Caruana Wins Tata Steel Chess With Round To Spare
Caruana looking at Carlsen's position. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Caruana Wins Tata Steel Chess With Round To Spare

| 47 | Chess Event Coverage

On Saturday Fabiano Caruana won his first Tata Steel Chess tournament and did so with a round to spare. The American grandmaster beat Jan-Krzysztof Duda and saw his main rival, Magnus Carlsen, draw his game.

The challengers group hasn't been decided yet as top-seed David Anton suffered a surprising loss to IM Max Warmerdam, who hadn't won a game thus far. Anton goes into the final round a half-point ahead of three players.

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 in the second week is provided by GM Peter Leko and IM Sopiko Guramishvili.

Not only Vladislav Kovalev received a T-shirt at the opening ceremony of the 82nd Tata Steel Chess tournament. Wesley So got one with the slogan "Random Champion," and Daniil Dubov's says: "My preparation is better than yours." Having worked as a second to the world champion, the Russian player promised to wear it in his game with Carlsen (but didn't, at least not visibly).

Caruana got a pillowcase instead. It had four diagrams on each side with seven positions from his famous 7/7 at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup and one empty one that refers to a potential victory in 2020 in Wijk aan Zee.

When Caruana won his game in Saturday's penultimate round and secured tournament victory, commentator Peter Leko reminded the audience of the pillowcase. Co-commentator Sopiko Guramishvili then suggested that the organizers should think of a similar gift for her husband, Anish Giri, at next year's opening.

Caruana Duda 2020 Tata Steel Chess
A Catalan on the board in Caruana vs. Duda. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

As mentioned in earlier reports, Caruana had never won in Wijk aan Zee. It's hard to believe, but it's true. After Nicolas Rossolimo (1953), Walter Browne (1974, 1980), Yasser Seirawan (1980), Hikaru Nakamura (2011) and Wesley So (2017), he has become the sixth American winner in the small coastal town in the Netherlands.

To the cliché question, "How does it feel?" (to which everyone wants to hear the answer anyway), Caruana had a surprising answer:

"Honestly, I am not feeling too well physically. I caught a nasty bug the last few days, and I'm trying to recover from that. Although I'm extremely happy with the tournament, I am still just trying to recover."

Wait. He's been under the weather and has been saving his main opening weapons for the candidates, but won the first super tournament of the year a round before the end. He must be a pretty good player.

Caruana 2020 Tata Steel Chess
Caruana, with water and tea, early in the game. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

"Sometimes being ill isn't much of a hindrance to good play," Caruana said, but added right away that he wasn't sure about his play today. He felt he might have missed a knockout earlier, and that is probably true, but he was in total control anyway until the end.

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

This game clinched tournament victory right away as Carlsen, a point behind, had earlier drawn his game with Vladislav Artemiev. Carlsen seemed to have a nice plus in a Gruenfeld endgame, but with a positional pawn sacrifice his Russian opponent held everything together.

"I think he defended fairly well," said Carlsen. "I felt like in the early middlegame I had a nice position, but either I didn't play precisely, or there was just nothing there."

Carlsen Artemiev Tata Steel Chess 2020
Carlsen-Artemiev about to begin. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

After he won 10 events in 2019, not winning the first of 2020 didn't come as a big surprise to the champ: "I think what's apparent is that my game has been in a bit of a rut for a while now. For a few months I've played fairly poorly in classical with little energy, so I need to take a break and regroup so that I can be back."

Carlsen gave some praise to the tournament winner: "In this tournament Fabiano has been much better than I have. Up to the game that he had against Vishy [Anand], I don't think he played particularly well, but I think after that he's played wonderfully."

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

In the only other decisive game, Dubov defeated Yu Yangyi in a rather one-sided affair.

"I think in general what he did was extremely risky," Dubov said, arguing that White was quite a bit better in the middlegame with a symmetrical pawn structure. He continued outplaying his opponent, who has been showing fairly bad chess in Wijk aan Zee.

"I've lost many, many rating points, blundering against the Chinese," remarked Dubov. "I think if I wouldn't play the Chinese, I would be like 2750 probably. I'm in a huge minus. Even some average Chinese players with 2500 can beat me normally. Maybe the explanation is that normally I play them in China."

Dubov was interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

Masters games, round 12

Nothing has been decided yet in the challengers group, thanks to one highly unexpected result. Warmerdam, who had won the qualifiers group last year and was still waiting for his first win in the tournament, managed to beat top-seed Anton. Didn't see that coming.

"At some point I didn't really care about taking risk or anything during the tournament," said Warmerdam. He got a pleasant position out of the opening, remained a bit better and at one point went for a positionally sound exchange sacrifice. 

"I went all-in and hoped it would pay off," he said. And it did.

Warmerdam was interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

Trailing Anton with one round to go are three players: Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Erwin l'Ami and Pavel Eljanov. The latter robbed Surya Ganguly from his last hopes of promotion as he defended well against the Indian's sacrificial play:

Challengers games, round 12

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 the last round, which starts 1.5 hours earlier. Commentary is provided by GM Peter Leko and IM Sopiko Guramishvili during the second week.

Replay the live broadcast of the 12th round from Wijk aan Zee.

Previous reports:

More from PeterDoggers
Honorary Grandmaster Title Posthumously Awarded To Sultan Khan

Honorary Grandmaster Title Posthumously Awarded To Sultan Khan

Wei Yi Wins 2024 Tata Steel Chess Masters In Thrilling Tiebreak

Wei Yi Wins 2024 Tata Steel Chess Masters In Thrilling Tiebreak