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Tata Steel 2017, 3: Brilliance and blunders by Colin McGourty

Jan 17, 2017, 6:57 AM 0

Wesley So is now world no. 3 and unbeaten in 46 classical games, but it would all have been so different if Richard Rapport hadn’t spoiled a brilliant attacking game with a mystifying meltdown while under no real time pressure. Ian Nepomniachtchi also collapsed with salvation in sight, but it was only fitting that Wei Yi’s scintillating attack was rewarded with a full point. Sergey Karjakin got the day’s third win, punishing Loek van Wely’s decision to give up his queen, while Pavel Eljanov still has the sole lead on 2.5/3. In the Challengers Markus Ragger has raced to 3/3 after all but one game finished decisively.




Tata Steel Chess Masters Round 3 



There’s only one place to start an account of Round 3 of the Tata Steel Masters – with the extraordinary Wesley So vs. Richard Rapport. It was clear that if Wesley hoped not merely to prolong his 45-game unbeaten record but win the tournament in Wijk this was the kind of game in which he needed to push for a full point. 



Up to a point, Rapport was playing one of the games of his career so far... | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook


However, Rapport initially surprised chess fans and perhaps Wesley by playing standard chess (“He’s playing mainline theory – I feel betrayed!” - Svidler) and then found a tactical shot out of nowhere:





More inspired chess soon meant that all 20-year-old Richard needed to do to beat the toughest player to beat in world chess was deliver a straightforward final blow. The meltdown that followed rendered our commentary team speechless, though Lawrence Trent later returned to narrate the extraordinary turnaround:



Richard Rapport had suffered a heart-breaking second loss in three games, while Wesley So climbed above Vladimir Kramnik into the no. 3 spot on the live rating list. 



He admitted, though, “I have to learn from this game”:



The other game in which the player with White would clearly push for a win was Sergey Karjakin vs. Loek van Wely, even before Loek added an extra provocation by playing the Pirc Defence.



Loek brought a guest to his battle against Sergey Karjakin | photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess Facebook




In the end perhaps they should have swapped roles!

It was one-way traffic, but things might have gone differently if Loek hadn’t jettisoned his queen:



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