Aronian, Giri, Rapport Winners in Tata Steel Masters Round 2
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Levon Aronian defeated one of his main rivals, Fabiano Caruana, in the second rond of the 76th Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. In a game not without mistakes, the Armenian's a-pawn became a decisive factor. Boris Gelfand started with 0.0/2 as he lost to Richard Rapport, who played the Budapest Gambit. The third winner was Anish Giri, who won a sharp game against Arkadij Naiditsch.
Let's start with the big game of this round, between the world's number 2 and 6 Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana. In what looked like an Anti-Grünfeld, White got a slight edge and Black decided to sacrifice a pawn in order to be able to finish his development. Somehow Aronian managed to keep his extra pawn, and this became a dangerous runner on the a-file that eventually decided the game.
You can watch Aronian explaining this game together with Yasser Seirawan in the video below (starting from 05:06:50) which is part of the official commentary that was shown on the tournament website as well as Chess.com/TV.
If you scroll back in this video, you can see the author of this line as well, earlier in the round, going through the opening phase of the six Masters games. (You can see that I am more used to being on the other side of the cam. )
Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura were the first to finish; they drew a Triangle Slav where White got the bishop pair but Black got easy piece play. Especially So must have been happy with this game as he's still recovering from his jet lag!
Anish Giri won a nice game against Arkadij Naiditsch, who also lost in the first round. Their Bogo-Indian got quite sharp, and it stayed that way after the queens were traded. At some point Naiditsch lost the thread and his king got stuck in a mating net.
Sergey Karjakin is trying 1.d4 more and more these days, and of course also there he is theoretically very well prepared. On the day that he turned 24, he went for the 5.Bf4 Queen's Gambit Declined and Pentala Harikrishna clearly knew what he was doing too. 18...Kf8 was a deviation from the high-profile blitz game Kasparov-Kramnik, Moscow 2001. White's tiny edge (a better bishop) shouldn't be enough to win at this level (although you can never be sure these days).
The opening phase the game between Leinier Dominguez and Loek van Wely was a bit strange. The Dutchman decided to do something different and played the Sicilian with 2...g6, but White's 6.Na3 shouldn't have been a surprise. However, “KingLoek” spent a long time thinking and then came up with 6...Qa5!? which isn't played often. Then it was the Cuban's turn to take his time, and he offered a queen trade. White still had a lead in development, but perhaps something like 7.Bc4 would have been more dangerous.
It's always nice to see a gambit played at the highest level. Playing the Budapest Gambit, Richard Rapport even managed to beat Boris Gelfand! Between moves 10 and 20, the Israeli lost the thread and the endgame was clearly better for Black. With a number of powerful moves, Rapport increased his advantage further and luckily for him it didn't really matter that he missed a clear win just before the time control.
Tata Steel 2014 | Masters | Round 2 Standings
Also in the Challengers Group there is nobody left with a 100% score. Sadly, there are no best game prizes anymore because otherwise Benjamin Bok would certainly have won it for his game against Yu Yangyi, who is on 0.0/2 now.
Tata Steel 2014 | Challengers | Round 2 Standings
The Tata Steel tournament runs 11-26 January and is held in Wijk aan Zee, Amsterdam and Eindhoven. You can find the official website here and the live games here. The live streaming commentary can also be found here on Chess.com!