Winning Starts For Anand, Kramnik, Giri In Tata Steel
Two Tata Steel veterans seized winning starts in the 80th edition of the tournament. Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand each won nice games with White—against Wei Yi and Maxim Matlakov respectively. Joining them in the lead is Anish Giri, the last player to finish today. Also winning with White, he crafted some nice pitfalls for Hou Yifan in a king and pawn endgame.
Tata Steel Masters
The first to finish today was Anand who is continuing his excellent 2017 form which culminated in victory in the world rapid championship. Anand came out of the opening slightly worse as White and had to navigate a pretty checkmate which dazzled the commentators.
Small errors from Matlakov gave the advantage back to Anand who pounced on excellent white squares for his knights and then utilized his greater piece activity, safer king, and better pawn structure in the resulting major piece endgame.
Two world champions in good humor. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Some lessons are learned the hard way. Today, Wei Yi learned of the great difficulties that await those who choose to battle Kramnik in Catalan structures. Kramnik's victory called to mind the period in which defending such structures against him was considered suicidal.
Patient accumulation of small advantages including control of open files, superior bishop activity, kingside space, and superior pawn structure were rewarded with an eventual extra pawn. Defense may have been possible for Wei Yi, but the path was narrow, and Kramnik claimed the full point.
Wei Yi sporting an expression which hundreds of Kramnik's opponents have worn. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Giri got significantly more with White against Hou Yifan's Petroff than Magnus Carlsen did against Fabiano Caruana's Petroff. Still excellent defensive play in response to Giri's kingside advances earned Hou Yifan a queen endgame that was only slightly worse.
Sadly for Hou Yifan, this was the sort of slightly worse position that has to be defended accurately for long hours. A subtle inaccuracy (...Kd8? instead of ...Kc8!) gave Giri a sizable plus, but further inaccuracies meant that Hou Yifan had another opportunity to claim equality later when in a king and pawn endgame she made an error that mimicked the earlier one (...Kc6? instead of ...Kd6!). This mistake was far more serious, losing the game virtually on the spot.
The king and pawn endgame is well worth review and is sure to appear in some endgame manuals in future.
A final error cost Hou Yifan the desired draw after a long defense. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
The remaining games were drawn more or less peacefully. Perhaps most interesting was Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's selection of 2...Nf6!? in the Sicilian in comfortable draw against Wesley So.
Also notable was Caruana's draw with Petroff against Carlsen. As was noted in the commentary, perhaps Carlsen's lack of an opening advantage forebodes more Petroffs in his future.
Can't help seeing it as a bad omen for the upcoming World Ch match in November that in the first game of a WC year, the World Champion sees it as his best chance to play for a win as White vs a very likely Challenger is 5 Qe2. #TataSteelChess— Lars Bo Hansen ( @GMLars) January 13, 2018
Standings After Round 1 | Tata Steel Masters
|7||Jones, Gawain C B||2640||31||0.5||.||.||.||.||.||.||½||.||.||.||.||.||.|
Tata Steel Challengers
As usual, the Challengers' group produced as much interesting chess as the Masters' did. Anton Korobov, Jorden van Foreest (who defeated his brother Lucas), and Dmitry Gordievsky were the big winners with Gordievsky wowing the crowd in perhaps the game of the day as he offered a patient knight sacrifice to overwhelm Olga Girya's king position.
As is typical in the King's Indian Defense, it was hard for her to maneuver her pieces to the defense of the king. In the final decisive assault, her rooks and queen were only able to observe the action.
A brilliant attack overcame Girya's defenses. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Standings After Round 1 | Tata Steel Challengers
|3||Van Foreest, Jorden||2629||19||1.0||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||1||.|
|4||Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi||2718||24||0.5||.||.||.||.||.||½||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|13||Van Foreest, Lucas||2481||17||0.0||.||.||0||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
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