Tata Steel Chess: Carlsen Sets Unbeaten Record; So Leads
Carlsen playing van Foreest. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Tata Steel Chess: Carlsen Sets Unbeaten Record; So Leads

49 | Chess Event Coverage

On Tuesday, Magnus Carlsen broke Sergei Tiviakov's streak of 110 undefeated games with another draw at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament. Wesley So is the new leader after beating Alireza Firouzja.

In the challengers group, Surya Ganguly of India is in sole first place thanks to a win against Dinara Saduakassova.

How to follow Tata Steel Chess
You can follow the live games here as part of our live portal. Live commentary is provided on every day at 13:20 CET (7:20 a.m. Eastern, 4:20 a.m. Pacific). Commentary is provided by GM Robert Hess and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni during the first week, and by GM Peter Leko and IM Sopiko Guramishvili during the second week.

Carlsen's draw against Jorden van Foreest secured his 111th classical game in a row that has gone undefeated. The world champion improved on the number of 110, also achieved by the Dutch-Russian GM Tiviakov.

The record is quite special, and unlikely to be broken by another player any time soon against such strong opposition.

In a tweet in November, Carlsen had suggested that he didn't count two games he had played against 2300 players, but today his reaction was a bit different: "I consider my streak against elite opposition is 109 and against good opposition it's 111 so both is a record and I am happy about that."

Van Foreest Carlsen 2020 Tata Steel Chess Challengers
The handshake before a historic game for Carlsen. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

The way he got the draw was not what we normally see from the Norwegian grandmaster. "It's going OK, I'm saving bad positions every game, what's not to like?" was how Carlsen laughed away a question about it, but he cannot be too happy about his play so far.

"I was trying to bluff him a bit in the opening and I thought I'm getting this sort of position with bishops and some initiative for a pawn. And I thought not to worry, and then he went 16.g4 and I realized I am lost, so there you go!" explained Carlsen.

Magnus Carlsen 2020 Wijk aan Zee
Magnus Carlsen has been defending one bad endgame after another. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Van Foreest was playing well, and on move 29 he got a chance to play a promising exchange sacrifice. 

"Then I would have been in huge, huge trouble," admitted Carlsen.

Van Foreest said he saw the idea of playing 29.dxc4: "I wasn't sure how good it was and I thought in the game I had good winning chances also, but in hindsight I should have played it for sure. I missed his Bc1 idea."

Van Foreest being interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

Carlsen being interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

Firouzja got to enjoy the sole lead for just one day. On Tuesday he was beaten by So, who nonetheless praised his young opponent: "It's clear that Firouzja is the next big talent. He's probably underrated right now."

So Firouzja 2020 Tata Steel Chess Challengers
So vs. Firouzja. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Early in the game, So encountered a few moves that he didn't expect (such as 18...Na7 and 20...Nxc8). Then the American player admitted that he was outplayed for a while.

Around move 28, Firouzja was quite close to equality, but he went for a plan that had a tactical flaw. So won a pawn, and the rest was technique:

So being interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

With just one other win in the group today, this game was enough for So to become the new leader going into the first rest day.

That other winner came from the game between the two Vladislavs. Artemiev surprised early in the opening as he responded to Kovalev's Nimzo-Indian with 4.Bd2!?—a move he described as "maybe strange but very creative." 

For a long time the game was nothing special, but meanwhile Kovalev got into time trouble, which was not the first time this week. It was therefore not a surprise that he missed a rather nice tactic from Artemiev, who gave an entertaining interview afterward.

Artemiev being interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

Jeffery Xiong showed top-notch preparation today as his 23rd (!) move vs. Fabiano Caruana was an improvement over a game by Hikaru Nakamura against the same opponent from 2017.

Caruana explained afterward that he couldn't calculate a path to equality and therefore went for a solid but passive setup. Xiong's exchange sacrifice, which was basically a draw offer, came as a surprise as he thought his opponent was still pressing.

Caruana being interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

Masters, round-four games:

2020 Tata Steel Chess Masters Round 4 Standings

After the peaceful third round in the challengers group, the fourth saw three decisive games. Ganguly profited from a big mistake by Saduakassova in the early middlegame. It must be said that the path to equality was not easy to find.

Surya Ganguly 2020 Tata Steel Chess Challengers
Surya Ganguly leads the challengers. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Excellent wins were scored by David Anton and Nihal Sarin, who ground down the Dutchmen Jan Smeets and Max Warmerdam respectively in endgames. 

An amazing ending was seen in Lucas van Foreest vs. Vincent Keymer, where the Dutch player spoiled a completely winning position after missing two study-like moves in a row—one for himself and then one for his opponent:

Lucas van Foreest Vincent Keymer 2020 Tata Steel Chess Challengers
Van Foreest and Keymer analyzing, with Warmerdam watching. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Challengers, round-four games:

Like in previous years, the official video broadcast is produced by, which you can watch on both and All rounds start at 1:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. Eastern, 4:30 a.m. Pacific) in Wijk aan Zee, except for round five.

  • On Jan. 16 (Eindhoven) the rounds start half an hour later at 2 p.m. local.
  • Rest days are scheduled for Jan. 15, 20 and 23.
  • The final round on Jan. 26 starts 90 minutes earlier at noon local time.

Commentary will be provided by GM Robert Hess and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni during the first week and by GM Peter Leko and IM Sopiko Guramishvili during the second week.

Replay the live broadcast of the fourth round.

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