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Tata Steel Chess R3: Vidit Defends Brilliantly To Grab Sole Lead
Vidit Gujrathi tops the standings of the Masters with 2.5/3. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

Tata Steel Chess R3: Vidit Defends Brilliantly To Grab Sole Lead

PeterDoggers
| 38 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Vidit Gujrathi is the sole leader at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament after defending brilliantly against GM Daniil Dubov, who played creatively but eventually over-pressed. Co-leaders Jan-Krzysztof Duda and GM Magnus Carlsen drew, while GM Richard Rapport, GM Andrey Esipenko, and GM Jorden van Foreest all won their games in round three.

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While the third round saw some lovely, tactical chess and it felt like the 84th Tata Steel Chess Tournament was really taking off, behind the scenes the organizers had other worries. Even without the presence of amateurs, there's always a risk of a Covid outbreak when holding an event in the middle of the pandemic.

Like last year, players, coaches, and crew are required to wear face masks (players can take them off while at the board) and are tested regularly. So far, none of the players tested positive for the coronavirus, knock on wood.

However, before the start of the round, two seconds of players tested positive and went into quarantine. The organizers informed Chess.com that, according to close contact tracing, the players for whom the seconds work have been retested as a precaution and tested negative for Covid-19.

One of the two seconds is GM Ramesh R.B., who assists GM Praggnanandhaa R. in Wijk aan Zee. The Indian coach revealed on Twitter that he had tested positive. Luckily, from the very start, his pupil has been one of the few players who is wearing his face mask at the board all the times.

With the high transmissibility of the omicron variant and the Netherlands registering another record of new corona cases this Monday, it wouldn't be unlikely that more cases will pop up in Wijk aan Zee as well. Let's hope not, and let's quickly move to the games.

The tactics were just about everywhere in this round, but one encounter stood out with a bunch of amazing motifs all in one game. Even if it had ended in a draw, we would have chosen it as Game Of The Day, but in the end Dubov went wrong and Vidit was rewarded for his brilliant defense with a full point and the sole lead in the tournament.

A key moment was the following.

Having played the interesting 8.Na3 in the opening (an Italian) which allowed 8...Bxa3 and the doubling of the a-pawns, Dubov got the chance to show the compensation, the open b-file, with the lovely 21.Rxb7!!,the point being 21...Nxb7 22.Bb5+! (not 22.Nxf5? Rxf5 23.Rxe4 Re5) Kf7 and only then 23.Nxf5 with a strong attack.

Vidit, however, found the best reply 21...Rf6!! and continued to play perfectly, after which there was nothing more than a perpetual. It seems Dubov wanted more with 32.f3, but that was just too much.

"I thought that I was pretty lost, that's what my feeling was, but now when I checked the game with a weak engine it says I played all the best moves so I'm very happy about that," said Vidit. "If all these moves were good, then I would definitely say it's one of my most memorable games. But if they're not good, then I'll pick something else!"

If all these moves were good, then I would definitely say it's one of my most memorable games.
—Vidit Gujrathi

Rapport's tactic at the end of his game with GM Nils Grandelius was less complicated but nonetheless quite a nice geometrical sequence. (It also wasn't the first time that he stunned with putting a rook en prise on h1!).

The Hungarian GM is fully back in the tournament with two consecutive wins, while Grandelius has been struggling so far.

We pick up the game a bit earlier though, to show a remarkable opportunity for White. If Grandelius had more time on the clock, he might have been able to find it:

Besides Rapport, there was one more player in the Masters group who didn't draw a game yet. Van Foreest bounced back from his unnecessary loss the other day with a fine win vs. Praggnanandhaa, which got interesting as early as the third move. Once again, the 22-year-old Dutchman showed to be full of opening ideas—the reason why he was part of Carlsen's team during the 2021 world championship.

In this case, it was 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4!?

While developing the bishop to c4 is completely normal after 1...e5, here it is rare because you give Black the chance to push away that bishop with tempo using ....e6 and ...d5, which is what happened. Still, these days anything is possible!

"I had been planning to play this line for a long time already, especially in classical chess, but I never got the chance," said Van Foreest. "The theory is evolving rapidly and you're trying to catch your opponent off-guard. These days people to try to do that as soon as possible, basically."

Van Foreest turned it into a pawn sacrifice on move 11 and the compensation was clear: Black's horrible doubled c-pawns, which soon got company on the e-file with another set of doubled pawns, dubbed "goal-post pawns" by our commentators.

Van Foreest: "It's a little bit easier to play as White, it's maybe not all that much, but definitely long-term White has very good prospects of finally taking all the pawns. Basically, that's what happened."

32-year-old GM Sergey Karjakin faced his second compatriot straight, and again it didn't go so well. After failing to get an opening advantage vs. Dubov yesterday, the 2016 world championship candidate lost to 19-year-old Esipenko today, a result that feels like a changing of the guard. That's a bit premature though, because Karjakin is one of the 2022 candidates and Esipenko isn't.

Karjakin's choice of 31...Reb8 was odd:

Esipenko Karjakin Tata 2022
Esipenko vs. Karjakin. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

After retaining his world title, Carlsen stated that his new ambition is to break 2900 one day. If that's still going to happen, it won't be in Wijk aan Zee this year now that he scored a second draw. (The astronomical scores of either 12.5/13 or 13/13 would have been needed to do so.)

In an Anti-Marshall Ruy Lopez, Duda followed GM Ian Nepomniachtchi's approach from the title match and then it was Carlsen who first deviated, using a move played before by... Duda.

"I kind of conceded the theoretical battle by going 13...h6 instead of 13...d5," said Carlsen. "I basically just wanted to play some relatively quiet position and gradually equalize, but I think he played it very cleverly with 16.Qc2 and 18.d4, which I had kind of underestimated. He got a little more pressure than I had hoped he would."

22...Rb2! was clever from the world champion, on his turn, and trading the rooks was too tempting for Duda. Carlsen thought that was where White lost his advantage.

Duda Carlsen 2022
Duda-Carlsen, the FIDE World Cup winner vs. the world champion. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

GM Anish Giri drew his white game with GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, which was a bit disappointing for him, after he had won a pawn in the opening. In the all-American clash, GM Fabiano Caruana was pushing for a long time vs. GM Sam Shankland but couldn't convert and even had to be careful himself at the end.

Round 3 Standings Masters

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4
1 Vidit 2727 3019 ½ 1 1 2.5/3
2 Duda 2760 2867 ½ 1 ½ 2.0/3 3.5
3 Carlsen 2865 2869 ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 3
4 Esipenko 2714 2912 ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 2.75
5 Rapport 2763 2831 0 1 1 2.0/3 2.5
6 Van Foreest 2702 2802 0 1 1 2.0/3 1.5
7 Caruana 2792 2726 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.25
8 Mamedyarov 2767 2736 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2
9 Praggnanandhaa 2612 2624 ½ 0 ½ 1.0/3 1.5
10 Giri 2772 2628 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1.25
11 Karjakin 2743 2622 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1.25
12 Dubov 2720 2626 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1.25
13 Shankland 2708 2610 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1
14 Grandelius 2672 2445 0 0 ½ 0.5/3

Two players joined IM Volodar Murzin in first place in the Challengers group. The first to do so was GM Arjun Erigaisi, the 18-year-old Indian player who did so well in fast time controls last year at both the Lindores Abbey Mikhail Tal memorial blitz and the Tata Steel India Rapid and Blitz tournaments.

He won his second game in a row, today vs. the Belgian GM Daniel Dardha following Carlsen's recipe of playing vs. the Kalashnikov Sicilian. To be fair, Dardha was doing OK at some point:

Arjun Erigaisi
Will this tournament be Arjun Erigaisi's breakthrough in classical chess? Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

The other winner was the GM Thai Dai Van Nguyen, the son of a Vietnamese businessman and the youngest grandmaster ever in the Czech Republic. WGM Zhu Jiner lost her third straight game and it seems this time it went wrong only deep in the rook endgame:

Round 3 Standings Challengers

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4
1 Nguyen 2613 2844 ½ 1 1 2.5/3 3
2 Murzin 2519 2779 ½ 1 1 2.5/3 2.25
3 Erigaisi 2632 2838 ½ 1 1 2.5/3 2
4 Jumabayev 2631 2671 ½ 1 ½ 2.0/3 2.5
5 Bjerre 2586 2699 0 1 1 2.0/3 2.5
6 Ganguly 2627 2669 ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 1.5
7 L'Ami 2622 2647 0 1 1 2.0/3 1
8 Vogel 2452 2552 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3
9 Van Foreest 2539 2510 ½ 0 ½ 1.0/3 2.25
10 Warmerdam 2607 2450 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1.75
11 Shuvalova 2516 2420 0 0 1 1.0/3 0
12 Maurizzi 2502 2336 ½ 0 0 0.5/3 1
13 Dardha 2532 2255 0 0 ½ 0.5/3 0.75
14 Zhu 2478 1784 0 0 0 0.0/3

All games round 3


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