Rapport Spoils Brilliancy, Loses To So
Richard Rapport was on his way to scoring a great win versus Wesley So, but then he blundered away the game. In round three of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, Sergey Karjakin and Wei Yi scored their first wins, versus Loek van Wely and Ian Nepomniachtchi respectively.
Photo Alina l'Ami.
"I don't know what is worse: to be on the losing side of a brilliancy, or to spoil one." Whereas commentator Yasser Seirawan hadn't decided yet, today Richard Rapport would probably have preferred the former over the latter.
The Hungarian grandmaster played a great game against Wesley So (...Bc1!, twice!) whose undefeated streak of 45 classical games was about to come to an end, when suddenly Rapport blundered.
A lucky So got a full point more than was expected today. | Photo Alina l'Ami.
So missed that 24...Bc1 move, and he wasn't happy about his play (he especially didn't like 19.f3). "I didn't really play well. Compared to my other games, this is very low quality."
Our commentator was clearly inspired by this song today.
Another winner played a much smoother game. Sergey Karjakin defeated Loek van Wely, who surprised his opponent with the Pirc.
Commentator Peter Svidler joked on Chess24 that the Dutchman was too afraid of 6.a3 against his Najdorf, whereas Karjakin said he spent the whole evening deciding whether he should go for that again! (He didn't want to reveal his final decision.)
Loek van Wely, shortly before the game, with his son Nicholas. | Photo Alina l'Ami.
As it went, Karjakin basically got a slight advantage out of the opening after another surprise: 8...Nd5 instead of 8...Nh5.
Not wanting to suffer longer, Van Wely went for a queen sac that was just incorrect.
Karjakin then missed an easier victory with 21.Bd3 (he saw that, but not the idea 22.Qe4), but still the win was never really in doubt.
At the end of the day, there was even a third winner. Wei Yi won arguably the best game of the round in fact, versus Ian Nepomniachtchi, in a Poisoned Pawn Najdorf.
Things got really sharp out of the opening, and White retained the initiative. "Nepo" thought the worst was over when he traded queens on move 24, but then a nasty tactic came his "Wei."
The Chinese grandmaster won an exchange, but for two pawns. Black definitely had drawing chances, but "objectively it's difficult," as Karjakin stated. Eventually his compatriot went down on move 75.
Wei Yi moved to "plus one" and shared second place. | Photo Alina l'Ami.
And what about the world champion, Magnus Carlsen? Well, he played a rather quick draw as Black against Dmitry Andreikin. The latter used a new idea with 11.Ne5 and said that his opponent's 12...Ng4 came as a surprise. He was better, but then erred.
"I made a very stupid move: 16.Bh3," said Andreikin. He pointed out that the immediate 16.Kh1 and 17.Rg1 was better. That should give White a small initiative.
Carlsen's 16...f5 was strong and got Andreikin thinking. The Russian player felt that Black was better there, and in fact, he was surprised that Carlsen accepted his draw offer at the end. "26...Bd7 was possible," said Andreikin.
Adhiban-Aronian, Eljanov-Harikrishna and Wojtaszek-Giri ended in draws (see the PGN file below). After three rounds, Pavel Eljanov is still the sole leader.
Tomorrow's pairings are Aronian-Nepomniachtchi, Carlsen-Wei Yi, Giri-Andreikin, Rapport-Wojtaszek, Van Wely-So, Harikrishna-Karjakin, and Adhiban-Eljanov.
Tata Steel Masters | Round 3 Standings
Games from TWIC.
In the challengers, there's a player who is sitting on a perfect score after three rounds: Markus Ragger of Austria. He's the first player from his country to play in Wijk aan Zee in half a century(!) and only the fourth Austrian ever, after IM Alfred Beni in 1954, GM Erich Eliskases in 1959 and GM Karl Robatsch in 1962, 1963 and 1967.
Today Ragger had an easy day at the office against Eric Hansen, who was spotted at breakfast at 8 a.m. by this reporter. Hansen had gone to bed early, but apparently that didn't help, because what he did after move 12 was not great...
Top seed Markus Ragger won his first three games. | Photo Alina l'Ami.
Dutch Champion Jorden van Foreest lost his second game in a row, at the expense of the Chinese lady, Tingjie Lei. The opening was quite weird!
Two players were checkmated in this group today. For starters, Ilia Smirin nicely finished off Gawain Jones, who was on the winning side of a combination the other day.
A pretty combination by Ilia Smirin. | Photo Alina l'Ami.
More dramatic was how Benjamin Bok found a self-mate in a winning rook endgame.
Tomorrow's pairings are Grandelius-Xiong, Tingjie Lei-l'Ami, Hansen-Van Foreest, Dobrov-Ragger, Lu Shanglei-Bok, Jones-Tari, and Guramishvili-Smirin.
Tata Steel Challengers | Round 3 Standings
Games from TWIC.