2015 Tata Steel Chess (Wijk aan Zee)

New In Chess (2012-2)

World Champion Magnus Carlsen will be one of the 14 competitors in the 77th edition of the Tata Steel Chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee (Netherlands). With an average rating of 2746 the tournament boasts Carlsen (2862), Fabiano Caruana (2820) and defending champion Levon Aronian (2797) leading the field. There is also a Category 13 Challengers section with 14 players.

Hometown favorite Anish Giri is 4th seed which is quite an improvement over last years 7th and 9th two years ago when his rating was 2720. He is now knocking at the door of 2800 at 2784. Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan will also test her 2673 standing and see if she can finally overtake Judit Polgar who has been the highest-rated woman for decades.

Wesley So is another intriguing name. He will play his first major tournament under the USA flag and will is coming off of a couple of lucrative victories. It will be interesting to see if the Filipino is the new “Asian Tiger“! The key factor in the field is that Carlsen has not been in top form despite successfully defending his title and all will try to test his form.

GM Hou Yifan, Women’s World Champion
Photo by Anastasia Karlovich.

The Challengers tournament will be led by David Navara of the Czech Republic, but will have some interesting faces including the second-seed Wei Yi of the gold medal Olympiad Chinese team. The field features no less than five Dutch players and two Americans (Sam Shankland and Samuel Sevian). Sevian is waiting on his GM title to be conferred before it is official. Another interesting selection is Valentina Guinina the Russian champion who is also a three-time Olympiad gold medalist. She recently bagged two medals at the World Mind Games event in China.

Tata Steel is an Indian multinational conglomerate consisting of a number of industries. Those following the tournament from the early days will remember it as the Hoorgovens, a Dutch steel company that would later merge with British steel to form the Corus Group. When Tata steel purchased Corus in 2007, the tournament took on the name of Indian conglomerate. For two years, the tournament has had two sections instead of the traditional three. There has been a lot of speculation about the future of the tournament.

Official Site: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/
Videos: (YouTube, Chess24)

2015 Tata Steel Tournament
January 9th-25th, 2015 (Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands)
Masters
#
Name
Title
Federation
Flag
Rating
1 Carlsen, Magnus GM Norway
2862
2 Caruana, Fabiano GM Italy
2820
3 Aronian, Levon GM Armenia
2797
4 Giri, Anish GM Netherlands
2784
5 So, Wesley GM USA
2762
6 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime GM France
2757
7 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw GM Poland
2744
8 Radjabov, Teimour GM Azerbaijan
2734
9 Ding, Liren GM China
2732
10 Jobova, Baadur GM Georgia
2727
11 Ivanchuk, Vassily GM Ukraine
2715
12 Hou, Yifan GM China
2673
13 Van Wely, Loek GM Netherlands
2667
14 Saric, Ivan GM Croatia
2666
Challengers
#
Name
Title
Federation
Flag
Rating
1 Navara, David GM Czech Republic
2729
2 Wei, Yi GM China
2675
3 Shankland, Sam GM USA
2652
4 Van Kampen, Robin GM Netherlands
2615
5 L’Ami, Erwin GM Netherlands
2613
6 Potkin, Vladimir GM Russia
2608
7 Saleh, Salem GM UAE
2603
8 Timman, Jan GM Netherlands
2593
9 Michiels, Bart GM Belgium
2563
10 Guinina, Valentina GM Russia
2538
11 Klein, David GM Netherlands
2517
12 Sevian, Samuel IM USA
2511
13 Haast, Anne WIM Netherlands
2352
14 Dale, Ari IM Australia
2291
Official Site

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

26 Comments

  1. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #1 – Saturday, 10 January 2015

    Masters
    Anish Giri – Magnus Carlsen, ½-½
    Ivan Saric – Levon Aronian, ½-½
    Teimour Radjabov – Loek van Wely, ½-½
    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Hou Yifan, 1-0
    Vassily Ivanchuk – Baddur Jobova, 1-0
    Ding Liren – Fabiano Caruana, 0-1
    Wesley So – Radaslaw Wojtaszek, ½-½

    Jobava played 42…Ra4?? and after Ivanchuk’s 43.Rxa4 he resigned “like a professional”. What is the continuation?

    The 77th edition started with a bang with three decisive results in the most instructive of ways. It was the Ivanchuk-Jobava game that had the twists and turns including an instructive ending that was demonstrated by Ivanchuk in the post-mortem. Many GMs including commentator Yasser Seirawan were flummoxed as to why Jobava resigned.

    In the diagrammed position, many wondered why the Georgian resigned, but after 43.Rxa4 bxa4 44.Kc4! Kc6 45.Kd3! winning. How? After 45…Kd5 46.e6! fxe6 47.f6 Kd6 forced 48.c4! The problem is that the split pawns are like a two-on-one fastbreak in basketball. 48…a3 49.c5+ Kd7 50.Kc2 e5 51.c6+ Ke6 52.c7 Kd7 53.f7 and white queens.

    Ivanchuk says, “Well… not so hard if you are a good Grandmaster.” Even the computers did not see the subtleties for a few moves. So Ivanchuk gave a quick lesson on pawn endings and opposition. Quite instructive. Here is the animated interview…

    There was another pawn ending demonstrated in another decisive game Vachier-Lagrave (MVL) winning over Hou Yifan. The Chinese played French Defense, an appropriate defense against the Frenchman, but apparently not sufficient. MVL essayed the Albin-Chatard Alekhine Attack after 6.h4!?, but after Hou Yifan equalized, she went astray in the complications and got a wrecked structure. The ending became difficult to defend and she was unable to hold. She also “resigned like a professional” before waiting for MVL to prove the pawn ending.

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave versus Hou Yifan, 1-0. Photo by Alina L'Ami.

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave versus Hou Yifan, 1-0.
    Photo by Alina L’Ami.

    The other decisive game was Fabiano Caruana’s win over Chinese Ding Liren. In this Grunfeld Defense, a tense middlegame ensued in the imbalanced position. White began to play less optimal moves and black finally seized control after 32…Rfe8! With the bishops slicing the board, Caruana dealt a killing blow with 36…a5! (threatening a4 and Qd4+) winning after 37.Rxa5 Bc3 38.Rd5 Qa7+ white suffers massive losses.

    GM Wesley So
    Photo by Alina L’Ami.

    Saric-Aronian was also another game that lacked an edge as the pieces melted from the board and went into a dull, opposite-colored bishop ending with no imbalances. What is interesting was that a Pirc Defense was also played in Radjabov-Van Wely. This was the so-called Austrian Attack gave white a structural advantage, but black had more than enough fluidity to equalize and the game petered out.

    Wesley So is coming off of a successful 2014 campaign and is playing in his first 2015 tournament after announcing he was turned professional. Of course, there was still a lot of buzz about his Death Match with Hikaru Nakamura. He lost by a wide margin but chuckled that he would certainly play better in this event. So played impressively throughout in a complicated Najdorf Sicilian. The result seemed in doubt all the way until the final moves when they agreed to a repetition draw.

    Great stuff! Giri-Carlsen was a strange Modern Defense, an opening rarely seen at top level. There was nothing in this opening but a slight advantage for white, but black was never in danger. Giri still holds a +1 score over Carlsen. Carlsen joked that Giri was a “coward” for not being a bit more ambitious.

    It was clearly a joke and some took it out of context. Suffice it to say, all of the players will be looking to put a notch on their belt when they play the world champion. Wesley So will take a crack in the second round.

    Challengers
    Samuel Shankland – Wei Yi, ½-½
    David Navara – Erwin L’Ami, ½-½
    Robin Van Kampen – Samuel Sevian, 1-0
    Salem Saleh – Vladimir Potkin, ½-½
    Ari Dale – Anna Haast, 1-0
    Jan Timman – David Klein, ½-½
    Bart-Michiels – Valentina Guinina, ½-½

    The Challengers section was very quiet today as only one game proved decisive. Robin Van Kampen beat the world’s youngest GM Samuel Sevian in a technical win. Black was saddle with a bad bishop which was partically stifled by his own isolated d5-pawn. Van Kampen had optimally pieces and great mobility and seized the winning advantage with 42.Re8! After that, it was a matter of technique… bishop overpowering the clumsy knight. Some of the other games were rather placid, but Dale-Hasset was quite a thrill as was Timman-Klein.

    Press Room

    Pressroom with GM Yasser Seirawan at the far end.
    Photo by Alina L’Ami.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Official Site: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/
    Tata Steel (YouTube Channel): https://www.youtube.com/

  2. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #2 – Sunday, 11 January 2015

    Masters
    Loek van Wely – Radaslaw Wojtaszek, ½-½
    Magnus Carlsen – Wesley So, ½-½
    Levon Aronian – Anish Giri, ½-½
    Fabiano Caruana – Ivan Saric, 1-0
    Hou Yifan – Ding Liren, 0-1
    Baddur Jobova – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, ½-½
    Teimour Radjabov – Vassily Ivanchuk, ½-½

    GM Ding Liren. Photo by Alina L'Ami.

    GM Ding Liren scored against his compatriot.
    Photo by Alina L’Ami.

    Standings after Round #2 (Masters)

    1st: F. Caruana, 2; 2nd-3rd: V. Ivanchuk, M. Vachier-Lagrave; 4th-11th: T. Radjabov, M. Carlsen, A. Giri, Wesley So, R. Wojtaszek, L. Van Wely, L. Aronian, L. Ding, 1; 12th-13th: B. Jobava, I. Sarci, ½; 14th: Y. Hou, 0.

    Challengers
    Anna Haast – David Navara, 0-1
    Samuel Sevian – Bart-Michiels, 0-1
    David Klein – Robin Van Kampen, ½-½
    Valentina Guinina – Salem Saleh, 1-0
    Erwin L’Ami – Jan Timman, ½-½
    Wei Yi – Vladimir Potkin, 1-0
    Samuel Shankland – Ari Dale, ½-½

    GM Ding Liren. Photo by Alina L'Ami.

    WIM Anna Haast vs. GM David Navara, 0-1
    Photo by Alina L’Ami.

    Standings after Round #2 (Challengers)

    1st-5th: V. Guinina, D. Navara, Y. Wei, B. Michiels, R. Van Kampen, 1½; 6th-10th: S. Shankland, E. L’Ami, D. Klein, J. Timman, A. Dale, 1; 11th-13th: A. Haast, V. Potkin, Saleh Salem, ½; 14th: S. Sevian, 0.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Official Site: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/
    Tata Steel (YouTube Channel): https://www.youtube.com/

  3. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #3 – Monday, 12 January 2015

    Masters
    Ding Liren – Baddur Jobova, 1-0
    Vassily Ivanchuk – Loek van Wely, 1-0
    Anish Giri – Fabiano Caruana, ½-½
    Radaslaw Wojtaszek – Magnus Carlsen, 1-0
    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Teimour Radjabov, ½-½
    Wesley So – Levon Aronian, 1-0
    Ivan Saric – Hou Yifan, ½-½

    Standings after Round #3 (Masters)

    1st-2nd: F. Caruana, V. Ivanchuk, 2½; 3rd-6th: W. So, R. Wojtaszek, M. Vachier-Lagrave, L. Ding, 2; 7th-8th: T. Radjabov, A. Giri, 1½; 9th-12th: M. Carlsen, L. Van Wely, L. Aronian, I. Saric, 1; 13th-14th: B. Jobava, Y. Hou, ½.

    Challengers
    Bart-Michiels – David Klein, 0-1
    Vladimir Potkin – Valentina Guinina, 1-0
    Ari Dale – Wei Yi, ½-½
    Robin Van Kampen – Erwin L’Ami, ½-½
    David Navara – Samuel Shankland, ½-½
    Salem Saleh – Samuel Sevian, ½-½
    Jan Timman – Anna Haast, 0-1

    Standings after Round #3 (Challengers)

    1st-4th: D. Navara, Y. Wei, D. Klein, R. Van Kampen, 2; 5th-11th: S. Shankland, E. L’Ami, A. Dale, V. Potkin, V. Guinina, A. Haast, B. Michiels, 1½; 12th-13th: J. Timman, Saleh Salem, 1; 14th: S. Sevian, ½.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Official Site: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/
    Tata Steel (YouTube Channel): https://www.youtube.com/

  4. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #4 – Tuesday, 13 January 2015

    Masters
    Baddur Jobova – Ivan Saric, 0-1
    Teimour Radjabov – Ding Liren, 0-1
    Vassily Ivanchuk – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 1-0
    Loek van Wely – Magnus Carlsen, 0-1
    Wesley So – Fabiano Caruana, ½-½
    Hou Yifan – Anish Giri , ½-½
    Radaslaw Wojtaszek – Levon Aronian, ½-½

    GM Wei Yi on the march to victory! Photo by Nadja Wittmann.

    I believe we know which Ivanchuk has shown up for this tournament. He’s in beast mode with another brutal crush today. Photo by Nadja Wittmann (ChessBase).

    Standings after Round #4 (Masters)

    1st: V. Ivanchuk, 3½; 2nd-3rd: F. Caruana, L. Ding, 3; 4th-5th: W. So, R. Wojtaszek, 2½; 6th-9th: A. Giri, M. Carlsen, M. Vachier-Lagrave, I. Saric, 2; 10th-11th: L. Aronian, T. Radjabov, 12th-13th: Y. Hou, L. Van Wely, 1; 14th: B. Jobava, ½.

    Challengers
    Samuel Sevian – Vladimir Potkin, 1-0
    David Klein – Salem Saleh, 0-1
    Samuel Shankland – Jan Timman, ½-½
    Ari Dale – David Navara, 0-1
    Wei Yi – Valentina Guinina, 1-0
    Anna Haast – Robin Van Kampen, 0-1
    Erwin L’Ami – Bart-Michiels, 1-0

    GM Wei Yi on the march to victory! Photo by Nadja Wittmann.

    GM Wei Yi on the march to victory!
    Photo by Nadja Wittmann (ChessBase).

    Standings after Round #4 (Challengers)

    1st-3rd: D. Navara, R. Van Kampen, Y. Wei, 3; 4th: E. L’Ami, 2½; 5th-7th: S. Shankland, D. Klein, Saleh Salem, 2; 8th-14th: J. Timman, A. Dale, V. Guinina, V. Potkin, S. Sevian, B. Michiels, A. Haast, 1½.

    Official Site: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/
    Tata Steel (YouTube Channel): https://www.youtube.com/

  5. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #5 – Thursday, 15 January 2015

    Masters
    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Loek van Wely, ½-½
    Radaslaw Wojtaszek – Fabiano Caruana, 1-0
    Ding Liren – Vassily Ivanchuk, ½-½
    Wesley So – Hou Yifan, ½-½
    Anish Giri – Baddur Jobova, 1-0
    Magnus Carlsen – Levon Aronian, 1-0
    Ivan Saric – Teimour Radjabov, 0-1

    Radoslaw has toppled both Carlsen and Caruana. Photo by Nadja Wittmann.

    Radoslaw has toppled both Carlsen and Caruana.
    Photo by Nadja Wittmann.(ChessBase).

    More blood spilled on the boards today as the race got tighter after the first rest day. Vassily Ivanchuk holds the slimmest of leads after drawing with Ding Liren in a somewhat uninspiring draw. Meanwhile, Radoslaw Wojtaszek beat Fabiano Caruana giving him victories over the top two players in the world… in consecutive rounds. He pulls within half-point of the lead. Caruana suffered his first loss, but remain one point out. Carlsen closed within one-point with a rather convincing win over Levon Aronian. The post-game commentary was impressive. Watch.

    Perhaps we will see another comeback from his typical sluggish starts. There is plenty of time. Unfortunately for Carlsen, Anish Giri seems to be on excellent form and is also on +1. Giri was fortunate to win today’s game against Baadur Jobava after the Georgian threw 22…Nh4!! on the board with a menacing attack. Giri had to donate an exchange to cool the attack. However, the tide turned when Jobava saw a ghost and missed the simple combination costing him a rook.

    The Asian battle between Wesley So and Hou Yifan that turned into a seesaw affair. Hou won a pawn in the opening, but unfurled a sham sacrifice with 19…Nf3+!? After 20.Kh1 Qh4 21.gxf3 Bh5. So was ready and countered with 22.Bxe6+ Kh8 and 23.Bg4 ready to return the piece. The battle continued with white holding a slight edge with an active king but black was able to attack with her rook and held the balance.

    Standings after Round #5 (Masters)

    1st: V. Ivanchuk, 4; 2nd-3rd: R. Wojtaszek, L. Ding, 3½; 4th-7th: F. Caruana, W. So, M. Carlsen, A. Giri, 3; 8th-9th: T. Radjabov, M. Vachier-Lagrave, 2½; 10th: I. Saric, 2; 11th-13th: L Aronian, L. Van Wely, Y. Hou, 1½; 14th: B. Jobava, ½.

    Challengers
    Salem Saleh – Erwin L’Ami, 0-1
    Robin Van Kampen – Samuel Shankland, 0-1
    Bart-Michiels – Anna Haast, 1-0
    Valentina Guinina – Samuel Sevian, 0-1
    Vladimir Potkin – David Klein, 1-0
    Jan Timman – Ari Dale, 1-0
    David Navara – Wei Yi, ½-½

    GM Wei Yi on the march to victory! Photo by Nadja Wittmann.

    The usually dapper David Navara sharing the lead.
    Photo by Alina L’Ami.

    Continuing the trend, the Challengers section has had 20/35 decisive games meaning resulting in a field where only two points separates the top from the bottom. No one has been able to put together a streak to away from the pack. Erwin L’Ami has won his last two games to pull out front along with top seed David Navara and the stable Wei Yi. Anything can happen in this section!

    Standings after Round #4 (Challengers)

    1st-3rd: E. L’Ami, D. Navara, Y. Wei, 3½; 4th-5th: R. Van Kampen, S. Shankland, 3; 6th-9th: J. Timman, S. Sevian, B. Michiels, V. Potkin, 2½; 10th-11th: D. Klein, S. Salem, 2; 12th-14th: A. Dale, V. Guinina, A. Haast, 1½.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Official Site: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/
    Tata Steel (YouTube Channel): https://www.youtube.com/

  6. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #6 – Friday 16 January 2015

    Masters
    Loek van Wely – Levon Aronian, ½-½
    Baddur Jobova – Wesley So, 0-1
    Vassily Ivanchuk – Ivan Saric, ½-½
    Fabiano Caruana – Magnus Carlsen, 0-1
    Hou Yifan – Radaslaw Wojtaszek, ½-½
    Teimour Radjabov – Anish Giri, ½-½
    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Ding Liren, 1-0

    MVL polished off Ding Liren to inch closer to contention with 3½-2½.. Photo by Nadja Wittmann.

    MVL polished off Ding Liren to inch closer to contention with 3½-2½.
    Photo by Nadja Wittmann.(ChessBase).

    Magnus Carlsen got a key win over nemesis Fabiano Caruana is an absolute masterpiece of attacking chess. This display of aggression caught many off guard including Caruana who faced Carlsen’s 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 with 3.Bb5, a popular anti-Sicilian line that has nice positional nuance… and scores big. In this game Carlsen, took advantage of Caruana’s unusual 11.Qb1 and launched an attack with f5-f5, g5-g4. Even after trading queens black obtained an initiative and was able to conjure up a mating attack! GM Daniel King makes the call…

    Perhaps we will see another comeback from his typical sluggish starts. There is plenty of time. Unfortunately for Carlsen, Anish Giri seems to be on excellent form and is also on +1. Giri was fortunate to win today’s game against Baadur Jobava after the Georgian threw 22…Nh4!! on the board with a menacing attack. Giri had to donate an exchange to cool the attack. However, the tide turned when Jobava saw a ghost and missed the simple combination costing him a rook.

    The game between MVL-Ding Liren was tactical slugfest with pieces strewn about the board. After 13.Nd5! Kf7 14.g4! Bxg4 15.Ng5+ fxg5 16.Bxg4 Nce5 17.Bxg5!? black’s position came under heavy pressure. Ultimately, white’s piece mobility gave him a lasting initiative and the Chinese #1 could not avoid losing material and the game. Nice display of power chess by the Frenchman.

    Wesley So kept pace by beating Baadur Jobava after a wierd Guioco Piano saw 7.Bd5!? ceded the two bishops early. So talked about his affinity for the two bishops and demonstrated the power of these weapons. Baadur tried 14.c4 fxg5 15.cxd5 Bd7, but the bishops were soon slicing through the board. After 23…Qh4! white was soon under heavy fire… both bishops, both rooks and queen bearing down on the white kingside. Even the elimination of black’s dark-squared bishop didn’t help. Black’s 39…Qe6 forced resignation because 40.Qd1 is met by Qe2 and white has no more moves.

    All the other games were hard-fought. Radjabov-Giri was an exciting Sicilian battle where both sides attacked viciously on opposite wings, but in the end the result was a perpetual check. Van Wely-Aronian also had its moments of tension but ended in a three-fold repetition. Ivanchuk-Saric was an interesting struggle that whittled down to a knight vs. bishop ending. The game with Ivanchuk having only a bishop left.

    Standings after Round #6 (Masters)

    1st: V. Ivanchuk, 4½; 2nd-4th: R. Wojtaszek, M. Carlsen, W. So, 4; 5th-7th: M. Vachier-Lagrave, L. Ding, A. Giri, 3½; 8th-9th: F. Caruana, T. Radjabov, 3; 10th: I. Saric, 2½; 11th-13th: Y. Hou, L. Van Wely, L. Aronian, 2; 14th: B. Jobava, ½.

    Challengers
    Ari Dale – Robin Van Kampen, 0-1
    David Navara – Jan Timman, 1-0
    Wei Yi – Samuel Sevian, 1-0
    Samuel Shankland – Bart-Michiels, 1-0
    Anna Haast – Salem Saleh, ½-½
    Erwin L’Ami – Vladimir Potkin, ½-½
    David Klein – Valentina Guinina, 1-0

    GM Wei Yi on the march to victory! Photo by Nadja Wittmann.

    Sam Shankland weighing the position. He prevailed, but unable to gain on Navara or Wei who both won. Photo by Nadja Wittmann.

    Standings after Round #6 (Challengers)

    1st-2nd: D. Navara, Y. Wei, 4½; 3rd-5th: S. Shankland, E. L’Ami, R. Van Kampen, 4; 6th-7th: V. Potkin, D. Klein, 3; 8th-11th: J. Timman, S. Salem, S. Sevian, B. Michiels, 2½; 12th: A. Haast, 2; 13th-14th: A. Dale, V. Guinina, 1½.

    Official Site: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/
    Tata Steel (YouTube Channel): https://www.youtube.com/

  7. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #7 – Saturday 17 January 2015

    Masters

    Ivan Saric – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 0-1
    Ding Liren – Loek van Wely, 1-0
    Radaslaw Wojtaszek – Baadur Jobova, 0-1
    Magnus Carlsen – Hou Yifan, 1-0
    Anish Giri – Vassily Ivanchuk, ½-½
    Wesley So – Teimour Radjabov, ½-½
    Levon Aronian – Fabiano Caruana, ½-½

    Lots of exciting games today. This tournament has had a lot of variety in the games spanning practically the breadth and width of the openings. In Saric-Vachier-Lagrave game, absolutely wild Najdorf was on the board and a classical battle ensued. In the dizzying complications, black got the initiative and after 26.Rc1 Qb3 the game had dynamic equality, but white had to be careful. After 30…Rb8, things look very dire for white, but the computer eval is still 0.00 after 31.Qc1, but Saric erred with 31.Rd2?? leading to a mate in four after 31…axb2+ 32.Kb1 Qa2+! 33.Kxa2 b1(Q) 34.Ka3 Qb3#. MVL describes the fascinating game below.

    Ding Liren got a gift after Loek Van Wely missed a crushing continuation and allowed the Chinese to turn the tide with 38…Nxd3! 39.exd3 Rxc3 40.Bxc3 Rxd3 and black has a decisive advantage. In Wojtaszek-Jobava, there was a nice hedgehog battle with a typical theme of …b5 and …d5. After a tense middlegame, the Pole was hit with a nice tactic 28…Nxh2! giving the winning initiative.

    One of the most anticipated games was between the two World Champions, Magnus Carlsen and Hou Yifan. In this game, Carlsen slowly but surely outplayed Hou’s Kalishnikov. Out of nowhere, white gained momentum and his pieces started showing up around the black king. Black was unable to withstand the attack and went down.

    Video by Daniel King.

    Standings after Round #7 (Masters)

    1st-2nd: V. Ivanchuk, M. Carlsen, 5; 3rd-5th: W. So, M. Vachier-Lagrave, L. Ding, 4½; 6th-7th: R. Wojtaszek, A. Giri, 4; 8th-9th: F. Caruana, T. Radjabov, 3½; 10th-11th: L. Aronian, I. Saric, 2½; 12th-13th: Y. Hou, L. Van Wely, 2; 14th: B. Jobava, 1½.

    Challengers

    Jan Timman – Wei Yi, 1-0
    Valentina Guinina – Erwin L’Ami, 1-0
    Salem Saleh – Samuel Shankland, ½-½
    Vladimir Potkin – Anna Haast, ½-½
    Bart-Michiels – Ari Dale, 1-0
    Samuel Sevian – David Klein, 1-0
    Robin Van Kampen – David Navara, 0-1

    Standings after Round #7 (Challengers)

    1st-2nd: Y. Wei, D. Navara, 5½; 3rd: S. Shankland, 4½; 4th-6th: E. L’Ami, V. Potkin, R. Van Kampen, 4; 7th-8th: S. Sevian, B. Michiels, 3½; 9th-10th: S. Salem, D. Klein, 3; 11th-12th: V. Guinina, J. Timman, 3½; 13th: A. Haast, 2; 14th: A. Dale, 1½.

    Official Site: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/
    Tata Steel (YouTube Channel): https://www.youtube.com/

  8. Daaim do u have a section where i can get some input on the games by some of the Chessdrummers instead of the same kinda stuff from some of the top Traditional Commentators cuz they all sound the same to me, im an ULTRAMODERNIST so i hear them differently? Just Curious.

  9. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #8 – Sunday 18 January 2015

    Masters

    Hou Yifan – Levon Aronian, ½-½
    Ding Liren – Ivan Saric, 1-0
    Vassily Ivanchuk – Wesley So, 0-1
    Baadur Jobova – Magnus Carlsen, 0-1
    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Anish Giri, 1-0
    Loek van Wely – Fabiano Caruana, 0-1
    Teimour Radjabov – Radaslaw Wojtaszek, 1-0

    So had preparation waiting for an unsuspecting Ivanchuk. Photo by Nadja Wittmann.

    So had preparation waiting for an unsuspecting Ivanchuk.
    Photo by Nadja Wittmann. (ChessBase).

    Fire on board today as 7/8 of the games in round eight were decisive. Magnus Carlsen won his fifth game in a row by grinding out another win from a drawn position. Baadur Jobava’s state of preparedness for this tournament has been woeful. For a man of his stature to lose games with a whimper is quite unusual. His 1.b3 did not win him plaudits as the world champion was able to equalize easily and use his determination to slowly win an ending.

    Vasil Ivanchuk was crushed by Wesley So after being unaware of preparation in a Marshall Gambit line. This has been covered in a previous game featuring Viswanthan Anand and Levon Aronian and covered by Jan Gustafsson (Gulyiev-Gustafsson, 2014) and Anish Giri in New in Chess article. Apparently Ivanchuk was not aware of these resources and paid dearly.

    Video by Daniel King.

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave crushed local hopeful Giri today which makes even more apparent that the young generation has made its presence felt. With Anand’s loss in the world championship, may signal the end of that generation of Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Boris Gelfand and Ivanchuk. Although Ivanchuk still has chances in this tournament, his loss to So is clearly an indication that the younger generation are better prepared than their veteran counterparts.

    Standings after Round #8 (Masters)

    1st: M. Carlsen, 6; 2nd-4th: W. So, M. Vachier-Lagrave, L. Ding, 5½; 5th: V. Ivanchuk, 5; 6th-7th: T. Radjabov, F. Caruana, 4½; 8th-9th: R. Wojtaszek, A. Giri, 4; 10th: L. Aronian, 3; 11th-12th: Y. Hou, I. Saric, 2; 13th: L. Van Wely, 2; 14th: B. Jobava, 1½.

    Challengers

    Anna Haast – Valentina Guinina, 1-0
    Ari Dale – Salem Saleh, 0-1
    David Navara – Bart-Michiels, 1-0
    Wei Yi – David Klein, 1-0
    Jan Timman – Robin Van Kampen, 0-1
    Samuel Shankland – Vladimir Potkin, ½-½
    Erwin L’Ami – Samuel Sevian, ½-½

    So had preparation waiting for an unsuspecting Ivanchuk. Photo by Nadja Wittmann.

    Anna Haast got encouragement from her teammates and was able to get her second win today over Russian powerhouse, Valentina Guinina who is off-form. Photo by Nadja Wittmann. (ChessBase).

    The kill-rate in the Challengers section is 35/56 or 63% decisive games. The tournament standings has gone as predicted with the top four holding the top four positions. David Navara (6½), Wei Yi (6½), Samuel Shankland (5) and Robin Van Kampen (5) have dominated the field, but Wei Yi has shined with a 2809 performance. There have been quite a number of upsets including Anna Haast’s wins over Dutch legend Jan Timman and this round’s win over Russian Champion Valentina Guinina. With five rounds remaining, the field seems to be playing for bronze as Navara and Wei have outclassed the opposition thus far.

    Standings after Round #8 (Challengers)

    1st-2nd: D. Navara, Y. Wei, 6½; 3rd-4th: S. Shankland, R. Van Kampen, 5; 5th: V. Potkin, 4½; 6th-7th: E. L’Ami, S. Salem, 4; 8th-9th: S. Sevian, B. Michiels, 3½; 10th-11th: D. Klein, A. Haast, 3; 12th-13th: V. Guinina, J. Timman, 2½; 14th: A. Dale, 1½.

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  10. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #9 – Tuesday 20 January 2015

    Masters

    Ivan Saric – Loek van Wely, ½-½
    Radaslaw Wojtaszek – Vassily Ivanchuk, ½-½
    Anish Giri – Ding Liren, 1-0
    Magnus Carlsen – Teimour Radjabov, 1-0
    Wesley So – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, ½-½
    Fabiano Caruana – Hou Yifan, ½-½
    Levon Aronian – Baadur Jobova, 1-0

    Magnus Carlsen won his sixth in a row today. According to a previous interview, he had not won more than five in a row before. This streak is remarkable in that he has done it in various ways. He has a chance to do a “Caruana” tomorrow if he wins against Vassily Ivanchuk.

    Levon Aronian won a brilliant game, but there is a lot of discussion about his standing in the world elite. Photo by Nadja Wittmann. (ChessBase).

    Today he won with a nice attacking game against Teimour Radjabov where the Azeri made some questionable decisions. It appeared that 19…c5 was rendered the black bishop to a prison life since he did not follow with …a4. That bishop would not move again after 15…Bb6. As it were, white attacked mercilessly and had all the positional trumps to offer a shattering sacrifice with 31.Nxg7! winning a pawn. Even if black trade queens, the position is untenable.

    Anish Giri ground down Ding Liren’s King’s Indian in a very exciting encounter while Levon Aronian crunched Baadur Jobava. The attacking wave was a gem! This may be a relief for the Armenian who has been floundering at the bottom of the table.

    In a post-game interview, he was asked if he knew why he was in such bad form and he responded, “I wish I had.” There has been a lot of buzzing about Aronian and his fall from the #2 position. Much is being made of his genial nature and that this is the reason he doesn’t have the edge to play well in the candidate’s tournament. He now sits at #7.

    Video by Tata Steel Chess.

    Video by Daniel King.

    Standings after Round #9 (Masters)

    1st: M. Carlsen, 7; 2nd-3rd: W. So, M. Vachier-Lagrave, 6; 4th-5th: V. Ivanchuk, L. Ding, 5½; 6th-7th: A. Giri, F. Caruana, 5; 8th-9th: R. Wojtaszek, T. Radjabov, 4½; 10th: L. Aronian, 4; 11th-12th: Y. Hou, I. Saric, 3; 13th: L. Van Wely, 2½; 14th: B. Jobava, 1½.

    Challengers

    David Klein – Erwin L’Ami, ½-½
    Robin Van Kampen – Wei Yi, ½-½
    Valentina Guinina – Samuel Shankland, ½-½
    Bart-Michiels – Jan Timman, ½-½
    Samuel Sevian – Anna Haast, 1-0
    Salem Saleh – David Navara, 0-1
    Vladimir Potkin – Ari Dale, ½-½

    David Navara broke out ahead of Wei Yi with another black win. That is 5/5 with the black pieces. Perhaps the white advantage is overstated! Wei and Robin Van Kampen drew keeping first place in their sights. The only other decisive game was the Samuel Sevian winning over Anna Haast who was coming off of her second win. The tournament is turning out to be almost as expected in terms of the standings.

    Standings after Round #9 (Challengers)

    1st: D. Navara, 7½; 2nd: Y. Wei, 7; 3rd-4th: S. Shankland, R. Van Kampen, 5½; 5th-7th: E. L’Ami, S. Sevian, V. Potkin, 5; 8th-9th: S. Salem, B. Michiels, 4; 10th: D. Klein, 3½; 11th-13th: V. Guinina, J. Timman, A. Haast, 3; 14th: A. Dale, 2.

    Official Site: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/
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  11. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #10 – Wednesday 20 January 2015

    Masters

    Vassily Ivanchuk – Magnus Carlsen, ½-½
    Ding Liren – Wesley So, ½-½
    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Radaslaw Wojtaszek, ½-½
    Ivan Saric – Anish Giri, 0-1
    Baadur Jobova – Fabiano Caruana, 0-1
    Teimour Radjabov – Levon Aronian, ½-½
    Loek van Wely – Hou Yifan, 1-0

    The tournament moved to the Hague today and the players took an excursion. This photo was taken in front of the famous Binnenhof, the governmental district of The Netherlands. This will one day be a “how many players can you name” photo.

    The streak is over for the world champion, but he has been able to keep the distance as other contenders drew. In the post-game press conference, Magnus Carlsen seemed exasperated that he didn’t get a chance to play a real game as Vasil Ivanchuk steered the game into a sterile draw.

    Carlsen chuckled noting that the Ukranian was 1½ point behind and expected a fight. Quickly, the game was leveled and Carlsen took more interest in discussing the other games. A insightful discussion followed on a wide range of topics. Definitely worth a look!

    Video by Tata Steel Chess.

    Carlsen’s prediction that perhaps it is India as the future dominant power (as opposed to China) has been uttered before by Nigel Short. Both overlook China’s vigorous support and remarkable structure as opposed to India’s temperamental federation and uneven support by the private sector. Lots of talent in India, but perhaps not the structure needed to gain consistency. The Chinese women have proven what such a system can produce and they have dominated women’s chess for 25 years.

    Giri’s thematic 30…Rxc3! snatched the initiative.

    In other action, there were a few decisive games including a nice win by Anish Giri over Ivan Saric. The game started 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Qf3. This was played in Radjabov-Giri in round six with quite a spectacular draw.

    In this game, Saric played 9.f4 instead of Radjabov’s 9.0-0-0, but the game transposed. This time it was Giri who improved with 14…e5 instead of his 14…Rc8 in the aforementioned game. In this line, white never got any attack going and it was black who was probing. The time had come. Black executed a theoretical exchange sacrifice 30…Rxc3! shattering white’s center.

    In actuality, black was winning material since 31.Qxc3 Nxe4 32.Qd3? (32.Qb4 Nc3+ 33.bxc3 Bxg2 34.Rxe5 Rxh2 35.Re2! This line was given by GM Josh Friedel, but there are ways to improve for black.) 32…Nc3+ 33.Qxc3 Bxg2 and white is completely busted. White resigned several moves later.

    In another exciting Sicilian, Loek Van Wely crushed women’s world champion Hou Yifan in 24 moves. The Dutchman eschewed the chance to go into a sharp Sicilian and essayed the positional Rossolimo Attack. Before the game there was an inside joke between Carlsen and Van Wely. Carlsen gave this account…

    It’s funny. Right before the game Loek was talking about the way he wanted to catch the first bus home. I told him he should play 1.e4 then! I didn’t think he would take me seriously, though… then he kind of ruined the impression by playing [1…c5 2.Nf3 Nc6] 3.Bb5.

    Of course, the Rossolimo has a plodding positional reputation, but can contain a lot of bite if black plays random moves. As it were, Hou got into trouble after 17…d5? 18.cxd6 exd6 19.Rxd6 Bf5 20.Nf6+ Bxf6 21. Bxf6. This position is a bit frightening and sure enough, Hou panicked. After 21.Rab8?? white cashed in the advantage with 22.Qc4+ Rf7 23.Red1. Black’s position is completely hopeless and the game ended after 23…Qb1 24.h3.

    What is going on here?

    Perhaps the most exciting game of the round was a wild affair between Baadur Jobava and Fabiano Caruana. As usual, the Georgian displayed his creative flair and gave the fans their money’s worth. Playing 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bf4!? white sidestepped Caruana’s Grunfeld to simply play chess. However after 20 moves he started to lose the thread of the position. Caruana built up a strong position while whites pieces were a bit clumsy.

    The fireworks started with 33…Nh4 34.Bh3 Nf3+ 35.Kg2 Qd6 36.Rxd5 Bxd5 37.Rxd5 Qb6 38.Rxc5 Qxc5 39.Nxe4. The smoke clears and white has sacrificed two exchanges for a couple pawns and a weakened black king. Of course black should be winning but play is still tricky and time was winding down.

    White still had some play and actually won all the material back. When it appeared that he would escape with a draw, he blundered horribly with 51.Kg3?? after which he got mated. How many times have we fought back in a losing position only to throw away the draw on one move? Too many times. Truly an entertaining game nevertheless. Take a look!

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Standings after Round #10 (Masters)

    1st: M. Carlsen, 7½; 2nd-3rd: W. So, M. Vachier-Lagrave, 6½; 4th-7th: V. Ivanchuk, A. Giri, F. Caruana, L. Ding, 6; 8th-9th: R. Wojtaszek, T. Radjabov, 5; 10th: L. Aronian, 4½; 11th: L. Van Wely, 3½; 11th-12th: Y. Hou, I. Saric, 3; 14th: B. Jobava, 1½.

    Challengers

    Samuel Shankland – Samuel Sevian, ½-½
    Ari Dale – Valentina Guinina, ½-½
    David Navara – Vladimir Potkin, ½-½
    Wei Yi – Erwin L’Ami, 1-0
    Robin Van Kampen – Bart-Michiels, 1-0
    Anna Haast – David Klein, ½-½
    Jan Timman – Salem Saleh, 0-1

    Wei Yi won again to take a share of 1st place after beating back Erwin L’Ami’s piece sack. Black never got enough compensation despite white’s pieces being underdeveloped… especially after the queens were traded. Robin Van Kampen mated Bart Michiels with a neanderthal kingside attack. Despite the win, he remains 1½ back and chances to win have all but vanished. Meanwhile Jan Timman has tumbled near the bottom of the standings with another loss… this time it was Salem Saleh getting a much-needed win. The Emirati is now on 50% All other games were drawn.

    Standings after Round #10 (Challengers)

    1st-2nd: Y. Wei, D. Navara, 8; 3rd: R. Van Kampen, 6½; 4th: S. Shankland, 6; 5th-6th: S. Sevian, V. Potkin, 5½; 7th-8th: E. L’Ami, S. Salem, 5; 9th-10th: D. Klein, B. Michiels, 4; 11th-12th: V. Guinina, A. Haast, 3½; 13th: J. Timman, 3; 14th: A. Dale, 2½.

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  12. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #11 – Friday 23 January 2015

    Masters

    Giri, A. – Van Wely, L., 1-0
    So, W. – Saric, I., 1-0
    Wojtaszek, R. – Ding, L., 0-1
    Carlsen, M. – Vachier-Lagrave, ½-½
    Aronian, L. – Ivanchuk, V., ½-½
    Caruana, F. – Radjabov, T., ½-½
    Hou, Y. – Jobava, B., 1-0

    Today we saw a comedy of errors as several of the games ended abruptly after gross blunders. Hou Yifan was the recipient of a gift from Baadur Jobava who has donated a boatload of ELO points after losing his 9th game. Of course, Jobava is a strong player, but perhaps in not psychological prepared for this level of competition each round.

    In this game, he was positionally worse, but had good chances to hold the position. For some inexplicable reason, he played 38…Qc2+ 39.Kf1 Kg8?? when 40.Qe6+ picks up the loose bishop. Unbelievable. In the post-mortem, Hou stated that she thought he was going for a perpetual check, but there was none. Thus, Hou Yifan earned her first victory and sits on 4/11 far below her goals, but close to her expected performance.

    The woman’s world champion gave a very delightful interview where she discussed Judit Polgar, her profile in China, chess in China and her future goals.

    Video by Tata Steel Chess.

    In the games vying for top positions, Magnus Carlsen was held by MVL, but Wesley So notched yet another win. This time the victim was Ivan Saric who seems to have collapsed after a decent start. He has now lost four of his last five games. So remains undefeated and moved within a half-point of the lead.

    A couple of weeks ago Wesley So was barely in the top 15… now he is #7 on the live rating list.

    So-Saric turned into a miniature when Saric tossed a piece after 23…Bd5?? 24.g4! winning a piece after 24…Qf6 25.Bxd5 Nxd5 26.Qxd5. After 26…Nc6 27.Nf3 Rd8 28.Ne4 black resigned. Another win puts So at #7 in the live rating list vaulting over several top-ten luminaries such as Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik and Hikaru Nakamura.

    In Wojtaszek-Ding, white spurned a draw twice and ended up losing! His exchange sacrifice was ambitious and offered chances even after the queens were traded. He had three connected passed pawns ready to march, but overlooked a nice break with 62…b5! giving black a sprinting passed pawn. White’s bishop was helpless and the white king was cut off. All of the white’s pawns would eventually fall.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Standings after Round #11 (Masters)

    1st: M. Carlsen, 8; 2nd: W. So, 6½; 3rd-5th: M. Vachier-Lagrave, A. Giri, L. Ding, 7; 6th-7th: V. Ivanchuk, F. Caruana, 6½; 8th: T. Radjabov, 5½; 9th-10th: R. Wojtaszek, L. Aronian, 5; 11th: Y. Hou, 4; 12th: L. Van Wely, 3½; 13th: I. Saric, 3; 14th: B. Jobava, 1½.

    Challengers

    Michiels, B. – Wei, Y., 0-1
    Saleh, S. – Van Kampen, R., 1-0
    Potkin, V. – Timman, J., 1-0
    Gunina, V. – Navara, D., ½-½
    Sevian, S. – Dale, A., ½-½
    Klein, D. – Shankland, S., 0-1
    l’ Ami, E. – Haast, A., ½-½

    Wei Yi continues to demolish the field and is now at the door of 2700. That would make seven Chinese players of 2700 or better. He smashed Bart Michiels when the later accepted an exchange sacrifice only to watch the light squares around his king become indefensible. Wei has 4½ points in his last five games and opens up a lead over David Navara who drew against Valentina Guinina.

    A win by Wei Yi over Anna Haast tomorrow would practically clinch the tournament. Robin Van Kampen is eliminated after losing to Saleh Salem. Samuel Shankland has had a good tournament and was glad to get an easy 18-move romp over a beleaguered David Klein.

    Nice session with GM Saleh Abdul-Rahman Salem (UAE).
    Video by Tata Steel Chess.

    Standings after Round #11 (Challengers)

    1st: Y. Wei, 9; 2nd: D. Navara, 8½; 3rd: S. Shankland, 7; 4th-5th: V. Potkin, R. Van Kampen, 6½; 6th-7th: S. Sevian, S. Salem, 6; 8th: E. L’Ami, 5½; 9th-12th: V. Guinina, D. Klein, B. Michiels, A. Haast, 4; 13th-14th: J. Timman, A. Dale, 3.

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    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2015/01/04/2015-tata-steel-chess-wijk-aan-zee/

  13. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #12 – Saturday 24 January 2015

    Masters

    Van Wely, L. – Jobava, B., ½-½
    Radjabov, T. – Hou, Y., ½-½
    Ivanchuk, V. – Caruana, F., ½-½
    Vachier-Lagrave – Aronian, L., ½-½
    Ding, L. – Carlsen, M., ½-½
    Saric, I. – Wojtaszek, R., 1-0
    Giri, A. – So, W., 1-0

    Anish Giri beat contender Wesley So in 111 moves to pull within a half-point of the lead. From move 36, the players went into a queen ending and So was trying to exploit the weakness of the white king for drawing chances. After and array of check the white king was marching all about the board but was able to create cross-checking opportunities and then advance the pawn. Ultimately, Giri figured out how to promote the pawn and shield his king and So resigned. This was So’s first loss since April of 2014.

    Magnus Carlsen dodged a Chinese bullet today.
    Photo by Alina l’Ami.

    Magnus Carlsen held on from a potentially bad position to hold. Ding Liren could have played 16.f3 with interesting possibilities. In the post-mortem, he went through some calculations that were dizzying and perhaps beyond the scope of human powers. After 16.a3, pieces quickly melted and a draw was agreed. Thus, the last day will come down to whether Carlsen can clinch a victory with a win, or he his draws and Giri can pull even.

    Standings after Round #12 (Masters)

    1st: M. Carlsen, 8½; 2nd: A. Giri, 8; 3rd-5th: M. Vachier-Lagrave, W. So, L. Ding, 7½; 6th-7th: V. Ivanchuk, F. Caruana, 7; 8th: T. Radjabov, 6; 9th: L. Aronian, 5½; 11th: R. Wojtaszek, 5; 12th: Y. Hou, 4½; 12th-13th: L. Van Wely, I. Saric, 4; 14th: B. Jobava, 2.

    Challengers

    Wei, Y. – Haast, A., 1-0
    Shankland, S. – l’ Ami, E., 1-0
    Dale, A. – Klein, D., ½-½
    Navara, D. – Sevian, S., ½-½
    Timman, J. – Gunina, V., 0-1
    Van Kampen, R. – Potkin, V., 1-0
    Michiels, B. – Saleh, S., 0-1

    The game of the day had to be the demolition of Wei Yi over Anna Haast. The opening was reminiscent of the games Radjabov-Giri and Saric Giri in the Master’s tournament. What was amazing was the fluidity of white’s attack. It became apparent that Haast simply did not see any of the moves leading up to the combination and perhaps followed the moves of Giri without much depth in understanding.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    There was more bloodshed in the Challengers’ section, but none of the decisive result would have a bearing on the top positions. David Navara drew Samuel Sevian putting him a full point behind and perhaps the championship out of reach. Sam Shankland bestedErwin L’Ami with a topical line in the Guioco Piano after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. Bd3!? This game turned out badly for L’Ami as Shankland snatched the initiative, a few pawns and the full point.

    Standings after Round #12 (Challengers)

    1st: Y. Wei, 10; 2nd: D. Navara, 9; 3rd: S. Shankland, 8; 4th: R. Van Kampen, 7½; 5th: S. Salem, 7; 6th-7th: S. Sevian, V. Potkin, 6½; 8th: E. L’Ami, 5½; 9th: V. Guinina, 5; 10th: D. Klein, 4½; 11th-12th: A. Haast, B. Michiels, 4; 13th: A. Dale, 3½; 14th: J. Timman, 3.

    Official Site: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/
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    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2015/01/04/2015-tata-steel-chess-wijk-aan-zee/

  14. 2015 Tata Steel Chess

    Round #13 – Sunday 25 January 2015

    Masters

    Hou, Y. – Ivanchuk, V., ½-½
    So, W. – Van Wely, L., 1-0
    Carlsen, M. – Saric, I., ½-½
    Wojtaszek, R. – Giri, A., ½-½
    Aronian, L. – Ding, L., 0-1
    Caruana, F. – Vachier-Lagrave, 0-1
    Jobava, B. – Radjabov, T., 1-0

    World Champion Magnus Carlsen won the 2015 Tata Steel Chess Tournament on the strength of his six-game winning streak. His draw against Ivan Saric of Croatia clinched the result. The victory was never in doubt after Anish Giri drew his game and ended on 8½/13. Wesley So and Ding Liren beat Loek Van Wely and Levon Aronian respectively to finish joint second with Maxim Vachier-Lagrave also on 8½/13. The tiebreak order was MVL, Giri, So and Ding. It has been pointed out that this was a tournament of the youth as the five top players above are less than 24. This bodes well for the future of chess!

    MVL was impressive in mating Fabiano Caruana in middle of the board.
    Photo by Alina l’Ami.

    Of course, one of the young stars Fabiano Caruana had a relatively poor showing with +1. In his final game against Maxim Vachier-Lagrave (MVL) he faced the Najdorf Sicilian and played 6.h3!? He played this against Hou Yifan and only drew, but this game would be far worse as MVL came with a creative improvement after 13…d5!? As a Sicilian player, it is the dream of black to play this move, but at second glance white has that square covered and wins a pawn after 14.Bxb6 Qxb6 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Bd7. Black has two bishops control over dark squares and a looming kingside attack.

    Caruana tried to lock the kingside by sacrificing a pawn, then a piece, but his king was eventually flushed out to protect white’s collapsing structure. The finale’ was beautiful as black’s razor bishops sliced through the position on both sides of the board. The final coup de grace was 30…Rxe4+! 31.Kxe4 Re8! and white was hit in a fatal crossfire. The game ended 32.Kf4 g5+ 33.Kf5 Kf7 sealing the door 34.Rfe1 Bd3+ 35.Re4 Bf6! mating.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Ding Liren mauled Levon Aronian to cap off an abysmal showing for the the Armenian. He has had a bad run of tournaments. It was only one year ago that he was hoisting the trophy as the winner of 2014 Tata Steel tournament, but something has gone horribly wrong as his ELO rating is in freefall at 2777.

    Hou Yifan had a respectable result, but below her expectations. She definitely needs more experience in playing top flight competition if she is ever to improve beyond 2700. She will not get it playing 2500-ELO players in the women’s circuit.

    On the other hand, the Chinese fared well in this tournament with a strong +4 by Ding and a par performance by Hou Yifan. The future is bright as Wei Yi dominated the Challengers section with a scorching 10½/13 and rising to 2695 on the live list. Wesley So’s star also rose with his +4 result and gaining of 17 ELO points. He now has the top rating of American players, but that could change as Hikaru Nakamura gears up for Gibraltar in a couple of days.

    All in all, it was a great tournament with exciting games, a wide range of opening, dashing sacrifices, novelties, endgame masterpieces and an occasional swindle. The organizing committee did a great job assembling such a great collection of players. Even the selection of Baadur Jobava added intrigue and excitement to the tournament despite his poor result. Looking forward to 2016 when the next young star will shine. Will it be Wei Yi?

    Standings after Round #13 (Masters)

    1st: M. Carlsen, 9; 2nd-5th: M. Vachier-Lagrave, A. Giri, W. So, L. Ding, 8½; 6th: V. Ivanchuk, 7½; 7th: F. Caruana, 7; 8th: T. Radjabov, 6; 9th-10th: R. Wojtaszek, L. Aronian, 5½; 11th: Y. Hou, 5; 12th: I. Saric, 4½; 13th: L. Van Wely, 4; 14th: B. Jobava, 3.

    Challengers

    Sevian, S. – Timman, J., 1-0
    l’ Ami, E. – Dale, A., 1-0
    Gunina, V. – Van Kampen, R., 0-1
    Klein, D. – Navara, D., 0-1
    Saleh, S. – Wei, Y., ½-½
    Haast, A. – Shankland, S., 0-1
    Potkin, V. – Michiels, B., ½-½

    Apart from Wei Yi’s strong showing in the Tata Challengers tournament, the Americans had reason for optimism as both Samuel Shankland and Samuel Sevian had strong results.

    Sam Shankland shown here polishing off Anna Haast
    with a vicious kingside assault.
    Photo by Alina L’Ami.

    Shankland has been on an undefeated run since winning a board medal at the Tromso Olympiad. He finished with 9/13 in this tournament and has also been undefeated at the Chess Olympiad, Millionaire Chess Open, Continental Championship, Qatar Masters and the Al-Ain Open. With talents like Ray Robson and the addition of Wesley So to Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky, the American side will be strong for years to come.

    The five Dutch players did not fare particularly well but Robin Van Kampen got 4th with a strong 8½/13. Unfortunately the legendary Jan Timman lost his energy after a decent start with two four-game losing streaks. He lost to Anna Haast which created a sensation and helped the Dutch women’s player earn her WGM title.

    Salem Abdul-Rahman Saleh (UAE)
    Photo by Alina L’Ami.

    David Navara had a strong result on 10/13 and of course would be better employed in the Masters Section, but there has to be at least one 2700 as motivation for the other aspirants. Salem Abdul-Rahman Saleh was the lone representative of the Middle East and a bright talent from the region. The affable 21-year old got 7½-5½ after a slow start. Valentina Guinina has had so much success on the women’s circuit, but it may have been unsettling playing stronger competition nearly every single round.

    Ranked 10th in the field (finished 9th), she had wins over three GMs, but lost some disappointing games including one against Anna Haast. Perhaps more women should be competing in the strongest tournaments and the results will improve. One of her wins was against Jan Timman who perhaps made his curtain call for elite tournaments. Thirteen rounds may be a bit much.

    Standings after Round #13 (Challengers)

    1st: Y. Wei, 10½; 2nd: D. Navara, 10; 3rd: S. Shankland, 9; 4th: R. Van Kampen, 8½; 5th-6th: S. Salem, S. Sevian, 7½; 7th: V. Potkin, 7; 8th: E. L’Ami, 6½; 9th: V. Guinina, 5; 10th-11th: B. Michiels, D. Klein, 4½; 12th: A. Haast, 4; 13th: A. Dale, 3½; 14th: J. Timman, 3.

    Official Site: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/
    Tata Steel (YouTube Channel): https://www.youtube.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2015/01/04/2015-tata-steel-chess-wijk-aan-zee/

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