Tata Steel R11: So Beats Saric, Closes In On Carlsen

Tata Steel R11: So Beats Saric, Closes In On Carlsen

| 28 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Wesley So beat GM Ivan Saric on Friday and is now only half a point behind GM Magnus Carlsen with two rounds to go at the 2015 Tata Steel masters.

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, GM Anish Giri and GM Ding Liren are half a point behind So and can still hope for something special too.

In the challengers group, GM Wei Yi won against GM Bart Michiels and is now the sole leader.

He was the first to enter the stage, and three hours later he was the first to win. GM Wesley So quickly defeated a completely off-form GM Ivan Saric in 28 moves. It was the fourth win for So, who is the only undefeated player left in the field.

First in, first out: Wesley So.

Saric played the Zaitsev variation and surprised his opponent with 13...Qd7. The move deviates from the sharp and incredibly complicated main line mostly known from Timman-Karpov and Kasparov-Karpov games from 1989-1990.

So admitted that he was immediately out of book, and from that point he started analyzing variations with Ng5 and hitting on f7. Only a few moves later this indeed turned out to be Black's achilles heel.

Saric started missing things and lost a full piece as early as move 24.

“My third or fourth blunder or something,” he sighed, while grabbing his jacket and leaving the building.

A quick win brought Wesley So to unequal second and world #7 in the live ratings.

In fact two players are completely out of shape this year. The other is of course GM Baadur Jobava, who seems to have given up all hope of recovery. He lost again, and under 30 moves for the third time.

GM Hou Yifan responded well to her opponent's off-beat Caro-Kann with 4...Nf6 and reached a structural advantage on move 19 with a protected passed d-pawn.

In an ending with bishops and queens only Jobava still had decent counterplay when he suddenly sacrificed or blundered a bishop — even Hou Yifan wasn't sure what happened.

Hou Yifan scored her first victory in the tournament.

Four-time winner GM Levon Aronian had some chances in his game with GM Vassily Ivanchuk, but eventually settled for a draw just before the time control where still seemed to have a slight edge.

A Slav-Catalan hybrid became a classical fight between a queenside and a center majority of pawns. White's bishop was stronger than Black's knight, but apparently Aronian didn't think it was much.

The next game to finish was GM Magnus Carlsen vs GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: another draw. The Frenchman had to sacrifice a pawn, but felt that he would always have enough counterplay in the double bishop ending.

“It's a matter of tempi. If White had one more tempo to consolidate, I would have had serious problems,” MVL said. 

Water and juice vs. water and juice: draw.

Intermezzo -- some pictures from a friendly basketball match played on Thursday:
Unstoppable also on the basketball court...? | Photo Alina l'Ami.
...well, maybe not says his second Peter Heine Nielsen... | Photo Alina l'Ami.
...and Van Wely doesn't think so either! | Photos Alina l'Ami.

Another draw was seen in GM Fabiano Caruana vs GM Teimour Radjabov. A 4.Nf3 Nimzo-Indian quickly reached an ending with knight vs bishop and rooks and a spoiled pawn structure for both sides.

At some point Black seemed a bit better, but with a temporary pawn sac Caruana held the balance.

The battle between the two local heroes was also the battle to decide “who is the best Dutch player,” as GM Loek van Wely stated with a smile.

His score with GM Anish Giri went from plus one for KingLoek to equal. “Now it's still unclear!” he concluded!

Van Wely said he lost because he "was afraid of something that wasn't dangerous," and because he "missed an important detail" later on.

Here's the game annotated by GM Dejan Bojkov:

World #6 in the live ratings Anish Giri moves to plus three and equal third.

The last game to finish was a terrible disappointment for GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek, who lost a game he never should have lost.

Against GM Ding Liren, who played the 6...Na6 King's Indian, the Polish GM was in control for 90 percent of the game. He had several moments to take the draw, and eventually liquidated to a promising ending, but lost it in just a few moves!

2015 Tata Steel Masters | Round 11 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Carlsen,M 2862 2914 8.0/11
2 So,W 2762 2880 7.5/11
3 Vachier Lagrave,M 2757 2830 7.0/11 36.50
4 Giri,A 2784 2838 7.0/11 32.75
5 Ding Liren 2732 2828 7.0/11 29.50
6 Ivanchuk,V 2715 2812 6.5/11 32.25
7 Caruana,F 2820 2805 6.5/11 29.50
8 Radjabov,T 2734 2755 5.5/11
9 Wojtaszek,R 2744 2718 5.0/11 31.25
10 Aronian,L 2797 2710 5.0/11 22.00
11 Hou Yifan 2673 2659 4.0/11
12 Van Wely,L 2667 2621 3.5/11
13 Saric,I 2666 2573 3.0/11
14 Jobava,B 2727 2435 1.5/11

With two rounds to go it's now GM Wei Yi who has the best chances to promote directly to the 2016 masters.

The 15-year-old Chinese grandmaster defeated GM Bart Michiels while GM David Navara drew quickly with GM Valentina Gunina.

Another win for Wei Yi, who now leads alone.

Poor Jan Timman suffered a completely unnecessary loss. If the notation given on the official website is correct, he may have hallucinated a stalemate that wasn't there. 

This is turning into a horror story for Jan Timman...

2015 Tata Steel Challengers | Round 11 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Wei Yi 2675 2827 9.0/11
2 Navara,D 2729 2767 8.5/11
3 Shankland,S 2652 2664 7.0/11
4 Potkin,V 2608 2616 6.5/11 30.00
5 Van Kampen,R 2615 2618 6.5/11 29.25
6 Sevian,S 2511 2579 6.0/11 29.25
7 Salem,S 2603 2579 6.0/11 28.25
8 L'Ami,E 2613 2574 5.5/11
9 Gunina,V 2538 2459 4.0/11 22.75
10 Klein,D 2517 2478 4.0/11 17.50
11 Michiels,B 2563 2457 4.0/11 16.50
12 Haast,A 2352 2464 4.0/11 16.25
13 Dale,A 2291 2414 3.0/11 18.25
14 Timman,J 2593 2395 3.0/11 13.25

The Tata Steel tournament takes place January 9-25 in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. The rounds start Saturday at 1:30pm local time, which is 4:30am Pacific, 7:30am New York and 11:30pm Sydney. The last round starts 1.5 hours earlier.

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