Tata Steel Chess 2021: Firouzja, Van Foreest Strike
Round 6 of Tata Steel Chess in action. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess.

Tata Steel Chess 2021: Firouzja, Van Foreest Strike

| 34 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Alireza Firouzja and Jorden van Foreest won their games in the sixth round in Wijk aan Zee to move up the Tata Steel Chess Tournament's standings with 3.5/6. After six hours of defending, tournament leader GM Nils Grandelius held the draw vs. GM Fabiano Caruana to maintain his lead in the tournament.

How to watch?
The Tata Steel Chess Tournament runs January 16-31, 2021. All rounds start at 14:00 CET (5 a.m. Pacific) except for the final round that starts an hour earlier. You can follow the games at and watch the broadcast at

On a day with two decisive results, the group trailing Grandelius by half a point has grown to six players. Firouzja is fully back in business after his first-round loss, and Van Foreest, enjoying an unbeaten plus-one score, is there as well.

2021 Tata Steel Chess round 6 results
Van Foreest can look back at an excellent start for his third appearance in the Masters group in Wijk aan Zee. Besides his win today, he has drawn five times and those games include the world's number one and two as well as Firouzja.

"When I saw the pairings at first, I thought: that's a tough start of the tournament, especially because I start with a couple of more blacks, so this was definitely testing at the beginning.… I was very happy when I got 2.5/5," said the Dutchman.

Van Foreest knew he had to take his round-six opponent seriously. In early December he had drawn one and lost one game to Anton in an over-the-board Scheveningen match between Spanish players and international players, held in Los Cancajos, La Palma, Canary Islands.

"For this game I really went into it thinking I should get a complicated game, keep as many pieces on the board as possible, trying to play according to my style," said Van Foreest.

Van Foreest Anton Tata Steel Chess 2021
Van Foreest vs. Anton. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess.

Things started to go wrong for Anton when he played 21...Nh5. "I was very surprised by 21…Nh5. I didn't even see that move coming," said Van Foreest. "When he touched the knight, I thought: Where is he going? OK, he's probably going to h7, and that makes sense." 

The position soon resembled a Zaitsev Ruy Lopez, but with a black rook strangely misplaced and stuck on h5 and a knight on the queenside somewhat out of play.

Anton did come back into the game later, but in slight time-trouble, new problems arose and then he blundered a full piece. "Probably by that point, it's really close to winning, if not won. I don't know for sure," said Van Foreest.

The game between GM Alexander Donchenko and Firouzja was fascinating from the beginning. For starters, Donchenko thought for eight and a half minutes on his fourth move, and then Firouzja took almost five minutes for his answer. It seemed that both were not expecting their opponent's opening moves.

Eventually, they got the highly interesting Noteboom Variation of the Semi-Slav on the board, named after the talented Dutch player Daniel Noteboom, who sadly died of pneumonia at age 21 in 1932. An annual weekender in Leiden is named after him.

Alireza Firouzja 2021 Tata Steel Chess
Alireza Firouzja played the Noteboom. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess.

This opening involves a battle between the bishop pair and central pawns for White vs. two connected passed pawns for Black. Firouzja managed to get these pawns into action by sacrificing a pawn.

"The opening is very double-edged, of course," he said. "He has two bishops, but I have some good pawns. I think at some point he played very good. He was a little better, but the game was always very complicated. We were both in time-trouble, and he made the final mistake."

Grandelius can definitely be satisfied with a draw against the world number-two, but he'll have to check the opening phase. Caruana's treatment of the Rossolimo Sicilian, with 3...e5 and 4...Bd6, was known before this game (none other than GM Magnus Carlsen played it several times!) and even though his moves looked OK, the Swede was slightly worse out of the opening.

"I thought I made a couple of natural moves in the opening, and I ended up in a very unpleasant position, so something must have gone very wrong, and this was surprising," said Grandelius.

Grandelius Caruana Tata Steel Chess 2021
Grandelius vs. Caruana. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess.

Eventually, the players reached an endgame with rooks and opposite-colored bishops, which was better for Caruana simply because his bishop was better than the one of Grandelius. 

"I was under pressure for the last four hours, clearly, so definitely a relief!" was how the tournament leader described it.

Carlsen drew his fifth game in a row, this time missing a big chance against GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, the player who had beaten him at Norway Chess and ended his 125-game unbeaten streak. For this game, the world champion played more solidly in the opening: an Italian, instead of his Caro-Kann with 4...Nf6 in Stavanger.

For 14 moves, the players followed a game from the Candidates Tournament which, by the way, is currently planned to resume in the second half of April, as FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich mentioned in the tournament broadcast during the opening round.

Carlsen got a slight edge out of the opening based on an isolated queen's pawn for White. The game continued with some nice tactical shots, but only after the queens were traded, the world champion could have reached a highly promising double-rook endgame if he had found he subtle 36...Kf7! 

Magnus Carlsen 2021 Tata Steel Chess
A missed chance for Magnus Carlsen. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess.

Round 6 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Pts SB
1 Grandelius, Nils 2663 2858 0 ½ ½ 1 1 1 4.0/6
2 Harikrishna, Pentala 2732 2794 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.5/6 11.75
3 Van Foreest, Jorden 2671 2822 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/6 10.5
4 Caruana, Fabiano 2823 2751 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/6 9.75
5 Carlsen, Magnus 2862 2748 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.5/6 9.5
6 Giri, Anish 2764 2745 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.5/6 9.5
7 Firouzja,Alireza 2749 2773 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 3.5/6 7.75
8 Esipenko, Andrey 2677 2751 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/6 9.75
9 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2705 2687 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/6 7.75
10 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2743 2691 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/6 8.25
11 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2784 2630 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/6 7.25
12 Tari, Aryan 2625 2698 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/6 7.25
13 Anton Guijarro, David 2679 2613 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 2.0/6
14 Donchenko, Alexander 2668 2571 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1.5/6

Games round 6

2021 Tata Steel Chess round 7 pairings

See also:

More from PeterDoggers
Nepomniachtchi, Svidler Take Over On Levitov Chess Week Day 2

Nepomniachtchi, Svidler Take Over On Levitov Chess Week Day 2

Undefeated Aronian Grabs Early Lead As Levitov Chess Week Returns To Amsterdam

Undefeated Aronian Grabs Early Lead As Levitov Chess Week Returns To Amsterdam