Carlsen Overcomes Caruana, Spearheads Day of Four Victories
This is Carlsen and Caruana's 66th classical chess encounter. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

Carlsen Overcomes Caruana, Spearheads Day of Four Victories

| 53 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen defeated his longtime rival GM Fabiano Caruana in round eight of the 2023 Tata Steel Chess Tournament, inching up the scoreboard, back on plus-one with his third victory. GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov maintained his full-point lead with a draw vs. GM Levon Aronian. GMs Richard Rapport, Jorden van Foreest, and Gukesh D. earned their first victories of the event.

In the Challengers group, GM Alexander Donchenko continues to lead. GMs Mustafa Yilmaz and Velimir Ivic each won to chase Donchenko from half a point. 

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Live broadcast of the tournament, hosted by GM Daniel Naroditsky and IM Jovanka Houska.

The 18-year-old tournament leader, Abdusattorov, faced the fourth-highest-rated player in history, Aronian, in a combative yet balanced draw. In a Ruy Lopez, the Uzbek grandmaster employed the unique Qe1-c3 maneuver to press Aronian's doubled c-pawns and followed with aggressive intentions toward Black's uncastled king with Ng5 and f4. Aronian reacted with accurate defense and after a few pieces were exchanged, the game found its way to a mostly closed ending where the players agreed to a draw.

Carlsen vs. Caruana saw the world champion return to his stride. Before this game, these two legendary players had faced each other 55 times in classical games with Carlsen taking a 12-5 lead with 38 draws. 

Facing off in the Ruy Lopez―both are experts In this opening―Caruana played a surprising line, recapturing on d4 with his knight instead of the usual center ensuring cxd4. The American grandmaster followed up with ambitious kingside expansion: f4 and e5, yet Carlsen responded by leaving his knight hanging to wrestle the initiative from his rival with 21.Bc6!

With a wide-open game and all the tactics favoring Black, Caruana's position fell to pieces almost immediately. As Naroditsky noted: "I am in total disbelief for how this position has deteriorated fatally for Mr. Caruana."

I am in total disbelief for how this position has deteriorated fatally for Mr. Caruana.

-Daniel Naroditsky

Carlsen's compelling dynamic play makes this our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

In his post-game interview, Carlsen shared: "I thought that I would be solid, but if he wants to go for a fight, the conditions are pretty good for me."

If he wants to go for a fight, the conditions are pretty good for me.

-Magnus Carlsen

Nobody puts Carlsen in the corner. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

GM Vincent Keymer prepared an aggressive response to GM Anish Giri's Italian Game, pushing his kingside pawns up the board. Giri countered by gaining space and then an extra pawn on the queenside, but the German prodigy's active pieces gave him full compensation. After a queen trade, the players agreed to a draw on move 28. IM Adrian Petrisor has annotated this well-balanced battle.

In a Caro-Kann Advanced, GM Wesley So unleashed the novelty 11.Bxe5!? with the tactical point that he can leave his bishop en prise after 11...Bf6 due to a looming double attack with his queen on the h5-e8 diagonal. GM Ding Liren responded with practical development and after both sides castled, the game settled into a tamer position revolving around Ding's isolated e-pawn. Eventually, the players traded into an even rook ending and drew. 

In an Italian Game meets Rapport's imaginative style, the Romanian grandmaster played the unprecedented 10.h4, gaining space on the kingside and castling queenside to throw this classic strategic opening into a doubled-edged slugfest.

Praggnanandhaa R. ran his king towards the center to escape the open kingside lines, but Rapport rushed his e-pawn to e5 and then e6 to continue his kingside breakthrough. The Indian prodigy accurately sacrificed the exchange as his best try to hold, but in the material down ending, Praggnanandhaa ran out of time, overlooking that he was still on move 39. 

Rapport's spirited play earned him his first victory. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

GM Arjun Erigaisi employed the aggressive King’s Indian Defense against van Foreest, taking early space on the kingside and then bringing his queen and other pieces to hover around his opponent’s king. However, when Black’s attack stalled, van Foreest broke through on the queenside, giving up a knight for three pawns to obtain two potent connected passers.

With dynamic play all over the board, the Dutch grandmaster continued to make progress―even in the face of Erigaisi opening up his kingside pawn cover―until his passed pawns were unstoppable except by a loss of material. 

Van Foreest was fearless this round. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

True to his style, GM Parham Maghsoodloo turned a typical IQP middlegame into a board-wide brawl with 21...g5!? vs. Gukesh. The youngest competitor responded by focusing on his queenside pressure and advancing his a-pawn. Meanwhile, the Iranian grandmaster ripped open the center with 28...d4 and then set off a kingside onslaught with 33...Qe1+ and 34...Qxf2+.

Despite Black's pieces breathing down his king's neck, Gukesh continued to make progress on the other side of the board, creating an ambitious passer. The players' different strengths in the position rivaled each other, and the game seemed to be heading to a perpetual check when one inaccurate move gave Gukesh the chance to tip the scales in his favor. 

The gloves were off between these promising grandmasters on Sunday. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

In the Challengers section, Yilmaz won a wild game vs. GM Javokhir Sindarov. After the game, Yilmaz shared: "The game was so complicated. After every single move, I was changing my mind!"

Also tied for second, Velimir sacrificed a pawn to gain the upper hand in the Berlin endgame vs. GM Jergus Pechac. In addition, GM B. Adhiban scored his first win, defeating GM Luis Supi with a creative tactical shot to supercharge his kingside attack. Try your hand at finding it.  

Results - Masters Round 8

Current Standings 

Pairings - Masters Round 9

All Games - Masters Round 8

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