Carlsen, Aronian Win; Join Wei In Final-Round Chase

Carlsen, Aronian Win; Join Wei In Final-Round Chase

The penultimate round in Tata Steel featured plenty of action and set up an even more tense final day tomorrow. The premier match today was between Wesley So (clear first) and Wei Yi (clear second), but that game petered out into a draw relatively quickly.

That moved the focus to two chasers. First Levon Aronian and then Magnus Carlsen proved up to the challenge, defeating Loek van Wely and Pavel Eljanov respectively. Both joined Wei Yi on second place, a half point behind So. So has Black against Ian Nepomniachtchi. In the seemingly likely event of a draw, there will be a heated race among these three to win and force a tiebreak.

Photo: Alina l'Ami.

Neither Wesley So or Wei Yi seemed eager to press their positions today. | Photo: Alina l'Ami.

Aronian was the first to win today. He has won four of his last five, and today he benefited from Van Wely's poor form (-7, =4). Despite his result in the event, Van Wely has produced interesting chess and in many cases has had good chances. Today, Aronian evaluated the complicated Benoni position they reached as unclear, but Van Wely needed to find the correct plan. After some slow moves, he was in real trouble and decided to sacrifice his queen. Aronian had foreseen this, and his calculations proved more accurate.



Van Wely produced another interesting complicated today, but few are better in complications that Aronian. | Photo: Alina l'Ami.

Carlsen came to the battle seeking imbalance against Eljanov. He offered the Stonewall Dutch, but this proved to favor Eljanov who outplayed Carlsen early in the game and was near winning at some point, but as the position grew murkier, Carlsen took control.

Eventually a rook endgame arose, and as he has before, Carlsen ground down Eljanov. This brings Carlsen's lifetime result against Eljanov to 5/5. Thus, despite missing a mate in three and generally being unimpressed with his own play, Carlsen is on +3 with White against Sergey Karjakin and a chance to win, catch So, and win his sixth Tata Steel chess tournament tomorrow.

Analysis coming soon.

The remaining games in the masters were drawn, but special mention should be made of Radoslaw Wojtaszek vs Dmitry Andreikin which featured an exciting exchange sacrifice and a duel between Andreikin's connected passed pawns and bishops and Wojtaszek's just barely active-enough rooks.

Tata Steel Masters | Round 12 Standings

Place Fed Player Rtng Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
1 So, Wesley 2808 8 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1
2 Carlsen, Magnus 2840 7.5 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1
3 Aronian, Levon 2780 7.5 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1
4 Wei Yi 2706 7.5 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1
5 Adhiban Baskaran 2653 6.5 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½
6 Karjakin, Sergey 2785 6.5 ½ 1 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1
7 Eljanov, Pavel 2755 6.5 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1
8 Harikrishna, Pentala 2766 6 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½
9 Giri, Anish 2773 6 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½
10 Andreikin, Dmitry 2736 5 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½
11 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2767 5 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½
12 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2750 5 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1
13 Rapport, Richard 2702 4.5 0 1 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½
14 Van Wely, Loek 2695 2.5 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½

Games from TWIC.

The challengers section was unabashedly raucous today as 5/7 games were decisive and the leaderboard was entirely flipped. The sole leader, Jeffery Xiong, was defeated by the young Norwegian Aryan Tari who felt he played quite a good game. The 16-year-old Xiong has been playing well, and even after this defeat, he has elevated his rating to 2674 and could soon be knocking on the door to 2700. 

Xiong slipped near the finish line. | Photo: Alina l'Ami.

That permitted both Gawain Jones (vs Vladimir Dobrov) and Markus Ragger (vs Jorden van Foreest) to leapfrog Xiong into shared first place heading into the final round. Tomorrow all three of those players and Ilia Smirin (also in third with Xiong) still have a shot at victory and a spot in the masters tournament next year. 

In the other decisive games, Smirin beat Lei Tingjie and Lu Shanglei defeated Nils Grandelius.

Tata Steel Challengers | Round 12 Standings

Place Fed Player Rtng Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
1 Jones, Gawain C B 2665 8.5 1 0 0 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1
2 Ragger, Markus 2697 8.5 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1
3 Smirin, Ilia 2667 8 1 ½ 0 1 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1
4 Xiong, Jeffery 2667 8 1 0 1 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 1
5 Lu Shanglei 2612 7.5 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ ½
6 Hansen, Eric 2603 7 0 0 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½
7 Tari, Aryan 2584 6.5 0 ½ 1 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1
8 L'Ami, Erwin 2605 6.5 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 1
9 Grandelius, Nils 2642 6.5 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1
10 Bok, Benjamin 2608 5 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1
11 Dobrov, Vladimir 2499 3.5 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 0 1
12 Van Foreest, Jorden 2612 3.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 ½
13 Lei Tingjie 2467 3.5 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 1 1
14 Guramishvili, Sopiko 2370 1.5 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 0

Games from TWIC.


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