Tata Steel Chess: Carlsen takes the lead

by Johannes Fischer
1/24/2019 – Round 10 had a lot to offer chess fans. Carlsen won a long endgame against Anand and with it, the World Champion surges to the top of the field. GM TIGER HILLARP-PERSSON analyses the marquee game of the round. We also saw exciting attacking victories from Vidit Gujrathi (against Vladimir Kramnik) and Jorden van Foreest (against Ian Nepomniachtchi). Giri won for the fourth time with Black and Rapport conjured up a fantastic move in his own Black win. | Photo: Tata Steel Chess Twitter

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Fireworks in Round 10

Anish Giri was briefly in the sole lead in the Masters group with yet another black win, this time over the struggling Vladimir Fedoseev. And with the headline game of the co-leaders Carlsen vs Anand trending towards a draw in a rook and knight ending, it looked like a trio would remain at the top. But Magnus displayed that trait that he has been known for throughout his career — applying relentless pressure and after over six hours of play, he scored his first classical win over Anand since 2015 (Anand 0-1 Carlsen, Grenke Chess Classic). Carlsen stands with 7/10 and Giri is now in sole possession of second place, a half point back.

The other co-leader after Round 9, Ian Nepomniachtchi, was the victim of a flashy kingside attack and king-hunt that ultimately netted Jorden van Foreest a queen for rook and bishop plus a continuing attack. Ding Liren drew against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, which makes it all the more likely Ding will keep the number three spot on the Elo list come February 1. He, along with Anand and Nepomniachtchi make up the group on 6/10.

Masters group photo

The players share a laugh ahead of a group photo at the 'Pieterskerk' in Leiden | Photo: Alina l'Ami



Carlsen and Anand are rivals not only for having played two World Championship matches against each other, but they are also vying for the record of tournament wins in Wijk aan Zee. Magnus took over the lead with his sixth win in 2018, to Anand's five. This side competition precipitated heightened tension in Wednesday's game.

GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson took an in-depth look:

"The rise of the chess engines have left a long trail of refuted and defunct opening variations, and the majority of the long theory-heavy Ruy Lopez variations are no longer played. Instead, we see an array of new ways to steer the game towards positions where Black is not so much worse as suffering for a considerable amount of time. No one else can make the opponent a suffer in such a way as Magnus Carlsen."


Carlsen praised the play of young Dutchman Jorden van Foreest, who with an Elo rating of 2612, is the number 14 seed in this year's tournament in Wijk aan Zee and therefore an outsider in every game. Yet van Forees has shown great confidence — against Magnus he was not afraid to try the Sveshnikov Sicilian, for instance. He has played more decisive games than any other player — only two of his ten games have ended in draws.

Against Nepomniachtchi, Van Foreest tried ventured an open Sicilian, but this time he won a nice attacking game and showcased his tactical skills.


"I was a bit pessimistic before the event...today I'm very happy to win another game."

Naturally, this game features prominently in the Round 10 round-up of IM Lawrence Trent:

Kramnik crashes to last place

We are not accustomed to seeing Vladimir Kramnik sitting at the very bottom of any tournament table. Today he was attacked mercilessly by Vidit, who sacrificed a pawn in the opening and then over-ran Kramnik's centre before ending the game with a nice queen sacrifice.

Kramnik put on a brave face after the game, saying he "totally confused" his opening preparation.


"The position just plays itself — I just push the pawns."

"Black is okay"

That's the motto of the Hungarian grandmaster Andras Adorjan. Anish Giri no doubt agrees at this year's tournament in Wijk aan Zee. Before the tenth round, he had 3½ points from his four Black games. In round 10, he got one more, defeating Vladimir Fedoseev with energetic play. Giri's success with Black provoked Fabiano Caruana for a little joke via Twitter:

Of course, Giri is not one to let a Twitter quip go unanswered:


Giri had a dangerous passed d-pawn and the queen is not a good blockading piece. 38...Bc4 39.Qf3 d3 40.e5 Qxe5 41.Qe3 Re8 and after the forced exchange of queens there is no stopping the pawn. Fedoseev resigned.

"I'm happy to see that there are chess fans in Holland. It seems that chess is doing well here."

A "move of the year" candidate

We have seen a number of spectacular games but perhaps the most spectacular move of the round was played by Rapport in his game against Duda. Can you spot it?


Black to play and win

Rapport wins with the surprising shot 37...Rc8! and no matter how White takes, Be6+ is deadly.

Mamedyarov sacrificed a pawn in the opening and Ding eventually got a slightly better endgame but it wasn't enough to win.

"I was slightly better through the game, but the advantage was not large enough"

Sam Shankland and Teimour Radjabov played an unspectacular draw in just 31 moves. In a Catalan, Radjabov equalised easily with black and after multiple exchanges the game flatlined.

Standings after Round 10


All games


Translation from German and additional reporting: Macauley Peterson


Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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