Wei Yi at Tata Steel Challengers (2)

by Sagar Shah
1/30/2015 – The Challengers group of the Tata Steel Masters saw young talent Wei Yi fighting David Navara for the top spot right to the end, where the Chinese player edged out his Czech rival by a mere half point. With this win Wei Yi is just five Elo points away from breaking Magnus Carlsen's record of the youngest player to cross 2700 Elo. Detailed report with lots of interesting analysis.

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The 2015 Tata Steel Chess Tournament had two main round robin tournaments, both with 14 players each. The time control was 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds cumulative increment for each move starting from the first move.

In third place in the final table we find US American GM Samuel Shankland. Born in San Francisco, Sam was California State champion in 2008, 2009, and 2011 (and US Junior Champion in 2010). At the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromsø, he took home gold for his performance as a reserve player. Going undefeated, he scored an incredible 9 points out of 10 games, giving him a performance rating of 2829 for this tournament. By our count he has currently played 68 standard games undefeated.

In Wijk Samuel Shankland did not play any sort of flashy chess.
He was rock solid and remained unbeaten, scoring 9.0/13.

This is how Samuel described his event on facebook:

Shankland won a miniature against David Klein. What is interesting to note in the game is Black’s simple central play against the unorthodox opening employed by White.

[Event "77th Tata Steel GpB"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2015.01.23"] [Round "11"] [White "Klein, David"] [Black "Shankland, Samuel"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A01"] [WhiteElo "2517"] [BlackElo "2652"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "36"] [EventDate "2015.01.10"] 1. b3 d5 2. Bb2 Bf5 3. e3 e6 4. Nc3 {Developing the knight to c3 already starts looking fishy. But maybe White wanted to play g4 but he couldn't as it was met by Be4 and then f3 cannot be played as it will be met ith Qh4+. So Nc3 takes e4 under control.} Nf6 {Simple natural move stopping g4.} 5. d4 c5 6. Nf3 a6 (6... Nc6 {looked much more logical.}) 7. Bd3 Bg4 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. h3 Bh5 10. a3 Nc6 {Black has a nice harmonius position. White has to play carefully now in order to keep himself in the game. Klein tries to open up the position, which backfires badly.} 11. e4 (11. g4 Bg6 12. Ne2 {should have been preferred. }) 11... O-O 12. g4 Bg6 13. Qe2 $2 (13. exd5 exd5 14. Bxg6 fxg6 $17 {was also bad for White, but at least playable.}) 13... Nd4 $1 14. Nxd4 Bxd4 {The e4 pawn is losing it's defenders.} 15. f3 (15. exd5 Nxd5 $1 16. Na4 Nf4 $19) (15. e5 Ne4 16. Bxe4 (16. Nd1 Nxf2 17. Bxd4 Nxh1 $19) 16... Bxe4 17. f3 Qh4+ 18. Kf1 f5 $1 $19 {Super strong move that ends the game!}) 15... Qc7 16. Kd2 dxe4 17. fxe4 Qf4+ 18. Kd1 Qe5 (18... Rac8 {was much more accurate.}) (18... Qe5 19. Qh2 {was a possible defense, but look at White's position: it's in complete ruins.} (19. Kd2 Rac8 $19) 19... Qa5 $1 20. Qd2 Rac8 21. Na4 Qe5 22. Bxd4 Qxd4 23. Rb1 Nxe4 $19) 0-1

Klein’s choice of opening was not so good …

… but his choice of chocolate was excellent!

One of the best performers could definitely be Samuel Sevian. He lost his first two games
of the tournament but recovered well to score 7.5 and gain 20 Elo points.

Samuel’s style is very aggressive and reminds of the great Mikhail Tal. Here is a Tal-like sacrifice by America’s youngest grandmaster:

Sevian - Timman, Round 13

White to play. What do you think about the queen sacrifice with Qxc8?

[Event "77th Tata Steel GpB"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2015.01.25"] [Round "13"] [White "Sevian, Samuel"] [Black "Timman, Jan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B07"] [WhiteElo "2511"] [BlackElo "2593"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1b2k1r/pp2p1b1/3qp3/1B1PnpPp/3N4/P6P/2Q2B2/2R1K1R1 w - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "19"] [EventDate "2015.01.10"] {There are two real options here. Either you take on c8 or you push your pawn to g6. One wins and the other loses. Samuel chooses the option that is bad and still wins!} 27. Qxc8+ $2 (27. g6 $1 $18 {Threatening Qc8.} Bd7 28. Bxd7 Qxd7 29. Nxe6+ Kg8 30. Qb3 {Rook is coming into c7.} Rc8 31. Rxc8+ Qxc8 32. d6 $1 Qc1+ 33. Ke2 $18) 27... Rxc8 28. Rxc8+ Kf7 29. dxe6+ Qxe6 $2 {Why did Timman have to take the pawn on e6? Most probably he did not see the resouce he had on move 35 with Nf3+!} (29... Kg6 $1 30. Rxh8 Bxh8 31. Be8+ Kh7 32. g6+ Kg8 ( 32... Nxg6 $2 33. Bxg6+ Kg8 34. Bf7+ Kh7 35. Bg8+ Kh6 36. Nxf5#) 33. Bf7+ (33. g7 Bxg7 34. Rxg7+ Kf8 35. Rg5 {is relatively the best but here Black has no chances to lose after} Nf3+ $1 36. Nxf3 Qxe6+ 37. Kf1 Kxe8 $15) 33... Kf8 34. g7+ Bxg7 35. Rxg7 {This is the point where Timman might have left his analysis thinking that there is no way to prevent Rg8# apart from giving up his queen. But there is a very sly defence!} Nf3+ $1 36. Kf1 (36. Kd1 Kxg7 $19) (36. Ke2 Qe5+ 37. Kxf3 Qe4+ 38. Kg3 h4+ 39. Kh2 Kxg7 $19) 36... Qa6+ $1 {Moving the queen away from the fork on f5 with a tempo.} 37. Kg2 Kxg7 $19 {And black wins the game.}) 30. Nxe6 {The rest is just matter of technique.} Nf3+ 31. Kd1 Rxc8 32. Rg3 Kxe6 33. Rxf3 a6 34. Bd3 Rf8 35. Bc2 Ke5 36. Be1 1-0

It is depressing to see one of the finest players of the 1980s having such a bad tournament. Jan Timman finished last with a score of 3.0/13. In his defence it could be said that he played quite creatively in few of the games and was unable to convert many promising positions.

Valentina Gunina lost a few Elo points, but she did beat Salem, l’Ami and Timman!

The lowest rated player of the event, Ari Dale, was unable to win a game, but he scored seven draws and also gained 13 Elo points. One thing is sure, he goes back home with an unparalleled experience of facing great players in one of the best tournaments in the world.

Coming to the last round, Wei Yi already had a one point lead over Navara. Finally, David rose to the occasion and scored a nice victory over David Klein.

The battle between two Davids!

Klein - Navara, Round 13

It’s Black to play. You are in a must win situation. What would you do?

[Event "77th Tata Steel GpB"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2015.01.25"] [Round "13"] [White "Klein, David"] [Black "Navara, David"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B18"] [WhiteElo "2517"] [BlackElo "2729"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4rk1/pp2npp1/2p1pn1p/4N2P/1BPP1P2/3Q4/PP4q1/2KR3R b - - 0 19"] [PlyCount "29"] [EventDate "2015.01.10"] {Black has risked taking the g2 pawn in the Caro Kann. White has some dangerous initiative but Navara finds the most accurate way to quench it.} 19... Nf5 $1 {Sacrificing an exchange is an excellent positional decision.} ( 19... Rfe8 20. Nd7 $1 (20. Rhg1 Qe4 21. Qg3 Nxh5 $19) 20... Nxd7 21. Rdg1 Qf2 22. Rf1 Qg2 23. Rfg1 $11) 20. Bxf8 Rxf8 21. Qf3 $2 {A big oversight which loses another pawn.} (21. Rdg1 Qf2 22. Qf3 Qxd4 23. Rd1 Qc5 24. Kb1 $44) (21. Kb1 {would have kept the tension on the board and made the game interesting.}) 21... Qxf3 22. Nxf3 Ne3 23. Rde1 Nxc4 {Now there is no doubt that Black is better.} 24. f5 exf5 25. Nh4 Nd6 26. Rhf1 f4 $1 27. Re5 (27. Rxf4 Nxh5 $17) 27... Nc4 28. Rc5 Nd5 $1 {Navara makes nice use of his knights.} 29. Rxc4 Ne3 30. Rxf4 Nxc4 $19 {With two extra pawns, its all over.} 31. Nf5 Rd8 32. Ne7+ Kh7 33. Rxf7 Rd7 {Nd6 will claim an entire piece.} 0-1

a score of +7 would be good enough for the first place on more occasions than not!
David Navara was now on 10.0/13, Wei Yi had to draw or win in order to take the clear first place.

Salem could pose very few problems to the Chinese, and a truce was signed in 37 moves

In the end it was Wei Yi who edged out Navara just by a half point in this marathon 13 round event!

With 10.5/13, Wei Yi became the deserving champion! He not only gained 20 Elo points and took his live ratings to 2695 but he also gets something special:

An invitation to Tata Steel Masters 2016!

Born in 1999, Wei Yi is just 15 years and 238 days old. With a live rating of 2695 he moves into the top 50 players bracket of the world. Magnus Carlsen was the youngest player to breach 2700 Elo mark, at the age of 16 years, seven months and one day. Wei Yi is just five points away and has nearly a year to break this record.

Pictures by Alina l’Ami


The games will be 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 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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Rama Rama 1/30/2015 09:25
I hope they seed Navara into the masters group next year; I am curious of how he would do. He is higher rated than some of those that played in the masters this year but his undefeated +7 is proof enough that he belongs there.
Patman Patman 1/30/2015 01:17
yes he started with 3/3 in Gibraltar and is now virtual over 2700
ex0 ex0 1/30/2015 12:37
Wei Yi has already broken 2700 on live ratings at the time of this post.