Caruana Misses Win But Maintains Half-Point Lead In Wijk Aan Zee

Caruana Misses Win But Maintains Half-Point Lead In Wijk Aan Zee

| 25 | Chess Event Coverage

It was the second Houdini act in a row for Anish Giri, said GM Lars Bo Hansen: Giri's opponent, Fabiano Caruana, missed a clear win in a rook ending, but kept his half-point lead in the Tata Steel Masters.

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament is only four rounds old, but already the chess fans got what they want: fighting chess, drama and brilliancies.

After his horrific blunder the other day, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov got a nice reward: he had to face Magnus Carlsen the next day. With a 5-1 score for the world champion (draws not counted) that might have caused some nightmares.

Mamedyarov had his own way of dealing with the situation.

The game was a Fianchetto Grünfeld where Carlsen went for the sideline 5.Qa4. After Black's ...a6 and ...b5 the world champion went back to d1 with his queen, arguing that his opponent's pawn moves were merely weakening. In the remainder, he couldn't prove an advantage though.

It was the fourth draw for Carlsen, but we're still far away from his start in the
2009 Wijk aan Zee tournament: nine consecutive draws! | Photo Alina l'Ami.

Afterward Mamedyarov joined the live broadcast for a bit; at first reluctantly, but at some point he was clearly enjoying it. First he talked about his blunder against Eljanov, but didn't have a clear explanation.

It is good because I have hurt. If it happened 10 years ago it was a big shock, but now it's OK. Now I know I can blunder, and there are more important things in life.”

And right before he left the studio he revealed a remarkable statistic to Yasser Seirawan: in his 43 games played in Wijk aan Zee he only won one (!), against Loek van Wely in 2008. Amazing.

And he told the Dutchman: “I only have a chance to beat you. If we play a draw, I have no chance of winning anything!”

An important game in this round was Anish Giri vs Fabiano Caruana, and it was also the longest-running encounter in the Masters. Giri escaped once again.

Before the game the two had played already 18 classical games against each other, with two wins for both and 14 draws.

Caruana chose the Open Spanish, a line he hadn't played since 2011 although he did face it when playing Giri as White in Norway last year.

It was Giri who deviated first from theory: the old game Keres-Pilnik, Buenos Aires 1964! 

Giri: Again in trouble, again saving the draw. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

It was a very interesting game that deserves a deeper analysis, but for the result, the critical position was reached on move 55. It was there when Caruana missed a clear win.

In what was a pretty exciting round, three games ended decisively. The prettiest was played by Hou Yifan, who is now in a group of five players with 2.5 points, half a point behind Caruana.

The female number one gave her opponent David Navara a taste of his own medicine, sacrificing a rook (or in this case an exchange) right out of the opening.

Not only this concept but also the very precise play that followed made a strong impression. Hou Yifan seems fully ready to fight and gain back the world title against Mariya Myzuchuk in March.

It was the first decisive game between these players, after five draws. In their 2013 match in Prague, Hou had won the playoff 2-1.

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov

Pavel Eljanov was a very lucky man on Monday, and successfully tried his luck on Tuesday. In a roughly equal position the Ukrainian number one noticed a nasty trap, and set it up. His opponent fell right into it.

Eljanov improved his score against Van Wely to plus one as the two had shared a win before this game.

Dejan Bojkov described Hou Yifan's win as a “model game,” but one could say the same about Sergey Karjakin's win over Evgeny Tomashevsky. Especially his 20.c4 deserves attention; a move he had seen being played by Vishy Anand in a similar middlegame position. 

With all pieces still on the board, Black was simply lacking space. He lost on time in a lost position. Thus Karjakin scored his fourth win against this opponent; he hasn't lost yet in his nine encounters with Tomashevsky.

2016 Tata Steel Masters | Round 4 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Caruana,Fabiano 2787 2977 3.0/4
2 So,Wesley 2773 2840 2.5/4 5.25
3 Hou,Yifan 2673 2848 2.5/4 5.25
4 Karjakin,Sergey 2769 2792 2.5/4 4.75
5 Ding,Liren 2766 2835 2.5/4 4.25
6 Eljanov,Pavel 2760 2808 2.5/4 4.00
7 Carlsen,Magnus 2844 2743 2.0/4 4.00
8 Wei,Yi 2706 2769 2.0/4 3.50
9 Giri,Anish 2798 2676 1.5/4 3.50
10 Van Wely,Loek 2640 2662 1.5/4 2.75
11 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2747 2655 1.5/4 2.50
12 Tomashevsky,Evgeny 2728 2627 1.5/4 2.50
13 Navara,David 2730 2677 1.5/4 2.25
14 Adams,Michael 2744 2557 1.0/4

The challenger group saw a first result in less than two hours, and it wasn't a draw. Jorden van Foreest, who hasn't drawn a game yet, completely crushed Sam Sevian in a Sicilian where Black was probably in trouble already in the opening due to an inaccurate move order. Here's the game and Van Foreest's explanation:

Alexei Dreev had a dream start. The oldest player in the field won the tournament in 1995, when the format was a knockout. After starting with 4.0/4 he is now one of the favorites to promote to the masters group next year.

Carlsen watching Dreev's game. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

Benjamin Bok was doing well against Eltaj Safarli, but then missed a very tricky move. The idea is known from pawn endings, but here it worked also with some pieces still on the board.

A tough day at the office for Benjamin Bok. | Photo Alina l'Ami.

2016 Tata Steel Challengers | Round 4 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Dreev,Aleksey 2644 3328 4.0/4
2 Adhiban,Baskaran 2653 2876 3.5/4
3 Safarli,Eltaj 2653 2736 3.0/4
4 Nisipeanu,Liviu-Dieter 2679 2604 2.5/4 3.75
5 L'Ami,Erwin 2627 2586 2.5/4 1.75
6 Batsiashvili,Nino 2485 2588 2.0/4 3.00
7 Antipov,Mikhail Al 2567 2531 2.0/4 2.00
8 Van Foreest,Jorden 2541 2506 2.0/4 1.50
9 Bok,Benjamin 2607 2556 1.5/4 4.25
10 Sevian,Samuel 2578 2501 1.5/4 3.25
11 Ju,Wenjun 2548 2535 1.5/4 3.25
12 Abasov,Nijat 2556 2427 1.0/4 2.75
13 Admiraal,Miguoel 2441 2462 1.0/4 2.75
14 Haast,Anne 2391 1795 0.0/4

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament takes place in Wijk aan Zee, Amsterdam and Utrecht January 16-31. You can watch live streaming commentary daily at with GM Yasser Seirawan and guests.

The fifth round of the masters will be held on Thursday in the NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam; the challengers play on Wednesday in Wijk aan Zee.

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