Tata Steel 2012: Round 1

  • SonofPearl
  • on 1/14/12, 1:44 PM.

Official Round One Report

World number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway defeated Vugar Gashimov of Azerbaijan in the opening round of the 74th edition of the annual chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee .

Defending himself with a Hedgehog that arose from a Symmetrical English, the only player to make his debut in Grandmaster Group A was slowly disemboweled by the former child prodigy, now leading the world rankings by a significant margin.

Magnus Carlsen defeated Vugar Gashimov

Tata 2012 Magnus Carlsen - Vugar Gashimov Round1.jpg



Second seed Levon Aronian of Armenia quickly reached a comfortable position as Black in a Ruy Lopez against Russia's Sergey Karjakin. A tense struggle ensued until Karjakin cracked under pressure with 32.Nh5?, where White could have struck with 32.Bxh6!! and after for example 32...gxh6 33.Rxd7 Nxd7 34.Ng5 Kh8 35.Nxf7 Kg8 36.Nxh6 Kg7 37.Qf7 Kxh6 38.Nf5 Kg5 39.Qxd7 White is certainly not worse as Black will soon have to give his knight to stave off bigger trouble. Aronian missed 32...Nxe4! 33.Ng5 Nxg5 34.Rxd7 Qe6 when White would soon have collapsed under the combined pressure of the black pieces. Instead, the game entered an endgame where Karjakin nonetheless succumbed to the continuous strain on his position.

Sergey Karjakin lost to Lev Aronian

Tata 2012 Sergey Karjakin - Lev Aronian Round1.jpg



The 500-euro “Piet Zwart Prize” for the best game of the day was awarded to Anish Giri for his victory over World Championship contender Boris Gelfand of Israel. The Dutch prodigy, fresh off his formidable tournament victory at Reggio Emilia in Italy a week ago, made a big impression with another fine example of his mature positional style. Giri aptly neutralized Gelfand's initiative after the latter sacrificed a pawn out of a Queen's Gambit Accepted. Commentator of the day, Grandmaster Ivan Sokolov, was especially impressed with the 17-year-old's ability to keep posing his opponent new problems every time a safe haven came in view.

Anish Giri beat Boris Gelfand

Tata 2012 Boris Gelfand - Anish Giri Round1.jpg



Barely a week ago Hikaru Nakamura of the United States and Vasily Ivanchuk of the Ukraine were facing each other in the last round of Reggio Emilia, a tournament they would both rather forget about. Today they continued their rough rollercoaster ride were they left off, much to the chagrin of both. A Queen's Gambit Declined quickly became volatile, when according to Sokolov, Nakamura missed a chance to reach a strategically winning position with 14.Nd6 Bxd6 15.Qxd6 and White will soon follow up with Be3-c5 and a2-a3.

Soon after, America's number one erred again, when taking a pass would have been preferable to  18.a4?. Now Ivanchuk could have pushed for a win with 18...Be7, for example 19.Qd7 c2! 20.Rd4 Qxd7 21.Rxd7 Rad8 22.Rxd8 Rxd8 23.Rc1 Rd1 24.Kg2 Rxc1 25.Bxh5 Kg7 26.Bxc1 and White is in serious trouble. Surprisingly, Ivanchuk instead went into a threefold repetition allowing his opponent to claim a draw.

Hikaru Nakamura and Vassily Ivanchuk drew their game

Tata 2012 Hikaru Nakamura - Vassily Ivanchuk Round1.jpg



The remaining three games in Grandmaster Group A were drawn after balanced endgames appeared on the board.

Tata 2012 Veselin Topalov - David Navara Round1.jpg



Tata 2012 Teimour Radjabov - Fabiano Caruana Round1.jpg



Tata 2012 Gata Kamsky - Loek van Wely Round1.jpg



In Grandmaster Group B four out of seven games ended in a decision, with Kateryna Lahno awarded the 250-euro Prize for a her victory over Holland's Sipke Ernst after a beautiful thematic knight sacrifice:  28.Nf5! and Black's king was soon stripped of all defenders.

Kateryna Lahno beat Sipke Ernst

Tata 2012 Kateryna Lahno - Sipke Ernst Round1.jpg






 L'Ami, Erwin  1-0  Tiviakov, Sergei
 Lahno, Kateryna  1-0  Ernst, Sipke
 Reinderman, Dimitri  ½-½  Motylev, Alexander
 Timman, Jan H  ½-½  Potkin, Vladimir
 Harika, Dronavalli  ½-½  Vocaturo, Daniele
 Bruzon Batista, Lazaro  0-1  Harikrishna, Pentala
 Cmilyte, Viktorija  0-1  Nyzhnyk, Illya


The four top seeds in Grandmaster Group C started their tournament with convincing victories. The 100-euro prize was won by Hans Tikkanen who makes his debut in Wijk aan Zee. The Swedish Grandmaster played a game full of strategical and tactical witticisms on the Black side of a Classical French against Elisabeth Paehtz of Germany.







 Sadler, Matthew D  1-0  Hopman, Pieter
 Adhiban, Baskaran  1-0  Haast, Anne
 Goudriaan, Etienne  1-0  Schut, Lisa
 Brandenburg, Daan  ½-½  Ootes, Lars
 Tania, Sachdev  ½-½  Grover, Sahaj
 Danielian, Elina  0-1  Turov, Maxim
 Paehtz, Elisabeth  0-1  Tikkanen, Hans


Report and photos from the official website coverage. Videos by Freshmen media.

12042 reads 49 comments
5 votes


  • 5 years ago


    Just to re-iterate for those that missed it - much as I would love to claim credit, the report in this news article is from the official website coverage, which is really excellent! I just put the pictures, games and videos available there together to produce the finished product above.

  • 5 years ago


    An amazing report, even better than your usually excellent reports! Reading about the pros and seeing their games is more entertaining than playing myself

  • 5 years ago


    at mottsauce: I absolutely agree and it is not a joke. The only joke was how a challenger for Anand was selected, now that was a practical joke.

  • 5 years ago


    Giri beat Gelfand?  Clearly Giri should be playing Vishy for the title :)

    I'm joking, of course.

  • 5 years ago


    no interviews for 'lower 3 boards'...  obviously, some players are more important than others...

  • 5 years ago


    Thanks.  This is a wonderful service this site provides, the chance to re-play all these games at our leisure.

  • 5 years ago


    @bresando. It seems you dont know much history of chess. All world champions, with the exception of Ewve, were also the best players with the better results in tournaments for the most period of their reign and most of them just before their reign also. But the real problem is that a tournament is much more lucky (and untrustworthy) than a serious match (not 2 or 4 games only).

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    he (Wesley) is in the US of A?!

  • 5 years ago


    Watched the last 20 moves of Carlsen vs Gashimov on the Live game section. It was interesting to watch Gashimov try to tie the lost game. Hopeing to catch some more live games of Carlsens throught out the week.

  • 5 years ago


    "The best possible challenger in my view is strictly defined as the winner of the candidates since nothing is more comparable with the WC match. For example Aronian made a poor impression at the candidates"

    The candidates consisted of four game minimatches with rapid/blitz tiebreak. I think Aronian's strength is showed better by his winning all the tournaments in the Grand Prix qualification (where Gelfand scored bad results). That was classical chess only, with several very strong events over years. In the candidates Aronian only played four games against Grischuk, who was under immense pressure but somehow saved draws and went on to win in the tiebreak. I don't think Aronian made a bad impression, but in rapid/blitz it's impossible to predict what will happen. Kosteniuk won against Anand, Aronian and Carlsen in one blitz event, for example, so a short tiebreak can go either way when both players are in the top 20.

    Kamsky missed the move that would have eliminated Gelfand in rapid and went down in blitz. I don't think it proved much myself, mistakes to the left and the right with seconds on the clock in most of the games, as usual in blitz, and in the end one player must be the winner. Not exactly like winning Wijk or Linares. Kasimdzhanov and Khalifman also won knockouts of the same sort as Gelfand won when they became FIDE World Champions. It's a format where the  winner often isn't one of the strongest players, since the high amount of tiebreaks secures many sensations. So if one wants the best player to win the format is bad, it can for example be compared to the candidates tournaments won by players like Smyslov, Tal and Petrosian, who all went on to win the title in a match and were the best players in the world, and Bronstein, who drew his title match.

    Luckily even FIDE understood that the format was bad and changed it more or less immediately after Kazan was finished, so next time there will be a candidates tournament instead of a knockout. But that's enough about the candidates as far as I'm concerned, there will never be any consensus on the qualification format anyway :-)


  • 5 years ago


    I think the concept of the world champion implies the notion of best in the world and, despite your protests, the notion of number one in the world. Now that there is such a universally accepted ranking system, which was unheard of one hundred years ago or even forty years ago, the world championship title is becoming archaic. 

    Whoever is number one at the end of the year could be declared world champion and may retain the archaic title for the year. He also gets the chess oscar. It would be simple enough to fix the system to reflect reality. 

  • 5 years ago


    "Also, the whole concept of a world champion who is not the number one player is ridiculous. Whoever is number one should be the world champion. And whoever is the world champion should be number one. "

    i must say i have an hard time understanding your point of view; i fear you are not realizing what a world champion is supposed to be. The top rated player is self evidenlty the one who is performing better in a particular moment and as a consequence it might be considered the best player in the world. The World champin is the holder of an ancient title which just means that he (usually) defeated the previous holder in a match. Of course the title also logically implyes that the holder is one of the world top players and that he is particularly skilled in match play. Noone apart you is pretending that he is supposed to be both the world champion and the best in the world every single moment until he loses the title. Very rarely in chess history a player has been both world champion and best performing player for his whole reign; maybe kasparov and karpov(before the split i mean, certainly not when he was "FIDE champion" titleholder), certainly not Botwinnik, not Lasker (Rubenstein and Capablanca were winning almost everything in certain periods), not Alekhine (Capa was definitely fighting back in tournament play after losing the title), Not Euwe, not Fisher (he wasn't even playing...) not Petrosian(he was never winning a tremendous amount of top tournaments, "just" performing very well). Thinking about it again Karpov said that he considered Spassky to be stronger even if he managed to beat him, so you can probably say that not even Karpov was the best during his whole reign. So as you can see your idea that the world champion should also be consistently the best player is rather strange. Also most WCs have been n1 at least for a while (including Anand) but it's not a necessary condition.

  • 5 years ago


    Also, the whole concept of a world champion who is not the number one player is ridiculous. Whoever is number one should be the world champion. And whoever is the world champion should be number one. 

  • 5 years ago


    Of course "top player" is sort of subjective, so we are both right i guess, you can consider it a top player or a close to the top one according to your personal definition of top player. However remember that he has also been n.3 in the ranking in the past, so i think he is not really comparable to a guy who is currently peaking at n.20; he is something more.

    Yes, the format for the candidates was quite disastrous, but i don't believe that it can really be said that it was a format where "anyone could win". Who is saying this is mainly influenced by the fact that Gelfand won, and using the fact that gelfand won to demostrate that he only won the tournament because it was really random is clearly logically flawed. Indeed the resulting sentence doesn't even make sense :P

    He faced those players who were defeating the big guys Aronian, Kramnik and Topalov, so again i don't think that playing the big names would have given him more dignity, quite the contrary in fact since most of them performed poorly at that all-important tournament.

    The championship match not an ordinary event. a great deal of experience and psychological strenght are required, more than in the "usual" top tournament. Carlsen (an example) is certainly the strongest player in the world in a tournament setting, but i'm far from sure that he would perform better than Gelfand in a title match against Anand. The best possible challenger in my view is strictly defined as the winner of the candidates since nothing is more comparable with the WC match. For example Aronian made a poor impression at the candidates, despite being probably stronger than Gelfand in a normal tournament setting. Gelfand instead did well , proving (in my view) that he is more suited for an all-important match situation. As a consequence i define him as "the best possible challenger"

  • 5 years ago


    I think that the winner of this tournament would be a better challenger. 

  • 5 years ago


    "he has defeated everyone who is relevent to the discussion"

    He won three minimatches in Kazan, but that wasn't a particularly serious competition with lots of rapid and blitz, and he only faced players that failed in the qualification (Mamedyarov bought a spot, Grischuk was last minute replacement and Kamsky was given a spot in spite of dismal results in the qualification). Gelfand did win fair and square according to the rules of the competition, but it shouldn't be exaggerated how strong he is because of an event like that. His true level is shown in classical chess against the best players.

    "He is not close to the top players, he is a top player"

    That depends on how many top players there are. I see Carlsen, Anand, Aronian and Kramnik as the four strongest players. Radjabov is #5 on the rating list but maybe slightly weaker than that in practice. Over the last years Radjabov is 4-0 against Gelfand, by the way. There's also Topalov, who hasn't lost against Gelfand in 15 years (like Kramnik, there's a few years more since Gelfand's last win against Anand). If there are 25 or 50 top players Gelfand is of course a top player, but maybe not if there are 10 or 15 top players.

    Looking at the current tennis world ranking #10 is Nicolas Almagro, #15 is Gael Monfils, #20 is Marin Cilic, and #25 is Milos Raonic. Where to draw the line between top player and non top player is very subjective. If someone would discuss Raonic's results against the top players my reaction would never be that he is a top player himself, maybe not with Almagro either. The same thing with chess.

    "However he is the one who played better when it counted, and so is the best possible challenger"

    I think he won partly because FIDE picked a format where any participant could win. But since that was the chosen format, and since it was very popular among both public and participants until Gelfand won, he is of course the legitimate challenger. I think the best possible challenger would be achieved through a more serious system than the one FIDE chose, but that's not Gelfand's fault. 

  • 5 years ago


    But after all it's clear that losing a single game against a rising genius with a 2730+ live rating is a tremendous setback which qualifyes someone as a weak player not worthy of his challenger status; i mean you can't even imagine a real challenger like Carlsen losing as white against Giri right Wink?

  • 5 years ago


    And so the best would have been? Carlsen without playing a single game? Aronian or Topalov as a prize for losing in the first round?Maybe Nakamura for not having even qualifyed? Don't be shy make your nomination Wink

  • 5 years ago


    The best possible challenger?  Come on, Son!  No one's buying that.  

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