Hou's Blunder Helps Carlsen Increase Tata Lead

Hou's Blunder Helps Carlsen Increase Tata Lead

| 31 | Chess Event Coverage

World Champion Magnus Carlsen is determined to build on his fantastic results in the month of December, which included wins in the London Chess Classic and Qatar Masters. The new year has been treating him well thus far.

After the final rest day, Carlsen continued his hot streak by defeating the former women's world champion Hou Yifan. The win marks Carlsen's sixth point in his past seven games, as the Norwegian continues to flex his muscles following draws in his first four games.

Yet the game was heading into drawish territory,when Hou uncharacteristically blundered away what looked like a certain half-point by trading queens in a slightly inferior endgame. 

Carlsen taking a break to spectate for a bit. (Photos courtesy of Alina l'Ami from the official site.)

With the victory, Carlsen's lead over Fabiano Caruana increased to a full point. Caruana seized an advantage with the black pieces against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, but the Azeri grandmaster did well to defend, and even obtain a better endgame.

However, Caruana happily let his opponent promote, and the ensuing rook-and-four versus queen-and-two ending left Black with an impenetrable fortress.

With the draw, Mamedyarov joins Wei Yi, who split the point with Sergey Karjakin, at 50 percent. Karjakin sits at minus one along with David Navara, who continued his exhilarating play in a topsy-turvy battle with local legend Loek van Wely.

King Loek might be the lowest-rated player in the field, but he continues to play fearless chess. In fact, in this wild encounter with Navara, he sacrificed his queen for two minors!

Van Wely's play earns him plenty of fans.

Pavel Eljanov and Wesley So drew their game peacefully, leaving them in a tie for fourth through sixth with Anish Giri

Giri, the hometown hero, was lucky to survive the following position against Michael Adams

While Giri survived against Adams, Ding Liren downed Evgeny Tomashevsky in a fine game. See the game below, with annotations by our own GM Dejan Bojkov.

Below are the standings with just two rounds to go. In a post-game interview, Carlsen said he is "not playing too great these last few rounds" and that his energy levels are low.

However, a full-point deficit will be hard for Caruana to overcome, as Magnus Carlsen has built himself what appears to be an insurmountable lead.

2016 Tata Steel Masters| Round 11 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Score TB
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2844 2905 8.0/11
2 Caruana, Fabiano 2787 2852 7.0/11
3 Ding Liren 2766 2799 6.5/11
4 Giri, Anish 2798 2780 6.0/11 33
5 So, Wesley 2773 2769 6.0/11 32.5
6 Eljanov, Pavel 2760 2777 6.0/11 29.25
7 Wei Yi 2706 2761 5.5/11 29.75
8 Mamedyarov, Shakhryar 2747 2749 5.5/11 28.5
9 Navara, David 2730 2719 5.0/11 29.75
10 Karjakin, Sergey 2769 2710 5.0/11 27
11 Van Wely, Loek 2640 2693 4.5/11
12 Hou Yifan 2673 2653 4.0/11 22
13 Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2728 2651 4.0/11 20.75
14 Adams, Michael 2744 2656 4.0/11 20.5

In the Tata Steel Challengers event, there is once again a tie atop the leaderboard. 

The legendary GM Alexey Dreev demonstrated why he is a leading theoretician, exiting the opening stages with on the better side of an opposite-colored bishops middlegame. Dreev started hacking away at GM Sam Sevian's pawns, eventually picking off one and then trading down into a winning rook ending, which the 15-year-old American played out until his opponent was promoting. 

Sevian searching for salvation.

GM Adhiban Baskaran was held to a draw by the top seed, GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu. Well, I should say that Adhiban should be thrilled to have drawn, considering Nisipeanu missed his chance in the following position. Can you spot the winning continuation?

GM Eltaj Safarli defeated 16-year-old GM Jorden van Foreest to improve his score to 7.5/11, half a point behind Dreev and Baskaran. Van Foreest slips to 6/11 alongside the other teenage wunderkind, Sevian. The teenagers are followed closely by Nisipeanu and GMs Nijat Abasov and Mikhail Antipov, who drew their direct encounter.

On the other end of the standings, WGM Anne Haast's rough event continues as she fell to IM Miguoel Admiraal, who moves to an impressive 4.5/11. IM/WGM Nino Batsiashvili drew GM Erwin L'Ami, so they improve to 4.5 and 5.0, respectively. 

In a what-could-have-been moment, GM Wenjun Ju resigned against GM Benjamin Bok in a position where she could very well have played on for an easy-to-miss tactic.

Dreev, Baskaran, and Safarli all have White in round 12 as they look to keep pace for first place.

2016 Tata Steel Challengers | Round 11 Standings

# Name Rtng Perf Score TB
1 Baskaran, Adhiban 2653 2738 8.0/11 41.75
2 Dreev, Alexey 2644 2745 8.0/11 39.5
3 Safarli, Eltaj 2653 2691 7.5/11
4 van Foreest, Jorden 2541 2595 6.0/11 32.5
5 Sevian, Samuel 2578 2587 6.0/11 27
6 Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter 2679 2555 5.5/11 30.25
7 Bok, Benjamin 2607 2583 5.5/11 27.75
8 Antipov, Mikhail 2567 2577 5.5/11 27
9 Abasov, Nijat 2556 2558 5.5/11 26
10 l'Ami, Erwin 2627 2533 5.0/11
11 Batsiashvili, Nino 2485 2497 4.5/11
12 Ju Wenjun 2548 2493 4.0/11 20.75
13 Admiraal, Miguoel 2441 2477 4.0/11 20.25
14 Haast, Anne 2391 2323 2.0/11

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.

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