2017 Tata Rd1: A slow start in Masters

by Albert Silver
1/15/2017 – The lineups in both the Masters and Challengers of the 2017 Tata Steel festival promise intriguing bouts and thrilling encounters with names such as Magnus Carlsen, Sergey Karjakin, Wesley So, and Levon Aronian in the Masters, while the Challengers also has hot names such as Ragger, and rising juniors de Foreest and Xiong. Still, the Masters had a slow start with only one win by Eljanov over Rapport. Illustrated report with annotations by GMs Daniel King and Georg Meier.

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The elite Tata Steel tournaments in Wijk aan Zee are underway and take place from January 13-29, with two main tournaments, the Masters with both Magnus Carlsen and Serget Karjakin as headliners, as well as Wesley So, Levon Aronian, Anish Giri, Baskaran Adhiban, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Richard Rapport, Dmitri Andreikin, Wei Yi, Pavel Eljanov, and Loek van Wely. All rounds in Wijk aan Zee begin at 1.30pm, except for the last round on 29 January 2017, which begins at 12.00pm. Both rounds on the Chess On Tour days start at 2.00pm.

Opening

Preceding the start of the tournament was the Opening ceremony, or rather ceremonies with an 'S'. The Challengers enjoyed their own get together joined by the other participants, many of whom are friends, at a dinner where the drawing of lots was held.

It was an informal affair held at the Zeeduin Hotel in Wijk aan Zee

Numbers were drawn and the pairings were announced

Once done, the players enjoyed a pleasant dinner and friendly chats as seen here with Wesley So and his surrogate mother

The local press was present and is here interviewing Polish GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek

The following day several of the players went to visit Haarlem together with the famous Dutch TV presenter and chess expert Hans Böhm. It took place in the beautiful "De Vishal" building in the "Grote Markt" where chess could be seen everywhere.

Players get a chance to play against their heroes

Anish Giri, Anne Haast, Hans Böhm and Jorden van Foreest

Finally the day of the Opening cermony and drawing of lots for the Masters came

Fittingly, considering how many of the players are die-hard football fans, football jerseys were used for the drawing of lots

The players show the numbers they drew

As expected, there were some musical performances...

...But not all the entertainmnet was quite so lofty

A fun event with the NK Schools was held also

Masters tournament

Round 1 - Saturday, January 14
Harikrishna, P.
½-½
 Aronian, L.
Adhiban, B.
½-½
 Van Wely, L.
Eljanov, P.
1-0
 Rapport, R.
Karjakin, S.
½-½
 Giri, A.
So, W.
½-½
 Carlsen, M.
Wojtaszek, R.
½-½
 Nepomniachtchi, I.
Andreikin, D.
½-½
 Wei, Y.

 

Tata Steel has brought back their video group with some high quality editing of snapshots from round one

The first round of the Wijk aan Zee tournament was more than simply the opening round, at least symbolically. It brought with it the promise of a bit of history on several levels. On the one hand, Magnus Carlsen has now tied Vishy Anand with five tournament wins, the current record, and while tying the record is certainly wonderful, beating it is even more so. Will he be able to show his magic and some of his legendary fighting spirit for a sixth title? Then there is the matter of Sergey Karjakin, his recent rival. Although Carlsen eventually prevailed in his title defense during the rapid games, the fact is he was unable to show his superiority in the traditional standard games. Now, one and a half months later, they are scheduled to face off once more, in what some may see as a potential tiebreaker.

A scrumptious start

If you belong to the group of fans who scoffs at this view, realize it is not so strange. After the unfinished and drawn match result between Bobby Fischer and Samuel Reshevsky in their 1961 match, which ended equal with 5.5-5.5, their next encounter at the 1962 US Championship was considered by many as the unofficial 12th game (Fischer won). Whatever your opinion, it promises to be one of the high points of the event, and is scheduled only for the last round.

Magnus Carlsen is still World Champion, and still number one, but his edge over the rest has been reduced. Will he restamp his authority?

In spite of this intrigue, Wesley So is the actual second seed of the Masters and is in many ways the ‘man in form'. He had a stupendous year in 2016, winning both the Sinquefield Cup and the London Classic, securing the Grand Chess Tour title, as well as being one of the absolute stars of the US team in their Gold Medal effort at the Baku Olympiad. There is no question Wesley So will have something to say about the tournament.

After an incredible year in 2016, Wesley So is now firmly in the 2800 club

Daniel King quick recap of round one

 

With both top seeds meeting straight out in the opening round, it had seemed it could be either a blessing (the two best), or a curse (they might not want to take big risks in the first round). It was a bit of both as the two players quickly liquidated into a dead draw.

 

In his post-game interview, Carlsen opined that So was avoiding a fight with him. He added, "He didn't play in the most critical way, and then it only takes a couple of decent moves to secure the draw."

Anish Giri, playing in the Masters, seemed more interested in what his wife Sopiko was doing in the Challengers, understandably as she had been inactive after gving birth to their new son.

 

Giri drew his game with Sergey Karjakin, an uneventful affair

Although Vishy Anand continues to be the big number one in chess in India, it is nonetheless remarkable to see the Masters with two Indian players in the group, neither of whom is the former world champion.

Pentala Harikrishna's presence is no big surprise as he is world no. 12

Adhiban earned his place by rite of fire as he edged out his rivals in the 2016 Challengers. He almost had a hero's start as he squandered multiple chances to leave with a full point against Loek Van Wely. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for Dutch fans, Van Wely had the last word and they drew.

Dmitri Andreikin is another unexpected but welcome choice. He drew against Wei Yi.

Daniel King analyzes Eljanov vs Rapport

 

The only decisive game of round one in the Masters is analyzed by GM Daniel King

Pavel Eljanov shares his views with on-site live commentator Yasser Seirawan

Levon Aronian was also a welcome sight, and is quite capable of frustrating the 'favorites'

Round one games of Masters

Challengers tournament

Round 1 - Saturday, January 14
Jones, G.
½-½
Grandelius, N.
Guramishvili, S.
½-½
Lu, S.
Smirin, I.
½-½
Dobrov, V.
Tari, A.
½-½
Hansen, E.
Bok, B.
1-0
Tingjie, L.
Ragger, M.
1-0
Xiong, J.
van Foreest, J.
1-0
l'Ami, E.

In spite of this intrigue, Wesley So is the actual second seed of the Masters and is in many ways the ‘man in form'. He had a stupendous year in 2016, winning both the Sinquefield Cup and the London Classic, securing the Grand Chess Tour title, as well as being one of the absolute stars of the US team in their Gold Medal effort at the Baku Olympiad. There is no question Wesley So will have something to say about the tournament.

The Challengers brings many intriguing names to the table, with juniors on the rise, such as Jeroen van Foreest, Jeffery Xiong, and Aryan Tari, to grizzled veterans such as Gawain Jones, Nils Grandelius, and Markus Ragger. Since past editions have seen both young over old, and old over young take the title and the qualification spot, the only unquestionable advice is to sit back and enjoy the show.

The perfect contrast of youth versus experience, with Xiong against Ragger. Experience prevailed this time.

As annotator GM Georg Meier himself comments: "The Challenger group promises to be very interesting this year, with many players who we can expect to have ambitions for first prize. There is an added special motivation to fight for first as it means a promotion to next year's super-tournament. Already in the first round a crucial match-up took place: The hard-working Austrian grandmaster Ragger, who is about to establish himself as a 2700-player, versus the truly rising star Jeffery Xiong, who took last year's U20 Wch in a runaway performance."

Markus Ragger - Jeffery Xiong (annotated by Georg Meier)

[Event "79th Tata Steel Chess 2017-Challengers"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee"] [Date "2017.01.14"] [Round "1"] [White "Ragger, Markus"] [Black "Xiong, Jeffery"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2697"] [BlackElo "2667"] [Annotator "Georg Meier"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "NED"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 a6 {Markus has become quite versatile in his White repertoire. He used to play exclusively 1. e4, but nowadays he can pretty much play anything. Still, the next move should not have come as a surprise to Xiong.} 6. h3 {A first in Markus's own games, but... he started to work with Harikrishna last year and Hari has already employed 6.h3 a couple of times! It is very important to piece such information together and I am sure Jeffery will take this as an important lesson from this encounter.} e5 {This has established itself as the main reply to 6.h3 although White is precisely readying himself for the weakening of the d5 square. Just visually speaking I always liked e7-e6 more, when the inclusion of h3 and a6 are certainly in Black's favor, especially when you think of the Keres Attack.} 7. Nde2 b5 (7... h5 {had been played by Xiong before and is clearly the main line, but isn't it a really odd move? White´s knights are lined up to control d5, and Black weakens the g5 square, where the c1 bishop usually appears to support the fight for d5. You can tell I am old school, but this whole line is clearly something special.}) 8. Ng3 {A rare move with only a few outings at the highest level (2 out of 7 by Harikrishna!). Judging from Xiong's time usage he was not aware of this line. White chooses a manouvering battle and keeps the king-side a safe haven for his monarch.} (8. g4 {is the straightforward alternative.}) 8... Qc7 (8... Bb7 {appears more natural, but} 9. Bg5 Nbd7 10. Nh5 $1 {would be quite irritating}) 9. Bd3 (9. Nh5 Nxh5 (9... Nbd7 $142) 10. Qxh5 (10. Nd5 $142) 10... Be6 11. a4 b4 12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. exd5 Qxc2 $13 {1-0 (35) Harikrishna,P (2753)-Wojtaszek,R (2727) Huaian 2016}) 9... Be6 (9... g6 10. O-O Bg7 11. Bg5 Nbd7 12. Re1 (12. Qd2 $142) 12... O-O 13. Nf1 b4 14. Nb1 Bb7 15. Nbd2 d5 $15 {0-1 (74) Motylev,A (2663)-Sarana,A (2457) Tallinn 2016}) 10. O-O Nbd7 11. f4 {This introduces a very instructive positional idea: Eventually f4-f5 will force the bishop to c4, and after its exchange White will exploit the d5 weakness.} (11. Qf3 {is worth considering } g6 12. Bd2 Bg7 13. b4 $1 O-O 14. a4 {leads to an advantage}) 11... Be7 12. Qf3 O-O 13. Kh1 {Useful prophylaxis} (13. f5 {is premature:} Bc4 14. Bg5 b4 15. Nd1 d5 16. Ne3 Bc5 $1) 13... Qc6 ({Knowing what happened in the game} 13... exf4 14. Bxf4 Ne5 {has to be preferred. While White does have a nice outpost on f5, Black appears very solid after} 15. Qf2 Rfe8 16. Rad1 Bf8) 14. f5 $1 Bc4 15. Bg5 Rac8 (15... b4 16. Nd1 d5 17. Ne3 $16) 16. Nh5 $1 {Now it is all about removing the defenders of the d5 square.} b4 17. Bxf6 Nxf6 18. Nxf6+ Bxf6 19. Bxc4 Qxc4 (19... bxc3 $2 20. b3 {is just winning, Black's bishop is useless.}) 20. Nd5 Qxc2 21. b3 {White has achieved his strategic goal at the cost of an unimportant pawn. Black is not lost, but he faces a difficult defensive task, as White can choose an opportune moment to launch his attack. Black needs to be ready for action but he cannot force it.} a5 22. Qe3 {Eyeing h6 after a capture on f6.} Kh8 $2 {The king is not a bit safer here, it turns out that Black had to prepare an exit in the other direction.} (22... Rfe8 $1 23. Rf2 Qc5 24. Qg3 Kf8 {would be tough to break, as Black controls the c-file and his king can always find shelter on e7 after an exchange on f6.}) 23. Rac1 $1 { White forces matters, as his calculations convinced him that he can start a winning attack.} Qxa2 24. Nxf6 Rxc1 25. Rxc1 gxf6 26. Qh6 Kg8 27. Qxf6 $2 { I am sure Markus thought he was winning here, and it's hard to blame him for missing an impressive defensive resource.} (27. Rf1 $1 Rc8 28. Qxf6 (28. Rf3 $2 Rc3) 28... Qxb3 29. Rf3 Rc3 30. Qd8+ Kg7 31. f6+ Kg6 32. Qg8+ {mates}) 27... Qd2 28. Rf1 Re8 $2 (28... h5 $3 29. Rf3 (29. Qh4 Qh6 30. f6 Re8 $1 31. Rf5 Re6) 29... Kh7 30. Rg3 Qh6 {the point!} 31. Qe7 a4 32. f6 Kh8 33. Rg5 Qxg5 34. Qxf8+ Qg8 {is just a draw!}) 29. Rf3 {Now the attack is irresistible} a4 30. Rg3+ Kf8 31. Qg7+ Ke7 32. f6+ Kd8 (32... Ke6 33. Qg4+ Kxf6 34. Qd7 Rf8 35. bxa4 {And the a-pawn will be one worry too many for Black.}) 33. Qxf7 a3 { The a-pawn alone cannot help Black.} 34. Qa7 Qc1+ 35. Kh2 Qf4 36. Qb8+ Kd7 37. Qb5+ Kd8 38. Qxb4 h5 39. Qxd6+ Kc8 40. Qc6+ Kd8 41. f7 $1 {A nice finishing touch to a strong game by Markus! Xiong was cuaght off-balance in the opening and the pressure turned out too much to bare. It is very difficult to catch an unexpected defensive resource when you see your position getting worse and worse and already understand that the day will probably end badly.} 1-0

It wasn't all bad news for the juniors as Jorden Van Foreest dispatched Erwin L'Ami with white

The cordoned off area was jam packed with fans and players trying to watch the elite games live

Say what you like, but there is something special about seeing in person the top players fighting over the board

Round one games of Challengers

Schedule, pairings, and results

Tata Steel Masters 2017

Round 1 - Saturday, January 14
Harikrishna, P.
½-½
 Aronian, L.
Adhiban, B.
½-½
 Van Wely, L.
Eljanov, P.
1-0
 Rapport, R.
Karjakin, S.
½-½
 Giri, A.
So, W.
½-½
 Carlsen, M.
Wojtaszek, R.
½-½
 Nepomniachtchi, I.
Andreikin, D.
½-½
 Wei, Y.
Round 2 - Sunday, January 15
Aronian, L.
 
Wei, Y.
Nepomniachtchi, I.
 
Andreikin, D.
Carlsen, M.
 
Wojtaszek, R.
Giri, A.
 
So, W.
Rapport, R.
 
Karjakin, S.
Van Wely, L.
 
Eljanov, P.
Harikrishna, P.
 
Adhiban, B.
Round 3 - Monday, January 16
Adhiban, B.
 
Aronian, L.
Eljanov, P.
 
Harikrishna, P.
Karjakin, S.
 
Van Wely, L.
So, W.
 
Rapport, R.
Wojtaszek, R.
 
Giri, A..
Andreikin, D.
 
Carlsen, M.
Wei, Y.
 
Nepomniachtchi, I.
Round 4 - Tuesday, January 17
Aronian, L.
 
Nepomniachtchi, I.
Carlsen, M.
 
Wei, Y.
Giri, A.
 
Andreikin, D.
Rapport, R.
 
Wojtaszek, R.
Van Wely, L.
 
So, W.
Harikrishna, P.
 
Karjakin, S.
Adhiban, B.
 
Eljanov, P.
Round 5 - Thursday, January 19
Eljanov, P.
 
Aronian, L.
Karjakin, S.
 
Adhiban, B.
So, W.
 
Harikrishna, P.
Wojtaszek, R.
 
Van Wely, L.
Andreikin, D.
 
Rapport, R.
Wei, Y.
 
Giri, A.
Nepomniachtchi, I.
 
Carlsen, M.
Round 6 - Friday, January 20
Aronian, L.
 
Carlsen, M.
Giri, A.
 
Nepomniachtchi, I.
Rapport, R.
 
Wei, Y.
Van Wely, L.
 
Andreikin, D.
Harikrishna, P.
 
Wojtaszek, R.
Adhiban, B.
 
So, W.
Eljanov, P.
 
Karjakin, S.
Round 7 - Saturday, January 21
Karjakin, S.
 
Aronian, L.
So, W.
 
Eljanov, P.
Wojtaszek, R.
 
Adhiban, B.
Andreikin, D.
 
Harikrishna, P.
Wei, Y.
 
Van Wely, L.
Nepomniachtchi, I.
 
Rapport, R.
Carlsen, M.
 
Giri, A.
Round 8 - Sunday, January 22
Aronian, L.
 
Giri, A.
Rapport, R.
 
Carlsen, M.
Van Wely, L.
 
Nepomniachtchi, I.
Harikrishna, P.
 
Wei, Y.
Adhiban, B.
 
Andreikin, D.
Eljanov, P.
 
Wojtaszek, R.
Karjakin, S.
 
So, W.
Round 9 - Tuesday, January 24
So, W.
 
Aronian, L.
Wojtaszek, R.
 
Karjakin, S.
Andreikin, D.
 
Eljanov, P.
Wei, Y.
 
Adhiban, B.
Nepomniachtchi, I.
 
Harikrishna, P.
Carlsen, M.
 
Van Wely, L.
Giri, A.
 
Rapport, R.
Round 10 - Wednesday, January 25
Aronian, L.
 
Rapport, R.
Van Wely, L.
 
Giri, A.
Harikrishna, P.
 
Carlsen, M.
Adhiban, B.
 
Nepomniachtchi, I.
Eljanov, P.
 
Wei, Y.
Karjakin, S.
 
Andreikin, D.
So, W.
 
Wojtaszek, R.
Round 11 - Friday, January 27
Wojtaszek, R.
 
Aronian, L.
Andreikin, D.
 
So, W.
Wei, Y.
 
Karjakin, S.
Nepomniachtchi, I.
 
Eljanov, P.
Carlsen, M.
 
Adhiban, B.
Giri, A.
 
Harikrishna, P.
Rapport, R.
 
Van Wely, L.
Round 12 - Saturday, January 28
Aronian, L.
 
Van Wely, L.
Harikrishna, P.
 
Rapport, R.
Adhiban, B.
 
Giri, A.
Eljanov, P.
 
Carlsen, M.
Karjakin, S.
 
Nepomniachtchi, I.
So, W.
 
Wei, Y.
Wojtaszek, R.
 
Andreikin, D.
Round 13 - Sunday, January 29
Andreikin, D.
 
Aronian, L.
Wei, Y.
 
Wojtaszek, R.
Nepomniachtchi, I.
 
So, W.
Carlsen, M.
 
Karjakin, S.
Giri, A.
 
Eljanov, P.
Rapport, R.
 
Adhiban, B.
Van Wely, L.
 
Harikrishna, P.
 

Tata Steel Challengers 2017

Round 1 - Saturday, January 14
Jones, G.
½-½
Grandelius, N.
Guramishvili, S.
½-½
Lu, S.
Smirin, I
½-½
Dobrov, V.
Tari, A.
½-½
Hansen, E.
Bok, B.
1-0
Tingjie, L.
Ragger, M.
1-0
Xiong, J.
van Foreest, J.
1-0
l'Ami, E.
Round 2 - Sunday, January 15
Grandelius, N.
 
l'Ami, E.
Xiong, J.
 
van Foreest, J.
Tingjie, L.
 
Ragger, M.
Hansen, E.
 
Bok, B.
Dobrov, V.
 
Tari, A.
Lu, S.
 
Smirin, I
Jones, G.
 
Guramishvili, S.
Round 3 - Monday, January 16
Guramishvili, S. -
 
Grandelius, N.
Smirin, I -
 
Jones, G.
Tari, A. -
 
Lu, S.
Bok, B. -
 
Dobrov, V.
Ragger, M. -
 
Hansen, E..
van Foreest, J. -
 
Tingjie, L.
l'Ami, E. -
 
Xiong, J.
Round 4 - Tuesday, January 17
Grandelius, N.
 
Xiong, J.
Tingjie, L.
 
l'Ami, E.
Hansen, E.
 
van Foreest, J.
Dobrov, V.
 
Ragger, M.
Lu, S.
 
Bok, B.
Jones, G.
 
Tari, A.
Guramishvili, S.
 
Smirin, I
Round 5 - Thursday, January 19
Smirin, I
 
Grandelius, N.
Tari, A.
 
Guramishvili, S.
Bok, B.
 
Jones, G.
Ragger, M.
 
Lu, S.
van Foreest, J.
 
Dobrov, V.
l'Ami, E.
 
Hansen, E.
Xiong, J.
 
Tingjie, L.
Round 6 - Friday, January 20
Grandelius, N.
 
Tingjie, L.
Hansen, E.
 
Xiong, J.
Dobrov, V.
 
l'Ami, E.
Lu, S.
 
van Foreest, J.
Jones, G.
 
Ragger, M.
Guramishvili, S.
 
Bok, B.
Smirin, I
 
Tari, A.
Round 7 - Saturday, January 21
Tari, A.
 
Grandelius, N.
Bok, B.
 
Smirin, I
Ragger, M.
 
Guramishvili, S.
van Foreest, J.
 
Jones, G.
l'Ami, E.
 
Lu, S.
Xiong, J.
 
Dobrov, V.
Tingjie, L.
 
Hansen, E.
Round 8 - Sunday, January 22
Grandelius, N.
 
Hansen, E.
Dobrov, V.
 
Tingjie, L.
Lu, S.
 
Xiong, J.
Jones, G.
 
l'Ami, E.
Guramishvili, S.
 
van Foreest, J.
Smirin, I
 
Ragger, M.
Tari, A.
 
Bok, B.
Round 9 - Tuesday, January 24
Bok, B.
 
Grandelius, N.
Ragger, M.
 
Tari, A.
van Foreest, J.
 
Smirin, I
l'Ami, E.
 
Guramishvili, S.
Xiong, J.
 
Jones, G.
Tingjie, L.
 
Lu, S.
Hansen, E.
 
Dobrov, V.
Round 10 - Wednesday, January 25
Grandelius, N.
 
Dobrov, V.
Lu, S.
 
Hansen, E.
Jones, G.
 
Tingjie, L.
Guramishvili, S.
 
Xiong, J.
Smirin, I
 
l'Ami, E.
Tari, A.
 
van Foreest, J.
Bok, B.
 
Ragger, M.
Round 11 - Friday, January 27
Ragger, M.
 
Grandelius, N.
van Foreest, J.
 
Bok, B.
l'Ami, E.
 
Tari, A.
Xiong, J.
 
Smirin, I
Tingjie, L.
 
Guramishvili, S.
Hansen, E.
 
Jones, G.
Dobrov, V.
 
Lu, S.
Round 12 - Saturday, January 28
Grandelius, N.
 
Lu, S.
Jones, G.
 
Dobrov, V.
Guramishvili, S.
 
Hansen, E.
Smirin, I
 
Tingjie, L.
Tari, A.
 
Xiong, J.
Bok, B.
 
l'Ami, E.
Ragger, M.
 
van Foreest, J.
Round 13 - Sunday, January 29
van Foreest, J.
 
Grandelius, N.
l'Ami, E.
 
Ragger, M.
Xiong, J.
 
Bok, B.
Tingjie, L.
 
Tari, A.
Hansen, E.
 
Smirin, I
Dobrov, V.
 
Guramishvili, S.
Lu, S.
 
Jones, G.
 

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 14 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.



Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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Hanse58 Hanse58 1/15/2017 09:25
Its Jorden van Foreest, not Jeroen.
BonaFides BonaFides 1/15/2017 02:06
Was Nepom Carlsen's second? Hammer said "Ian Nepomniachtchi was also in New York, but I’m not sure in what role, whether he was a trainer for Karjakin or did something else." http://en.chessbase.com/post/carlsen-karjakin-interview-with-peter-heine-nielsen
romualdo romualdo 1/14/2017 09:09
As usual the supposed GM´s play like chikens. Such a tournament needs player´s with Shirov´s blood. Remember ?
Let´s see if someone in this tournament have blood.
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