Wesley So has started 2017 in the same form he ended 2016, beating Harikrishna to take over the sole lead in the Tata Steel Masters. It was all change as the tournament moved from Wijk to Rotterdam, with three players scoring their first wins. Levon Aronian beat the previous leader Pavel Eljanov, Radek Wojtaszek compounded Loek van Wely’s misery and Adhiban scored a sensational win with the black pieces over Sergey Karjakin. Even the draws were good, with White pushing hard in Nepo-Carlsen and Andreikin-Rapport, while Anish Giri was thwarted again by brilliant play from Wei Yi.
Wednesday was a rest day in Wijk aan Zee, but some intrepid players braved the icy conditions to play a little football:
Team Magnus beat Team Loek, with the Dutchman apparently struggling on and off the chessboard.
Then the football theme continued on Thursday, when the players were bussed…
…to the Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam. The following may or may not have happened:
Magnus Carlsen again got to show his skills on the pitch, trading passes with a former Feyenoord player Ben Wijnstekers:
It was a day of different heroes on the chessboard, though:
Wesley So marches on
We wrote in our preview:
If Wesley aspires to being Magnus’ equal he’ll have to show he can rack up a big score in a varied field like the Tata Steel Masters rather than "just" drawing and taking his chances in events with no underdogs.
Why did we ever doubt him? Admittedly there was than a hint of good fortune in So’s win over Rapport, but he’s now gone on to make it three in a row by beating Loek van Wely and Harikrishna to move to +3 after only five rounds.
The game against Harikrishna had a puzzling opening, with Hari slipping fast into a clearly worse position. We say fast, but one of the most peculiar things is that the players reached the position after 14.Bf4 only after both had spent over an hour on their clocks: