Carlsen Draws “Nonsense” Game With Ivanchuk, Maintains Lead At Tata Steel

Carlsen Draws “Nonsense” Game With Ivanchuk, Maintains Lead At Tata Steel

| 77 | Chess Event Coverage

“This is not chess, this is just nonsense.” 

GM Magnus Carlsen wasn't happy with his quick draw with GM Vassily Ivanchuk, but still leads the 2015 Tata Steel masters.

With three rounds to go, GM Wesley So and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave are trailing the world champion by a full point.

In the challengers group, GM Wei Yi quickly defeated GM Erwin l'Ami and rejoined GM David Navara in first place.

The 10th round of the Tata Steel tournament was again played outside Wijk aan Zee. The Hague hosted today's chess spectacle — Nieuwspoort to be precise, a press center and location-for-informal-meetings for politicians, lobbyists and journalists.

But before heading there, the players were first welcomed at the Mauritshuis, about an hour before the round, for some brief lessons in Dutch art and history.

The Mauritshuis in The Hague, not to be missed if you like the Dutch masters.

Built between 1636 and 1641 as a residence for John Maurice, Prince of Nassau-Siegen, the Mauritshuis is now an art museum with mostly Dutch Golden Age paintings. The collections contains works by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen, Paulus Potter, Frans Hals, and others.

The group of 14 grandmasters first gathered around Paulus Potter's most famous painting “The Bull.” After the photographers took their shots, the head of the collection, Edwin Buijsen, told them lots of detail about the painting.

Then the players were taken to the most famous painting in the museum: “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer. This painting inspired Tracy Chevalier to write her historical novel, and later a film and a play under the same name came out as well.

Carlsen, Hou Yifan and Giri in front of the most famous Vermeer.

After that, most players decided to start their three-minute walk to Nieuwspoort, but some stayed a bit longer to look at some more paintings, such as Anish Giri, Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian. 

Edwin Buijsen telling Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri and Vladimir Tukmakov about a Jan Steen masterpiece.
Levon Aronian enjoying some Dutch sceneries.

But there was chess too. At 2 p.m. the round started, and 25 minutes later the first game had already finished! 

GM Vassily Ivanchuk and GM Magnus Carlsen played the same Ragozin as in So-Hou from earlier in the tournament, but Ivanchuk chose a very dull sideline that immediately forced the draw.

A very quick draw between Ivanchuk and Carlsen.

At first this unexpected turn of events was a big disappointment for the fans — and for Carlsen. He joined Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam in the commentary booth and sighed: 

“He just forced the draw. He's allowed to do that. He sometimes does this. (...) He's an inscrutable fellow. I'm a chess player, I like to play chess. This is not chess, this is just nonsense.”

However, maybe it wasn't so bad after all for the fans. What followed was a great interview with the world champion which lasted about an hour. Very energetically, Carlsen talked about the games, about particular players, and about chess in general.

More quotes from Carlsen will follow. About his visit to the Mauritshuis he said:

“I don't know much about art, so I tried to ask the questions a kid would ask, like ‘how many cows are there in the painting.’ That was the first thing I thought about. But they couldn't give me the answer. I though, well, there's a question no one asked!”

Three more quick draws followed. The first was GM Ding Liren vs GM Wesley So, which looked hyper-sharp after 15 moves. “I have no clue what's going on,” was Carlsen's first reaction.

Sharp stuff in Ding Liren vs Wesley So.

The Norwegian also revealed his knowledge of the classics when he spoke about the opening: “This h4 move is Botvinnik's, if I'm not mistaken. He was a surprisingly creative player. Especially in opening analysis he had really creative ideas. This is one of them. It's funny the way these ideas have survived in the modern age.”

The modern aspect of this game was of course that So had prepared the whole thing with the computer until the end. Or was it? In fact everything was also played in Vaisser-Geller, Sochi 1982, which So was unaware of! Those Soviets could analyze too...

A full house in Nieuwspoort.

Something similar happened in GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Radoslaw Wojtaszek. Another game with lots of theory, deeply prepared by both players, an equal ending on move 25 and a draw soon after.

“This is modern chess,” said Carlsen.

Two well-prepared GMs facing each other.

And the fourth draw appeared on the board soon after. GM Teimour Radjabov tried his luck in the main line of the Marshall, but GM Levon Aronian has been one of the leading experts over the past decade there.

The first 40 (!) moves had been played before in a correspondence game from 2011, and over the board the two top grandmasters reached the same, peaceful result:

A Marshall Ruy Lopez in the making.

After so much misfortune, a sign of relief was in place for GM Loek van Wely, who finally managed to score his first win. He defeated GM Hou Yifan as White in a game where preparation played a large role.

The fun started on the first move, when KingLoek went for 1.e4 instead of his usual 1.d4.

Carlsen: “Just before the game I spoke with Loek. He said he should take the first bus home or something, so I told him he should play 1.e4. It didn't think he would take me seriously though!”

Van Wely pointed out after the game that he had also played 1.e4 against the same opponent two years ago. “1.e4 is not my favorite first move, but against her it is not a bad weapon.”

The Dutchman also revealed why he knew so much about this particular variation of the Sicilian: he was sitting right next to Arkadij Naiditsch when the German GM played it against GM Emil Sutovsy in Bilbao in September 2014! 

Van Wely playing the Bb5 Sicilian!?

It turned out to be a pretty good round after all, with two more decisive results at the end of the day. First it was GM Anish Giri who improved his score to plus two and his TPR to 2800+.

The young Dutchman beat GM Ivan Saric from a Taimanov Sicilian, where again he started running with his h-pawn really early.

“It is not as bad as it looks,” said Carlsen about this setup, also played by Giri vs Radjabov a few days ago.

He deviated on move 14. This avoided another quick draw, just in case Saric was planning to. And it worked out well: soon Giri won a pawn thanks to some accurate calculation, and the game was quickly over.

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov:

A good win for Giri based on excellent calculation.

The round finished with another drama for GM Baadur Jobava, who lost his eighth game. He played very interesting chess against GM Fabiano Caruana and one would almost say “deserved” the draw. But it wasn't meant to be.

The Georgian GM played what we called “The New Veresov” in The Master's Bulletin, March 2014, and what Carlsen simply called the “Jobava opening”: 1.d4, 2.Nc3 and 3.Bf4.

Caruana responded with sensible moves, and seemed to have an advantage for most of the game.

Just before the time control the position suddenly became very complicated when Jobava went for an exchange sacrifice. Then Caruana returned the material because he had seen a very deep line that ended in mate, but that line wasn't 100 percent waterproof...

The “Jobava opening” or “New Veresov” on the board!

Carlsen on Jobava: “A good player, that's what I found out when playing against him. He does have a very good understanding; there's always some point to his playing. He has lots of good ideas. It's just that sometimes they don't work and he thinks: ah, I'll play it anyway.”

2015 Tata Steel Masters | Round 10 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2862 2933 7.5/10
2 So,Wesley 2762 2863 6.5/10 31.50
3 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2757 2827 6.5/10 28.75
4 Ivanchuk,Vassily 2715 2813 6.0/10 27.75
5 Giri,Anish 2784 2818 6.0/10 26.50
6 Caruana,Fabiano 2820 2812 6.0/10 24.00
7 Ding,Liren 2732 2800 6.0/10 22.25
8 Wojtaszek,Radoslaw 2744 2751 5.0/10 28.50
9 Radjabov,Teimour 2734 2748 5.0/10 24.50
10 Aronian,Levon 2797 2710 4.5/10
11 Van Wely,Loek 2667 2643 3.5/10
12 Hou,Yifan 2673 2612 3.0/10 15.50
13 Saric,Ivan 2666 2594 3.0/10 10.00
14 Jobava,Baadur 2727 2463 1.5/10

GM David Navara's winning streak of four games was stopped by GM Vladimir Potkin, who held the draw with a Classical Scheveningen. GM Wei Yi profited and caught Navara thanks to a quick win against GM Erwin l'Ami:

Carlsen on Wei Yi: “[He] is playing brilliantly. I think he has 2675, and that was I think exactly the same I had at that age. It's hard to tell if he will just be a world-class player or one of the best, but he's really good.”

2015 Tata Steel Challengers | Round 10 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Wei,Yi 2675 2807 8.0/10 38.00
2 Navara,David 2729 2797 8.0/10 36.75
3 Van Kampen,Robin 2615 2657 6.5/10
4 Shankland,Samuel L 2652 2644 6.0/10
5 Sevian,Samuel 2511 2608 5.5/10 24.50
6 Potkin,Vladimir 2608 2583 5.5/10 24.25
7 L'Ami,Erwin 2613 2596 5.0/10 25.25
8 Salem,A.R. Saleh 2603 2541 5.0/10 19.75
9 Klein,David 2517 2497 4.0/10 16.50
10 Michiels,Bart 2563 2471 4.0/10 14.75
11 Gunina,Valentina 2538 2431 3.5/10 16.25
12 Haast,Anne 2352 2449 3.5/10 12.25
13 Timman,Jan H 2593 2414 3.0/10
14 Dale,Ari 2291 2401 2.5/10

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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