Anand wins again, takes sole lead in Wijk aan Zee

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Anand beats Smeets, takes sole leadViswanathan Anand became the sole leader in Wijk aan Zee today. In the 5th round of the 2011 Tata Steel Chess Tournament the World Champion beat Jan Smeets with Black, while co-leader Hikaru Nakamura drew with Ruslan Ponomariov. Magnus Carlsen won his first game; after defending creatively for seven hours his opponent Erwin l'Ami blundered in a RN-R ending.

General info

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament is held from Friday, January 14th till Sunday, January 30th, 2011 in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands. Besides many amateur events there are three Grandmaster Groups (A, B and C), all 14-player round-robins. All rounds begin at 13.30 CET, except for the last which begins at 12.00 hours. There are three rest days: on January 19th, 24th, and 27th. The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds increment for each move starting from the first move. More info here.

The first Thursday is traditionally the only day without amateurs playing, after the Weekend-three-round event and the Weekday-three-round event and before the Nine-round event which starts tomorrow

Thursday, January 20th, 2011: Round 5

After the first of three rest days, this 5th round started with a bit of a strange game. Just about twenty minutes into the round Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexei Shirov had reached move 22 already, about ten minutes later they passed move 32 and not long after, the Russian played his 40th move, whereupon his clock changed to showing his remaining time. At this point the author of this report wondered: has anyone ever had so much time for making a single move? Nepomniachtchi had almost two and a half hours for it. :-) Then I remembered that in the old days the rate of play used to be 2.5 hours for the first 40, so gone was the record.

Despite a score so far of 0/2 in the Archangelsk Ruy Lopez, Shirov duly played it again. He explained afterwards the main reason: his two losses had nothing to do with the opening! Besides, having played this variation for so long, he was extra motivated to repair the damage, which in fact Shirov and his second GM Andrey Rychagov already did after the first round. An important move was 32...Rc3, which is not the first line an engine suggests, according to the players.

To the ambitious Nepomniachtchi the game mostly felt as another opening failure. After the quick first 40 moves, almost another 40 were played in less than two hours, until the Russian admitted that it was really a fortress.

Here are the reactions from both players after the game - Nepomniachtchi also speaks about his opening mistake against Aronian:

Shirov [audio:] Nepomniachtchi [audio:]

Wang Hao won his first game, against Alexander Grischuk, and it got the Chinese the daily 500-euro “Piet Zwart Prize”. The Russian had prepared a strong exchange sacrifice on move 16, but then didn't continue right. Instead of taking on d5, he should have played ...h6 one move earlier, and 20...h5 was also stronger than 21...h6, more or less forcing White to take on h6. After this Black's position was difficult, and his play on the queenside and a terrible timetrouble didn't actually help Grischuk, to say the least. This is all explained by Wang Hao:


Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik, who fought out a tough tie-break in September in Shanghai, analyzed cheerfully for a long time after a relatively short draw. One of the kibitzers was GM Loek van Wely, who paid a visit to the tournament today.

Nakamura and Ponomariov reached the same result after an interesting battle. With a pawn sacrifice the American could trade off Black's strongest bishop, but in the final position Black could still play one.

Anish Giri managed to keep his unbeaten status against Vachier-Lagrave. In a Petroff the youngest of the three Dutch participants got under pressure (the position after 22.h4 is not a very pleasant one), but he played accurately once again.

And so the two remaining games of the round were the other two Dutch GMs fighting against the two top seeded players. They both went down, and both unnecessarily.

With the white pieces Jan Smeets got into a slightly worse ending against Vishy Anand. It was instructive to see the Indian allowing the bishop pair to his opponent, as it was Black who ended up with two strong minor pieces, against two not very active white bishops.

Smeets could quickly get his dark-squared bishop into play, but by then Anand had manoeuvred his knight to the strong square d3. This beast had to be traded, and this is how Black ended up with a protected passer on the same square, with opposite-coloured bishops and four rooks also on the board. Still, this should have been an easy draw, until the Dutchman allowed an exchange sac.

Smeets-Anand Wijk aan Zee, 2011

Black got something to play for, and after the blunder 57.g3?? it was all over. (After he played it and Anand answered with 57...hxg3 Smeets realized immediately that 58.Rg2 fails to 58...d2! 59.Rxd2 Rxd2 60.Kxd2 g2 and the other pawn promotes.)

More drama for the local fans followed, when after seven hours of superb defending Erwin l'Ami dropped his rook in a (theoretically drawn) RN vs R ending. Many things had happened before, though - in fact this game was clearly the most spectacular fight of the tournament so far. To start with, it looked like Carlsen would finally deliver a knockout to l'Ami on move 61, as until then the Dutchman was still on his feet:

Carlsen-l'Ami Wijk aan Zee, 2011

62. Bc1? First 62. Bg5 and only after the bishop on e7 moves 63.g7 wins immediately. 62...Bf6 63.g7 Bxg7 64.Rg5+ Kh4 65.Nxg7 (65.Rxg7 Rxg7 66.Nxg7 Kg3! and the last pawn drops)
65...Ne3+! (Black plays for stalemate) 66. Bxe3 Rd2+! 67. Kc1 Rd1+ 68. Kb2 Rd2+ 69. Kc3 Rd3+ 70. Kc4
70...Rxe3! It's not a crazy rook: 70...Rc3+? 71. Kd4 Rc4+ 72. Kd5+-. 71. Rxh5+ Kg4
72. Rh2? Throwing away the win. One of the three winning moves was 72. Rh4+! Kg5 (72...Kxh4 73. Nf5+ or 72... Kg3 73. Rh3+) 73. Kd4 Re7 (both 73...Rg3 and 73... Re2 are now met by 74. Rh2) 74. Rh3 Kg4 75. Nh5+-. 72...Re7! 73. Nh5 Re5! The knight has nowhere to go so White has to give up his last pawn, when the ending is, theoretically speaking, easy to draw. But after seven hours of play, and facing the world's highest rated player, it's an arduous task. 74. Nf6+ Kg3 75. Rh7 Kxg2 76. Kd4 Re1 77. Ng4 Kg3 78. Ne3 Ra1 79. Rg7+ Kf4 80. Rf7+ Kg3 81. Nc2 Ra4+ 82. Ke3 Kg4 83. Nd4 Kg5 84. Ke4 Kg6 85. Rf1 Ra5 86. Nc6 Ra4+ 87. Ke5 Kg5 88. Rg1+ Rg4 89. Ra1 Rg3 90. Re1 Rg2 91. Ne7 Kg4 92. Nf5 Ra2 93. Rg1+
93...Kf3?? Other moves draw. 94. Nh4+ 1-0 The king is forced to the second rank, when Rg2+ picks up the rook on a2.

In the B group Luke McShane saw his lead decrease to half a point. He got under slight pressure against Frenchman Laurent Fressinet but held an ending to a draw. This allowed Zahar Efimenko to come closer; the Ukrainian beat David Navara with White.

Hammer won his first game, and with it the 250-euro “Piet Zwart prize”, against Spoelman. Wojtaszek defeated Friso Nijboer in a King's Indian. Both Surya Ganguly and Le Quang Liem are in bad shape in Wijk aan Zee - they're sharing last place with 1.5 points out of 5.

Somehow the C group is always extremely interesting, year after year. It must be the mixture of GMs and IMs, the presence of both very young players and ladies, and perhaps some other imbalances. Today only one game ended in a draw. Vocaturo strengthened his lead with a win against Bluvshtein. He still has Nyzhnyk chasing with just half a point less. Today the 14-year-old Ukrainian crushed Pruijssers, earning 100 euros along the way. Compatriot Kateryna Lahno also won again and is in third place.

Games Group A

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group A

Tata 2011 | Round 5 Standings Grandmaster Group A

Games Group B

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group B

Tata 2011 | Round 5 Standings Grandmaster Group B

Games Group C

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group C

Tata 2011 | Round 5 Standings Grandmaster Group C


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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