Nakamura leads Tata with two rounds to go

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Nakamura leads Tata with two rounds to goHikaru Nakamura is in sole first place at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament after eleven rounds. On Friday the American grandmaster beat Ian Nepomniachtchi with the black pieces; co-leader Viswanathan Anand drew against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Magnus Carlsen bounced back with a black win against Vladimir Kramnik.

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.

January 27th, 2011: Round 11

"I'll take some luck when I can get it," Hikaru Nakamura said at the press conference of his game against Ian Nepomniachtchi. In the 11th round the American had shown once more that when he's in good shape, he's got tremendous calculating skills, and nicely refuted a pawn grab by the Russian.

Nepomniachtchi-Nakamura Wijk aan Zee 2011
24.Qxg7? White should have gone for 24.Qe3 Bd5 25.h5 0-0-0 26.Nc3 with a highly unclear position. 22...Rh7! Very strong. The Russian champion probably missed that here 25.Bxb6 fails to 25…Bxh4+ winning the queen on g7. 25.Qe5 Qxe5 26.Bxe5 Bxh4+ 27.Ng3 Nd7 28.Bd4 Bf3 and Black had a winning advantage.


Nepomniachtchi's mistake was one of those few, critical moments in a tournament that influence so many things. Because Vishy Anand drew his black game against Vachier-Lagrave, just like in the seventh round Nakamura seized the lead, now with just two more rounds to go. His comment on that and his explanation of the game will be published in a separate post here at ChessVibes.

It seemed that Anand was going for a win against the Frenchman, who hadn't made a strong impression the round before against Nakamura. The World Champion played the Najdorf and against 6.h3 ("to get some play" - Vachier-Lagrave) he chose a Scheveningen set-up that quickly transformed into a French type of middlegame. Both sides got some play on their strong sides of the board, but without big mistakes it just led to equality.


The other big clash was of course the game Kramnik-Carlsen; anyone losing that game would more or less have to give up hope of winning the tournament. Carlsen won, somewhat surprisingly, after a bad game against Nepomniachtchi and having the black pieces. He seemed under pressure when Kramnik was playing the opening fast, but then the former World Champion miscalculated.

Kramnik-Carlsen Wijk aan Zee 2011
17.Qxa5? White should have tried something like 17.Nexf7!? Rxf7 18.Nxf7 Kxf7 19.Qxa5 b4 20. a3!?. 17...Qxd6 18.Rc6 Qb8
Now 19. Nxd7 Bb7! 20.Nxb8 Rxa5 wins bigger material, so Kramnik went for 19.Rxa6 Rxa6 20.Qxa6 Nxe5 21.dxe5 Qxe5 22.Qxb5 Rb8 and so the Russian had to defend being a pawn down. This was the situation at move 34:
Black will win the b7 pawn and in the mean time white will force the black pawns to dark squares, so that he can try to enter with his king. According to Carlsen, Kramnik missed a draw at some point:
If White goes 45.Ke6 in this position Carlsen didn't think he could win.

We spoke briefly to Carlsen, who said that Kramnik offered a draw after he took on b5 with the queen. "I know him well enough to know what that means, so I had to play on." Here's te audio.



The rest of the games ended in draws. Aronian got some chances against Ponomariov, but the Ukrainian defended accurately in the ending. Not much happened in Grischuk-l'Ami and Shirov-Giri, but the longest game of the round was Wang Hao-Smeets. There around move twenty the game seemed to be going to end in a draw very quickly. However, White's piece activity soon led to the win of a pawn. A rook ending turned into a pawn ending that turned into a queen ending, and at move 108 the Chinese stopped his winning attempts.

Wang Hao-Smeets

By the way, don't miss GM Ian Rogers's live commentary of this round and the last two rounds!

In the B group things are very exciting at the moment. No less than four players are sharing the lead: Efimenko, McShane, Navara and So. In the 12th round we'll have McShane-So, and then in the last round there's Navara-McShane.

The C group has almost been decided. The top clash Vocaturo-Lahno was won by the Italian, who now leads with 1.5 points again. However, in the last two rounds he'll meet Swiercz with Black and then Nyzhnyk with White. Dutch IM Van Kampen can help Vocaturo a lot in his game against Nyzhnyk today...

Games Group A

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group A

Tata 2011 | Round 11 Standings Grandmaster Group A

Games Group B

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group B

Tata 2011 | Round 11 Standings Grandmaster Group B

Games Group C

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group C

Tata 2011 | Round 11 Standings Grandmaster Group C


More from PeterDoggers
Goryachkina Forces Draw, Eliminates Kosteniuk

Goryachkina Forces Draw, Eliminates Kosteniuk

Women's Candidates: Goryachkina Leads Against Kosteniuk

Women's Candidates: Goryachkina Leads Against Kosteniuk