Tata R12: Nakamura maintains slim lead in Wijk aan Zee

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Nakamura maintains slim lead in Wijk aan ZeeHikaru Nakamura maintained his slim lead in the A group of the 2011 Tata Steel Chess Tournament. In the 12th round the American grandmaster drew quickly with Vladimir Kramnik, and saw Vishy Anand escaping with a draw against Anish Giri many hours later. In the B group McShane and Navara share the lead, and meet in the last round. In 'C' runner-up Nyzhnyk can still ruin Vocaturo's dream in their mutual encounter on Sunday.

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 28th, 2011: Round 12

Taking it game by game, that was Nakamura's strategy for the last two rounds of the Tata Steel tournament. The I'm-going-to-play-really-solid-and-draw approach "often backfires", the American said at yesterday's press conference. Well, the next day it didn't backfire for himself, as he drew with Vladimir Kramnik in no time.


The game started like Smeets-Kramnik earlier in the tournament: the former World Champion playing the Berlin, and Nakamura avoiding the Berlin Wall with the solid but less ambitious 5.Re1. The only thing that's left to say about this game is that 13.Bd3 was a novelty - there 13.Bf4 had been played in a game Steinitz-Zukertort from 1886!

Obviously this draw gave Vishy Anand an excellent opportunity to once more regain a shared first place in the standings. However, the Indian didn't have his best day and it was he who got into trouble, against Dutch revelation Anish Giri. It was the first time the two played each other in a tournament game.


Giri came out of the opening fine and then won a pawn after a phase in which Anand seemed to be playing without a clear plan. ("Lots of aimless moves; I was not very happy" - Anand.) After the queens went off, Giri continued to play strongly. But, it must be added, Anand continued to defend well, until the following position was reached:

Anand-Giri Wijk aan Zee 2011
Here Giri played 49...Rd2 and after 50.Rc7 the players agreed to a draw because White will give perpetual check with his c-rook, and the black king cannot go to h5 because of Rff6. Instead, 49...Rb6! should have been tried. Anand had been calculating 50.Rd4 h5 51.e4 Rc5 52.Rdd1 c2 53.Rc1
hoping to get the other rook to f2, which is a positional draw. However, after 53...Rc3 54.Kg2 Rf6! shows that White is a tempo too late, e.g. 55.Rf4 Kf7 56. Kf2 Ke6 and Black wins. Giri thought it was a draw "even if White plays passively," and he mentioned a line Anand probably meant to play: 50.Kg2!? Rxe3 51.Rf2 Rc6 52.Rd5! h5 53. Rc2 and this might be a draw.

"I assumed I was lost, but I didn't see a forced win for him either," Anand said after the game. He exchanges a few moves with GM Ian Rogers in the following audio clip:



Here's Giri's take on the game:


Magnus Carlsen won against Wang Hao and so he kept a tiny chance to finish on shared first place. It wasn't a very good game by the Chinese, who lamented about tiredness afterwards. "I guess he didn't see my plan with Bg4 coming," Carlsen said. Where White got a free hand on the kingside, Black didn't get enough counterplay. The finish was pretty:

Carlsen-Wang Hao Wijk aan Zee 2011
Carlsen-Wang Hao
24.Bxf7+! Kxf7 25.Qf3+ Kg8 (25...Kg6 26. Bf6!) 26.Rxh8+ Kxh8 27. Rh1+ Kg8 28.Qh5 Rf8
Carlsen-Wang Hao
29.Bf6! and Wang Hao resigned because he will either lose his queen or get mated (or both).

Carlsen-Wang Hao

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi, who seems to have used all his energy in defeating Carlsen in round 10. The Frenchman played a very deep pawn sacrifice:

Vachier-Lagrave - Nepomniachtchi Wijk aan Zee 2011
Vachier-Lagrave - Nepomniachtchi
22.Re5!? Qxc4 23.Rc1 Qa6 24.Rce1 Qd6 25.h4 Rd7 26.h5
Vachier-Lagrave - Nepomniachtchi
Black might have an extra pawn, but it's White who's dealing the cards here. 26...gxh5 27.Rxf5 e5 28.Qg5+ Rg7 29.Qxh5 Rge7 30.Qf3 Rg7 31.Rf6 Qd8 32.d6 e4 33.Qf5 Rd7
Vachier-Lagrave - Nepomniachtchi
And here it's: White to play and win. 34.Re3! Rxd6 35.Rg3+ Kh8 36.Rg7!!
Vachier-Lagrave - Nepomniachtchi
Black resigned.

In the 12th round Alexander Grischuk finally managed to win a game. The Russian grandmaster outplayed Jan Smeets with Black in a non-theoretical Ruy Lopez and won in 47 moves. In the daily round report video he had the following chat with Bianca Muhren:

Congratulations, happy you won? Yes, very happy, I am not sure if I was ever that happy after a win in my life.

Because this tournament was very hard for you I think? It still is.

And you're going for the win also tomorrow? I will try, but now after minus five I'm thinking like an amateur: OK, it's interesting to play against Carlsen. Just like an amateur.

Tail-ender Alexei Shirov defended an ending a pawn down to a draw against Ruslan Ponomariov. Levon Aronian went 'for something completely different' (a Czech Benoni) against Erwin l'Ami in an attempt to win the game, but this plan didn't work. On the contrary, l'Ami got a big advantage, but eventually let it slip away.


This year is certainly one of the most exciting editions in Wijk aan Zee ever, because also in the B and C groups things have not been decided yet. Moreover, in both groups the leading players will face each other in the last round.

Of the four leaders in the B group only Luke McShane and David Navara won their games, and in the last round they are paired against each other. The Englishman has White.


Long-term leader Daniele Vocaturo still isn't sure of victory in the C group. After a loss against Dariusz Swiercz the Italian's lead decreased to half a point, since his main rival Ilya Nyzhnyk beat Robin van Kampen. And indeed: tomorrow it's Vocaturo-Nyzhnyk...


And, once more: don't miss GM Ian Rogers's live commentary at the official site, for today's round and tomorrow's last round!

Games Group A

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group A

Tata 2011 | Round 12 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 12 Standings Grandmaster Group C


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