Carlsen Wins 5th Straight, Grabs Sole Lead In Wijk Aan Zee

Carlsen Wins 5th Straight, Grabs Sole Lead In Wijk Aan Zee

| 52 | Chess Event Coverage

It's time for that question again. Will he do a Caruana? 

GM Magnus Carlsen also defeated GM Baadur Jobava at the Tata Steel masters, and now leads alone.

Again it wasn't a smooth victory from start to finish, but it was the fifth win nonetheless for the Norwegian. Co-leader GM Vassily Ivanchuk lost his first game of the tournament; he wasn't aware of a theoretical line played by GM Wesley So.

GM David Navara and GM Wei Yi continue to lead the masters after delivering checkmate to GM Bart Michiels and GM David Klein respectively.

“As everybody knows against Vassily you cannot prepare,” said GM Wesley So after his quick win on Sunday. The U.S. number one in the live ratings had expected 1.d4, but GM Vassily Ivanchuk played 1.e4.

The Ukrainian probably has the widest of repertoires among top grandmasters, and perhaps today we saw the downside of that. You can't know every single detail in every single subvariation, can you?

So played 1...e5, and Ivanchuk avoided the Marshall with 8.h3 and 9.d3. So copied and then improved upon Levon Aronian's play at the 2014 Candidates against Vishy Anand, where the Armenian lost from a good position.

Ivanchuk vs. So: a Closed Ruy Lopez.

“Afterwards Levon told me he fired his seconds for not finding 13...Nf4!” said So. “I think it's a forced draw.” Theory thinks so too.

Later GM Jan Gustafsson had in fact drawn a black game with 13...Nf4. Ivanchuk got caught, didn't find the best moves and lost surprisingly quickly:

Co-leader GM Magnus Carlsen profited from Chuky's loss with yet another win. He quickly equalized (or more than that) against GM Baadur Jobava's 1.b3, but then the Georgian GM came back into the game. 

“At some point I got a bit stuck and he started to outplay me a little bit. Then I had to find a way to equalize,” said Carlsen.

Jobava doing d2-d4 after starting with 1.b3.

In an ending with good knight vs. bad bishop with queens, the chances were about equal, but at some point Jobava went wrong. Carlsen: “I think he just missed this Qe4/Be2 idea.”

In elite tournaments this is Carlsen's longest winning streak ever. And he noted that his fifth win was an important one: “There are lots of guys on plus three so it's good to pull ahead of them.”

Besides Wesley So these guys are GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Ding Liren. “The Frenchman with two names” inflicted the first loss upon GM Anish Giri.

MVL described his third win in a row as “very straightforward.” In a Berlin Ruy Lopez with 4.d3, White won the bishop pair early on. “I made good use of it. Anish just missed some tactics after which it was extremely tough.”

GM Teimour Radjabov didn't have a great start (three draws and a loss), but things are looking much brighter now for him. He beat Saric, then drew with Giri and So, and today he won against GM Radek Wojtaszek.

The Azerbaijani chose an old line in the 6.h3 Najdorf where White wins a pawn, but Black gets compensation: the bishop pair and pressure on the queenside. However, in this game Wojtaszek didn't get enough play, never saw his pawn back and had to resign on move 59.

Here's the game annotated by GM Dejan Bojkov:

GM Ivan Saric is having a rough time in Wijk aan Zee. He was promoted from the challengers group in 2014, but this top group is a different ball game. On Sunday, the Croatian GM lost his fourth game, against GM Ding Liren. To use MVL's words: a very straightforward game.

An excellent win for Ding Liren.

Speaking of having a rough time; for GM Loek van Wely it's not much different. After his horrible loss the other day, the Dutch GM couldn't find his best form against GM Fabiano Caruana. One pawn after the other left the board.

Van Wely lost one pawn after the other vs. Caruana.

GM Hou Yifan and GM Levon Aronian played a spectacular variation of the Italian Game. The position after 13 moves had also appeared on the board in the same playing hall one year ago, when GM Pentala Harikrishna had White against Aronian.

What followed was an ending with lots of maneuvering by both sides, until Aronian suddenly blundered a pawn. He was lucky that his opponent missed the strongest continuation on move 42, because she might well have won the game in that case. 

A narrow escape for Aronian...
...vs Hou, who loves just about everyone!

2015 Tata Steel Masters | Round 8 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Carlsen,M 2862 2937 6.0/8
2 So,W 2762 2895 5.5/8 20.25
3 Vachier Lagrave,M 2757 2849 5.5/8 18.50
4 Ding Liren 2732 2856 5.5/8 15.50
5 Ivanchuk,V 2715 2817 5.0/8
6 Radjabov,T 2734 2772 4.5/8 17.50
7 Caruana,F 2820 2796 4.5/8 16.25
8 Wojtaszek,R 2744 2755 4.0/8 17.00
9 Giri,A 2784 2761 4.0/8 14.25
10 Aronian,L 2797 2659 3.0/8
11 Hou Yifan 2673 2627 2.5/8 9.50
12 Saric,I 2666 2608 2.5/8 6.75
13 Van Wely,L 2667 2580 2.0/8
14 Jobava,B 2727 2499 1.5/8

Both leaders in the challengers got to checkmate their opponents in round eight. The first was GM Wei Yi, who went for GM David Klein's king:

GM David Navara finished his game vs. GM Bart Michiels with a nice combination.

“I'm thankful to my oponent to give me the opportunity to win the game in style,” the Czech number one said.

2015 Tata Steel Challengers | Round 8 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Navara,D 2729 2798 6.5/8 23.50
2 Wei Yi 2675 2809 6.5/8 23.00
3 Shankland,S 2652 2673 5.0/8 21.25
4 Van Kampen,R 2615 2620 5.0/8 14.75
5 L'Ami,E 2613 2638 4.5/8 18.75
6 Potkin,V 2608 2602 4.5/8 15.25
7 Sevian,S 2511 2591 4.0/8 14.25
8 Salem,S 2603 2511 4.0/8 12.75
9 Michiels,B 2563 2482 3.5/8
10 Klein,D 2517 2500 3.0/8 9.75
11 Haast,A 2352 2478 3.0/8 7.75
12 Gunina,V 2538 2419 2.5/8 10.25
13 Timman,J 2593 2419 2.5/8 7.75
14 Dale,Ari 2291 2343 1.5/8

The Tata Steel tournament takes place January 9-25 in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. The rounds start Saturday at 1:30pm local time, which is 4:30am Pacific, 7:30am New York and 11:30pm Sydney. The last round starts 1.5 hours earlier.

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