Ivanchuk On A Roll, Grabs Sole Lead In Wijk Aan Zee

Ivanchuk On A Roll, Grabs Sole Lead In Wijk Aan Zee

| 50 | Chess Event Coverage

After four rounds it's GM Vassily Ivanchuk, the oldest participant in the Tata Steel masters in Wijk aan Zee, who tops the standings.

The 45-year-old Ukrainian defeated GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on Tuesday to reach 3.5/4 (and a 3059 performance). Two players are trailing by half a point: GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Ding Liren.

World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen won his first game of 2015; he defeated GM Loek van Wely as Black.

In the challengers group, three players who won today are in the lead: GM David Navara, GM Wei Yi and GM Robin van Kampen.

“He's a great player. At any moment he can beat anyone,” said GM Fabiano Caruana about GM Vassily Ivanchuk during a press conference. So far the Ukrainian is reminding us in Wijk aan Zee that it's still the case!

On Tuesday he won another rather quick game as White, versus GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who basically blundered. 

Ivanchuk moves to 3.5/4! | Photo Alina l'Ami.

In a 6...Ng4 Najdorf, both sides castled queenside, and commentator GM Yasser Seirawan didn't like MVL's knight maneuvers. Ivanchuk centralized all his pieces and suddenly, on move 28, the black pieces on the queenside were all on the wrong squares.

After 30...Nb5 MVL instantly resigned, having seen it all. Ivanchuk signed the score sheets and walked away immediately. Two minutes later he gave the following lines in the live commentary:

The tournament leader after four rounds!

Co-leader GM Fabiano Caruana couldn't keep the pace; he drew with GM Wesley So. In a Closed Ruy Lopez with 6.d3, Black played the interesting, Breyer-like 9...Nb8!?

“I couldn't remember what to do,” said Caruana. “Maybe I was slightly better at some point but I misplayed it. His ...f5 was very strong; he started to get a lot of counterplay.”

“He surprised me with a draw offer early on, but I wanted to play a few more moves, which turned out to be an incorrect decision. I was worse, but I think I more or less managed to hold it.”

Caruana agreed that So has become a very strong player:

“Very talented. If he keeps doing whatever he's doing he has chances to play the Candidates and maybe even winning it. He's still young... I shouldn't be saying that, I sound like an old man!”

Here's the full press conference given by Caruana:

The Italian GM now ties for second place with GM Ding Liren. The 22-year-old Chinese player remained faithful to his King's Indian, even when his opponent is a renowned KID player himself: GM Teimour Radjabov.

White did well out of the opening, but then started making mistakes, as GM Dejan Bojkov explains:

The winner of the battle between the KID players.

It took him four rounds, but GM Magnus Carlsen finally won a game as well. His 4...d5 against the Fianchetto Grünfeld avoided early simplifications, but GM Loek van Wely had a slight edge out of the opening nonetheless.

However, going for the ending might not be the best choice there, and then the Dutch champion started to drift.

Carlsen scores his first win and is back to 50 percent.

GM Baadur Jobava again showed his creativity in the opening, but it was one of those days where he wasn't rewarded. In a Moscow Semi-Slav he played e2-e3, and a move later e3-e4! He had to answer ...Bb4+ with Ke2, which is a known idea in those positions.

GM Ivan Saric initially missed a strong response (13...e5!) but the Croatian GM soon took over the initiative anyway. Jobava decided to sacrifice a piece, but he never got enough compensation.

Enterprising play, but a zero on the score sheet for Baadur Jobava.

On the day GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek was celebrating his 28th birthday, he wasn't seriously put to the test by GM Levon Aronian. His Catalan/English hybrid allows Black to create a natural and solid setup where White's slightly better development is not difficult to meet.

A second handshake from Aronian for Wojtaszek (“this time for your birthday!”)...
...and flowers from the tournament organizers.

The shortest game of the round was GM Hou Yifan vs GM Anish Giri. After a quick draw, commentator Seirawan reminded the young Dutchman that he has a bad score against the women's world champion.

“Yes, she always plays well against me,” said Giri with a wry smile.

2015 Tata Steel Masters | Round 4 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Ivanchuk,V 2715 3059 3.5/4
2 Caruana,F 2820 2926 3.0/4 7.25
3 Ding Liren 2732 2929 3.0/4 3.00
4 So,W 2762 2894 2.5/4 5.25
5 Wojtaszek,R 2744 2860 2.5/4 4.50
6 Giri,A 2784 2788 2.0/4 3.75
7 Carlsen,M 2862 2740 2.0/4 3.25
8 Vachier Lagrave,M 2757 2713 2.0/4 2.00
9 Saric,Iv 2666 2754 2.0/4 1.75
10 Aronian,L 2797 2651 1.5/4 3.25
11 Radjabov,T 2734 2630 1.5/4 3.25
12 Hou Yifan 2673 2544 1.0/4 2.00
13 Van Wely,L 2667 2573 1.0/4 2.00
14 Jobava,B 2727 2380 0.5/4

Whereas the word “spectacular” was used for the masters on the previous day, this time it's an apt description for the challengers. Six decisive games!

GM David Navara gladly accepted an exchange sacrifice from IM Ari Dale, defended accurately and netted the point. The talented Chinese GM Wei Yi followed suit by beating GM Valentina Gunina after perhaps some last-minute advice from his compatriot!?

Wei Yi and Ding Liren before the round.

GM Erwin l'Ami defeated GM Bart Michiels, but that couldn't be called a smooth victory. The Dutch GM played a nice positional game, but somewhere he lost his advantage — well, his winning chances. With RB vs R and two pawns the position was obviously a draw, but in practice it's always difficult to defend.

Erwin l'Ami moves to 2.5/4 or “plus one.”

2015 Tata Steel Challengers | Round 4 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Navara,D 2729 2668 3.0/4 5.25
2 Van Kampen,R 2615 2689 3.0/4 5.25
3 Wei Yi 2675 2713 3.0/4 4.75
4 L'Ami,E 2613 2713 2.5/4
5 Shankland,S 2652 2572 2.0/4 4.50
6 Klein,D 2517 2593 2.0/4 3.75
7 Salem,S 2603 2544 2.0/4 3.50
8 Timman,J 2593 2445 1.5/4 3.25
9 Dale,A 2291 2513 1.5/4 3.25
10 Gunina,V 2538 2524 1.5/4 2.75
11 Potkin,V 2608 2494 1.5/4 2.50
12 Sevian,S 2511 2509 1.5/4 2.50
13 Michiels,B 2563 2457 1.5/4 2.25
14 Haast,A 2352 2468 1.5/4 2.25

The Tata Steel tournament takes place January 9-25 in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. The rounds start Saturday at 1:30pm local time, which is 4:30am Pacific, 7:30am New York and 11:30pm Sydney. The last round starts 1.5 hours earlier.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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