Tata Steel Masters Rd 1-5: "Black is OK!"
When the players were more concentrated in Magnus' game then theirs.. Photo: Alina l' Ami/Tata Steel Chess

Tata Steel Masters Rd 1-5: "Black is OK!"

IM vinniethepooh

Wijk Aan Zee is not just a tournament. It is a festival, a chess bonanza of sorts. Different categories, different strengths, make it the perfect way to start any year. It's long tradition saw it's names changing from Hoogovens to Corus to Tata Steel.

This year, Tata Steel celebrates its 81st edition!! It's been one of the events which have regularly attracted the world's best players. The round robin has different events but the truly recognized ones are the Masters and the Challengers (this article focuses on the Masters).

Anish Giri Tata Steel Chess 2019

Some brilliant idea being cooked up? Photo: Alina l' Ami/Tata Steel Chess

The one very surprising thing that this event has produced so far is the spectacular results of the Black Pieces. It is leading with 9 wins to 2 wins for White. It has been unheard of in such a strong event! Very interestingly, Black is doing better even in the Challengers, with 7 wins to Whites six!

It just proves that Andras Adorjan was completely correct when he wrote the series on the Black pieces, starting with "Black is OK!" to "Black is still OK!" to "Black is OK forever!" and finally "Black is Back!"

What's White's Advantage Anyway? Photo: kamalakanta's blog

It wouldn't be wrong if he continues the series with another book "Black is better!"

Black has stamped his dominance in this event. Such that Anish Giri, the king of draws, has had 3 decisive results, all reading 0-1! Speaking of the king of draws, we might consider having a new one, as Anish's longtime (and ongoing!) Twitter rival Magnus Carlsen has come to the party!

Magnus Carlsen Tata Steel Chess 2019

When Magnus tried to imitate Anish, and succeeded.. Photo: Alina l' Ami/Tata Steel Chess

After drawing the first four rounds, Magnus stretched his draw streak to 21, one game over Anish's longest streak. He did manage to win convincingly against Netherlands' great talent Jorden Van Foreest. If nothing else, that at least helped him to stay on the top of the rating list:

Source: 2700chess.com

In another important news, Ding Liren overtook Shakriyar Mamedyarov on the rating list and is now 3rd, just behind Fabiano and Magnus. He is also in the leaders group at an unbeaten 3.5/5..

Van Foreest-Ding Liren Tata Steel Chess 2019

One of the victims of Ding Liren has been Jorden Van Foreest, who is certainly not having the greatest of tournaments.. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess

Also in the leading group is Ian Nepomniachtchi, who has played quite well so far, beating Anish and Kramnik.

Nepomniachtchi-Carlsen Tata Steel 2019

Nepo, here seen chatting with Magnus after their game, is on an unbeaten +2 so far. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess

A tad surprising has been India's Vidit Gujarathi playing some brilliant chess. He's on an unbeaten+1, and could make it more had he converted against Fedoseev!

Vidit had to face a terrible, typical Magnus grind as he had to defend for 131 moves in a pawn down rook ending. He finally did manage to hold that one though, and his efforts are reaping awards..

Vidit Tata Steel Chess 2019

Vidit, the tallest in the field? Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess

Other than him, the chasing pack consists of Anish Giri, Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen, the former of which has been having a truly roller-coaster event, something he's not used to!

Here is the leaderboard after the completion of the first 5 rounds:

Ian Nepomniachtchi, Ding Liren: 3.5/5

Anish Giri, Vidit Gujarathi, Vishy Anand, Magnus Carlsen: 3.0/5

Teimour Radjabov, JK Duda, Shakriyar Mamedyarov: 2.5/5

Samuel Shankland, Vladimir Fedoseev, Richard Rapport: 2.0/5

Vladimir Kramnik: 1.5/5

Jorden Van Foreest: 1.0/5

Tata Steel Chess R4: Carlsen Beats Giri's Drawing Streak

Kramnik has clearly not found his form here. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess

17th January is a rest day, play resumes on the weekend. The next rounds promise excitement, and intensity. I am looking forward to it. Who isn't?

(The images in this blog have all been shot by Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess and they have been taken from chess.com's daily Tata Steel reports.)