Hikaru Nakamura in sole lead again in Wijk aan Zee

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Nakamura in sole lead again in Wijk aan ZeeHikaru Nakamura is the sole leader in Wijk aan Zee again. Saturday the American grandmaster beat Dutch GM Jan Smeets in another Botvinnik Semi-Slav, while Vishy Anand quickly drew with Magnus Carlsen. In the B group Luke McShane lost to Le Quang Liem but still leads, with Zahar Efimenko and Wesley So. In 'C' nothing changed at the top.

General info

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament is held from Friday, January 14th till Sunday, January 30th, 2011 in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands. Besides many amateur events there are three Grandmaster Groups (A, B and C), all 14-player round-robins. All rounds begin at 13.30 CET, except for the last which begins at 12.00 hours. There are three rest days: on January 19th, 24th, and 27th. The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds increment for each move starting from the first move. More info here.


Saturday, January 22nd, 2011: Round 7

It's always a bit disappointing, but it's also part of the game: a short draw between two top players. Sometimes Black simply finds a good way to equalize the game, and sometimes there's just no music left in the position. This is what happened in the game between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand in round 7 of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament: a Najdorf, a rare set-up, an accurate answer and... a draw. However, the World Champion explained to us that even in this game there were some important tactics:



Not long after this game, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Erwin l'Ami reached the same result. In the Flohr/Mikenas variation of the English, for 14 moves the second game of the Candidates match Korchnoi-Timman (1991) was followed. White might try to improve next time with 17.Bxc5 or 18.Ne4 because in the game Black was fine. Nepomniachtchi and Ponomariov drew in a Classical French, also before move 25.

The first winner in the A group was Levon Aronian. Alexander Grischuk went for 1.e4 and had prepared the Deferred Exchange Variation, which was last seen at top level in the Ivanchuk-Leko rapid match in 2007. After Aronian's 10...Bd6 the position was new and quite complicated.

The game became a classical fight between knights and pawn majority on the kingside versus doubled pawns and bishop pair. As soon as the rooks came off, this was just good for Black and Aronian played a strong endgame. After the game the players felt that White had missed an opportunity at move 22 (Ng5!?), which Black shouldn't have allowed. "At some point he overestimated his chances," Aronian said.


He fought like a lion, but inevitably Anish Giri went down against Vladimir Kramnik. Things went wrong in the opening for the Dutch GM, who was surprised by Kramnik's 7.Qa4+ and 8.Qb3. Then, at move 17, Giri dropped a pawn with 17...Rb8.

Kramnik-Giri Wijk aan Zee 2011
18.Qxc4! Qxc4 19.Bxc4 Bd7 20.Rfd1 Nxc4 21.Bxb8 Ba4 22.Bxa7 Bxd1 23.Rxd1 Rxe4 24.Rd8+ Bf8 25.Bc5 Rxe2 26.g4!
"Maybe it was a blunder, but probably it was the best move anyway," said Kramnik. Giri: "Otherwise I cannot develop my pieces." And indeed Black seemed to have some drawing chances in the ending, but Kramnik is Kramnik, and the Russian didn't give his opponent a chance.


Against Hikaru Nakamura Jan Smeets again played his beloved Botvinnik variation of the Semi-Slav. There was nothing wrong with his preparation, but this time Smeets had a problem with... remembering it! Nakamura deviated from Giri-Smeets with 20.Qd2, and after 20...Bxf4 21.Qxf4...

Nakamura-Smeets Wijk aan Zee 2011
...the move 21...Bc6 is not good. 21...Nc5!? was played in the recent game Zakhartsov,V (2602)-Michalczak,T (2370), Guben (Germany) 2011, but 21...d4! might be the strongest, as was suggested by IM Robert Ris in this week's ChessVibes Openings (published last Wednesday):

Botvinnik in CVO

In the game Nakamura felt he might win rather quickly, but Smeets managed to put up strong resistance way into the ending, and so it was not easy. But at move 61 Nakamura won anyway, thus grabbing sole lead in the standings again. The American also won the 500-euro prize awarded by Grandmaster Ivan Sokolov.


One move longer lasted Wang Hao-Shirov. From a Stonewall set-up in a Queen's Gambit declined, Shirov sacrificed a piece for a strong group of pawns on the kingside (five against two!). In fact it wasn't even a sacrifice, because Black got three pawns for the piece. The resulting ending was quite interesting, but probably always a draw.

Everything's possible in the B group as English GM Luke McShane lost his first game. After a slow start Le Quang Liem from Vietnam seems fully back, and played his best game so far against the tournament leader.

Le Quang Liem-McShane

McShane still leads, together with Efimenko (Ukraine) and So (Philippines), who won his third consecutive game. The 250-euro “Piet Zwart prize” went to India’s Surya Ganguly for his victory in 26 moves with white in a Najdorf Sicilian against Holland’s Wouter Spoelman.

In the C group Super talent Ilya Nyzhnyk won a spectacular game in a Benko/Volga against Sebastian Siebrecht, well worth replaying. (It won the Ukrainian his second 100 euro prize.)


Black's 16...Qa4 is probably wrong; afterwards the players analyzed 16...Qd8 for a while, which has been played in a few games. Nyzhnyk still shares the lead with Vocaturo from Italy, who beat Pruijssers. Kateryna Lahno won as well, against Bok. Compare this game to Smeets-Carlsen and you'll see that the lady quickly learnt from this game and played a better set-up with White!

Games Group A

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group A

Tata 2011 | Round 7 Standings Grandmaster Group A

Games Group B

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group B

Tata 2011 | Round 7 Standings Grandmaster Group B

Games Group C

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group C

Tata 2011 | Round 7 Standings Grandmaster Group C


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