Tata Steel Chess India Rapid & Blitz: Carlsen Untouchable
Carlsen after his draw with Harikrishna that the world champ could have won as well. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Tata Steel Chess India Rapid & Blitz: Carlsen Untouchable

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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35 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen increased his lead even more at the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid & Blitz. As if striving for perfect symmetry, he also scored 2.5/3 on the final day of rapid to set a performance rating of 3032. He is now four points ahead of Hikaru Nakamura going into the blitz.

The Tata Steel Chess India Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour games start each day at 2 p.m. local time which is 09:30 CET, 03:30 a.m. Eastern and 12:30 a.m. Pacific. You can follow them here as part of our live portal. Commentary is provided by Wouter Bik and GMs Roeland Pruijssers, Aman Hambleton and Simon Williams at Twitch.tv/chess.


The Carlsen show continued on the third day of rapid in Kolkata, where the world champ dropped just half a point over three games for the third time. Even to Carlsen himself, 7.5/9 in the rapid looks like a score not seen in earlier Grand Chess Tour events, but in fact he did it himself, as the Norwegian chess reporter Tarjei Svensen quickly pointed out.

Carlsen's first win, against Vishy Anand, was a phenomenal game by both players. In a Ragozin, Anand deviated from a game they had played at the Leuven Grand Chess Tour event in 2016, and after that, until White's 13th move, they were still following Urkedal-Hammer, Sarpsborg 2018.

Carlsen must have seen that one but didn't remember the game today it seems. As he pointed out, he already spent some thinking time by move 11 and "none of this was really the plan." 

Vishy Anand autographs 2019 Tata Steel Chess India
Anand giving autographs after his arrival. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Soon after, Anand decided to go for an exchange sacrifice, and Carlsen agreed that it looked reasonable: "At this moment I really had no clue. I thought I could be better, I thought I could be worse, I thought I could be winning, I thought I could be lost, anything. [But] it would feel very unfair if I was losing."

"I think it's all about confidence, that when you start out well you can allow yourself to relax more and take more chances, it's as simple as that."
—Magnus Carlsen

In what became a hypersharp middlegame that earlier world champions such as Mikhail Tal and Garry Kasparov enjoyed so much, Anand's big mistake was putting his king on the wrong square on move 23. After that Carlsen dominated.

His explanation after this game for his good form: "I think it's all about confidence, that when you start out well you can allow yourself to relax more and take more chances, it's as simple as that."

Carlsen Anand 2019 Tata Steel Chess India
Photographers align for another Carlsen-Anand game on Indian soil. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

It could have been even 3/3 today, as Carlsen was also winning in his round-eight game with Pentala Harikrishna. As one of the two wildcards in this tournament, Hari miraculously escaped from a lost endgame that had several nice points when only rooks and pawns were left on the board:

Harikrishna Carlsen 2019 Tata Steel Chess India
Carlsen "resigning" to a draw. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

However, with white Carlsen was flawless again. He even managed to beat Ding Liren in one of the Marshall endgames, which almost always end in a draw at this level (and here Black was OK as well):

Carlsen spectators 2019 Tata Steel Chess India
At the end of the day everyone wanted to get a glimpse of Carlsen. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

In Peter Svidler's words, runner-up Nakamura won a "small technical masterpiece" against Wesley So in round eight.

"I think I surprised Wesley in the opening, and he wasn't so familiar with the setup," said Nakamura, who nonetheless admitted that it was just equal in the endgame. However, that changed when So decided to go for 29.f4, a move described by Nakamura as "completely insane."

It should still have been a draw, but Nakamura said he didn't run any risk and could have just played on. At some point his bishop pair did make the difference.

"For me right now it's more about the quality than the actual result, and I feel like the quality has been quite good so I'm just generally very pleased," he said. Naka's rapid TPR was also of quality: 2853.

Nakamura So 2019 Tata Steel Chess India
Nakamura putting the kings on dark squares (indicating a win for Black on the DGT board) while So had already left the scene. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Harikrishna not only saved a lost endgame against Carlsen (and before to Giri!) but duly repeated the same feat against Anand as well:

Anand Harikrishna 2019 Tata Steel Chess India
Harikrishna pulling off another Houdini act. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Another entertaining game was the win by Levon Aronian vs. Vidit Gujrathi in round nine. The game saw the old main line of the Two Knights variation, as the Armenian player sacrificed a piece for two pawns and tremendous activity.

It was "some kind of a preparation specifically for rapid or blitz games," Aronian explained. "But it didn't go very smoothly because I mixed up the first move. On move number 18 I am supposed to go Qc3 first instead of c5. What I got in the game I was very optimistic about, but I understand I didn't really have any reasons to be."

Aronian Vidit 2019 Tata Steel Chess India
Aronian and Vidit after their game. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Aronian eventually got the same winning endgame as Ding had against the same opponent (two passed pawns and rooks), but also in this game at one point Vidit could have drawn, as Aronian discovered afterward.

"I learnt something today!" he said when Tania Sachdev asked him: "What is it with you top-level players, two pawns not being enough to win this?

Aronian's reply: "Well, because most of the time our opponents resign, trusting us!"

The standings after day three. 2019 Tata Steel Chess India
The standings after day two. Image: Spectrum Studios.

It's rare that after nine rounds only two players are on a plus score. On Monday and Tuesday we'll see two days of blitz with nine games each day. The time control will be five minutes and a three-second delay.

Nepomniachtchi is now out of contention for a spot in the London playoffs. It will be difficult for So as well, who needs to win this tournament. Anand still has a chance to overtake MVL in the overall standings and go to London instead—if he finishes in sixth place or higher in Kolkata.

All day three games for replay/download:


Previous report:

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