades of chess wisdom, but managing it on move 3 still makes an impression. 

2012 British Champion Gawain Jones was unimpressed:

Dominguez spent around 50 minutes on his first six moves and concluded the move wasn't as bad as it looked, but Rapport’s experiment eventually backfired in dramatic fashion.

After the following brilliant bishop sacrifice it was never going to be his day:

19... ♗xe2 20. ♔d2 Played after 11 minutes of bitter reflection... From this point on neither player makes any serious mistakes.

20. ♖xe2 wouldn't have worked out any better either: 20... ♕g4! The same response as in the game, threatening both the bishop and winning the b1-rook with a queen check on g1. 21. ♗h2 ♘f5! 22. ♖b2 ♕g2 Not the only winning move, but the one that best emphasises the hopelessness of White's position. 23. ♗e5 Otherwise the queen can simply take the bishop. 23... ♖xe5 24. ♖xe5 ♕g3+ Black picks up the rook on e5, with a crushing advantage.

20... ♕g4 21. ♘xc5 ♕xh4 22. ♗e3 ♘f5 23. ♖xf5 gxf5 24. g6 ♖xe3 25. ♔xe3 ♖e8+ 26. ♔d2 ♕f2 27. gxf7+ ♔xf7 28. ♕xa7+ ♔g8 29. ♖b8 ♗xd3+ 30. ♔xd3 ♕e2+ Rapport calls it a day with mate to follow next move.


A delighted Dominguez described how the game went, and how he felt on seeing 3.g4:

Technical victories

Caruana: "I seem to be alternating quite a bit win and lose, but so far it’s not so bad... although of course I should try to improve my play a bit" | photo: official website

The other three wins looked like triumphs of endgame technique, but the players were modesty personified. 

Caruana played a super-solid opening against Van Wely’s Sveshnikov Sicilian and then took advantage of his opponent sacrificing (or blundering - he wasn’t sure which) a pawn. After losing a marathon bishop ending the round before he was on the right side this time. The Italian star is yet to draw a game, but with 3 wins and 2 losses is still within touching distance of the leaders.

Anish Giri is having a good tournament and outplayed Pentala Harikrishna in Carlsenesque fashion. He was less impressed with the way he converted the rook ending into a win, however, lamenting that he "missed a few very important details".

World no. 2 Levon Aronian is another man in form and is both topping the table and edging towards Magnus Carlsen on the rating list. On Friday he managed to bamboozle Germany’s Arkadij Naiditsch in an ending that looked destined for a draw, provoking resignation with an elegant finesse:

57…Rd2! ended the struggle - if White captures the bishop one of Black's pawns will queen, but if Black gets to play ...Rd1 next the same outcome is inevitable.

Aronian attributed his success to his opponent's mistakes and luck (don't take his word for it!), claiming "my only chance to win a game like this was to play fast and put him under pressure":

Tata Steel Masters standings after Round 5

1Aronian, L.4.0 / 528122977     1½1 ½1 
2Giri, A.3.5 / 527342863  ½½  1 ½ 1 
3So, W.3.5 / 527192891 ½     ½ 1½1
4Dominguez, L.3.0 / 527542789 ½   10 ½1  
5Karjakin, S.3.0 / 527592800     0½½11  
6Caruana, F.3.0 / 5278228270  01   1  1
7Harikrishna, P.2.5 / 527062746½0 1½   ½   
8Nakamura, H.2.5 / 5278927570 ½ ½     1½
9Van Wely, L.1.5 / 526722598 ½ ½00½     
10Rapport, R.1.5 / 526912615½ 000      1
11Naiditsch, A.1.0 / 52718252600½    0   ½
12Gelfand, B.1.0 / 527772500  0  0 ½ 0½ 

Jobava and Saric lead

While the Masters’ participants have the luxury of multiple rest days this year the Challenger players are sticking to the old tough schedule and played two more rounds since our last report. 

Challengers Round 5 - Thursday, 16th January
Van Delft, M. - Zhao, X.½-½
Wojtaszek, R. - Jobava, B.0-1
Muzychuk, A. - Goudriaan, E.1-0
Saric, I. - Duda, J.1-0
Yu, Y. - Troff, K.½-½
Brunello, S. - Reinderman, D.1-0
Bok, B. - Timman, J.½-½
Challengers Round 6 - Friday, 17th January
Zhao, X. - Timman, J.0-1
Reinderman, D. - Bok, B.½-½
Troff, K. - Brunello, S.½-½
Duda, J. - Yu, Y.0-1
Goudriaan, E. - Saric, I.0-1
Jobava, B. - Muzychuk, A.½-½
Van Delft, M. - Wojtaszek, R.0-1

The key game of Round 5 saw Baadur Jobava strike a crushing blow to top seed Radek Wojtaszek’s winning chances. GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov takes a look at what went wrong for the Polish grandmaster - his colleague as a member of Viswanathan Anand's team for three World Championship matches:

1. d4 ♘f6 2. c4 e5! That's the spirit! In Wijk this opening has had a dream career, bringing down Gelfand and Wojtaszek. It's maybe not the most solid choice, but it gets the job done :)

3. dxe5 ♘g4 4. ♗f4 g5 5. ♗g3 ♘c6 6. ♘f3 ♗g7 7. h4 ♘gxe5 8. ♘xe5 ♘xe5 9. ♘c3 g4 10. e3 Not a bad move in itself, but it shows a lack of urgency which will cost Radek this game. After the more energetic

10. h5! h6 11. ♗h4 ♗f6 12. ♗xf6 ♕xf6 13. ♘d5 ♕d8 14. ♕d4 d6 15. 0-0-0± the game would most likely have been the same length, but with the opposite result.

10... d6 11. ♗e2 ♗e6 12. ♖c1 0-0 13. b3 Taking a lack of urgency to new extremes. Even Garfield would be getting nervous by now :)

13... c6 14. h5 f5 15. h6 ♗f6 16. ♕d2 ♕e7 Don't let your computer fool you - humanly speaking White has basically run out of good moves - and castling short simply loses the h6-pawn. The remedy which Radek found can only be explained by the unbearable stress of being a World Champion's second for many years.

17. f4? White weakens his position in an attempt to dislodge the knight from e5. Ironically, he doesn't even achieve that...

17... gxf3

17... ♘d7 is also quite bad for White: 18. e4 ♘c5!

18. gxf3 ♔h8 19. f4 See the previous comment.

19... ♖ad8 Extremely artistic play - and a moment worthy of Clint Eastwood. Even at gun-point I won't retreat my knight :)

19... ♘d7

20. ♕c2

20. fxe5 dxe5 21. ♕c2 f4! shows just how feeble White's king position really is. 22. ♗f2 (22. exf4 exf4 ) 22... fxe3 23. ♗xe3 ♗h4+ Oops.

20... ♘g4! Forward is the only direction we know!

21. ♗xg4 ♖g8! Relentless play from Jobava!

22. ♘e2

22. ♗f3 ♖xg3 23. ♕f2 ♖gg8 24. ♔f1 was a better try, but White's position is kinda bad now...

22... ♖xg4 23. ♔f2 d5 24. ♖cd1 ♖e8 25. c5 ♗f7 26. ♕c1 ♕e4 27. ♘d4 And, not wishing to see Rxg3 executed on the board, Radek resigned. A really painful loss for him, while his mighty opponent is on a very pleasant run. That's the way the cookie crumbles...


Wojtaszek bounced back in Round 6 with the day’s quickest win against Merijn van Delft, but Ivan Saric has emerged as Jobava’s strongest rival after successive wins against tail-enders Etienne Goudriaan and Jan-Krzystof Duda.

Ivan Saric in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam | photo: Macauley Peterson

Tata Steel Challengers standings after Round 6

1Saric, I.5.0 / 626372807   ½½1    11 1
2Jobava, B.5.0 / 627102816  ½    11  ½11
3Muzychuk, A.4.5 / 625662752 ½ ½ ½    11 1
4Timman, J.3.5 / 626072659½ ½ ½ 11 0    
5Bok, B.3.5 / 625602671½  ½ ½10 1    
6Reinderman, D.3.0 / 6259326260 ½ ½ 0 11    
7Brunello, S.3.0 / 626022577   001 ½ 1½   
8Zhao, X.3.0 / 625672557 0 01 ½     ½1
9Wojtaszek, R.3.0 / 627112529 0   0    ½½11
10Yu, Y.2.5 / 626772505   1000   ½1  
11Troff, K.2.5 / 6245725470 0   ½ ½½  1 
12Duda, J.2.0 / 6255324970½0     ½0  1 
13Van Delft, M.1.5 / 624302379 0     ½0 00 1
14Goudriaan, E.0.0 / 624311804000    00   0 


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