Caruana Wins, Cuts Carlsen's Lead To Half-Point

Caruana Wins, Cuts Carlsen's Lead To Half-Point

With three rounds to go, the race for first in the 2016 Tata Steel Masters appears to be a two Car (get it?) race.

Yesterday, World Champion Magnus Carlsen won and extended his lead to a full point. Today, it was GM Fabiano Caruana's turn to achieve victory and close the gap between himself and Carlsen to a half-point.

Caruana defeated GM Wei Yi in a convincing fashion to move up to 6.5/10 and +3. Caruana's victory is a small setback in what has otherwise been a very convincing super-tournament debut for the Chinese wunderkind.

Caruana evincing calm before the pawn storm. (Photos courtesy of Alina l'Ami from the official site.)

Carlsen had perhaps his toughest assignment of the tournament in round 10. He played Black against GM Anish Giri.

It has been well noted that Giri is the only elite player who Carlsen has never beaten. In classical games, their score stands at 12 draws and one win for Giri.

After the game, an audience member asked Carlsen what he still hoped to achieve in chess.

Carlsen's response, "There are certain players that I haven't beaten yet that I want to beat...not going to name names," revealed that he was not ignorant of the game's stakes today.

Motivated or unmotivated, an inaugural win against Giri was never within Carlsen's grasp today. Carlsen, in fact, had difficulties in the opening and was extremely critical of his own play.

In light of the opening, Carlsen's aspirations were to ease the pressure and equalize. He did so confidently, and the game soon petered to a draw.

Fans of the English grandmaster, Michael Adams, were thrilled to see him score his first win of the tournament. 

It is not clear what Adams' opponent, GM Sergey Karjakin, missed in the London System today, but it is rare to see a player of Karjakin's caliber so thoroughly outplayed by move 25.

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov

In the final decisive game of the round, GM Pavel Eljanov eked out a win against GM Hou Yifan who missed the salvation offered by a paradoxical queen trade when down material.

2016 Tata Steel Masters| Round 10 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Points TB
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2844 2888 7.0/10
2 Caruana, Fabiano 2787 2863 6.5/10
3 Giri, Anish 2798 2783 5.5/10 28
4 So, Wesley 2773 2770 5.5/10 27
5 Ding Liren 2766 2771 5.5/10 24.75
6 Eljanov, Pavel 2760 2778 5.5/10 24.25
7 Wei Yi 2706 2760 5.0/10 24.75
8 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2747 2746 5.0/10 22.75
9 Navara, David 2730 2726 4.5/10 24.75
10 Karjakin, Sergey 2769 2710 4.5/10 22.5
11 Hou Yifan 2673 2671 4.0/10 20
12 Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2728 2675 4.0/10 19
13 Van Wely, Loek 2640 2689 4.0/10 18
14 Adams, Michael 2744 2641 3.5/10

Adhiban outplayed Safarli, who eventually sacrificed an exchange hoping for counterplay that was simply insufficient.

In an instructive moment, Safarli could have drawn the game by ditching his kingside pawns in return for activity.

This result moved Adhiban to 7.5/10 and clear first. He needed the victory to stay ahead of GM Alexey Dreev who successfully punished IM Nino Batsiashvili's capture of the classic poisoned pawn on b2.

Several additional intriguing tactics were on display in the challengersgroup. Readers may enjoy finding the GM-elect Jorden Van Foreest's typical blow against GM Benjamin Bok.

2016 Tata Steel Challengers | Round 10 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Points SB
1 Baskaran, Adhiban 2653 2748 7.5/10
2 Dreev, Alexey 2644 2722 7.0/10
3 Safarli, Eltaj 2653 2668 6.5/10
4 van Foreest, Jorden 2541 2625 6.0/10 29.5
5 Sevian, Samuel 2578 2617 6.0/10 24.75
6 Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter 2679 2545 5.0/10 23.5
7 Antipov, Mikhail 2567 2579 5.0/10 22.75
8 Abasov, Nijat 2556 2557 5.0/10 21.5
9 Bok, Benjamin 2607 2551 4.5/10 21.25
10 l'Ami, Erwin 2627 2538 4.5/10 20
11 Batsiashvili, Nino 2485 2485 4.0/10 18.25
12 Ju Wenjun 2548 2518 4.0/10 18
13 Admiraal, Miguoel 2441 2445 3.0/10
14 Haast, Anne 2391 2358 2.0/10

Round 10 in the Tata Steel Chess tournament was played in the Dutch Railway Museum in Utrecht. The location proved to be quite popular as over 5,000 spectators turned out to watch the games and cheer on the competitors.

Also today, students competed in a primary school chess tournament in the museum. The organizers declared the event a great success as more than 400 enthusiastic juniors participated.

Photo credit to Karen de Bruijn via Twitter.

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 tatasteelchess.com/live with GM Yasser Seirawan and guests.

---
More from NM SamCopeland
Vachier-Lagrave Shines In St. Louis As Nakamura, Mamedyarov Still Lead

Vachier-Lagrave Shines In St. Louis As Nakamura, Mamedyarov Still Lead

IM Minh Le Wins August Titled Tuesday

IM Minh Le Wins August Titled Tuesday