Carlsen Wins Yet Again, Point Clear Of So and MVL

Carlsen Wins Yet Again, Point Clear Of So and MVL

| 44 | Chess Event Coverage

After a slow start, GM Magnus Carlsen is storming through the 2015 Tata Steel masters. The Norwegian beat GM Teimour Radjabov today to score his sixth straight win.

Photo Alina l'Ami.

In a Berlin Ruy Lopez (but not the ending) Carlsen was playing the second half of his game virtually a piece up. He finished in style with a knight sacrifice.

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Wesley So are the two players trailing the world champion by a full point; they drew their mutual game today.

In the challengers group, GM David Navara is the sole leader after another win against GM Salem Saleh. Co-leader GM Wei Yi drew his game with GM Robin van Kampen.

Here's a video on round nine in Wijk aan Zee, with comments by GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave:

The question: “Can he do a Caruana?” is still relevant after today's round.  

This reporter answered the question with a firm “yes” while traveling to Wijk aan Zee, when Ole Kristian Strøm of Norway's biggest newspaper VG asked me over the phone.

Carlsen improved his streak to six games with a convincing victory over GM Teimour Radjabov. Carlsen's father Henrik, who returned to Wijk aan Zee in the morning, feigned worries that it would come to an end, as he joked: “He started winning when I left!”

Norway's TV2 filming its chess champion. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

Radjabov played the Berlin, and Carlsen avoided the endgame with 4.d3. He got the center, swapped pawns and offered a bishop trade, when Radjabov decided to bury his bishop on b6 with c6-c5.

Obviously that should have been a temporary measure, and if he had played 25...g6 (as indicated by Carlsen after the game) the position would have been playable. As it went, Radjabov lost without a serious fight. The knight sac at the end was neat.


Yep, and that is six! | Photo Alina l'Ami.

The first winner of the day was in fact GM Levon Aronian. The four-time tournament winner hadn't scored a single victory yet, but one player is having an even worse tournament: his opponent GM Baadur Jobava.

Also in this game the “misplaced piece” was a central theme. Whereas White's knight on b5 was traded, Black's counterpart was allowed on b4 but... doing just about nothing. When Jobava grabbed a poisoned pawn on c4, the game was over quickly.

Here's a video with comments by GM Levon Aronian:

After eight rounds, three players were trailing Carlsen by half a point: GM Ding Liren, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Wesley So. The latter two played against each other and drew rather quickly.

MVL got to use his great knowledge of the Grünfeld once again; after the game he revealed that he had looked at this line up to and including 27...Nc5! Modern times...

In the previous round, GM Vassily Ivanchuk lost quickly, but he seemed fully recovered. The Ukrainian GM got a good position out of the opening as Black against GM Radek Wojtaszek, and even avoided a move repetition. Ten moves later the point was split anyway.

Ivanchuk dropped to shared fourth place. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Hou Yifan drew as well. It was quite an interesting game that started as a 6.h3 Najdorf. White won the bishop pair, but Black quickly got the thematic ...d5. From that moment, the women's world champion had the initiative for a while.

She sacrificed a pawn to direct all of her pieces towards the white king, and with two connected passers for White on the queenside that was a bit risky. At one moment, just before the time control, both players seem to have missed a win (!) so a draw was perhaps a good result.

Caruana and Hou Yifan shaking hands before their game. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

Both Dutch grandmasters played a very long game today. GM Anish Giri reached a winning position against GM Ding Liren early on, but it took him quite a while to convert a winning endgame into a full point.

But he won't mind. Giri had nicely refuted Ding's dubious play on the kingside, and kept his cool during the very complicated phase that followed.

Giri back to plus one.

The longest game on the podium was GM Ivan Saric vs GM Loek van Wely. The Dutch GM played his second Pirc Defense in this event, but this time he didn't equalize so easily. Saric got a nice edge with the 150 Attack, once used in Wijk aan Zee by GM Michael Adams to win a model game against GM Mikhail Gurevich.

Saric's advantage grew, and just before the time control he missed a win. Van Wely could escape in a double-rook ending a pawn down, but he soon won back that pawn, took the initiative and also got a winning position, only to spoil it at the very end.

Chess can be so cruel...

2015 Tata Steel Masters | Round 9 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Carlsen,M 2862 2962 7.0/9
2 So,W 2762 2879 6.0/9 26.00
3 Vachier Lagrave,M 2757 2838 6.0/9 23.75
4 Ivanchuk,V 2715 2808 5.5/9 21.25
5 Ding Liren 2732 2805 5.5/9 17.25
6 Giri,A 2784 2796 5.0/9 21.50
7 Caruana,F 2820 2782 5.0/9 20.00
8 Wojtaszek,R 2744 2750 4.5/9 22.50
9 Radjabov,T 2734 2743 4.5/9 20.00
10 Aronian,L 2797 2707 4.0/9
11 Hou Yifan 2673 2649 3.0/9 13.75
12 Saric,Iv 2666 2616 3.0/9 9.00
13 Van Wely,L 2667 2593 2.5/9
14 Jobava,B 2727 2479 1.5/9

The fight for first place in the challengers is fought out between GM David Navara and GM Wei Yi. The latter drew with GM Robin van Kampen, while Navara scored his fourth straight win, against GM Salem Saleh.

It was a bit of a strange game, because Salem entered a variation in the Grünfeld that is known to be good for Black, and Navara easily won the ending. What happened there is a question for Salem's coach, GM Ivan Sokolov.

Navara on his way to the 2016 Masters? | Photo Alina l'Ami.

2015 Tata Steel Challengers | Round 9 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Navara,D 2729 2830 7.5/9
2 Wei Yi 2675 2779 7.0/9
3 Shankland,S 2652 2657 5.5/9 25.25
4 Van Kampen,R 2615 2626 5.5/9 20.75
5 L'Ami,E 2613 2625 5.0/9 22.75
6 Sevian,S 2511 2603 5.0/9 19.00
7 Potkin,V 2608 2567 5.0/9 17.75
8 Salem,S 2603 2496 4.0/9 14.75
9 Michiels,B 2563 2495 4.0/9 13.00
10 Klein,D 2517 2513 3.5/9
11 Gunina,V 2538 2446 3.0/9 13.75
12 Timman,J 2593 2436 3.0/9 11.00
13 Haast,A 2352 2440 3.0/9 9.00
14 Dale,A 2291 2381 2.0/9

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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