Scandinavian and brilliancy at Tata Steel Chess India Blitz

by Sagar Shah
11/26/2019 – The blitz event is much more intense than the rapid. You have to play nine games in four and a half hours. It was fairly obvious that the players were quite tired, thus they made a lot of errors. However, you could also see a lot of brilliant moves being played. Magnus Carlsen once again set the tone with a 6½/9 performance. He is now the overall leader by a gap of five points over the nearest contender. For Indian fans the main goal would be to see Vishy Anand qualifying for the Grand Chess Tour Finals to be held from November 28th in London. In this report we bring you some of the best and most interesting games, selected tactical positions and mating attacks!

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


Brilliancy in Blitz

Imagine this situation. You are facing Levon Aronian. You have the white pieces. You have one minute 23 seconds on the clock and it is your move. 


Time is ticking down and it's your move. White to play. What would you do?

Did you decide to make a queen? Or you did you figure out that it was a mistake? Well, if you did the latter then you are as good as Magnus Carlsen! It was Magnus who had the white pieces against Levon Aronian and he decided to play...


...the brilliant move 34.c2!!

Now it is easy to dismiss this move as ordinary because White wanted Black to take the rook and then, after a8=♕, the queen defends the pawn on g2. However, the real genius lies in finding out why the direct a8=♕ doesn't work. If Black starts giving perpetual checks, then the white king can simply run over to the c1-square. There would be no perpetuals, right? Well, Magnus had seen through Levon's trap. And this he did within 30 seconds! If White makes a direct queen (without ♖c2) then Black takes 34...♜xg2+ 35.♔f1 ♜bf2+! 36.♔e1 ♜e2+! 37.♔d1 and now comes the move which is quite difficult to see.


What a powerful move this is! Black threatens mate both from f1 and g1 and White has to play 38.♔e1 in order to stop the mate. Moves like 38.♕a5 or 38.♕e8 with the idea of ♕e1 do not work as after 38...♜f1+ 39.♕e1 ♜xe1 40.♔xe1 ♜g1+ skewers the rook and wins it.


What is most impressive is how Magnus Carlsen managed to find all of this within 30 seconds! | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Sagar Shah explains in this video why he thinks Magnus is a genius

Standings after Round 9 of Blitz


After the rapid section, Magnus already had a four-point lead over the field. This, he increased to five points after the first nine rounds of blitz. With wins over Vidit, Harikrishna, Nepomniachtchi, Aronian and Anand, Magnus gained 28 Elo points.

Carlsen climbs to #2 in the Blitz Live ratings list

Carlsen started the tournament as the fourth seed behind Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren. After the first day, he gained 28.4 Elo taking him to world no. 2, just 12 Elo points short of Hikaru Nakamura. If Carlsen manages to become world no.1, he will become the world no.1 in all three formats — classical, rapid and blitz!

The only player who could beat Carlsen was Ding Liren | Photo: Amruta Mokal

This was Carlsen's first defeat in a tournament game on Indian soil! 


White has a very solid position and Magnus has just played 19.f3. What should Black do here?

Ding Liren thought for some time. He wanted to do something active with 19...♚g7 followed by 20...h5. But he realized that it would weaken his own king. Hence, he came up with the ingenious plan of running with his king to the queenside!


Ding Liren's choice was 19...♚f7, so that he could now play ♚e8-d7-c8, Yes, it is time-consuming and risky, but if he manages to do that, he will have a nice position.

Carlsen tried hard to stop Black's plan. He even threw quite a bit of material to get to Black's king. However, all the attempts were unsuccessful. Ding gobbled up the material, launched his own counter-attack and checkmated Carlsen's king! A game which made Ding Liren feel good about his trip to India!


Ding Liren explains his win over Carlsen and also shows a glimpse of his super complicated game against Ian Nepomniachtchi

Being Vishy is not easy! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

A lot is at stake for Anand, who has a realistic chance of making it to the Grand Chess Tour Finals to be held in London. A sixth place or above finish will seal the deal for Vishy. Hence it is quite important that he keeps up his momentum. Vishy scored 4½/9 and is currently in fifth place. 


The knight has just moved to e5. How did Anand take advantage of this mistake?

Vishy simply took on e5, then took on d2 and then on f2 winning a pawn and getting a completely better position.


The entire game between Anand and Aronian

Vishy has a 2:0 score against Aronian, with wins in both rapid and blitz | Photo: Amruta Mokal

For Aronian it was a day in which things just didn't go right. He scored just two points out of nine games. Here's a typical example of how he completely misplayed better positions.


Black has two ways to try and win the b4-knight. One of them is ♜b2 and the other is ♜b5. Which would you choose?

34...♜b2 is the winning move. The point is simple — the rook on d5 blocks the queen's path to the f3-square. After ...♜b2, Black wins the knight and quite easily the game. However, Levon played 34...b5 and this just showed how rusty he was. Giri played 35.f3+ and then picked up the rook on a2. A heartbreak.


For Anish Giri things were not the best either. He scored 4.0/9, drew many of his games and even lost one of his battles — against Wesley So — from a completely winning position.


White has an extra pawn and also the bishop pair. It was here that Anish lost on time.


Nepomniachtchi showcased his blitz skills at the event by scoring four wins over Giri, Vidit, Anand and Aronian | Photo: Amruta Mokal


White to play and win!

Vidit could have very easily won this game with 31.♘g6+, and based on Black's reply either take on f4 or take the pawn on a7 with the queen. However, Vidit was a bit impatient and immediately went ahead with 31.xa7.


It's time for Black to reach White's king! There isn't much time left!

First came 31...d1+, and after 32.g2 Nepomniachtchi found that the only way to deliver checkmate is by first sacrificing his knight with 32...e3+ and then 33...xb2+. A very pretty checkmating pattern!


Vidit checks the player's name | Photo: Amruta Mokal

It seems as if that table belongs to Vishy Anand | Photo: Amruta Mokal

As far as cumulative points (nine rounds of rapid and nine rounds of blitz) are concerned GM Vidit Gujrathi is still on the last spot with 10.0/27. However, he was able to score his first win in the Grand Chess Tour. It came from a fine piece of opening preparation.


Vidit played 8....e6 instantly, which meant he was still in his preparation. Ding Liren thought for a while here, around one and a half minutes. By blitz standards, it was quite a lot! But he was trying to calculate the possibilities after the move d5. When your opponent plays ♝e6 quickly, you usually do not want to play d5, because he is probably well prepared in the main lines. But Ding is a player with huge self-confidence. He went ahead and played it anyway! It was not the best move. Vidit played well and converted the better position into a full point.



An important position to keep in mind. Black moved his rook back to a8 and just stood there, moving his king from h8 to g8. The position is a theoretical draw. 


Carlsen's Scandinavian

The Scandinavian is not considered to be a very sound opening at the highest level. But Magnus isn't perturbed about the reputation of the opening when he wants to try out something. He just plays what he likes and has the belief in himself that he can outplay his opponents.

The entry of a champion! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vishy Anand enters with Aruna by his side | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The most awaited game of the day begins | Photo: Amruta Mokal 


As you could see, the opening phase didn't really matter to Magnus. He is ready to try out new things so that he understands what are the things he has to improve as a player.

What would players do without their support team? Ye Xiaoping (Ding Liren's mother) and Lotis Key (Wesley's foster mother) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Combined standings - Rapid and Blitz

The London Finals

Starting from 28th of November 2019 the Grand Chess Tour Finals will take place in London. Four players qualify for the finals. At stake there will be US $350,000. Magnus Carlsen has already qualified for the finals and so has Ding Liren. The other two players in with a chance are Levon Aronian and Vishy Anand. Levon has already qualified because no matter how he performs, even if he finishes last, he gets one point. That will take him to 37.5, which is ahead of MVL who is on 36.8. Vishy Anand is on 32 Grand Chess Tour points. Anand needs to get five or more GCT points to qualify for the finals.

These are the current Grand Chess Tour standings (without Tata Steel Chess India points)

The points that the players will receive for different placings

For Anand 6th place works fine, as it will give him five points and take him ahead of MVL. This would be a phenomenal achievement by Anand, as he would finish ahead of players like MVL, Nepomniachtchi, Caruana, Karjakin and many more. The last day of the Tata Steel India Grand Chess Tour Blitz promises to be an exciting one. Be sure not to miss any action. The round starts one hour before the usual time of each. Instead of 2 p.m. it will begin at 1 p.m. local time.

Video Gallery

Nepomniachtchi - Carlsen

Ding beats Magnus

Vidit - Carlsen

Replay all Blitz games



Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. 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 and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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