Eljanov Starts With Sole Lead In Tata Steel

Eljanov Starts With Sole Lead In Tata Steel

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Pavel Eljanov was the sole winner in the masters section of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament as he downed the always creative Richard Rapport with the white pieces after an exchange sacrifice gave him smooth positional play.

Before we attend to that duel, we should mention the hotly anticipated pairing of Wesley So and Magnus Carlsen. Sadly, it was more of a fizzle than a fight. So was never in danger, but he also never posed serious problems to the world champion. In the post-game interview, Carlsen said of So, "When he plays against strong opposition, he doesn't take many chances ... He's pragmatic ... It's gotten him far."

While the games of many top seeds lacked sparks, Eljanov vs Rapport was the most interesting game of the day from move one. Eljanov tried to restrict Rapport's chaotic creativity with 1.Nf3. As commentator Yasser Seirawan commented, "The nice part about 1.Nf3 is that you rule out 1...g5."

However, it didn't take Rapport long to manage g5. He played it on move four! The game followed an original path until Eljanov's  15.Nd5 offered Rapport the opportunity for counterplay.

Rapport responded with the surprising 15...d3? which made little sense to Eljanov. It was an error, and Eljanov grabbed a large advantage. Rapport hopped a beautiful knight into d3, but Eljanov simply saced an exchange for it and acquired control of all the critical squares.

Other premier matchups such as Sergey Karjakin vs Anish Giri, Levon Aronian vs Pentala Harikrishna, and Radoslaw Wojtaszek vs Ian Nepomniachtchi were relatively comfortably drawn. Dmitry Andreikin was able to press the exciting Chinese brilliancy-machine Wei Yi for 60 moves, but he was never winning.

The winner of last year's challengers group, Baskaran Adhiban, was likely winning against Loek van Wely, but he permitted a fortress in the endgame and couldn't achieve the desired full point.

Place Fed Player Rtng Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
1 Eljanov, P 2755 1 1
2 Carlsen, M 2840 0.5 ½
3 Karjakin, Sergey 2785 0.5 ½
4 Giri, A 2773 0.5 ½
5 Harikrishna, P 2766 0.5 ½
6 Aronian, L 2780 0.5 ½
7 So, W 2808 0.5 ½
8 Wojtaszek, R 2750 0.5 ½
9 Nepomniachtchi, I 2767 0.5 ½
10 Andreikin, D 2736 0.5 ½
11 Wei Yi 2706 0.5 ½
12 Van Wely, L 2695 0.5 ½
13 Adhiban, Baskaran 2653 0.5 ½
14 Rapport, R 2702 0 0

Games from TWIC.

Despite the relatively slow opening day in the masters, there was considerable action in the challengers group. Markus Ragger played the game of the day against the 16-year-old reigning world junior champ, Jeffery Xiong. He achieved a good knight versus a bad bishop in the same Najdorf structure as in Karjakin vs Giri, but Xiong never got the counterplay that Giri did, and Ragger soon shattered the black kingside before the driving the black king into the middle of an open board.

Xiong vs Ragger. | All photos from the official Facebook page.

It was also a great day for Dutch youth talents as both Jorden van Foreest and Benjamin Bok won fine games. Van Foreest outplayed his opponent, Erwin l'Ami, just out of the opening in a Caro Kann. Like Rapport, l'Ami got an ostensibly nice knight to d3, but van Foreest was able to simply play around it as he picked off material and harassed l'Ami's centralized king.

Dutch champion, Jorden van Foreest. | All photos from the official Facebook page.

Bok finished in style as his opponent, Lei Tingjie, could not prevent mate from the aesthetically dominant white rooks and knight.

Place Fed Player Title Rtng Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
1 Bok, B GM 2608 1 1
2 Ragger, M GM 2697 1 1
3 Van Foreest, Jorden GM 2612 1 1
4 Lu Shanglei GM 2612 0.5 ½
5 Smirin, I GM 2667 0.5 ½
6 Dobrov, V GM 2499 0.5 ½
7 Tari, A IM 2584 0.5 ½
8 Hansen, Eric GM 2603 0.5 ½
9 Jones, G GM 2665 0.5 ½
10 Grandelius, N GM 2642 0.5 ½
11 Guramishvili, S IM 2370 0.5 ½
12 Xiong, Jeffery GM 2667 0 0
13 Lei Tingjie WGM 2467 0 0
14 L'Ami, E GM 2605 0 0

Games from TWIC.

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