Aronian Sole Leader Again In Tata Steel

Aronian Sole Leader Again In Tata Steel

| 20 | Chess Event Coverage

Official Website Round 6 Report

Armenia’s Levon Aronian defeated Azerbaijan’s Vugar Gashimov in a sixth round plagued by blunders and narrow escapes to become the sole leader in the standings of the 74th annual Tata Steel Chess Tournament Friday.

His main rival, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, dropped a half point after drawing his game with black against Czech GM David Navara and fell back to second place.

Aronian’s win, which came after 48 moves from a Benoni Defense, earned him a 500-euro bonus as Dutch GM Ivan Sokolov selected it for the daily ‘Piet Zwart Prize,’ funded by the municipalities of Velsen and Beverwijk, of which Wijk-aan-Zee – a small coastal resort that proudly claims to be the ‘Chess Capital of the World’ – forms a part.

Tata 2012 Round 6 Lev Aronian - Vugar Gashimov.jpg


“Aronian played the opening very aggressively,” Sokolov said. “It was a great game except, maybe, for one mistake Gashimov made.” Aronian identified that mistake as 18…Nb6 and said that “Vugar’s position would’ve been alright if he’d opted for 18…Rc8 with the idea …Rc7 instead.”

As regards Sokolov’s opinion about the opening, however, Aronian disagreed: “I hadn’t expected this line – a very rare and very risky line but highly interesting. You should play it very precisely, which I didn’t. I tried to play it safe, I think, and maybe giving the pawn on d5 wasn’t such a great idea after all. If Vugar had found 18…Rc8, it wouldn’t have been so easy for me to claim an advantage.” As the game went, black’s position collapsed after 21…c3 and the rest was a technical matter. “I was able to beat a strong opponent in an easy game,” Aronian said, “which doesn’t happen very often.” It just goes to show that “your opponent has to help a lot.”



U.S. GM Hikaru Nakamura, for one, got all the help he needed in his Dutch Defense with black against Boris Gelfand. The Israeli GM was doing fine in a more or less balanced position until a frightful blunder forced him to resign after 35 moves. “It was an awful game. I played horribly,” complained poor Gelfand when he faced the press afterwards. “It was probably drawn,” admitted Nakamura, “but I think Boris was running a bit short of time.”

Tata 2012 Round 6 Boris Gelfand - Hikaru Nakamura.jpg




Another entrant to fall victim to a blunder was Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov who brought Vassily Ivanchuk of the Ukraine to the verge of surrender with white in a Berlin-Wall game, when he decided – erroneously - to cut off a black bishop’s retreat with 52.g5 in the hope of capturing the piece. But trapping the bishop turned out to be impossible and the game ended in a draw.

“He had excellent chances,” giggled ‘Chucky’ after the two players had signed the peace. “But I was lucky. Okay, it was just sheer luck.”

“I’m very disappointed. I thought I was going to trap the bishop. But it was one huge disappointment,” said Topalov.

Tata 2012 Round 6 Veselin Topalov - Vassily Ivanchuk.jpg




The late Dutch GM Hein Donner used to claim that blunders are not made but pre-exist and, like viruses, invest tournament halls where they pick their victims among unsuspecting players. If so, this might explain why Holland’s Loek van Wely escaped with a draw in his game with black against Fabiano Caruana despite the fact that the latter held a vast advantage. After Van Wely wasted his position with the blunder 18…Ne5 (better would have been 18…Ba4), the Italian missed several chances to force a win and then, in time trouble, allowed the position to result in a draw.

Tata 2012 Round 6 Fabio Caruana - Loek van Wely.jpg




It might also explain why Dutch veteran GM Jan Timman inexplicably spoiled a balanced position in his Group-B encounter with India’s Pentala Harikrishna and why Dutch champion Anish Giri came away with a win from the Group-A English game in which his U.S. counterpart Gata Kamsky was only able to free his trapped queen at the cost of a full piece.

Giri, who wasted his advantage to end up in a drawn position but then profited from “Kamsky’s inaccurate play to regain the upper hand and fight his way to a win on his 86th move,” was far from happy with his victory. “Isn’t there an exit somewhere at the back,” he asked reporters after the game. “I’m afraid to face my coach after this sad performance.”

Tata 2012 Round 6 Anish Giri - Gata Kamsky.jpg




Neither luck nor bad luck, however, played a part in Teimour Radjabov’s win against Sergey Karjakin of the Ukraine. Playing white in a Queen’s Indian, the young Azeri gained an ever so slight advantage early on and slowly but gradually expanded it to clinch victory on his 62nd move.

Tata 2012 Round 6 Teimour Radjabov - Sergey Karjakin.jpg




And neither blunders nor luck, be it good or bad, disfigured Carlsen and Navara’s Meran, which was just not much of an interesting game. The position was dead-drawn after some 25 moves and remained that way until there were just two kings and one black bishop left on the board after 81 moves. Asked why he had not settled for a draw much earlier, Carlsen explained: “I’d just get bored in my hotel room. So where’s the fun in that?”

Tata 2012 Round 6 David Navara - Magnus Carlsen.jpg




The standings after 6 rounds in Group A:

Aronian, Levon  ARM  2805
Carlsen, Magnus  NOR  2835 4
Radjabov, Teimour  AZE  2773 4
Caruana, Fabiano  ITA  2736
Giri, Anish  NED  2714
Ivanchuk, Vassily  UKR  2766
Nakamura, Hikaru  USA  2759
Van Wely, Loek  NED  2692 3
Topalov, Veselin  BUL  2770 3
Gelfand, Boris  ISR  2739
Kamsky, Gata  USA  2732 2
Karjakin, Sergey  RUS  2769 2
Navara, David  CZE  2712
Gashimov, Vugar  AZE  2761


Harikrishna, the leader in Group B, earned the 250 euros set aside for the ‘Piet Zwart Prize’ in Group B, “because of the most inventive way in which he managed to win the struggle for the initiative in the opening and the early middle game, in what was otherwise an exciting, seesawing game,” Sokolov explained. Timman, he added, “might have evened out as late in the game as at his 38th move.”

Tata 2012 Round 6 Harikrishna - Timman.jpg



The results of round 6 in Group B:

Harikrishna, Pentala  1-0  Timman, Jan H
Motylev, Alexander  ½-½  Nyzhnyk, Illya
Bruzon Batista, Lazaro  1-0  Cmilyte, Viktorija
Reinderman, Dimitri  ½-½  L'Ami, Erwin 
Vocaturo, Daniele  ½-½  Tiviakov, Sergei
Lahno, Kateryna  ½-½  Harika, Dronavalli
Ernst, Sipke  1-0  Potkin, Vladimir


The standings after 6 rounds in Group B:

Harikrishna, Pentala  IND  2665 5
Motylev, Alexander  RUS  2677 4
L'Ami, Erwin  NED  2596
Bruzon Batista, Lazaro  CUB  2691
Reinderman, Dimitri  NED  2581 3
Nyzhnyk, Illya  UKR  2568 3
Tiviakov, Sergei  NED  2677 3
Timman, Jan H  NED  2571 3
Vocaturo, Daniele  ITA  2545 3
Lahno, Kateryna  UKR  2557
Ernst, Sipke  NED  2606
Potkin, Vladimir  RUS  2684 2
Cmilyte, Viktorija  LTU  2503 2
Harika, Dronavalli  IND  2516 2


In Group C, Maxim Turov was held to draw, his first in the tournament, by Sweden’s Hans Tikkanen, but remained on top of the standings for a near perfect score of 5.5/6. The ‘Piet Zwart Prize’ – 100 euros in this section of the tournament – was shared by England’s Matthew Sadler and Holland’s Etienne Goudriaan for the most entertaining way they battled their way to a peaceful result.

Tata 2012 Round 6 Sadler - Goudriaan.jpg




The results of round 6 in Group C:

Tikkanen, Hans  ½-½  Turov, Maxim
Sadler, Matthew D  ½-½  Goudriaan, Etienne
Grover, Sahaj  ½-½  Danielian, Elina
Tania, Sachdev  ½-½  Adhiban, Baskaran
Paehtz, Elisabeth  ½-½  Brandenburg, Daan
Ootes, Lars  0-1  Schut, Lisa
Hopman, Pieter  1-0  Haast, Anne


The standings after round 6 in Group C:

Turov, Maxim  RUS  2645
Tikkanen, Hans  SWE  2549
Adhiban, Baskaran  IND  2561 4
Sadler, Matthew D  ENG  2660
Grover, Sahaj  IND  2532
Schut, Lisa  NED  2290
Brandenburg, Daan  NED  2527 3
Goudriaan, Etienne  NED  2279 3
Tania, Sachdev  IND  2411
Paehtz, Elisabeth  GER  2454
Ootes, Lars  NED  2326 2
Hopman, Pieter  NED  2342 2
Danielian, Elina  ARM  2490
Haast, Anne  NED  2290 1


Report and photos from the official website coverage. Videos by Freshmen media.

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