Carlsen Wins 2015 Tata Steel, Wei Yi Promotes From Challengers

Carlsen Wins 2015 Tata Steel, Wei Yi Promotes From Challengers

| 67 | Chess Event Coverage

After some tense moments in the final round, GM Magnus Carlsen did win the 2015 Tata Steel masters alone. GM Wei Yi clinched first prize in the challengers group.

A slightly shaky draw with GM Ivan Saric meant a 9.0/13 score for Carlsen. GM Ding Liren, GM Anish Giri, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Wesley So eventually tied for second place with 8.5 points.

GM Wei Yi's score was an impressive 10.5/13 and a 2801 performance — the same as GM Vassily Ivanchuk in the masters!

GM David Navara ended half a point behind Wei Yi in the challengers, and clear third was GM Sam Shankland.

“Magnus Carlsen lists three positive things,” sub-headlined Norway's biggest newspaper VG after the world champion won the masters group of the 2015 Tata Steel tournament. Tarjei Svensen, Carlsen's closest follower online, translated:

We knew that Carlsen can win games, but one would almost forget that it's been a while for him to win a tournament or rating points!

With a half-point lead the Norwegian wasn't sure at all of victory. Several players could still catch him and Giri could still overtake him in case of a loss. His opponent happened to be GM Ivan Saric, whom Carlsen lost to at the Tromsø Olympiad!

In a very off-beat Sicilian, Carlsen sacrificed a pawn for some initiative. He won it back quickly, but soon it was Saric who had the better position. For a moment Carlsen's fans even feared a loss, but eventually the game was drawn.

Carlsen at the traditional winner's press conference — happy but also relieved. |  Photo Alina l'Ami.

If Carlsen had lost, the tournament winner would have been GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. His tiebreak was the best among the players who finished on 8.5 points. In the final round he beautifully defeated world #2 GM Fabiano Caruana as Black.

In a 6.h3 Najdorf the Frenchman played a long-term pawn sacrifice to which Caruana couldn't find a good response. First Be7-d8!, later Bd7-e8! followed by a mating attack... A truly wonderful game by MVL.

Analysis by GM Dejan Bojkov:

A brilliant win for MVL. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

GM Anish Giri ended up sharing second place as he drew with GM Radek Wojtaszek.

“For a moment I got excited,” said the Dutch GM. In an old line of the Grünfeld's Russian System, there were some promising lines for Black, but the Polish GM didn't make any mistakes.

Wojtaszek played well, so Giri couldn't really complain. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

Before the round, both GM Wesley So and GM Ding Liren were sharing third place with MVL. Both won as well.

After losing his first game in a long time, So duly continued winning again. 

GM Loek van Wely played the Benoni and faced the 7.Bf4 system. His plan of an early Nf6-h5 and f7-f5(-f4) was fairly principled, but didn't work out well. A standard pawn sac with e4-e5 and d5-d6 gave White the advantage, and then Van Wely's attack backfired as well. 

Another impressive game by So. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

GM Ding Liren defeated GM Levon Aronian, who struggled throughout the tournament and eventually finished on minus two. The Armenian number one seemed to be playing very powerful opening moves, but Ding simply didn't “believe” him.

He “fell” for all the tricks and was more or less winning by move 21. White definitely had compensation for the material, but in the long run it was unholdable.

Aggressive play didn't do it for Aronian. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

GM Baadur Jobava could finish his disastrous tournament on a positive note. In the last round he defeated GM Teimour Radjabov in another opening speciality: 5.Be2 and 6.h4!? against the King's Indian. 

Radjabov answered in Volga/Benko style, and after the h-pawns were traded White simply castled kingside to make it a real Volga/Benko. Black had enough compensation, won back the pawn but White still had a passed a-pawn.

Jobava avoided a draw by repetition, kept on finding strong moves and eventually won the ending. We knew he could play good chess, but Jobava himself somehow forgot about it for most of the tournament!

The man can play! | Photo Alina l'Ami.

GM Hou Yifan and GM Vassily Ivanchuk finished their tournament with a “correct” draw:

2015 Tata Steel Masters | Final Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Carlsen,M 2862 2877 9.0/13
2 Vachier Lagrave,M 2757 2855 8.5/13 54.25
3 Giri,A 2784 2853 8.5/13 51.25
4 So,W 2762 2854 8.5/13 49.25
5 Ding Liren 2732 2857 8.5/13 46.00
6 Ivanchuk,V 2715 2801 7.5/13
7 Caruana,F 2820 2767 7.0/13
8 Radjabov,T 2734 2720 6.0/13
9 Wojtaszek,R 2744 2692 5.5/13 39.75
10 Aronian,L 2797 2688 5.5/13 31.25
11 Hou Yifan 2673 2670 5.0/13
12 Saric,I 2666 2642 4.5/13
13 Van Wely,L 2667 2611 4.0/13
14 Jobava,B 2727 2539 3.0/13

Carlsen giving his winner's speech at the traditional dinner on Sunday evening. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

A draw was enough for GM Wei Yi to finish clear first, and that's what he did. 10.5/13 is a truly excellent performance by the 15-year-old grandmaster! Imagine how strong he will be in a year from now!?

Wei Yi chatting with Chinese-born Dutch GM Zhaoqin Peng. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

GM David Navara easily beat GM David Klein easily to clinch second place. GM Sam Shankland ended in clear third place after beating WIM Anne Haast as Black. The American #5 had good reason to be satisfied with what was another fine tournament.

He summed it up nicely on Facebook:

Concentration, a banana and three wins in a row for Sam Shankland! | Photo Alina l'Ami.

GM Robin van Kampen's 8.5/13 was good, and behind him we find two players on 7.5 points: GM Salem Saleh (decent) and GM Sam Sevian (excellent). The youngest GM in the world more than justified his fame!

In the final round he beat his 49-year-older opponent, who should try to forget this tournament as quickly as possible.

2015 Tata Steel Challengers | Final Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Wei Yi 2675 2801 10.5/13
2 Navara,D 2729 2757 10.0/13
3 Shankland,S 2652 2695 9.0/13
4 Van Kampen,R 2615 2667 8.5/13
5 Salem,S 2603 2612 7.5/13 43.00
6 Sevian,S 2511 2619 7.5/13 41.75
7 Potkin,V 2608 2585 7.0/13
8 L'Ami,E 2613 2558 6.5/13
9 Gunina,V 2538 2482 5.0/13
10 Michiels,B 2563 2451 4.5/13 22.50
11 Klein,D 2517 2455 4.5/13 22.25
12 Haast,A 2352 2436 4.0/13
13 Dale,A 2291 2408 3.5/13
14 Timman,J 2593 2350 3.0/13

Please note that the next big tournament starts Tuesday: the Gibraltar Chess Festival, where GM Veselin Topalov and GM Hikaru Nakamura are the top seeds. will provide daily video commentary with IM Elisabeth Paehtz and GM Simon Williams from The Rock!

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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.

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