Wesley So Wins 79th Tata Steel Chess Tournament

Wesley So Wins 79th Tata Steel Chess Tournament

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Jan 29, 2017, 6:36 AM |
188 | Chess Event Coverage

Wesley So beat Ian Nepomniachtchi straight from the opening, avoided a playoff and became the winner of the 79th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee today. Gawain Jones won the challengers and will play the top guns in next year's tournament.

Photo: Alina l'Ami.

All potential drama was silenced in a moment.

In the final round, which started 1.5 hours earlier, Nepomniachtchi used an offbeat line to treat So's French Defense. It backfired completely.

The Russian player was lost right out of the opening, a most unwelcome development for Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian and Wei Yi.

These three players still had a chance to catch So in first place, thus forcing the first playoff in Wijk aan Zee, at least in modern history. The tournament organizers had introduced this rule for the masters for this year, but didn't get to use it.

On move 28 "Nepo" threw in the towel, and suddenly everything was decided—after less than three hours of play. With the other six games still going, So started accepting the congratulations of the organizers, officials and guests, including Anatoly Karpov, who is visiting the tournament today.

Karpov, today: "Carlsen has a very similar style as me. In fact, he plays even simpler than I did." | Photo: Alina l'Ami.

So also defeated Nepomniachtchi at the Baku Olympiad, after the Russian GM had started with 7/7. 

"He's a great fighter and it's pleasure playing him," So said afterward.

After winning this tournament, So now has a streak of not losing 56 games in a row. He won the Sinquefield Cup in August last year, then Olympic team gold and individual gold in Baku, then the London Chess Classic and now Wijk aan Zee. Being the hottest man in chess would be an understatement.

The win in Wijk aan Zee meant a lot to So: "Winning this tournament is huge, with the world champion in it. It's a wonderful start [of] the year."

If this all wasn't enough, So also became the world number-two at the end of the day, after Fabiano Caruana lost to Nigel Short in round six of the Gibraltar Masters. More on that in our next #GibChess report.

Source: 2700chess.com.

And so, after three hours of play, all other players were out of contention. For example, the clash between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin, initially billed as one of the key games in this tournament, was just for the history books.

Nonetheless it was a game to watch obviously, as the first classical encounter between these players since their 2016 world championship in New York.

The match in New York could have used more games like this.  | Photo: Alina l'Ami.

In a surprisingly bloody final round, a total of five games ended decisively. Levon Aronian had only lost one game thus far, but was unlucky enough to face Dmitry Andreikin just when the Russian would play his best game of the tournament.

Carlsen finished in clear second place because Wei Yi also went down today. It looks like the Chinese player was trying too hard to beat Radek Wojtaszek here.

Anatoly Karpov strolling through the top boards. | Photo: Alina l'Ami.

Baskaran Adhiban qualified from the 2016 challengers, and couldn't have wished for a better tournament. To finish in third place in the masters, with plus-two, is just fantastic. Today he beat Richard Rapport, and despite having done more than enough as far as contractual obligations are concerned, he joined the live show once again. (All video material of this event can be found here.)

Wijk aan Zee is not a bad place to shine... | Photo: Alina l'Ami.

Tata Steel Masters | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Pts SB
1 So 2808 2887 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 9.0/13
2 Carlsen 2840 2826 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 8.0/13
3 Adhiban 2653 2812 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 7.5/13 47.00
4 Aronian 2780 2802 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 7.5/13 46.00
5 Wei Yi 2706 2808 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 1 1 7.5/13 44.75
6 Karjakin 2785 2776 ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 7.0/13 43.00
7 Eljanov 2755 2777 ½ 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 7.0/13 42.00
8 Giri 2773 2750 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 6.5/13
9 Harikrishna 2766 2724 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 6.0/13 40.00
10 Andreikin 2736 2726 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 6.0/13 39.00
11 Wojtaszek 2750 2725 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 6.0/13 35.75
12 Nepomniachtchi 2767 2669 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 5.0/13
13 Rapport 2702 2645 0 1 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5/13
14 Van Wely 2695 2582 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 3.5/13

Games from TWIC.

The situation at the top was very exciting in the challengers as well, and eventually it was Gawain Jones who managed to qualify for the 2018 masters. After Markus Ragger had drawn his game rather quickly with Erwin l'Ami, Jones needed a draw as well because he had won the individual game. After a very tough game, the English grandmaster managed.

A career high for Gawain Jones! | Photo: Alina l'Ami.

Tata Steel Challengers | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Pts SB
1 Jones 2665 2728 1 0 1 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 9.0/13 52.75
2 Ragger 2697 2725 0 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 9.0/13 51.50
3 Xiong 2667 2697 1 0 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 8.5/13
4 Hansen 2603 2673 0 0 1 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 8.0/13 49.00
5 Lu Shanglei 2612 2672 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ ½ 8.0/13 47.75
6 Smirin 2667 2668 1 ½ 0 0 1 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 8.0/13 45.25
7 Tari 2584 2647 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 7.5/13
8 L'Ami 2605 2618 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 1 7.0/13 42.50
9 Grandelius 2642 2616 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 7.0/13 38.50
10 Bok 2608 2538 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 5.5/13
11 Dobrov 2499 2490 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 0 1 1 4.5/13
12 Van Foreest 2612 2451 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 4.0/13
13 Lei Tingjie 2467 2429 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3.5/13
14 Guramishvili 2370 2257 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 1.5/13

Games from TWIC.


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