Carlsen Beats Giri In Playoff, Wins Tata Steel Chess
Giri "resigns" to a draw in the second playoff game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen Beats Giri In Playoff, Wins Tata Steel Chess

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Jan 28, 2018, 10:44 AM |
105 | Chess Event Coverage

On Sunday Magnus Carlsen won the Tata Steel Chess Tournament for a record sixth time. The Norwegian grandmaster tied for first place with Anish Giri and then beat the local hero 1.5-0.5 in a blitz playoff. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi won the challengers group and qualified for the 2019 masters.

"It is huge for me obviously," said Carlsen moments after a historic victory in Wijk aan Zee. "This is one of the top tournaments, not just right now but of all times. Having the record here, especially after such a bad spell that I've had, it's amazing."

Although he ended it on a high note by winning the world blitz in Riyadh, the world champion was determined to leave the demons from 2017 behind and start the new year with a fresh mind.

Carlsen has been generous with smiles over the past two weeks like he has been generous with giving interviews during this tournament. A good mood tends to lead to good chess.

Magnus Carlsen, press conference Wijk aan Zee 2018

"Mr Six" Magnus Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen took his good blitz form into 2018 by winning the Chess.com Speed Chess Championship, then won three games in the PRO Chess League but obviously, his win in Wijk aan Zee is of completely different proportions.

He won his first super tournament in 1.5 years—we have to go back to Bilbao 2016 for his last victory. The world champion is now the first player in history to have won Wijk aan Zee six times; Viswanathan Anand was playing for the same record this year. (Anand rightly noted that speaking about these records is now a bit more complicated because the tournament didn't have a playoff until last year!)

In the long history of this tournament, which was first held in 1938, Max Euwe, Levon Aronian, Viktor Korchnoi and Lajos Portisch got four titles. Four players won three times: Johannes Donner, Efim Geller, Garry Kasparov and John Nunn.

Magnus Carlsen, press conference Wijk aan Zee Tata Steel 2018

Carlsen, obviously in an excellent mood at the press conference. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The tournament, however, was not a one-man story. The 80th edition also marked the return of Anish Giri to the highest level. Two years ago the Dutchman was a consistent top-five player, but he started this tournament as the world number-15. 

In Wijk aan Zee, Giri won 25 Elo points and is back in the world's top 10. Carlsen is back to having a comfortable lead over the other top players.

Live ratings, January 2018

The live ratings top 10 after the Tata Steel Chess Tournament. Source: 2700chess.com.

Like Carlsen, Giri achieved plus-five this year—a magnificent score that would have won the tournament in many previous editions. Last year the organizers introduced a playoff (which wasn't needed then), but they might have regretted that decision this year. "Giri joint winner with Carlsen" sounds better in Dutch than "Giri just misses out on Wijk aan Zee title," which news service Teletekst prominently headlined today.

Anish Giri, press conference Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee 2018

Giri came super close to winning the tournament, but Jan Timman's 1985 record still stands. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

It was a playoff with Carlsen that stood between Giri and tournament victory, and this hurdle was too high. The Norwegian, who hadn't lost a single playoff in over a decade, was simply too good.

Giri tried to joke his nerves away ("The pressure is on him. Also if I win I'll probably write something incredibly nasty about him on Twitter, so he's probably absolutely terrified about that possibility!") and the Dutchman did seem quite concentrated in front of a home crowd, but that wasn't enough today.

Playoff Carlsen vs Giri Wijk aan Zee Tata Steel 2018

The start of the playoff between Carlsen and Giri. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game one was a "vintage Carlsen" victory. Afterward, GM Danny King used an apt description for the winner: "The master of transition." How many players would have gone for 30.e4 in a blitz game?

Crowd watching Giri Carlsen playoff Tata Steel Chess

The playing hall was packed as nobody wanted to miss a potentially historic Dutch victory. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The second blitz game saw Giri at his best (as in: damn good, in his current form!) when he  found a promising piece sacrifice just when he seemed to have nothing as White.

Carlsen countered strongly, by immediately giving back the piece. This excellent practical decision decided the mini-match and the tournament; when Carlsen had built up a strong initiative on the kingside, it was time for Giri to resign to the draw.

As commentator GM Eric Hansen noted, Carlsen had won a couple of games with opposite-colored bishops earlier in the tournament, but this time he used the same theme to hold the draw.

Giri vs Carlsen Playoff Game 2 Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee

Game two of the playoff in action. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The playoff looked rather convincing, although Carlsen felt he was playing a bit slowly. "It was very hard after playing classical chess for 13 days to switch to blitz mode and I didn't really manage that. You could see it, especially in the second game. I was a little bit wobbly."

Carlsen and Giri after their playoff, Wijk aan Zee 2018

Chess players as they are, Giri and Carlsen first exchanged some lines before anything else. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The tournament winner spoke some nice words about his main rival: "I would like to congratulate him on a wonderful tournament. He's played as well as anybody, he's barely been in danger at all and when he's been in danger he defended very well. He's done wonderfully and he would have deserved to win as well."

Top GM Teimour Radjabov suggested the reason for Giri's success was a renewed cooperation with coach Vladimir Chuchelov.

Anish Giri, Vladimir Chuchelov

Anish Giri in the press room with Vladimir Chuchelov behind him. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Before the playoff, the final round saw two decisive games. Vladimir Kramnik beat Baskaran Adhiban as Black, thereby catching Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in third place. Both players are probably quite satisfied with this score as they will start their preparation for the FIDE Candidates' Tournament, in March in Berlin. Wesley So (8/13), Sergey Karjakin (7.5/13) and Fabiano Caruana (5/13) will play there as well, together with Levon Aronian (now active in Gibraltar), Ding Liren and Alexander Grischuk.

Polgar, Karpov start round 13 in Wijk aan Zee

Chess legends Judit Polgar and Anatoly Karpov opened the round together. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

"I was trying to hold somehow and then he just went mad with this exchange sacrifice," said Kramnik, who wasn't happy with his play earlier in the game. Adhiban was probably disappointed about some missed chances when he took on a5.

Adhiban vs Kramnik, Wijk aan Zee 2018

A lucky win for Kramnik in the final round. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The other winner of the day was Wesley So, who beat a seriously struggling Hou Yifan. The Chinese woman scored 2.5/13 in what was her worst tournament in a long time.

2018 Tata Steel Masters | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Score
1 Giri 2752 2891 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 9.0 / 13
2 Carlsen 2834 2885 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 9.0 / 13
3 Kramnik 2787 2857 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 8.5 / 13
4 Mamedyarov 2804 2856 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 8.5 / 13
5 Anand 2767 2836 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 8.0 / 13
6 So 2792 2834 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 8.0 / 13
7 Karjakin 2753 2807 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 7.5 / 13
8 Svidler 2768 2720 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 6.0 / 13
9 Wei Yi 2743 2694 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 5.5 / 13
10 Jones 2640 2672 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 5.0 / 13
11 Caruana 2811 2659 ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5.0 / 13
12 Matlakov 2718 2666 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5.0 / 13
13 Adhiban 2655 2583 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 3.5 / 13
14 Hou Yifan 2680 2505 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 2.5 / 13

The challengers group didn't have a playoff included in the regulations (there were tiebreak rules instead), but they wouldn't have needed one anyway. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi finished a full point ahead of the pack, reaching the same 9/13 as Carlsen and Giri.

Vidit Santosh Gujrathi wins Wijk aan Zee Challengers

The first player in the 2019 masters is known: Indian rising star Vidit! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

He drew his final game quickly with Jorden van Foreest and then saw his main rival in this tournament, Anton Korobov, losing to Dmitry Gordievsky:

Compatriot Anand on Vidit's win: "I thought he was completely professional on how he qualified for the A, so my congrats to that!"

We'll conclude this coverage of the 80th edition with the following exciting game between Matthias Bluebaum and Jeffery Xiong. Out of the 40 moves in total, Xiong played no fewer than 15 pawn moves!

2018 Tata Steel Challengers | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Score
1 Vidit 2718 2745 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 9.0 / 13
2 Korobov 2652 2696 ½ ½ 1 0 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 8.0 / 13
3 Xiong 2634 2667 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 7.5 / 13
4 J. van Foreest 2629 2668 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 7.5 / 13
5 Gordievsky 2622 2668 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 7.5 / 13
6 Amin 2693 2663 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 1 7.0 / 12
7 Bluebaum 2640 2610 ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 0 6.5 / 13
8 l'Ami 2634 2581 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 6.0 / 13
9 Tari 2599 2584 ½ 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 6.0 / 13
10 Bok 2607 2577 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 5.5 / 12
11 L. van Foreest 2481 2565 ½ ½ 0 0 0 1 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 1 5.5 / 13
12 Krasenkow 2671 2550 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5.5 / 13
13 Harika 2497 2534 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 5.0 / 13
14 Girya 2489 2446 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 3.5 / 13

Games via TWIC.

Live coverage of the 80th Tata Steel Chess Tournament was proudly powered by Chess.com.

The 2019 Tata Steel Chess Tournament has been announced for January 11-27. 

Anatoly Karpov in Wijk aan Zee 2018

12th world champion Anatoly Karpov strolling through the playing hall. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Anish Giri watching Sergey Karjakin vs Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee 2018

Giri watching how Karjakin vs Carlsen develops. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Jeroen van den Berg, Magnus Carlsen, Tom Bottema and Anish Giri, Tata Steel 2018

Tournament director Jeroen van den Berg, Magnus Carlsen, press officer Tom Bottema and Anish Giri at the press conference. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

107-year-old Johan van Hulst in Wijk aan Zee 2018

107-year-old Johan van Hulst was again in Wijk aan Zee to give away the Young Talent Award (this year to Jorden van Foreest). | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Erwtensoep in Wijk aan Zee Tata Steel Chess

The traditional "erwtensoep" dinner also included a traditional Dutch drink. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Vidit with his trophy and watch, Wijk aan Zee 2018

Vidit with his challengers trophy and a Von Doren watch... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Karpov, Kramnik, Giri with Von Doren watches

...a Norwegian watchmaker that provided special chess editions for some of the players, handed to Kramnik and Giri by Karpov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Giri with Von Doren watches

Giri is now the proud owner of two Von Doren watches. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Magnus Carlsen and Theo Henrar, Wijk aan Zee 2018

Carlsen receiving the winner's trophy from Theo Henrar, Chairman of Management Board at Tata Steel Nederland BV. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Tex de Wit and Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee 2018

Tex de Wit giving the floor to Magnus Carlsen, who closes the 80th edition. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.


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