2017 Tata Rd3: Manic Monday

by Albert Silver
1/17/2017 – What a round it was. While the masters saw three decisive games, the challengers saw six of the seven games end with victors and losers. It was also a round defined by fatal blunders that upset the balance of the games. The most obvious was Rapport’s change of fortunes as he went from won to lost against So, but he was not alone as Bok and Jones also self-immolated on the board. Still, it wasn't all tragedies as Wei Yi and Karjakin scored. Report with analysis by GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson.

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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.

All photos by Alina L'Ami for the tournament site

Masters tournament

Round 3 - Monday, January 16
Adhiban, B.
½-½
Aronian, L.
Eljanov, P.
½-½
Harikrishna, P.
Karjakin, S.
1-0
Van Wely, L.
So, W.
1-0
Rapport, R.
Wojtaszek, R.
½-½
Giri, A..
Andreikin, D.
½-½
Carlsen, M.
Wei, Y.
1-0
Nepomniachtchi, I.

 

Video impressions of round three

It was a thrilling day for the fans who saw their efforts to come and watch rewarded with games covering the full spectrum, whether spectacular complications, technical endgames, just rewards, and tragic losses. None was so obvious as the game between Wesley So and the extremely creative Richard Rapport.

By far the most exciting game of the day, Richard Rapport played beautifully to reach a totally winning position against Wesley So.

It was hard to really know who had the upperhand, no matter who the engines seemed to favor (back and forth), and after 25 moves, they reached this position:

So - Rapport

 

and just a couple of moves later it was time to head back!

 

In a way, it reminds one of a World War II story, depicted in episode 7 of Band of Brothers, the great mini-series based on the equally great book by Stephen Ambrose. In it, an American soldier races down the middle of a road filled with armed Germans. His mission isn't to wreak havoc, but to deliver a message at the end. Gawking, the Germans stare at him in disbelief as he ignores them, runs right past them, and jumps over a wall. But that is not the end of it. Seconds later, he climbs right back over the wall, and races back! The Germans are still stunned, and by the time they start firing at him, he is safely back with his mates. If that tale were to be told on the chessboard, this sequence would be it.

Unfortunately for Rapport and his fans, things got ugly at record speed when a couple of blunders cost him the game.

Wesley So - Richard Rapport

[Event "79th Tata Steel GpA"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2017.01.16"] [Round "3"] [White "So, W."] [Black "Rapport, R."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E18"] [WhiteElo "2808"] [BlackElo "2702"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2017.01.13"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 b6 3. d4 Bb7 4. c4 e6 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 Ne4 8. Bd2 Bf6 9. Rc1 Nxd2 10. Qxd2 d6 11. d5 e5 12. e4 Nd7 13. h4 a5 14. Bh3 Nc5 15. Kg2 Bc8 16. Rh1 (16. Bxc8 Qxc8 17. Qe2 Be7 18. Nd2 Nd7 19. Rh1 Nf6 20. Nf1 h5 21. Ne3 g6 22. Rcg1 Kg7 23. Kf1 Rh8 24. Ke1 Qd7 25. Kd1 Kg8 26. f3 Bf8 27. g4 Rh7 28. Kc2 Be7 29. Rg2 Qd8 30. Kb1 Kh8 31. Nf1 Nd7 32. Rgh2 Kg7 33. Rh3 hxg4 34. fxg4 Rxh4 35. Rxh4 Bxh4 36. Qh2 Bg5 37. Qh7+ Kf8 38. Nh2 Qf6 39. Rf1 Bf4 40. Nf3 Ke7 41. Rh1 Bg3 42. Nd2 Qf4 43. Qh3 Nf6 44. Qg2 Qxg4 45. Ne2 Bf4 46. Nxf4 exf4 47. Qf1 Nh5 48. Qd3 Kf8 49. a3 Re8 50. Ka2 Kg7 51. Nf3 Nf6 52. Re1 Nd7 53. Qc3+ Ne5 54. Rf1 Qh3 55. Qc1 Nxf3 56. Qc3+ f6 57. Rxf3 Qg4 58. Qd3 Rh8 { 0-1 (58) Tomashevsky,E (2731)-Ponomariov,R (2709) Baku 2016}) 16... Bxh3+ 17. Rxh3 Qd7 18. Nh2 h5 19. f3 g6 20. g4 Kh7 21. Rh1 {It isn't often that one see both sides preparing for major offensive operations on the kingside like this. Who is attacking who? White's plan is Nf1-g3 prepared by protecting g4 with the queen and taking the king out of the x-ray attack on the g-file.} Rg8 22. Qd1 {This frees up the knight for its repositioning} Bg7 23. Nf1 Bh6 24. Kf2 $2 {This almost ridiculously subtle imprecision is the beginning of trouble for White, and a creative player like Rapport doesn't need to be asked twice.} ({ With the exact same concept, White needed to play} 24. Ng3 {and only after Kf1, and not on f2.}) 24... Bc1 $1 {It seems almost innocuous with nearly all Black's pieces tied in awkward positions, but this causes White quite the headache.} 25. Ng3 ({Obviously} 25. Qxc1 $4 {fails to} Nd3+) 25... Bxb2 26. Nb5 Bc1 $1 {Time to go back!} 27. gxh5 Bf4 28. Nc3 f5 29. hxg6+ Rxg6 30. Nxf5 Rag8 31. Kf1 b5 $1 {Superb, and the idea is only clear with the next move.} 32. cxb5 Rg2 $1 {Black is completely winning now. The point of ...b5 is now clear. Without it, White could now play Ne2, but now if Ne2, Black plays Qxb5.} 33. Qb1 Qf7 $4 (33... Rd2 $1 {was simple and winning.} 34. Ne2 Nd3 35. a4 Nb2 { and the threat of Rd1 is fatal. Ex:} 36. Kf2 Nxa4 {with the idea of Rxe2+ Kxe2 Nc3+} 37. Rc1 Rb2 {etc.}) 34. Ne2 Qg6 $4 {and now with this blunder it is White who is winning.} 35. Ne7 Rf2+ {Desperation.} 36. Kxf2 Qg2+ 37. Ke1 Rg3 38. Rxg3 Qxh1+ 39. Rg1 Qxf3 40. Nxf4 Qe3+ 41. Ne2 Nd3+ 42. Qxd3 Qxd3 43. Ng8 Qf3 44. h5 Kh8 45. Rg6 Qh1+ 46. Kd2 Qxe4 47. Nf6 Qb4+ 48. Ke3 1-0

Wesley So discusses his win against Richard Rapport

It wasn't all tales of woe. Chinese prodigy Wei Yi played a fascinating game against Ian Nepomniachtchi, concluding a very complex Najdorf with a classy technical win in the endgame.

Wei Yi - Ian Nepomniachtchi (annotated by GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson)

[Event "79th Tata Steel GpA"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2017.01.16"] [Round "3"] [White "Wei Yi"] [Black "Nepomniachtchi, I."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B96"] [WhiteElo "2706"] [BlackElo "2767"] [Annotator "Tiger Hillarp-Persson"] [PlyCount "149"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 {Already at this stage I felt inclined to comment on this game. It's nice to see that there are some who still seek asymmetry.} 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 {Finally someone who is prepared to play a principled move.} ({Karjakin came up with} 6. a3 {in the first round against Giri. I guess this move is inspired by a kind of psychic prophylaxis: "I'll stop you from playing b5-b4 because the cards say that you will play b7-b5." Then Carlsen followed suit in round 2, and won. "Principled" is so yesterday.}) 6... e6 7. f4 h6 {This line has ascended from obscurity into the limelight in only a few years. Compared to the normal poisoned pawn lines (without h6 and Bh4) I can only find one small difference (but possibly I've missed something). } (7... Qb6 8. Qd2 (8. Qd3 $5) (8. a3 Nc6 {is much better for Black now that there is no Bf2.}) 8... Qxb2 9. Rb1 Qa3 10. e5 (10. f5 {is one option that is unique to this move order.}) 10... h6 {leads to the same position described after 9.Qd2. I'm still not much wiser as to why Black prefers h6 to the direct Qb6.}) 8. Bh4 Qb6 {This move is played in many Sicilian scenarios, with the idea of luring White to place Nd4 on a more passive square. White is not in the habit of cooperating.} 9. a3 {This is the latest fashion.} (9. Qd2 Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3 11. e5 dxe5 12. fxe5 {is the main line, with thousands of games. In Parimarjan Negi's (exceptional) book "1.e4 vs The Sicilians 1", there is a chapter dealing with this line called simply "20...Rd8". You get the picture. Perhaps this line has fallen out of grace just because it is impossible to keep track of all the ins and outs.} {If you go down the rabbit hole, you will be likely to meet something like} Nfd7 13. Ne4 Qxa2 14. Rd1 Qd5 15. Qe3 Qxe5 16. Be2 Bc5 17. Bg3 Qd5 18. c4 Bxd4 19. Rxd4 Qa5+ 20. Rd2 O-O 21. Bd6 f5 22. Bxf8 Nxf8 23. Nd6 Nbd7 {where Black is currently doing all right. Wei Yi has tried this twice with White, with no success.}) ({After} 9. Qd3 Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3 {I get the feeling that h6/Bh4 favours Black somewhat.}) ({Without h6/Bh4, White could consider} 9. Nb3 {, although it would be a terribly passive move. Here it is just bad because of} Qe3+ {winning a pawn.}) 9... Nbd7 {This is a first step off the most trodden paths, and a step that I like.} ({The normal} 9... Be7 {almost forces White to play} 10. Bf2 {, when} Qc7 11. Qf3 Nbd7 12. O-O-O b5 13. g4 {featured in three absolute top games in 2016. The last game saw:} Bb7 14. Bg2 Rc8 15. Kb1 g5 16. Qh3 Nc5 17. Rhe1 h5 18. Nf5 $1 Ncxe4 19. Bxe4 Nxe4 20. Bd4 {with a huge attack for White, in Nakamura,H (2775)-Vachier Lagrave,M (2800) 8th London Classic 2016. It has been clear since then that Black needed to find an improvement.}) (9... Nc6 10. Bf2 {with splendid chances for White, is the main difference to the usual poisoned pawn lines (7.. .Qb6).}) (9... Qxb2 10. Na4 {and as we all know; the knight on the rim is dim.} ) 10. Be2 {This move doesn't quite fit with the usual narrative of "queen goes to f3, long castle, g4, bam!", but it isn't obviously wrong. I'm very curious as to how far Wei Yi's preparation stretched. When I read his comments, I get the feeling that he has an exceptional "sense" of what goes on in the Najdorf and that his preparations are more conceptual than they are detailed.} ({After } 10. Bf2 Qc7 11. Qf3 {, hoping for 11...Be7, Black can instead play} b5 { , which seems a bit more active.}) (10. Bc4 e5 $5) 10... e5 {As far as I can tell, this is a novelty.} ({However, now that the queen's route to f3 is obstructed, it is again possible to play} 10... Be7 11. Bf2 Qc7 {From Black's perspective this line seems preferable to the game.} {White should continue with} 12. Bf3 {and then either} g6 ({or} 12... Nb6 {, intending e6-e5, seems possible.})) 11. Nf5 $1 {White's minor pieces start swarming and the knight is on the road towards d5. Still, Black cannot tolerate the knight on f5 and has to kick it towards its goal.} g6 12. Bf2 $5 {This means either a) that Wei Yi has prepared the position deeply and seen that the 12.Ne3 is less clear than the engines indicate, or b) that he didn't prepare the position and played Bf2 on instinct. Considering how the game continues and the fact that he spent quite a lot of time on this move, it seems more likely that b) was the case.} ( {The engine likes} 12. Ne3 {better, intending} Qxe3 13. Bf2 {At first sight it seems that} Ng4 (13... Qxf4 14. g3 Qxe4 15. Nxe4 Nxe4 16. Bf3 Nxf2 17. Kxf2 h5 {is another possibility, but the bishop on f3 looks strong here.}) 14. Bxe3 Nxe3 15. Qd2 Nxg2+ 16. Kd1 Nxf4 {is fine for Black, but when you evaluate this kind of line you must first of all look for forced lines. Indeed, in this case there is such a one:} 17. Rf1 $1 {Intending Rxf4. If Black is allowed to solidify his position then the sacrifice will be less effective.} Be7 (17... g5 18. Nd5) 18. Rxf4 exf4 19. Nd5 Bd8 20. Qxf4 Ne5 21. c4 {and Black is definitely under pressure. I wonder if Wei Yi considered this line and chose not to enter it?}) 12... Nc5 {After this move we seem to be on a one way road, so if Black is to find an improvement (apart from 10...Be7), then this is the place to look for it.} (12... Qc7 $6 13. Ne3 exf4 14. Ned5 $36) (12... Qc6 $5 13. fxe5 dxe5 14. Ne3 Bc5 15. O-O) 13. b4 $1 {Being ahead in development, it's the initiative, not the pawns, that count.} gxf5 14. O-O $5 ({There was nothing wrong with} 14. bxc5 {and it is far from clear that Wei Yi's move is the better one. It keeps things simple and allows for Black to be a bit surprised.}) 14... Nfxe4 (14... Qc7 {leads to the same position as after 16... Qc7.}) 15. Nxe4 fxe4 16. bxc5 dxc5 (16... Qc7 $1 17. Qd5 (17. Rb1 $5 Be6 18. Bg4) 17... Qc6 18. Bc4 Be6 19. Qxc6+ bxc6 20. Bxe6 fxe6 21. cxd6 exf4 22. Bd4 Rg8 23. Rxf4 Bxd6 24. Rxe4 {leads to a slightly better endgame for White, but there are other promising alternatives on move 17.}) 17. fxe5 $6 ({Here} 17. Qd5 {was the strongest move. After something like} Bg7 18. Rad1 Be6 19. Qxe4 exf4 20. Qa4+ Qc6 21. Qxc6+ bxc6 22. Bxc5 {White has good winning chances.}) ( 17. Bh4 Rg8 {is less clear.}) 17... Be6 18. Rb1 Qc6 19. Bg4 {The bishop on e6 is the linchpin of Black's position, so White must challenge it.} b5 ({Black can also consider} 19... Rd8 20. Qe2 Be7 21. Bxe6 fxe6 22. a4 h5 $132) 20. Bh4 $1 {The most active place for the bishop that also opens the route for the rook to f6.} Rg8 $6 ({Black should keep the rook out of f6:} 20... Bg7 $1 21. Bf6 Bxf6 22. Rxf6 Rd8 {is unclear. The queenside structure gives Black some reasons to be optimistic.}) 21. Bxe6 Qxe6 22. Rf6 $1 Qg4 $1 (22... Qxe5 23. Rxa6 $1 Rc8 24. Rc6 $1 Ra8 25. Qe2 c4 26. a4 Rg6 27. Bf6 Rxf6 28. Rxf6 Rxa4 ( 28... Qxf6 29. Qxe4+) 29. Rbf1 {is close to winning for White.}) 23. Qd2 Be7 24. Rf4 Qd7 ({Black seeks salvation in exchanges, falls into a trap. Better was } 24... Qe6 25. Bxe7 Qxe7 26. Rxe4 Rg6 {, when White is better, but no more.}) 25. Qxd7+ Kxd7 26. e6+ $1 {There's the trap.} ({After} 26. Rxf7 Rae8 {Black is doing very well. For instance:} 27. c4 e3 28. cxb5 axb5 29. Rxe7+ (29. Rxb5 $2 Kc6 $19) 29... Rxe7 30. Bxe7 Kxe7 31. Rxb5 e2 32. Kf2 (32. Rb1 Ke6) 32... Rxg2+ 33. Ke1 Rxh2 {with equality. With a c-pawn and such a centralized king, Black is happy to enter almost any rook endgame.}) 26... fxe6 (26... Kxe6 $2 27. Rxe4+) 27. Rf7 Rg5 ({A neccessity since} 27... Rae8 28. Rd1+ {loses a piece.}) 28. Rd1+ Ke8 29. Rh7 b4 ({Black gets some more chances with} 29... c4 {aiming to pick up the a-pawn for nothing. Still, after} 30. Bxg5 hxg5 31. Kf2 Bxa3 32. Ke3 a5 33. Kxe4 a4 34. c3 {Black is struggling to survive but White's advantage is not a comfortable one. Black's pawns look menacing and a small mistake might cost the game.}) 30. a4 c4 31. Bxg5 hxg5 32. Rh8+ Bf8 33. Rf1 Ke7 34. Rh7+ Kd6 35. Rh8 Ke7 36. Rh7+ {White's next few moves are anything but random. The point is that he gets a rook to the c-file, which makes it easier to handle Black queenside pawns.} Kd6 37. Rhf7 Bh6 38. Rd1+ Ke5 39. Rc7 c3 { Black hopes to be able to make b4-b3 work at some point. The downside is that Black's queenside pawns are robbed of most of their dynamism.} ({Perhaps Nepomniachtchi didn't have enough time to calculate the consequences of} 39... b3 $5 40. Rc5+ Kf4 {After} 41. Rxc4 b2 42. Re1 Ke5 43. Rexe4+ Kd6 44. Rcd4+ Ke7 45. Rb4 Bg7) 40. Kf2 g4 (40... Rb8 $5 41. Rc5+ Kf6 42. Ke3 (42. Rb1 $2 Rd8) 42... g4+ 43. Kxe4 b3 44. cxb3 Rxb3 45. g3 {and the engine assures me that White is winning. Still not a problem free situation.}) 41. Rc5+ Kf6 42. Ke2 Rb8 43. Rb1 $6 (43. Rd4 {was better, although I can symphatize with Wei Yi's handling of the situation. He doesn't risk anything by taking it easy.}) 43... Rd8 44. Rf1+ Ke7 45. Rc7+ Kd6 46. Rc4 Ke7 $6 (46... Ke5 $1 47. Rd1 Rb8 48. Rc5+ Kf6 {would again lead to the position where White needs to play} 49. Rd4 $1) 47. Rd1 Rb8 48. Rdd4 b3 49. cxb3 Rxb3 50. Rc7+ Kf6 51. Rxe4 Rb2+ 52. Kd3 { White's dream comes true. All of Black's active pawns gets liquidated within the next few moves. In the resulting endgame, the e-pawn is of little consequence, whereas the a4-pawn becomes a hero.} Rd2+ 53. Kxc3 Kf5 54. Re1 Rxg2 55. Rc5+ Kf6 56. Re4 Rxh2 57. Rxg4 a5 {Black is able to save the a-pawn by tactical means, but now he is left with two weaknesses: the a-pawn and the e-pawn.} 58. Kd3 Rd2+ (58... Rh3+ 59. Kc4 Bd2 60. Re4 (60. Kb5 e5) 60... Rc3+ 61. Kb5 Rxc5+ 62. Kxc5 Bb4+ 63. Kc6 Kf5 64. Re2 Bc3 65. Kd6 Bb4+ 66. Kd7 e5 67. Kc6 Ke6 68. Re4 Bd2 69. Kc5 Bb4+ 70. Kc4 Be7 71. Re3 Bb4 72. Rh3 {and the e-pawn will fall.}) 59. Ke4 Re2+ 60. Kf3 Re3+ 61. Kf2 Re5 $2 {This makes matters simple for White.} 62. Rg6+ Kxg6 63. Rxe5 Bd2 64. Rxe6+ Kf7 65. Re4 Kf6 66. Ke2 Bc3 67. Rc4 Be5 (67... Bb4 68. Rxb4 axb4 69. a5) 68. Rc5 Ke6 69. Rxa5 Bc7 70. Rb5 Kd6 71. Kd3 Kc6 72. Kc4 Bb6 73. a5 Ba7 74. a6 Bb6 75. Rb3 1-0

In spite of all the big names, Pavel Eljanov has risen to the top of the interest list with his super start. In round three he was finally held to a draw by Pentala Harikrishna.

Pavel Eljanov - Pentala Harikrishna (annotated by IM Sagar Shah)

[Event "79th Tata Steel Chess 2017-Masters"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee"] [Date "2017.01.16"] [Round "3"] [White "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Black "Harikrishna, Pentala"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A17"] [WhiteElo "2755"] [BlackElo "2766"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "NED"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"] 1. Nf3 {0} Nf6 {23} 2. c4 {55} c5 {17} 3. Nc3 {25} d5 {19 Harikrishna likes to play the Semi-Tarrasch. Soon we reach something similar.} 4. cxd5 {45} Nxd5 {9} 5. e3 {202} e6 {123} 6. Bc4 {252} (6. d4 {would be the e3 variation of the Semi Tarrasch.}) 6... Nc6 {144} 7. O-O {48} Be7 {381} 8. Qe2 {509} O-O { 344 What Hari does is nice to learn from. He just develops his pieces and gets his king to safety.} 9. Rd1 {39} Nb6 {257} 10. Bb5 {966} Bd7 {304 Once again simple development. No flashy business.} 11. d4 {402} cxd4 {109} 12. exd4 $1 { 7 Accepting the Isolani is the correct way to play.} (12. Nxd4 Nxd4 13. Rxd4 Bxb5 14. Qxb5 Qc7 {And Black has absolutely no problems.}) 12... Nb4 {29} 13. Bxd7 {6} Qxd7 {9} 14. Ne5 {7} Qe8 $1 {423 A very nice idea. Hari realizes that sooner or later he will play f7-f5 and hence the queen is well placed on e8.} 15. a3 {150} N4d5 {130} 16. Rd3 {22} f5 {742 After this move the e5 square and e6 pawn become weak, but White has no real kingside attack.} 17. Bd2 {1320} Bf6 {144} 18. Re1 {101} Rc8 {357} 19. Rg3 {201} Qe7 {602} 20. Bh6 {1112} Kh8 {297} 21. Bc1 {11} Kg8 {218 Hari has a comfortable position, but with the leader and the black pieces, he is fine with a draw.} 22. Bh6 {53} Kh8 {147} 23. Bc1 {5} Kg8 {66} 24. Rh3 {55 Eljanov shows great fighting spirit, although objectively this decision is incorrect because only Black can have chances to fight for advantage.} Bxe5 {408} 25. Qxe5 {9} Rc6 {19} 26. Qe2 {318} (26. Nxd5 Nxd5 27. Qxd5 $4 exd5 28. Rxe7 Rxc1+ $19) 26... Rfc8 {228 Black's harmony keeps improving.} 27. Bd2 {4} Nxc3 {118} 28. bxc3 {69} (28. Bxc3 Nd5 $17 {is clearly better for Black.}) 28... Nd5 {25} 29. a4 {609} Qf7 {339} 30. Rg3 {152} Nxc3 { 288} 31. Rxc3 {4} Rxc3 {8} 32. Bxc3 {7} Rxc3 {8} 33. h3 {3} Rc6 {91 Black has pinched a pawn and White has to play carefully, in order to not let Black consolidate.} 34. Qe5 $1 {23} Qd7 {202} (34... h6 {looked more human.} 35. Qb8+ Kh7 36. Qxa7 Ra6 37. Qc5 Rxa4 38. Qe5 Ra6 39. Rc1 {White has compensation and the game should most probably end in a draw.}) 35. Qb8+ {85} Kf7 {56} 36. Qxa7 {27} Ra6 {15} 37. Qb8 {49} Rxa4 {143} 38. Rb1 {40} b5 {18} 39. Rxb5 {54} Ra8 { 229} 40. Qe5 {0} Rd8 {102} 41. Rb6 {180} Qd5 {304} 42. Qxd5 {115} (42. Qxd5 Rxd5 43. Rb4 {Theoretically Black is better but there is no way to win the d4 pawn and White will hold with ease.}) 1/2-1/2

Special thanks to IM Sagar Shah for sharing his analysis published at ChessBase India

There were no pretenses by Dmitri Andreikin at anything other than to keep the wolves at bay, and an uneventful draw was the result against Magnus Carlsen.

The third and most deserving winner was Sergey Karjakin, who outplayed Loek Van Wely quite thoroughly, scoring his first win of the tournament, and joining the group of five at 2.0/3.

It was all the more pity as Loek Van Wely came with his baby son who believes in teaching by example

As can be seen, Loek did eventually follow his example

The fans came in droves with children to see their heroes at play as they do every year

If anything, the age of the spectators seems to be in free fall

An absolutely lovely composition by Alina L'Ami, the photographer (two thumbs up!)

Alina L'Ami puckering up at her work (photo by Patrick Put)

 

A fun little video in which the players are asked their choices in a theoretical dilemna

Some of the following games contain tweets posted by interested parties watching the event on the Internet:

Current Masters standings

Challengers tournament

Round 3 - Monday, January 16
Guramishvili, S. -
0-1
Grandelius, N.
Smirin, I -
1-0
Jones, G.
Tari, A. -
0-1
Lu, S.
Bok, B. -
0-1
Dobrov, V.
Ragger, M. -
1-0
Hansen, E..
van Foreest, J. -
0-1
Tingjie, L.
l'Ami, E. -
½-½
Xiong, J.

The Challengers also saw more than one game decided all of a sudden with a one-move disaster.

Ilya Smirin enjoyed just such a windfall as a dead equal game against Gawain Jones turned on its head

 

Even more violent was Vladimir Dobrov's win over Benjamin Bok, from lost to mating

Bok - Dobrov

 

It was a bad day for Jorden Van Foreest who lost a second game in a row, but it was also a day to celebrate for the women as Lei Tingjie took down the 2600+ scalp

Austrian GM Markus Ragger continues on his perfect run as he defeated Canadian GM Eric Hansen

Anish Giri chips in his feedback on Erwin L'Ami's post-mortem. Erwin drew against Jeffery Xiong, the only draw in the Challengers section in round three.

Current Challengers standings

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.
½-½
Wei, Y.
Nepomniachtchi, I.
½-½
Andreikin, D.
Carlsen, M.
1-0
Wojtaszek, R.
Giri, A.
½-½
So, W.
Rapport, R.
½-½
Karjakin, S.
Van Wely, L.
0-1
Eljanov, P.
Harikrishna, P.
1-0
Adhiban, B.
Round 3 - Monday, January 16
Adhiban, B.
½-½
Aronian, L.
Eljanov, P.
½-½
Harikrishna, P.
Karjakin, S.
1-0
Van Wely, L.
So, W.
1-0
Rapport, R.
Wojtaszek, R.
½-½
Giri, A..
Andreikin, D.
½-½
Carlsen, M.
Wei, Y.
1-0
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.
½-½
l'Ami, E.
Xiong, J.
1-0
van Foreest, J.
Tingjie, L.
0-1
Ragger, M.
Hansen, E.
½-½
Bok, B.
Dobrov, V.
½-½
Tari, A.
Lu, S.
½-½
Smirin, I
Jones, G.
1-0
Guramishvili, S.
Round 3 - Monday, January 16
Guramishvili, S. -
0-1
Grandelius, N.
Smirin, I -
1-0
Jones, G.
Tari, A. -
0-1
Lu, S.
Bok, B. -
0-1
Dobrov, V.
Ragger, M. -
1-0
Hansen, E..
van Foreest, J. -
0-1
Tingjie, L.
l'Ami, E. -
½-½
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.
 

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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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ngn ngn 1/17/2017 01:38
Thank you, tlago! Rb6 looks like such a quiet move, I didn't realise how strong it is.

And yes, at least to me this was far from elementary, so some further explanation in the text would have been useful.
tlago tlago 1/17/2017 01:17
@ngn: now after 38. ...Rf2 39. Rb6 is pinning and winning. i agree that the above text isnt good as it doesnt make the difference clear.
ngn ngn 1/17/2017 12:39
In Bok-Dobrov, I don't see how 37.bxa6 is supposed to win because black still has the same mating threats. I suppose the idea is to play Rb5 at some point but as far as I can see, white has no time for that. 37. ... Rhh5 38.Rb5 Rhg4+ 39.Kxh4 Rf4+ is also mate. And 38.Re4 Rf2 threatens …f5+, just like in the game, and 39.Rb5 is not going to help white against that. What am I missing?
tlago tlago 1/17/2017 12:06
@amalwa: i do not quite get you.
nowhere did i say that this was an easy draw. but Nepo lost it without any resistance in practically 3 moves, taking no time at all. thats what i think is very starnge.
amalwa amalwa 1/17/2017 11:40
Giri still on 100 % draws btw. I bet my prediction of 100 % draws at the end of the tournament will still hold true.
amalwa amalwa 1/17/2017 11:39
I both agree and disagree with you tlago. I miss the fact Hillarp doesn't point out the tablebase draw in the game Wei vs Nepomniatchi. The move 66... Bc1 was a draw. However I disagree with you also since the draw is by no means trivial and possibly very hard to attain in human play.
hpaul hpaul 1/17/2017 11:28
I really appreciate seeing a tournament with a better mix of players than the "top 10" tournaments we've seen so much of in the past few years. While I also appreciate the skills of Anand, Kramnik, Caruana, Nakamura, &c, the spread of ratings in the current field should make for especially interesting games, in spite of the presence of the drawing master.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 1/17/2017 11:22
Great piece of photoshopping by 'Dan'!

Strange GM Hillarp-Person is about the only person not aware of the theoretical draw 66... Bc1 in Wei Yi-Nepomniachtchi. During the game people already noticed it. Was he disconnected from internet? Even if that was the case, an experienced GM should be familiar with basic endgame theory or at least be so interested in it that he looks it up.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 1/17/2017 11:01
Don't give up Ricsi, you are brilliant. Congratulations to Wesley So for managing to resurrect his position and have the last word in the game.
tlago tlago 1/17/2017 10:16
strange comment from Tiger Hillarp-Persson on 51. ...Re5 in Wei - Nepo, giving it a questionmark and saying this makes life easy for white, when a simple look at the tablebases shows that the position after 64. Rxe6+ is a draw.

the next three moves from Nepo (and the time he used for them) are very hard to understand though, given that he had plenty of time and surely knew that being precise is crucial.

he used only
24sec on 64. ...Kf7 (letting white set up the dangerous position with 65. Re4),
2min 30sec on 65. ... Kf6 (not taking the standard defence-position with Bb4) and
1min 17sec on the losing 66. ...Bc3 (where its really easy to see that after 67. Rc4 the pawn is simly gone)
huzar huzar 1/17/2017 09:31
Game of the day So Rapport is very interesting in all stages , by the way" t is not enough to be a good chess player, you still need to know how to win " how as said well know chessplayer!
weerogue weerogue 1/17/2017 09:13
Brilliant, thanks! Quote a funny photo with a fascinated Giri examining Ziong vs L'Ami, the only draw in the section. He can't get enough of them ;)
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