Caruana Finishes Tata Steel Chess In Style
Caruana receiving the trophy from Tata Steel's Theo Henrar with Carlsen (second) and So (third) behind. Photo: Tata Steel Chess.

Caruana Finishes Tata Steel Chess In Style

| 106 | Chess Event Coverage

Having already won the Tata Steel Chess masters, Fabiano Caruana emphasized his dominance as the only winner in the final round. He finished on 10/13 or plus seven, only equaled by Magnus Carlsen (2013) and Garry Kasparov (1999) in recent times.

David Anton won the challengers group alone and qualified for the 2021 Tata Steel Chess masters.

2020 Tata Steel Chess Wijk aan Zee
The playing hall on the final day. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

The number seven is regarded as a lucky number. In chess, it's a little bit Caruana's number.

His 7/7 at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup was the magnificent start of his great tournament victory there, and today in Wijk aan Zee his plus-seven score concluded another splendid super tournament win. 

Both he and Ding Liren were considered roughly equal favorites to win the candidates' tournament (March 11-April 5), but now the balance might have tipped slightly in favor of the American (who also won the last candidates).

Caruana was involved in the longest game of the round and finished after six hours of play—after all other games in the masters had ended in draws. Slowly but steadily the world number-two had been improving his position against Vladislav Artemiev until it was winning. The Russian GM played a few more moves than most opponents would have done, but his fate was sealed.

Artemiev Caruana 2020 Tata Steel Chess
Artemiev vs. Caruana with Giri checking the game. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Plus-seven is an absolutely magnificent score, especially in a field that includes the world champion. Carlsen often finishes in second place when he doesn't win, but trailing the winner by two points is something he has rarely done.

In the final round he faced Wesley So for a fight for second place, but it never became a real fight. As in many of his earlier games this year, So seemed strangely uninspired as he played the insipid Four Knights, which led to a drawn endgame almost straight out of the opening.

So Carlsen Tata Steel Chess 2020
Many players kept an eye on the fast-paced So vs. Carlsen. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Due to a slight inaccuracy So even had to be a bit careful at one point, and the game suddenly went on for a bit longer than expected.

"I thought he just made a silly mistake by playing 33.h6," noted Carlsen. "I think I'm very slightly better. So if you feel like you have one percent equity of winning the game, you should continue at least a little bit... and why not torture him a bit?"

Usually Carlsen is not happy when an opponent takes away almost all life out of a game early, but this time he didn't mind:

"To be honest, today I was OK with the draw. The disappointment, if any, was two days before. Before the last rest day I felt I had legitimate hopes of contending for first, and then the last two days it all sort of fell apart. Today I didn't have much to play for."

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

The surprise of the tournament was Jorden van Foreest, who kept his good form until the very end and finished on a plus-one score and tie for fourth place. The 20-year-old GM did so by drawing his game with his compatriot Anish Giri in the final round. As a result Giri ended on 50 percent, and not as the highest Dutchman in the final standings.

"At some point in the middle of the tournament, I realized I should switch from trying to overtake Carlsen to overtake Jorden—because Jorden was half a point more than Magnus briefly—but finally it didn't really materialize," Giri said.

"This tournament was amazing simply, beyond all expectations," said Van Foreest.

The tournament will also be remembered as Alireza Firouzja's debut at the highest level in standard chess. After a brilliant first week, the second was tougher, but the 16-year-old finished on a very decent 6.5/13.

"I was satisfied before the three games that I lost; I played very good chess," he said, and noted that his three losses were all very interesting: "I should learn from them. The only way to improve is to play long games with them and see how they play."

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

2020 Tata Steel Chess Masters Final Standings Wijk aan Zee

Masters games, round 13

The final challengers round had several exciting games, but the tournament was more or less decided when Anton drew his game with Lucas van Foreest. The Spanish grandmaster was virtually a point ahead of three players then, but he would beat them all in tiebreaks (mutual result or Sonneborn-Berger).

David Anton 2020 Wijk aan Zee Challengers
David Anton with the winner's trophy. Photo: Tata Steel Chess.

About playing the masters next year, Anton said: "I will be one of the weakest players, so I think it wouldn’t be so strange if they beat me so many times, but I will just try my best. I think I’ve done good games against good players, so I’ll try to do a good tournament."

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

Especially Pavel Eljanov and Erwin l'Ami played a great fighting game that would have been a perfect one for deciding the tournament itself. The evaluation went up and down, particularly during the time-trouble phase, but after a lot of adventures the players eventually split the point. A truly wonderful battle:

Also in this group the youngsters did well—especially 15-year-olds Nodirbek Abdusattorov (shared second), Vincent Keymer and Nihal Sarin (shared sixth). The latter two won their last-round games against Nils Grandelius and Rauf Mamedov respectively.

IM Max Warmerdam, who had won his first game on Saturday, added another win today, and a spectacular one:

2020 Tata Steel Chess Challengers Final Standings Wijk aan Zee

Challengers games, round 13

Replay the live broadcast of the final round from Wijk aan Zee.

Previous reports:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
Address: PO Box 60400 Palo Alto, CA 94306

More from PeterDoggers
Arjun Erigaisi Briefly World #5 As Menorca Open Winner

Arjun Erigaisi Briefly World #5 As Menorca Open Winner

Isa Kasimi (Igors Rausis) 1961-2024

Isa Kasimi (Igors Rausis) 1961-2024