ARONIAN IS THE WINNER OF TATA STEEL 2014
Tata Steel 2014 has finished. This year it was in different format, there was no c-group instead there were Challengers and Masters Groups. In the strongest group it was notable the absence of three very strong players Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand. So without these players Aronian in my eyes was the clear favorite. His tournament started well two draws with black and two wins with white, until he made a break and won with black against Naiditsch. What was different then the Candidates tournament that he played last year was that he kept his energy and he was able to win in the finish, which wasn’t the case in London. Honestly I expect easy win in the last round against Van Wely, but it wasn’t that easy. On the board were facing a player who already won the tournament and a player who didn’t have nothing to lose. The Leningrad Variation of the Dutch defense was played, opening which is not very popular and explored, but which gives complicated and risky game. In the end Levon lost, after mutual time trouble. Nevertheless he was the winner, with convincing win 1.5 more than the second and third placed Giri and Karjakin.
I have had the opportunity to see Levon on two Olympiads and two European Team Championships. What you notice first is how easy he plays. It’s like he is just moving the pieces, it’s like he knows it all. I have seen him winning or drawing few games with more than hour on his clock, which considering who he is playing against is really impressive. Does he know it all? Is he that well prepared? Or maybe he is bluffing? Those are the questions that his opponents are asking themselves when facing his rapid play. When you see the final time on the clock in his game against Dominguez, one begins to ask himself how vast is his knowledge?
After analyzing his games I came to conclusion that he calculates extremely good. He thinks fast and is very precise. Another important thing is his opening repertoire with black, against 1.e4 he almost always responses with 1. …e5 and he has no problems drawing a game in Berlin defense against player that is 100 Elo points below him. On 1.d4 he plays either Slav defense or Queen’s gambit. This is quite rare to see nowadays. Most of the players try to learn as many different openings as possible so that they can surprise their opponent, and during their games they are trying to remember all the lines they saw in their preparation for the game. Levon doesn’t have that problem, he has narrow repertoire in which he has big experience and which is very well tested and all the bugs repaired. The resulting positions after the opening are well known to him, he already knows the secrets of the position and the plan how to continue. This way he is saving his time and with his fast play forcing the opponent to go into time trouble.
In my opinion that is the right approach, learn few openings, discover all their secrets, know all the nuances. After every game you will become more experienced and you will repair the weak points in your repertoire until it becomes hole less. That way you will rarely play in time trouble, which will improve your results.
Congratulations to Aronian for his convincing victory I hope that he will win in Candidates later this year and we will see match Aronian against Carlsen!