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Tata Steel Chess 2022 R7: Carlsen Grabs Sole Lead; Dubov Forfeits Game
Anish Giri wouldn't see his opponent Daniil Dubov arriving at the board today. Photo: Tata Steel Chess.

Tata Steel Chess 2022 R7: Carlsen Grabs Sole Lead; Dubov Forfeits Game

PeterDoggers
| 153 | Chess.com News

GM Magnus Carlsen won his second game in a row and is now the sole leader after seven rounds in the 2022 Tata Steel Chess Tournament. The world champion defeated GM Praggnanandhaa R. with the black pieces on Saturday.

GM Daniil Dubov forfeited his game vs. GM Anish Giri as the Russian GM refused to play with a face mask. The organizers had requested him to do so after someone in his inner circle had tested positive for Covid-19.

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Last year, the organizers managed to hold their tournament in Wijk aan Zee in the middle of the pandemic without any issues. In hindsight, one could add miraculously. This year, with the highly contagious omicron variant raging, it was sheer impossible.

After the two cases of corona in the morning of the third round, when two seconds (coaches) of players tested positive, there was another case on Saturday morning: someone close to Dubov. Awaiting a PCR test result for Dubov, the organizers requested the Russian GM to wear a mask during play, even though the general rule at the tournament is that face masks are obligatory everywhere except when sitting at the board. Dubov refused to do so and called it "a matter of principle." When he hadn't arrived at the board half an hour into the round, the game was declared a win by forfeit for Giri.

Unsurprisingly, the whole situation was widely discussed on social media. One question was whether it was communicated to the players beforehand that the mask would be a necessity at the board as well in case of close contact to a Covid-positive person. Another interesting point that was made was whether the organizers could have postponed the Dubov-Giri game to the next rest day.

GM Sergey Karjakin, who had criticized Dubov recently for helping Carlsen in the world championship, this time supported his compatriot as he tweeted after finishing his own game:

Robert Moens (Tata Steel Communications & Public Affairs) commented to Chess.com: "This specific situation wasn't discussed beforehand, no. However, the players' contract does include a clause that the organizers can take the necessary measures in case unexpected situations regarding Covid arise. Because the tournament doctor deemed it unwise for Dubov to play without a face mask, we as organizers made this request to Dubov, who fully understood our decision but decided not to play the game out of principle. We did not consider postponing the game because Dubov could have played today, albeit with a face mask. It was his decision not to play."

The situation currently is that Dubov can continue playing the tournament without a face mask in case the results of his latest PCR and antigen tests come out negatively. If he gets tested positive, he won't be able to play any more games and all his results will be removed from the tournament crosstable because the tournament wasn't halfway through yet for him.

Tata Steel Chess round 7 2022
Round seven in action, except for Giri-Dubov. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

Besides Giri's forfeit win, the seventh round saw three more decisive games. The most important one was Carlsen's win vs. Praggnanandhaa, with which the Norwegian GM became the sole leader.

Apart from two online games, it was the first time these two players met at the chessboard. Interestingly, Carlsen tried the Queen's Gambit Accepted (not the most common defense vs. 1.d4 these days) and got out of the opening without any problems. He got the advantage when Praggnanandhaa chose the sub-optimal plan of maneuvering his queen to the kingside, and shortly after, Black had a winning position.

Interviewed afterward, Carlsen didn't agree it was a smooth win. "I think I really messed up towards the end, at least practically speaking. I mean, I allowed this Ng7 stuff. But maybe that was only one moment. I was struggling to find a way to sort of consolidate properly and then, I have to say, I didn't really manage. I gave him way too many counter-chances there."

The tournament is not going as well as last year for GM Jorden van Foreest, but a 50 percent score halfway is not bad at all. Today the Dutchman defeated GM Vidit Gujrathi which means he still only played one draw so far.

"It seems like I'm playing a roller-coaster event here, whereas I finally thought I grew up a bit and became a bit more solid, but nothing of that seems to be true at all," he said in his interview. "I lost three games and I also won three games. Today I wanted play solidly, I didn't want to go crazy and lose possibly a third game in a row, but the game kind of got crazy, so that was not planned. Fortunately, things went well for me."

GM Fabiano Caruana improved his score vs. GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda to 3-0 (besides three draws), but it was far from easy today. As the American GM explained himself:

"It wasn’t a good game, I’m sure. My position was very comfortable the whole game and at some point I was clearly starting to win and then things went wrong in the run up to move 40. I’m sure I had something much better than what I did; I don’t know exactly what, it’s all a bit of a blur now, but I’m sure that after move 40 he shouldn’t lose this position. What worried me more was that I do take a lot of risk as well because my king is always in a mating net."

Caruana also revealed in his post-game interview that his coach GM Vladimir Chuchelov had tested positive for Covid earlier in the tournament and is in isolation, so now it's known who the other coach was, besides Praggnanandhaa's coach GM Ramesh R.B.

It means that, like Pragg, Caruana has been spending most of his tournament all alone, and he said about this: "I don't want to make excuses, but I have been emotionally and physically drained basically the entire trip here." Chuchelov is almost asymptomatic by now, so hopefully he can join Caruana soon again.

Fabiano Caruana walking
Caruana on his way from the hotel to the playing hall. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.


Of the three draws, GM Andrey Esipenko vs. GM Sam Shankland was the most interesting. It was a narrow escape for the American player who was walking on a tightrope after the opening (a sharp Taimanov Sicilian) but later defended quite well.

Sam Shankland closeup
Good defense by Sam Shankland. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

Asked whether he was happy with his results so far, Esipenko said: "Yeah, probably I’m happy, but I had some chances against Mamedyarov and Vidit as well, but the last two rounds I was completely losing against Caruana and Dubov, so, yeah, probably I’m happy!"

Round 7 Standings Masters

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Pts SB
1 Carlsen 2865 2872 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 5.0/7
2 Mamedyarov 2767 2831 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 4.5/7
3 Esipenko 2714 2810 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.0/7 14.75
4 Giri 2772 2796 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 4.0/7 13.25
5 Vidit 2727 2788 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 4.0/7 12.75
6 Rapport 2763 2776 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 1 4.0/7 11.75
7 Caruana 2792 2735 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 3.5/7 11.5
8 Karjakin 2743 2734 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 3.5/7 11
9 Van Foreest 2702 2735 ½ 0 1 0 0 1 1 3.5/7 11
10 Duda 2760 2703 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 3.0/7 11.5
11 Shankland 2708 2665 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/7 9.25
12 Dubov 2720 2645 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 2.5/7 9.25
13 Praggnanandhaa 2612 2646 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 1 2.5/7 7
14 Grandelius 2672 2578 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 2.0/7

Tournament leader GM Arjun Erigaisi was the last to finish his game in the Challengers after defending a tough game against one of his closest rivals, GM Rinat Jumabayev of Kazakhstan.

Arjun Erigaisi Tata 2022
Arjun Erigaisi still leads by a full point. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

Round 7 Standings Challengers

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Pts SB
1 Erigaisi 2632 2869 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 6.0/7
2 Nguyen 2613 2709 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.0/7
3 Jumabayev 2631 2655 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.5/7 15.5
4 Bjerre 2586 2654 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 4.5/7 11.75
5 Van Foreest 2539 2634 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 4.0/7 14
6 Murzin 2519 2620 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 4.0/7 12.25
7 Warmerdam 2607 2610 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 4.0/7 11.5
8 Ganguly 2627 2591 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 4.0/7 10.25
9 L'Ami 2622 2537 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 3.5/7
10 Dardha 2532 2459 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 2.5/7 6.75
11 Shuvalova 2516 2453 ½ 0 0 0 0 1 1 2.5/7 5
12 Vogel 2452 2432 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 2.0/7
13 Zhu 2478 2336 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 1 1.5/7
14 Maurizzi 2502 2271 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 1.0/7

All games round 7


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