Caruana Expands Lead At Tata Steel Chess
Fabiano Caruana is getting closer to his first victory in Wijk aan Zee. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Caruana Expands Lead At Tata Steel Chess

| 27 | Chess Event Coverage

Fabiano Caruana goes into the final two rounds of the Tata Steel Chess tournament a full point ahead of the pack. The American player scored an easy win against Vladislav Kovalev and saw his main rival Magnus Carlsen draw his game with Jan-Krzysztof Duda.

It was the same story in the challengers group, where tournament leader David Anton increased his lead to a full point as well.

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.

Last year, Kovalev won the challengers group in Wijk aan Zee when he could be found almost every night in local pub Het Wapen ("the weapon"). This made such a big impression that the organizers referred to it at the opening ceremony on the day before the first round this year.

The Belarusian player was informed that Het Wapen had recently closed its doors, but also that another pub had opened on the same street. As all players received a humorous gift, he was given a t-shirt with a map on it with the route to the new pub from his hotel!

This year, Kovalev practices a stricter (and healthier) regime, but whether it has helped his chess is unclear. After 11 rounds he is in last place, and against the stronger players he especially couldn't put up much of a fight. Carlsen wiped him off the board earlier, and Caruana did the same today.

Kovalev Caruana Tata Steel Chess 2020
Kovalev vs. Caruana. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

"He took an enormous amount of time, and I think he mixed up the lines," said Caruana. "I didn't really remember but as far as I knew, combining Re1 and f4 rather than Bc2 and f4 is not very good."

After that, the position seemed to play itself, although strong players tend to make it look simpler than it is.

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

Carlsen failed to keep the pace as he could only draw his game with Duda—a rather disappointing turn of events for him. "I think tournament victory is out of the question now," he said.

He managed to sharpen up the game in a Giuoco Pianissimo with a pawn sacrifice that wasn't new. Duda took the bait and with it some risk of a knight getting trapped, but he was never worse.

Carlsen 2020 Tata Steel Chess
Carlsen: "I think tournament victory is out of the question now." Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

In fact, Duda got the better chances thanks to a tactic.

"I had missed this trick of 29.Ne7+ and takes d5, which was a bit of a pity," said Carlsen. "I think after that he's a bit better, but for some reason he was still trying to make a draw there."

That allowed Carlsen to get a slight initiative and win a pawn, which was not enough for serious winning chances. 

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

Although he had successes earlier in the tournament, Alireza Firouzja had a rough few days against some of the biggest names in this field. After losses to Carlsen and Caruana, the 16-year-old GM went down against Viswanathan Anand on Friday.

Anand, the five-time world champion, reacted well to his opponent's f3-Nimzo Indian and played an excellent game. He showed that this opposite-colored-bishop endgame with rooks was much more uncomfortable for White than it seemed. It was another lesson for the young Iranian, and all other chess fans.

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

Jorden van Foreest had been playing an excellent tournament so far, with just one loss in the second round. A second loss occurred today, though, in his game with Vladislav Artemiev.

In a Scheveningen Sicilian with reversed colors, van Foreest chose an aggressive setup (throwing his g- and f-pawns up the board), but this was countered with a typical pawn push in the center. After the queens were traded, the Dutchman was mostly suffering from his weaknesses.

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

Caruana plays Duda with White tomorrow and then Artemiev with Black in the last round. Carlsen will play Artemiev with White and then So with Black.

Masters games, round 11

There's a good chance that we'll see the Spanish GM Anton among the masters in the 83rd edition of the tournament. Like Caruana, he increased his lead to a point today in the challengers group thanks to a win with the black pieces against Anton Smirnov of Australia.

It was the second unnecessary and rather dramatic loss for Smirnov, after his game with Nodirbek Abdusattorov. He was dominating the position for a long time, but should have accepted that there was no way to break through. Instead, he went for a rather unfortunate winning attempt and again ended up in a lost pawn endgame:

Smirnov Anton 2020 Wijk aan Zee
Smirnov vs. Anton 2020. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Challengers games, round 11

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 11th 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.”

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