Tata R6: Black Friday in Wijk aan Zee

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Tata R6: Nakamura rejoins Anand in the leadAfter six rounds Vishy Anand and Hikaru Nakamura are the co-leaders again in Wijk aan Zee. Today Anand drew quickly with Alexander Grischuk while Nakamura beat Erwin l'Ami. Anish Giri lost his first game, against Ian Nepomniachtchi, while Vladimir Kramnik won his first game, against Alexei Shirov. Magnus Carlsen beat Jan Smeets, like the other winners with the black pieces.

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.

Friday, January 21st, 2011: Round 6

Today the playing hall was packed with amateur chess players again as it was the first day of the round-robin groups of ten players. The two highest groups will produce two participants of next year's Grandmaster Group C, and the favourites are IMs Twan Burg, Thomas Willemze in group 1A and IMs Igor Bitensky and Manuel Bosboom in 1B, where Levon Aronian's girlfriend Arianne Caoili also participates.

In the A group of the main event, tournament leader Vishy Anand finished his game quickly today, in less than two hours in fact. The World Champion drew with White in a Najdorf (English Attack) versus Alexander Grischuk. There's not much to say about this game except for the fact that everything was known until just a few moves before the players shook hands.

Anand vs Grischuk

About half an hour later Ponomariov and Vachier-Lagrave also called it a day. With an unusual move order the two reached the Russian System of the Grünfeld, but then the white setup picked by Ponomariov was more solid than dangerous and Vachier reached complete equality easily.

Ponomariov vs Vachier-Lagrave

By then it was clear that local hero Anish Giri was in trouble, big trouble. The 16-year-old had bravely avoided a move repetition in the opening - another Grünfeld.

Giri-Nepomniachtchi Wijk aan Zee, 2011

16.Qe2 Qa5+ 17.Qd2 Qa6 18. Bf1!?
In hindsight this was just a wrong decision. White's king got stuck in the centre, and White wouldn't get serious compensation for it. Just when Giri had something going against the black queen, Nepomniachtchi delivered a decisive blow with a knight on d4.

32...Nxd4+! and Black won.
A video of the winner's press conference will be published in a separate post.
Giri vs Nepomniachtchi
Normally the press conference would have been reserved for a different fight: the one between Alexei Shirov and Vladimir Kramnik - clearly the game of the round. The reason it was not chosen? Well, right at the moment when Nepomniachtchi won, Kramnik seemed to be throwing away the win.

Shirov-Kramnik Wijk aan Zee, 2011

With 27...Qc1+ (instead of 27...Re8+ 28.Be2 Qc1+ 29. Kf2 Qxd2) engines suddenly dropped from '-+' to '=' (well, close to =). After the game Kramnik revealed that didn't see it this way; he simply felt that 27...Qc1+ was stronger and also winning. In any case, in the game...

...more tenacious would have been 32.Kg3, as 32.Kg4 allowed the pretty and deadly 32...Nd1!.

Here's an audio clip with Kramnik about this game and his tournament so far:



Magnus Carlsen won his second game in a row, against another Dutch GM: Jan Smeets. Somehow Black played this Berlin Wall cleverly, and White inaccurately. The players weren't sure what went wrong, but agreed that around move 15 it was already pretty hopeless for White. Here's Carlsen's take on the game and he also speaks about yesterday's crazy game.


Here's the moment Carlsen speaks about in his game against l'Ami:

Carlsen-l'Ami Wijk aan Zee, 2011

"Somehow I had spent all my time. Actually when I played 72.Rh2 I knew it was bad but I had to make a move, in five seconds, that was the problem. My idea was to play 72.Rh8 Re2 73.Rg8 Rxg2 74.Nf5+ and if he goes 74...Kh3 then 75.Rh8+ Kg4 76.Ne3+ wins the rook, but he plays

74... Kh5! and after 75.Rxg2 it's stalemate. I noticed this when I had a few seconds left on the clock and I panicked completely."

It became a real 'black Friday' for the local fans when the third Dutch GM, Erwin l'Ami, also lost. In what looked like an equal ending he got into timetrouble and inevitably started to make some mistakes. This allowed runner-up Hikaru Nakamura to catch Anand in the standings again.

After the game we briefly spoke with Nakamura through Skype. He told us that he felt it was actually quite difficult for White for most of the game. "He should have accepted my draw offer after 15...Rfc8." Nakamura wasn't sure if White can still hold the game around move 29.

Hikaru Nakamura

Which leaves us with one more game in the A group: Levon Aronian versus Wang Hao. In the main line of the Classical Slav White's 18.Qg3 was new and led to an ending quickly where White kept a slight edge. When the Chinese refrained from 33...gxh4 it looked like Aronian got something to play for, but Wang Hao didn't make a mistake.

Luke McShane is doing very, very well in the B group and is the clear favourite for promotion to the A group by now. In the 6th round the Englishman won the important game against Radek Wojtaszek, using one of his many Sicilian sidelines.

Luke McShane

Efimenko kept pace with a crushing black win against Spoelman. Quite a spectacular game was Navara-Ganguly, won by the Czech. We spoke to him afterwards:


In 'C' Daniele Vocaturo lost for the first time, against Tania Sachdev. The Italian now finds IM Ilya Nyzhnyk next to him at the top of the standings. Lahno is third. IM Jan-Willem won his first game, against compatriot IM Benjamin Bok.

Games Group A

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group A

Tata 2011 | Round 6 Standings Grandmaster Group A

Games Group B

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group B

Tata 2011 | Round 6 Standings Grandmaster Group B

Games Group C

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Tata 2011 | Schedule & results Grandmaster Group C

Tata 2011 | Round 6 Standings Grandmaster Group C


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!

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