The 76th Tata Steel tournament started with an exciting first round on Saturday with four decisive games. Fabiano Caruana was the first winner of the day; the Italian beat Boris Gelfand in a 6.f3 Najdorf. Sergey Karjakin won a rook ending against Loek van Wely, Hikaru Nakamura defeated Arkadij Naiditsch and Wesley So, who arrived shortly before the game in Wijk aan Zee, beat Richard Rapport.
Before the first round of the Tata Steel tournament the grandmasters, amateurs and spectators were quiet for one minute in honour of Vugar Gashimov. The death of the 27-year-old came as a big shock, but at the same time the show had to go on in Wijk aan Zee.
At 13.30 seven games in the Challengers group and five games in the Masters group started. Wesley So had some misfortune in his travel plan and arrived in the Netherlands only on Saturday morning, and therefore his game with Richard Rapport started one hour later than the others.
Empty chairs at the start of the round
Spectators noticed So's unconventional entree, the kind of thing that happens when you spend more than a day in airplanes: he mistakenly came into the playing hall from the main hall, where the amateurs play, then bended down and went under the wooden wall, got up again too quickly and hit his head, and then finally reached his board. Amazingly, the Filipino managed to win that first game! But he could thank his opponent for that, as the Hungarian played for a win too long.
Nakamura was also helped by his opponent. In an equal position, Naiditsch played just a bit too creatively:
The top seed drew rather quickly as Black, in an ancient opening variation:
Caruana played a good game against Gelfand, who might have somewhat underestimated White's chances on the kingside. At move 28 finding the best defense was not easy:
Van Wely misplayed the early middlegame and got into a slightly worse ending. He defended well, until he missed a relatively easy draw:
The least interesting game was Dominguez-Giri; a Berlin Ending that went well for the young Dutchman. He could solve his opening problems quickly and starting with an easy draw as Black is always nice.
There were some early surprises in the Challengers group as top seeds Reinderman and Yu Yangyi both went down in the very first round. The Polish GM faced Dutch Champion Reinderman, who played a strong Dutch defense!
Brunello played a positional masterpiece in what looked like an Advance French, but with Black's dark-squared bishop outside the chain. That made a difference, but the Italian also showed wonderful technique.
Goudriaan, one of the two players who qualified from the amateur event last year, got his chances and could have forced a draw early on. But he wanted more!
The other promovendus was too ambitious as well. His activity on the kingside backfired: