Tata Steel Chess: Carlsen scores his first win

by Johannes Fischer
1/17/2019 – World Champion Magnus Carlsen broke his long streak of consecutive draws in classical chess by beating the weakest player GM Jorden van Foreest in the "Chess on Tour" round in Alkmaar today. With the win, he climbs into a tie for third, a half point behind Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi. Grandmasterly analysis by GM DAVID HOWELL! Korobov and Kovalev lead in the Challengers group. | Pictured: The players outside the venue in Alkmaar, one of the Netherland's well-known cheese towns. | Photo: Alina l'Ami

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Ding joins Nepomniachtchi at the top

Magnus Carlsen scored his first victory at this year's Tata Steel tournament against young Dutchman Jorden van Foreest. He also ended a series of 21 draws in classical games. Ding Liren scored his second win against Sam Shankland. Both Ding and Carlsen won with Black. All other games of the Masters ended drawn, and so Nepomniachtchi and Ding now share the lead with 3½ out of 5.

In the Challengers, the top two seeds Anton Korobov and Vladislav Kovalev have the joint lead, also with 3½ out of 5. Both won their games in Round 5, and yes, you guessed it, with the black pieces! Evgeny Bareev also won his game with Black.

That means all five decisive games in the fifth round were won by the black player. In the Masters, nine of the decisive games thus far have been won by Black, compared with only two by White. Quite unusual!

playing hall

The playing hall at the Theatre De Vest in Alkmaar | Photo: Alina l'Ami

Round 5 results


Click or tap any result to jump to that game at live.chessbase.com

Jorden van Foreest won't be accused of a lack of courage. He had White against the World Champion and went straight into the Sveshnikov snakepit with 7.Nd5, the variation in which Fabiano Caruana had tested Carlsen at the London World Championship match. Unsurprisingly, Carlsen knew what he was doing — although he downplayed the role of his World Championship preparation, calling the resulting position "objectively very very dangerous for Black". Even so, he convincingly scored his first victory after 21 consecutive draws.

"Forgot to go to the playing hall today and went to a chess lecture instead. On the positive side, it was a great lecture", van Foreest joked on Twitter after the game.

GM David Howell takes a closer look:


After the game, both players gave their thoughts to press officer Tom Bottema. 

Sam Shankland was the second victim of a black attack in Round 5 against Ding Liren. In a Closed Ruy Lopez, he tried a rare move 15.b4 dating back to a 1964 game of Rashid Nezhmetdinov, but he suffered a series of inaccuracies and ended up in a difficult position, which Ding Liren won surprisingly quickly with straightforward play. As a result, Ding joined Nepomniachtchi atop the leader board. He also moved to world number three in the live ratings.

"A smooth game from Ding", writes GM David Howell:


An interesting game was played between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Richard Rapport. The queens came off on move 11 and a battle between White's knight pair against Black's bishop pair emerged which continued through the endgame. If anything, the knights unusually had the upper hand due to the compromised black pawn structure, but Nepomniachtchi found no way to put any serious pressure on his opponent, so the game ended peacefully after 38 moves.

GM Howell: "Impressive composure from Rapport, who showed that his pet line is certainly playable."


The longest game of the round was played by Vladimir Fedoseev and Vidit Gujrathi. Vidit had good chances to win in an endgame of queen and knight against queen and bishop. The key moment came after 61.Ba1:


You can play through the moves on the live diagram!

Black can win with 61...Qc5. In the game, Vidit first checked on d6 — 61...Qd6+ 62.Kg1 and only then 62...Qc5, and this turns out to make a world of difference! When the king is on h2, then stopping the checks after 62.Qh5+ (or Qg6+) Kg8 63.Qe8+ Qf8! White can't return the queen to a4 (64.Qa4) because of 64...Qb8+ and 65...Qb1+ which is winning — though not because of the hanging bishop! 66...Qxa1 would allow White a perpetual. Instead 66...Nd6 would guard the important e8 square and threaten the f5 pawn. Very tricky stuff!

Instead, after Fedoseev's 63.Qg6+ Kg8 64.Qe8+ Qf8 65.Qa4, Black doesn't have a check on b8 available, so the position is equal! The players shook hands ten moves later.

Here's a grandmaster look from GM David Howell:


The shortest game of the round was that between Anish Giri and Vishy Anand. As Anand explained after the game, Giri played exactly the variation that Anand had previously prepared so he was easily able to neutralize all White's threats and after 22 moves the game ended in a draw.

GM Howell thinks it's a pity the game ended so quickly: "To be honest, I would have been very tempted to continue, as Black appears to be running no risk at all."


Teimour Radjabov has played very few tournaments in recent years and perhaps he suffered from this lack of practice in his game against Duda. The Polish number one slipped up in the opening and soon found himself in a difficult position. But Radjabov eschewed an aggressive attacking option in the middlegame, and gave back most of his edge. They key moment was after 21...Bh5:


22.g4 looks risky, but forces open the kingside favourably for White. E.g. 24...g5 25.Qh2 gxh4 26.gxh5. Black's h-pawn is an immediate target and his knight on b8 is too far from the action, while White's bishop can drop back to c2 in a fine attacking position, and his own h-pawn coming to h6 is an asset. Radjabov's 22.Re3 was too timid and he repeated moves when given the opportunity, rather than take any risks to play on.

GM David Howell breaks down the action further:


There was also little excitement in the game between Kramnik and Mamedyarov. The players followed a familiar variation following a game of former Kramnik second Peter Leko through 17.axb5:


Mamedyarov's novelty 17...a5 is the first choice of the engine, and it led to a dead equal endgame which was agreed drawn on move 31.

"A well-played game from both sides", thinks GM Howell:


Current standings - Masters


Round 5 round-up

GM Daniel King covers the Round 5 highlights

All Roundup shows

All games and commentary


Commentary by Anna Rudolf and Lawrence Trent

Current standings - Challengers


All games - Challengers


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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