Carlsen, Aronian Go Down In Spectacular 3rd Round Tata Steel

Carlsen, Aronian Go Down In Spectacular 3rd Round Tata Steel

| 34 | Chess Event Coverage

In a spectacular third round of the Tata Steel masters in Wijk aan Zee, two former winners lost: GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Levon Aronian, to GM Radek Wojtaszek and GM Wesley So respectively.

GM Vassily Ivanchuk, who beat GM Loek van Wely, joined GM Fabiano Caruana in first place. GM Ding Liren was the fourth winner of the day; he defeated GM Baadur Jobava.

Photo Alina l'Ami.

The challengers group saw a big upset: WIM Anne Haast managed to win against GM Jan Timman. In the same round GM Vladimir Potkin won against GM Valentina Gunina and GM David Klein beat GM Bart Michiels.

On Monday, the third round of the Tata Steel tournament was played, and what a round that was! At some point seven decisive results wasn't an unlikely scenario in the masters, and eventually only two games ended in a draw.

GM Baadur Jobava's offbeat opening, an Old Indian with an early Bf5, completely backfired. It basically came down to GM Ding Liren playing healthy moves and getting an easy attack on the black king.

Interestingly, after the game, the Chinese GM suggested an early improvement for Black: meeting d4-d5 with ...Nf6-e4!. And, as it turns out, this was exactly what GM Pentala Harikrishna recommended in his article about this opening in the September issue of our PDF and PGN magazine The Master's Bulletin!

“In the first game I played badly, maybe because of the [jetlag]. But yesterday I played very well in the endgame and it made me more confident,” said Ding afterward.

A crushing win for Ding. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

After losing her first two games, GM Hou Yifan had a very good chance to score a full point against GM Ivan Saric. In an Accelerated Dragon, the Croatian grandmaster played quite riskily — he won a pawn, but his king's position got seriously compromised.

It's not easy to part with your g7-bishop in such positions, but Hou rightly took on c3, but then she missed a few possibilities to get a promising position. A glance at the game with an engine will be a disappointing experience for her...

A very one-sided game was GM Vassily Ivanchuk vs GM Loek van Wely, and it reminded of many other similar losses by the Dutch GM with this opening in this Dutch village!

Ivanchuk probably expected the Scheveningen, one of Van Wely's favorite defenses, and the Ukrainian had prepared an interesting setup with an early Qe2 and 0-0-0. On e2 the lady is blocking the f1-bishop, but on the other hand White doesn't have to worry about Ng4, can go f4 in one go and sometimes this threatens e5.

Van Wely chose to develop his queenside first, but at some point he mixed up different plans. Maybe he was hoping that g4-g5 wasn't possible because of ...Bg4 winning an exchange. But... Ivanchuk played it anyway, sacrificed that exchange and got a wonderful position.

A genius who ties for first place after three rounds. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

The next game to finish was GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs GM Teimour Radjabov. It started with the highly topical 5.Bf4 QGD (also covered in our latest magazine issue, by GM Ivan Sokolov) and the players followed a recent Leko-Kramnik game for 22 moves.

MVL deviated with 23.h4 to weaken Black's kingside and on move 29 computers suggested that things were going well for White, but in reality Radjabov had seen a fortress well in advance.

And then something happened that doesn't happen very often: both GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Levon Aronian lost their games! Both blundered in the same round, to GM Radek Wojtaszek and GM Wesley So respectively. 

Aronian's mistake was made at an early stage. The opening was a Scotch (Mieses Variation) and it became rather sharp: Black got the center, White pushed his pawns on the kingside with tempo. 

Black was probably still O.K. in that position after 20 moves, but he simply blundered a piece. Aronian held on for quite a while (his opponent was low on time already when it happened), but it was too difficult to not win this game for So.

So vs Aronian, with MVL watching. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

And then also Carlsen! The world champ played the Leningrad Dutch against GM Radek Wojtaszek, and started running with his a-pawn early on. At some point he gave it up and started focusing on the kingside, and his initiative looked serious... until he allowed his bishop to be trapped.

A great result for Radek Wojtaszek, who prepared so many games for Anand against this opponent!

Press conference Radek Wojtaszek

The last game to finish was GM Anish Giri vs GM Fabiano Caruana. Right after the opening, another 5.Bf4 QGD, Black sacrificed an exchange but his position remained extremely solid.

Giri seemed to be making progress, but stubborn defense yielded his opponent the desired half-point after almost 100 moves.

2015 Tata Steel Masters | Results & Pairings

Round 3 12.01.15 13.30 CET Round 4 13.01.15 13.30 CET
Ivanchuk 1-0 Van Wely Van Wely - Carlsen
Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Radjabov Aronian - Wojtaszek
Ding Liren 1-0 Jobava Caruana - So
Saric ½-½ Hou Yifan Hou Yifan - Giri
Giri ½-½ Caruana Jobava - Saric
So 1-0 Aronian Radjabov - Ding Liren
Wojtaszek 1-0 Carlsen Ivanchuk - Vachier-Lagrave

2015 Tata Steel Masters | Round 3 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Caruana,Fabiano 2820 3006 2.5/3 3.75
2 Ivanchuk,Vassily 2715 2988 2.5/3 2.25
3 So,Wesley 2762 2921 2.0/3 2.50
4 Wojtaszek,Radoslaw 2744 2884 2.0/3 2.50
5 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2757 2831 2.0/3 1.50
6 Ding Liren 2732 2860 2.0/3 1.00
7 Radjabov,Teimour 2734 2713 1.5/3 2.75
8 Giri,Anish 2784 2826 1.5/3 2.25
9 Carlsen,Magnus 2862 2643 1.0/3 1.75
10 Van Wely,Loek 2667 2611 1.0/3 1.75
11 Aronian,Levon 2797 2617 1.0/3 1.25
12 Saric,Ivan 2666 2643 1.0/3 0.75
13 Jobava,Baadur 2727 2456 0.5/3 1.00
14 Hou Yifan 2673 2439 0.5/3 0.50

The big upset of the day in the challengers group was WIM Anna Haast beating GM Jan Timman — and quite convincingly.

“At some point I just attacked with my knights and started pushing my pawn, until he resigned,” Haast duly remarked after the game. “I noticed that he started thinking more and more, which gave me a good feeling.”

She also revealed that before the game she had to be in Tilburg (over 100 km from Wijk aan Zee as the crow flies) for her studies, “but apparently that is possible on the same day.”

On the way back she prepared in the car with her laptop!

WIM Anne Haast's biggest scalp ever: GM Jan Timman! | Photo Alina l'Ami.

Yesterday we saw Ding Liren beating Hou Yifan, and today GM Vladimir Potkin crushed GM Valentina Gunina. No mercy for the lady compatriots! The game saw a nice final move:

Power play by Potkin! | Photo Alina l'Ami.

Australian IM Ari Dale played a spectacular draw with GM Wei Yi:

Ari Dale.

2015 Tata Steel Challengers | Results & Pairings

Round 3 12.01.15 13.30 CET Round 4 13.01.15 13.30 CET
Dale ½-½ Wei Yi Wei Yi - Gunina
Navara ½-½ Shankland Sevian - Potkin
Timman 0-1 Haast Klein - Saleh
Van Kampen ½-½ l'Ami l'Ami - Michiels
Michiels 0-1 Klein Haast - Van Kampen
Saleh ½-½ Sevian Shankland - Timman
Potkin 1-0 Gunina Dale - Navara

2015 Tata Steel Challengers | Round 3 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Navara,David 2729 2660 2.0/3 3.00
2 Wei,Yi 2675 2638 2.0/3 3.00
3 Klein,David 2517 2710 2.0/3 3.00
4 Van Kampen,Robin 2615 2667 2.0/3 2.25
5 Shankland,Samuel L 2652 2565 1.5/3 2.75
6 L'Ami,Erwin 2613 2645 1.5/3 2.50
7 Dale,Ari 2291 2559 1.5/3 2.50
8 Potkin,Vladimir 2608 2606 1.5/3 2.00
9 Gunina,Valentina 2538 2591 1.5/3 1.75
10 Haast,Anne 2352 2537 1.5/3 1.75
11 Michiels,Bart 2563 2522 1.5/3 1.25
12 Timman,Jan H 2593 2374 1.0/3 1.75
13 Salem,A.R. Saleh 2603 2432 1.0/3 1.00
14 Sevian,Samuel 2511 2315 0.5/3

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.

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.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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