Mamedyarov Wins 3 In A Row At Tata Steel
Had one speculated a year ago as to which elite player would be today's clear number-two by 20 (!) points, few (zero?) people would have picked Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. In the past year, Mamedyarov has collected more than 50 rating points with both accurate, creative, and exciting play.
With his third win in a row, Mamedyarov is now only 17.9 Elo points behind Magnus Carlsen. He holds a larger lead over number three (Wesley So) than Carlsen does over him.
Tata Steel Masters
Mamedyarov was the first to win today. He played the Catalan, an opening surprise, and decided to gobble a pawn when Wei Yi offered it.
Presumably, the proffered pawn sacrifice was carefully prepared by Wei, but Mamedyarov retained chances and soon pounced on inaccuracies by his opponent which allowed him to strongly advance his extra and passed a-pawn.
Mamedyarov collected a "hat trick." | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Magnus Carlsen also won, but his path to victory against Hou Yifan was longer and narrower. Deciding to force the trade of queens early, Carlsen obtained a small plus and proceeded to apply his sizable technique to accurately pressuring Hou Yifan.
An exchange sacrifice brought Carlsen a large advantage, but it also reduced the material, making the margin of potential victory quite slim. It seems Hou Yifan could have held the position, but only with engine accuracy.
Carlsen's 11th-round game vs Mamedyarov is likely to be critical. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Perhaps the most impressive victory of the day was Vladimir Kramnik's seemingly smooth win as Black against Viswanathan Anand. Deep strategic understanding of the position allowed Kramnik to freeze play on the kingside, leave his king in the center, and pressure Anand on the queenside.
Particularly attractive was the manner in which Kramnik's queen and bishop worried at White's weaknesses on both the queenside and the kingside via flexible positioning on d7.
In today's battle between veterans, Kramnik triumphed. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Less mentioned but nearly as dramatic as Mamedyarov's Elo rise has been Fabiano Caruana's fall. With another loss today, Caruana (world number-two at the event's start) has shed 20 rating points. His costly blunder today against Sergey Karjakin was both tricky and instructive, but it's also hard to think that an in-form Caruana would have made this oversight.
Caruana's rough form has dropped him from 2811 to 2790. Photo Tata Steel Chess.
Standings After Round 7 | Tata Steel Masters
Tata Steel Challengers
The challengers group had a sparse two decisive games today. Both Aryan Tari and Matthias Bluebaum won to get back to even. World junior champion Tari nicely built up the pressure in a Caro-Kann Defense.
Tari scored the fastest win of the day in the challengers section. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Standings After Round 7 | Tata Steel Challengers
|3||L. van Foreest||2481||17||4.0||.||½||½||1||.||.||½||.||0||.||1||½||.|
|10||J. van Foreest,||2629||19||3.0||0||.||1||.||.||0||½||.||½||½||.||.||½|
Live coverage of the 80th Tata Steel Chess Tournament is proudly powered by Chess.com.
The playing hall as seen from the rest area and entrance. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Spectators (either playing in the amateur section or visiting) can get pretty close. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
As usual, the Carlsen game has the most photographers. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Vidit, Adhiban and Lucas van Foreest tend to have breakfast together and exchange lots of smiles. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
We might see Anton Korobov back next year in the masters. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.