Tata Steel Chess: "A hallucination of some sort"

by Alex Yermolinsky
1/26/2019 – A completely unexpected resignation from Sam Shankland allowed Anish Giri to catch up with Magnus Carlsen in the standings. A half point behind, the only chaser is Ian Nepomniachtchi, who grabbed an important win over Vladimir Fedoseev. In other news, Vladimir Kramnik got his first victory this year, while Vladislav Kovalev won the only decisive game of the Challengers and joined Maksim Chigaev at the top of the standings. Full report by ALEX YERMOLINKSY. | Photos: Alina l'Ami / Official site

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Strange endings

The story of the day was Sam Shakland's incredible brain-freeze, as he resigned in a drawn position to Anish Giri. 


It was a baffling resignation by Sam | Photo: Alina l'Ami

I don't have any inside scoop on what happened there, but I do recall a similar ending from Nakamura's first victorious US Championship


More importantly, this win put Anish level with Magnus, with their head-to-head coming up in the last round. One cannot wish for more drama.

In the post-game interview, Giri talked a bit about what went on in the game. The Dutchman described what happened to Sam as "a hallucination of some sort", and then explained:

It is quite funny because the only way to lose is to resign, because if he wouldn't have resigned I wouldn't have been able to break through. Maybe Magnus Carlsen would, but I wouldn't be able to...

The full interview with Fiona Steil-Antoni: 

Don't count Nepo out just yet. Ian shook off a disappointing loss in the previous round to Van Foreest to play a consistent game against his compatriot and fellow madcap, Vladimir Fedoseev. 


Both players still need to learn to control their ambition. Nepo had no business entering a standard Najdorf against the youngster on Wednesday. Kids these days learn how to demolish Sicilian structures before they are old enough to drive. For Fedo, he remains my main man. He has an incredible will to win — nobody could win a game like he did against Teimour. However, the next day he played out of position against Giri.

Carlsen and Kovalev strolling during round eleven | Photo: Alina l'Ami

Another young player who seems to be on the rebound is Vidit Santosh Gujrathi. Today he followed his excellent win over Kramnik with a great effort against another rating favourite, the Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. 


After this game, Shakhriyar is out of the '2800 club' and down to number five in the live ratings list, behind Giri. He is on 4/11 in the tournament, sharing second to last place with Van Foreest...but still half a point above Kramnik. The race for escaping the cellar is heating up.

It has not been a good run for Shak | Photo: Alina l'Ami

After a long string of disasters, Vladimir Kramnik finally notched his first win.


Standings after Round 11 - Masters


Round 11 round-up

GM Yannick Pelletier recapped the action from round eleven

All Roundup shows

All games - Masters


One decisive result in the Challengers

The Challenger Group saw only one decisive result, but an important one. Vladislav Kovalev defeated Parham Maghsoodloo to get level with the leader Maksim Chigaev, with the youngster Esipenko hot on their heels.


Kovalev and Chigaev will fight fiercely to get a spot in next year's Masters event | Photo: Alina l'Ami

Standings after Round 11 - Challengers


All games - Challengers



Yermo is enjoying his fifties. Lives in South Dakota, 600 miles way from the nearest grandmaster. Between his chess work online he plays snooker and spends time outdoors - happy as a clam.
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Very strange. In the next round, Radjabov offered the draw to Giri, even though he was far superior. Is it coincidence that two unusual results have benefited the same player?
Aighearach Aighearach 1/27/2019 12:09
Well, I doubt it is any consolation to Sam, but I found his mistake comforting. I did the same thing in internet blitz last month; I resigned, thinking I was totally lost, and then I clicked on computer analysis, the game was totally drawn the whole time.

Refusing to ever resign, even when you think you're lost, is easily worth 50 rating points. Maybe more. Carlsen is the shining example, of course! At his level it is maybe only worth 25 points or so, but still. Down here in the fish pond it might even be worth 150!
beyondCritics beyondCritics 1/26/2019 06:25
Had Shankland studied Spasski-Fischer 1st match game, this would not have happened to him...
nuit nuit 1/26/2019 12:14
with many games won with black, giri should be 1st on the Tata isn't it?
Martin Minski Martin Minski 1/26/2019 11:41
There are many studies with the stalemate motif seen in the game by Giri against Shankland.

See for example the 5th prize by Yuri Bazlov in the John Nunn-50 JT (the study of the year 2005):


or recently the 1st HM by Martin Minski in Shahmat Bestechiliyi-15 JT:


It makes sense for a chess player to regularly analyze and solve endgame studies.