Tata Steel: Aronian Grabs The Lead in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum
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On Wednesday Levon Aronian grabbed the lead in the fourth round of the Tata Steel tournament, which was played in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The Armenian grandmaster defeated Hikaru Nakamura in a knight vs. bad bishop ending. The day started with a visit to the Night Watch but almost ended in a nightmare scenario with one game (Dominguez-Caruana) going way beyond the scheduled time in the Rijksmuseum. It was a rest day for the Challengers Group but on Tuesday Baadur Jobava grabbed sole lead. The Georgian GM beat IM Merijn van Delft and is now the only player on 3.5/4.
It was a very special day for the Tata Steel tournament: for the first time in its long history the tournament was held somewhere else than in Wijk aan Zee or Beverwijk. And it was a very special location indeed: the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In April last year the museum re-opened after a ten-year renovation which costed € 375 million, and less than a year later it opened its doors for the world's best chess players.
On Wednesday morning the participants of the Masters Group were brought to Amsterdam by bus, and around 12:15 they first walked to the iconic “I amsterdam” sign on the Museum Square.
After that, the participant entered the museum and around 13:00 they were led to the most important piece of art of the Rijks, and maybe of all Dutch art: The Night Watch by Rembrandt. Dozens of photographers / cameramen took their shots for about ten minutes, and a few hundred curious visitors gathered.
For the players the timing of all this wasn't great; about 13:15 they finally arrived in the playing hall, but that was 45 minutes before the start of the round. Many of them took one of the spectators’ seats and grabbed their phones, to kill the time. Surely many of them would have preferred to spend somwhat longer preparing for their games. As Van Wely put it: “It was hard to psych myself up today.”
The playing conditions in the playing hall, the museum's Auditorium, weren't perfect either. With about thirty photographers in between the six tables, the stage was really packed during the first ten minutes. This way the players could hardly walk around (and the media could hardly do their work). And, throughout the day, the light wasn't great; e.g. some players would create huge shadows over the board with their head. But sometimes you have to make some sacrifices to promote the game, right?
The game between Anish Giri and Wesley So also ended in a draw, but after a tough fight. In the main line of the Closed Catalan, the young Dutch GM kept an edge out of the opening and then won a pawn, but the Filipino defended extremely well.
The longest game lasted no less than 7.5 hours and that was a lot longer than was anticipated. By 20.30 the live commentary had finished, and the technicians were asked to pack their stuff because the museum's security would not let them out after nine! And so at some point almost everyone left, even though Leinier Dominguez and Fabiano Caruana were still playing. Eventually they finished 21:30, after a great endgame performance by Dominguez who used zugzwang several times.
Tata Steel 2014 | Masters | Round 4 Standings
It was a rest day for the Challengers Group but on Tuesday Baadur Jobava grabbed sole lead in Wijk aan Zee. The Georgian GM beat IM Merijn van Delft and is now the only player on 3.5/4.
In that fourth round, not a single game ended in a draw! Jan Timman bounced back from a loss with a good win over Sabino Brunello.
Yu Yangyi won't be happy with himself. After trying to squeeze water out of stone, he just wouldn't agree to a draw, and then went too far.
Tata Steel 2014 | Challengers | Round 4 Standings
The Tata Steel tournament runs 11-26 January and is held in Wijk aan Zee, Amsterdam and Eindhoven. You can find the official website here and the live games here. The live streaming commentary can also be found here on Chess.com!