Tata Steel R1: Three winners on opening day

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/16/2022 – Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Vidit Gujrathi and defending champion Jorden van Foreest (pictured, right) all won with white on Saturday to take the early lead at the Tata Steel Masters tournament. It was an action-packed day, especially during time trouble, with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Fabiano Caruana failing to find winning continuations while hurried by the clock. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Mamedyarov and Caruana miss chances

At the outset of the first super-tournament of the year, most eyes were put on the sharp opening struggle between Daniil Dubov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov — two players known for their uncompromising style. By the time the two fighting grandmasters had entered a sharp middlegame position, Magnus Carlsen had already agreed to a draw with Andrey Esipenko, the young Russian who beat him in last year’s edition.

Dubov dared his Azerbaijani opponent to grab a central pawn on move 19, when he was already down material.


19...Qa1 allowed 19...Qxd4, with the Russian apparently relying on the continuation 20.Rd1 Qa7 21.Nxa5 Bc5 22.Nxc6 Bxf2+


White did get some play on the queenside and has his rook and queen lined up on the a-file, but he is still down material with his king a bit open and having to deal with a dangerous passer on the c-file.

Mamedyarov seemed set to kick off the event with a full point. He kept playing correct moves in the sequence 23.Kh1 Qb6 24.Bxb8 Qxc6. However, his response to 25.e5 was somewhat questionable.


The most obvious way to deal with the discovered attack is with 25...Nd5, placing the knight on a nice central outpost. Mamedyarov, though, went for the more complicated 25...Ne4 — the move is not a mistake according to the engines, but it definitely makes things harder in conversion. There followed 26.Bd6 Rd8 (26...Be3 is the correct continuation) 27.Re2


White has found strong counterplay, and although the engines consider this to be balanced, it was surprising to see Dubov offering a draw after 27...f5 28.exf6 c2 29.f7+ Kxf7 30.Rf1 — the momentum was clearly on the Russian’s side, but he decided to call it a day after surviving a very tough position.

Dubov and Esipenko had already secured a half point, when the remaining Russian in the Masters section was still fighting to survive an uncomfortable position against Fabiano Caruana. In the end, Sergey Karjakin managed to avoid a loss, as his opponent failed to find the winning continuation on move 30.

You can take a more in-depth look into Mamedyarov vs Dubov and Caruana vs Karjakin in the replayer below.


Daniil Dubov

The ever-fighting Daniil Dubov saved a half point in the first round | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Winning with white

When time trouble was approaching, the two aforementioned games were the biggest candidates to end decisively, but eventually three other encounters — which started more quietly — ended up decided. Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Vidit Gujrathi and defending champion Jorden van Foreest grabbed the early lead by winning with the white pieces.

Duda was a pawn down against Richard Rapport, but he certainly had the more active position on the board.


Black is already in deep trouble, with the white king playing a big role infiltrating through the dark squares. Here, 39...Rc8 was the best way to keep trying to defend, while Rapport’s 39...Rh8 made things easier for his Polish opponent — White now doubles on the seventh rank with 40.Rdd7, and after 40...Rhf8 the 41.f5 pawn break is devastating.


Rapport decided to throw in the towel in this position.

Tata Steel Chess 2022

The playing hall | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Van Foreest defeated Nils Grandelius after the latter played the wrong bishop move in a double-edged queenless position.


White has two dangerous connected pawns on the queenside, while Black’s mobile counterparts on the e, f and g-files give his opponent potential attacking chances. In this delicate position, Grandelius faltered with 32...Bc4, when the more cautious 32...Ra8 or 32...Rc2 were called for to keep the dynamic balance.

After the text, Van Foreest found 33.Rc3 Be2 and the very precise 34.Rac1


Placing the rook on c1 is the only continuation that keeps White’s advantage, as it deals with the dangerous threat of 34...Bf3, when 35.R3c2 would prevent Black from creating a deadly attack with the rook and light-squared bishop — for example, after the immediate 34.Rxc7, Black gets a winning attack with 34...Bf3.

In the game, the defending champion went on to grab the c-pawn and forced his opponent to resign on move 44, as the white queenside pawns were unstoppable.

The longest game of the day saw Vidit converting a favourable technical endgame after Sam Shankland faltered in a queenless position with a rook, a knight and six pawns per side.

See how the Indian converted his advantage, along with the other two decisive games, in the dynamic replayer below.


Vidit Gujrathi

A long (and successful) day at the office — Vidit Gujrathi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 1 results


All games


Four leaders in the Challengers

A mix of experienced players, young talents and two female representatives are fighting to get a spot in next year’s Masters section in the Challengers tournament. Surya Ganguly (India), Jonas Buhl Bjerre (Denmark), Volodar Murzin (Russia) and Polina Shuvalova (Russia) won on opening day to share the lead going into the second round.

Ganguly defeated 14-year-old Frenchman Marc’Andria Maurizzi after entering a rooks and bishops endgame a pawn to the good. The youngster was defending resourcefully, but blundered the game away on move 38.


38...Rd6 fails to 39.Re1+, and Black will drop a piece after 39...Kd7 40.Rxd6+ Kxd6 41.Rxe8. Maurizzi resigned.

Polina Shuvalova

Polina Shuvalova beat Zhu Jhiner in the all-female confrontation of the Challengers tournament | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 1 results


All games



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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