Tata R11: Aronian Blunders, Gelfand & Naiditsch Win Again
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Levon Aronian had already won the Masters Group on Saturday and finished his tournament with a good game, but a bad blunder. The Armenian grandmaster lost his only game to Dutch GM Loek van Wely, but still gained 13.7 rating points in Wijk aan Zee. Boris Gelfand and Arkadij Naiditsch both won again and can go home with at least a few wins.
“I tend to expect to play well in tournaments,” said Aronian at the traditional press conference given by the winner. He called Wijk aan Zee his favorite tournament, and clearly was happy with his fourth victory. (Later, at the closing ceremony he would state that he plays his best chess in Wijk!) Here's that press conference:
Even though he had already won the tournament, Aronian was clearly playing for a win in the last round, but ended up losing. He called the fight with Loek van Wely the most interesting game he played in the tournament. “It wasn't my intention to get in timetrouble but I did, and then I blundered a mate in one,” said the Armenian.
Arkadij Naiditsch ended last, but he did finish with two wins. On Sunday he beat Richard Rapport in a nice attacking game, and so the two both scored 3.5/11. “Rapport seems to be in an even worse shape than me here. The game reminded me of my game with Harikrishna, but with opposite colors. I am happy that I won a few games, so that you don't have to go home with the feeling: maybe it's time to switch jobs,” said Naiditsch.
Boris Gelfand also won two games in a row at the end of the tournament. His win over Pentala Harikrishna was a fine one; White kept the initiative from the start and even with equal pawns he was better. It's always a bit special when a pawn ending comes on the board at this level; in this case Gelfand had clearly seen that it was winning in all lines.
Anish Giri finished shared second with Sergey Karjakin, and this was the best performance by a Dutch player since Jan Timman's victory in 1985. In the last round Giri once again showed how solid he had been in Wijk aan Zee this year - he finished undefeated, in fact.
“Ne5 was new (to me at least). The way I played it was kind of safe; I gave a pawn but I had compensation. Later I had to give another pawn but I felt I should have enough for equality. I missed the whole idea of the queen to e8 so I was quite fortunate that it was a draw,” said Giri, who also revealed new ambitions for future events: “I think I should have played a little more risky and perhaps lose a game or two but maybe win three, four more.”
“I might have missed one or two chances but I think I played wel. To Anish's credit, I think he defended precisely. I had an extra pawn but I think it was always going to be a draw,” said Nakamura.
Sergey Karjakin could have finished in sole second place, but the Russian GM also drew, with Leinier Dominguez. In fact it was Giri who could have finished sole second because Karjakin blundered a pawn in the opening and was just lost around the time control. However, Dominguez got very tired, as he stated himself, couldn't calculate accurately anymore and eventually failed to convert the ending.
Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So also finished with a draw. The two followed a very theoretical line of the Grünfeld that leads straight to an ending, and soon after deviating from a correspondence game, the players started repeating.
Tata Steel 2014 | Masters | Final Standings
Ivan Saric, the winner of the Challengers Group, almost finished his tournament with a loss as well. Around the time control things seemed to go really well for Sabino Brunello, but eventually Saric managed to hold it. 10.0/13 and a 2783 perfomance is of course a fantastic result for the young Croatian grandmaster.
Jan Timman can look back at an excellent tournament. It would have been quite a story if he would have qualified for the 2015 Masters Group, and he got close! Eventually the Dutch legend, who drew with Radek Wojtaszek in the last round, tied for second place with Baadur Jobava, who drew with Kayden Troff. In the all-Dutch game between Dimitri Reinderman and Merijn van Delft, Black allowed himself to be checkmated.
Tata Steel 2014 | Challengers | Final Standings