Tata Steel Chess 2022 R6: Carlsen Joins Leaders, Caruana Blunders Tragically
Magnus Carlsen, now in shared first place. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

Tata Steel Chess 2022 R6: Carlsen Joins Leaders, Caruana Blunders Tragically

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With a fairly smooth win vs. GM Richard Rapport, World Champion Magnus Carlsen joined the leaders in round six of the 2022 Tata Steel Chess Tournament. GM Fabiano Caruana had just equalized a tough position in time-trouble vs. GM Anish Giri when he tragically blundered a rook.

GM Sergey Karjakin won his first game, outplaying GM Jorden van Foreest. In the Challengers group, GM Arjun Erigaisi continues to steamroll through the tournament and now also defeated his compatriot GM Surya Ganguly.

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Like GM Andrey Esipenko last year, Rapport sensationally beat Carlsen in their first-ever encounter, back in 2017 in Wijk aan Zee. A year later, Carlsen took revenge and then got a plus score against the Hungarian after winning their classical game at the 2021 Norway Chess tournament. Today, he won again.

Via a 1.Nf3 move-order, the players reached the Open Catalan, with Rapport playing a sideline with an early …Nc6 and …Rb8 to try and hang on to his c4-pawn. It was a line Carlsen hadn't had on the board for 16 years and both players spent an unusual amount of time in the opening.

"It feels like on all moves we both have a lot of alternatives, so there was a lot to consider," said Carlsen. "We sort of ended up making the most obvious moves, which usually happens even after a long think."

Carlsen Rapport Tata 2022
Carlsen went 1.Nf3 vs. Rapport. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

It seems both players were "out of book" by move seven (a 16-minute think for Rapport) or eight (a 24-minute think for Carlsen), and 8.Qc1 was already a novelty. Rapport decided to give back the pawn for quick development, but it meant that his structure had been damaged a little.

The middlegame soon became very concrete. When Rapport missed a chance for active play in the center, Carlsen's passed a-pawn suddenly became an important factor which soon gave White a winning advantage. Our co-commentator WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni: "Suddenly, it just went from nothing to winning in an instant!"

"I really needed a win today after some missed opportunities in the last round. Now everything is looking a lot better," said Carlsen.

Although both haven't turned 30 yet, Caruana and Giri are among the veterans in Wijk aan Zee. They played what was already their 35th(!) classical game and were tied 3-3 (with 28 draws) before today.

Caruana's non-theoretical double fianchetto in the opening was perhaps a sign of frustration over failed attempts to find ideas against his opponent's solid opening repertoire. Giri's classical response to this Réti setup meant that we also had a line from the London System reversed.

After 13 moves, Caruana had more time than he started with and he kept a slight edge on the clock while it took 19 moves before the first trade was made. His pawn sacrifice on the 24th move was nice, and the American GM developed a strong initiative that would have been close to winning if he had played 31.Ng4!.

Caruana Giri Tata 2022
Caruana and Giri meeting at the board. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

As it went, Giri took over and got a big advantage, but in time-trouble Caruana managed to hold on, until a horrendous blunder on move 40 (he might just have forgotten about that knight on c4) suddenly killed the game instantly.

Giri was happy with the full point but not about his play, saying: "Either I am not a very good chess player in general or somehow the positions I'm getting are too complicated for me, or the engines are too strong, I don't know. If I look at my games after the game, they're so bad. Today also, it was just such a disaster."

The Dutchman felt that he "didn't have the right evaluation throughout" and that it didn't occur to him that he was winning. About his opponent's blunder, he mentioned a well-known saying: "A knight moving backwards are the hardest moves in chess."

Van Foreest and Karjakin had played just once before (an online encounter won by Karjakin) but never faced for a classical game before. The Dutchman tried a new idea in the Italian that looked odd: putting his king's bishop on b8. That should have been a temporary nuisance, but with some good, concrete moves Karjakin managed to get a big advantage.

"It was a principled line he played," said Karjakin, who pointed out that this Italian was probably heavily analyzed by the Carlsen team (which Van Foreest was part of) and that of GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (for whom Karjakin worked).

Especially 24.b4 was nice, and slowly but surely Karjakin improved his position further until he won a pawn on move 36. The Russian GM then quietly continued maneuvering and eventually converted the full point on move on move 65. An outstanding game by the former world championship challenger, described as a "positional masterclass" by Steil-Antoni.

"I started to run in the mornings, already for two days, and I am playing much better," Karjakin revealed. "I'll probably keep running!"

GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda seems to be kind of an Angstgegner for GM Vidit Gujrathi as he was up 4-0 with four draws in their previous eight encounters. They played a very theoretical line in the Semi-Tarrasch where Black's 19th move was the first new one.

"Most of the game was my preparation," Duda said afterward. "The prep goes to 25, even 30 move, sometimes."

When Vidit shifted his rook to the kingside to start an attack, Duda responded by a combination of running his pawns on the queenside and trading two minor pieces for a rook and pawn. This material imbalance was quickly restored when Vidit decided to return the minor extra material, after which Duda soon repeated moves, having more than an hour left on the clock.

GM Praggnanandhaa R. and GM Sam Shankland only played their second game ever, after drawing in the Tata Steel India rapid tournament last November. These players moved fast in the opening, reaching 15 moves of Sveshnikov theory in less than 10 minutes. It was the 7.Nd5 line, which became tremendously popular after the 2018 Carlsen-Caruana world championship.

The first new move only came on move 21, when Shankland deviated from the game Arjun-Ivic from the 2021 Riga Open. Interestingly, with that new move he allowed a check and gave up his right to castle. In fact, what he really allowed was a quick move repetition based on that king in the center, which means Pragg got a very easy draw as he basically won the battle of preparation.

Praggnanandhaa Tata 2022
Praggnanandhaa was well-prepared in the Sveshnikov. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

After drawing with the world champion the other day, GM Nils Grandelius said that he was looking at it as a whole new tournament. "This looks like a whole new Nils!" said our co-commentators GM Robert Hess when the Swedish GM played 14…g5, which led to a favorable queen and pawn trade for Black. GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who had beaten Grandelius in their only classical game, back in 2011 at the European Club Cup, couldn't have been happy with how the opening went and decided to offer a draw then and there.

Mamedyarov Grandelius Tata 2022
A quick draw in Mamedyarov-Grandelius. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

GM Daniil Dubov was leading 3-0 (with two draws), but it was GM Andrey Esipenko who eliminated him in the playoff at the FIDE World Cup last year. The two Russian GMs played an old, classical line of the Open Catalan where Esipenko ended up with a positional disadvantage but then defended very well to hold the game.

Round 6 Standings Masters

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4
1 Carlsen 2865 2851 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.0/6 11.75
2 Vidit 2727 2864 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 4.0/6 11
3 Mamedyarov 2767 2843 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.0/6 10.75
4 Esipenko 2714 2827 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 3.5/6 11.5
5 Rapport 2763 2778 0 0 ½ 1 1 1 3.5/6 7.75
6 Duda 2760 2747 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 3.0/6 10.25
7 Giri 2772 2751 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.0/6 9.25
8 Karjakin 2743 2743 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.0/6 8
9 Caruana 2792 2673 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 2.5/6 7.75
10 Dubov 2720 2684 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/6 7.75
11 Shankland 2708 2656 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/6 6.25
12 Van Foreest 2702 2679 ½ 0 0 0 1 1 2.5/6 6
13 Praggnanandhaa 2612 2671 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 2.5/6 5.75
14 Grandelius 2672 2546 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 1.5/6

We're not halfway through the tournament just yet, but Erigaisi has already made a big step towards earning a spot in the 2023 Masters tournament. His superb 5.5/6 is one and a half more than the pack, and it involves five wins in a row. Two more and we can bring back the "doing a Caruana" term again.

By now, Erigaisi earned the Game of the Day spot in our report as he beautifully made use of his bishop pair in the middlegame.

Erigaisi Ganguly Tata 2022
Erigaisi vs. Ganguly. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

Round 6 Standings Challengers

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4
1 Erigaisi 2632 2962 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 5.5/6
2 Nguyen 2613 2679 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 4.0/6 11.75
3 Jumabayev 2631 2661 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.0/6 9.5
4 Murzin 2519 2619 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 3.5/6 8.75
5 L'Ami 2622 2595 ½ ½ 0 1 1 ½ 3.5/6 8.25
6 Bjerre 2586 2627 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/6 8.25
7 Ganguly 2627 2603 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 3.5/6 6.75
8 Van Foreest 2539 2578 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.0/6 9.5
9 Warmerdam 2607 2568 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.0/6 8
10 Shuvalova 2516 2488 ½ 0 0 0 1 1 2.5/6
11 Vogel 2452 2470 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 2.0/6
12 Dardha 2532 2384 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/6 4.5
13 Zhu 2478 2376 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 1.5/6 2.5
14 Maurizzi 2502 2298 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 1.0/6

All games round 6


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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.

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