Mamedyarov Surges As Tata Steel Goes Sesame Street
Carlsen frowning as Bert makes his move. | Photo: TataSteelChess.

Mamedyarov Surges As Tata Steel Goes Sesame Street

| 27 | Chess Event Coverage

In the fifth round of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov joined Anish Giri and Viswanathan Anand in the lead. On Wednesday the masters played their games in the Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum where they met with characters of the Dutch version of Sesame Street.

Round 4

After expressing his disappointment about an uneventful draw with the white pieces, Magnus Carlsen again split the point rather quickly the next day. His game with Anish Giri had more "content" though.

Carlsen played the Winawer French, and after Giri's principled 7.Qg4 the Norwegian steered away from the absolute main lines by playing 7...cxd4. The funny thing in this variation is that it's White who castles queenside and the black king stays in the center instead of the other way around.

Giri vs Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee Tata Steel 2018

Giri trying to remember the 7.Qg4 cxd4 lines. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Giri: "Yesterday night, just when I was about to fall asleep, I suddenly thought of one line that he could play that would make some sense against me, and that would be the Winawer. So I sort of figured him out, but not this particular branch."

"I tried to make him uncomfortable for sure," said Carlsen, who thought that what happened in the game was "sort of logical." 

Carlsen also said: "For all the banter, for all the nonsense...he is still very strong and a draw today is fine." And then the banter and nonsense continued, with Giri tweeting and Carlsen replying, deciding the battle in his favor after all. 

There's something about Vladimir Kramnik playing with White versus Peter Svidler. His score before Wijk aan Zee this year was 8-1 (without counting draws), and that increased to a staggering 9-1.

"Rxa7 [and] I had seen and I came to the conclusion that it's fine, but it's not fine," Svidler said about the crucial moment. For any level below these giants it's perfectly reasonable to miss Kramnik's hidden idea, but Svidler was fairly critical of himself to have missed it.

Chess Game of the Day, GM Dejan Bojkov

Kramnik vs Svidler Tata Steel 2018 Wijk aan Zee

The players leaving the playing hall. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Gawain Jones suffered a typical King's Indian (k)nightmare vs. Wei Yi, who played a pretty rook move that won material—quite an unusual tactic.

Wei Yi vs Jones Wijk aan Zee Tata Steel 2018

Not a fun day at the office for Jones. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In the challengers, Anton Korobov and Vidit Santosh Gujrathi again both won, but so did IM Lucas van Foreest. If the 16-year-old sibling of Jorden van Foreest continues this way, he will surely make a grandmaster norm in this group. 

At breakfast he had told this reporter that he "would have a chance if he prepared well" and he kept his promise:

Round 5

Wednesday's fifth round was a special one, as the Tata Steel Chess On Tour program moved all the spectacle to Hilversum, south of Amsterdam and about a 45-minute drive from Wijk aan Zee. That meant that on Tuesday evening the cameras, computers and other technical equipment for the live broadcast had to be moved to there, and set up before the next round. (Now you also know the reason for this belated news report.)

While the last bits and pieces were set up in the Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid (Institute for Sound and Vision), the "photo moment" for the press involved the players together with characters of Sesame Street.

Chess players with Sesame Street characters, Hilversum 2018, Tata Steel Chess

In case you've wondered how quickly Big Bird aged: in the Netherlands, he's called "Pino" and he's always been blue instead of yellow. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The playing hall was one of the building's theater rooms. While rather pretty, and full of spectators all day, it was also too small. The tables, chairs, lamps, and cameras took all the real estate on stage so that photographers couldn't get close to the players.

Playing hall Hilversum Tata Steel

A colorful playing hall for the fifth round. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The commentary was done by GM Robin van Kampen and Dutch TV personality FM Tex de Wit. Unlike in Wijk aan Zee, the spectators on site could see them and enjoy the show, which was a great success. ("Few people know that it's actually Garry Kasparov inside Big Bird. I can reveal that now." - De Wit.)

Commentary Hilversum Tata Steel Chess

The commentary hall inside the Institute for Sound and Vision. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Except for round three, which had two decisive games, each round saw three victories. In Hilversum, the winners were Peter Svidler, Wesley So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov—the latter thus joined the tournament leaders in first place, and strengthened his position as world number-two.

Mamedyarov is now 12 points ahead of Fabiano Caruana, whom he beat in the mutual encounter. "My opponent will play in the Candidates'," the Azerbaijani pointed out. "Before the Candidates', it is very nice to win."

The secret for his recent successes is not only getting married and drinking less (as he said during the opening ceremony!). Mamedyarov has also changed his style to "old men's chess," as he said after this game: less tactical, and more strategical and positional.

Chess Game of the Day, GM Dejan Bojkov

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Hilversum, Tata Steel Chess

Mamedyarov had enough reasons for some smiles. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik drew a long game that started from a Giuoco Pianissimo, where Carlsen eventually had to defend a rook ending a pawn down. It was a doubled g-pawn (where it didn't matter too much how many g-pawns Black had!) but White needed to be careful.

Kramnik vs Carlsen Wijk aan Zee 2018 Tata Steel

Kramnik finally gives up his winning attempts. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

"My white games have been fairly disastrous to be fair," said Carlsen. "My black games have been very good but so far with White it's been nothing and today I was even suffering. So far the score is better than the play."

Carlsen vs Kramnik, Hilversum 2018 Tata Steel

Anand was surprised about Carlsen and Kramnik's attire at the start of the round as he didn't find it particularly chilly. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen Kramnik Hilversum 2018 Tata Steel

Another small issue with having the tournament at this venue: Each time Kramnik went for a cigarette, he had to walk all the way down and outside the building, thereby passing the commentary. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Also after his win vs Hou Yifan, Peter Svidler also complained about his lack of tactical vision in this tournament. Luckily for him, Yifan, who will soon cut down on her chess as she has been accepted to Oxford University, is doing badly in this tournament.

Peter Svidler Hilversum Tata Steel

Peter Svidler: happy with his win, but not with his play. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

While the commentators had called it a day, most players were already back in Wijk aan Zee and the crew started packing, Wesley So was quietly giving an endgame master class to Baskaran Adhiban (and the ones still following this game). After four draws, it was the first win for last year's winner.

The challengers played their games in Wijk aan Zee, where Korobov grabbed the sole lead with a third straight win. The Ukrainian GM beat Jorden van Foreest who blundered terribly (despite thinking for nine minutes) just out of the opening.

2018 Tata Steel Masters | Round 5 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Pts SB
1 Giri 2752 2888 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/5 7.5
2 Anand 2767 2883 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 3.5/5 7
3 Mamedyarov 2804 2897 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 3.5/5 6
4 Kramnik 2787 2825 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 3.0/5 6.75
5 Carlsen 2834 2821 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.0/5 6.25
6 So 2792 2818 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.0/5 6
7 Karjakin 2753 2745 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/5 7.5
8 Wei Yi 2743 2759 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 2.5/5 7
9 Matlakov 2718 2759 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 2.5/5 5
10 Jones 2640 2742 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 2.5/5 4.75
11 Svidler 2768 2724 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 2.5/5 4
12 Caruana 2811 2621 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/5
13 Adhiban 2655 2520 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 1.0/5
14 Hou Yifan 2680 2385 0 0 ½ 0 0 0.5/5

2018 Tata Steel Challengers | Round 5 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Pts SB
1 Korobov 2652 2981 ½ 1 1 1 1 4.5/5
2 Vidit 2718 2859 ½ ½ 1 1 1 4.0/5
3 L. van Foreest 2481 2688 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 3.0/5
4 Tari 2599 2619 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 2.5/5 6.25
5 L'Ami 2634 2637 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/5 6
6 Gordievsky 2622 2617 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 2.5/5 5.25
7 Xiong 2634 2525 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 5.25
8 J. van Foreest 2629 2536 0 1 ½ ½ 0 2.0/5 5.25
9 Krasenkow 2671 2549 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 5
10 Amin 2693 2520 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 2.0/5 4.75
11 Harika 2497 2556 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 4.75
12 Bluebaum 2640 2538 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 2.0/5 4.25
13 Bok 2607 2511 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 4.25
14 Girya 2489 2560 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 2.0/5 4

Games via TWIC.

Live coverage of the 80th Tata Steel Chess Tournament is proudly powered by

Previous stories:

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.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
Address: PO Box 60400 Palo Alto, CA 94306

More from PeterDoggers
New Power Generation Shows Itself At Sharjah Masters

New Power Generation Shows Itself At Sharjah Masters

14-Year-Old Lu Miaoyi Wins Chinese Women's Championship; Wang Yue Takes Open

14-Year-Old Lu Miaoyi Wins Chinese Women's Championship; Wang Yue Takes Open