Tata Steel R13: Wins for Pragg, Karjakin and Van Foreest

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/31/2022 – Besides Magnus Carlsen, who got a win by forfeit over Daniil Dubov, Praggnanandhaa, Sergey Karjakin and Jorden van Foreest also scored full points in the last round of the Tata Steel Masters tournament. Meanwhile, Arjun Erigaisi, who had secured first place in the Challengers with a round to spare, collected yet another victory to finish the event with a remarkable 10½/13 score. | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit

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Led by Jeroen van den Berg, the organizers of the Tata Steel Tournaments continue to deliver high-quality, entertaining events year after year. The format with 14 players — most elite round-robins include 10 — has proven to be attractive for the spectators. More importantly, though, the inclusion of fighting players and rising stars is the crucial factor for the tournament’s success, as the audience is guaranteed to see at least a couple of exciting games in every single round.

Unlike last year, there was no drama on the final day of action in this edition, as perennial favourite Magnus Carlsen secured his eighth triumph in Wijk with a round to spare. In the end, it was not Anish Giri — who has not had a sub-50% performance since 2013 — but Richard Rapport and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov who finished in second place, a whole 1½ points behind the winner. Giri, however, got fourth place as the only player with 7½ points.

Out of the 91 games played in the Masters, 42 finished decisively, including Daniil Dubov’s four losses by forfeit — the Russian tested positive for Covid-19 a few days after a member of his team had been infected. Moreover, starting from round 6, we got to see at least three decisive games in every round until the end of the tournament.

On the final day of action, two short draws were followed by four exciting games. Nils Grandelius and Jan-Krzysztof Duda played a sharp Sicilian which ended in a draw, while Praggnanandhaa, Sergey Karjakin and Jorden van Foreest all got wins with the white pieces.

Magnus Carlsen

Eight-time tournament winner Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit

Pragg scores third win

The clear underdog in the Masters this year was 16-year-old Praggnanandhaa. The Indian prodigy was only one of two players rated below 2700 — even Nils Grandelius, at 2672, has a 60-point advantage over him in the ratings list. Nonetheless, the fearless teenager from Chennai managed to win three games in Wijk aan Zee. After beating Grandelius (round 4) and Vidit Gujrathi (10), Pragg finished the tournament with a win over Andrey Esipenko.

Playing white, the youngster agreed to weaken his structure in exchange for the bishop pair and more active play.

 

The Indian correctly gave up a pawn with 24.a4 here, since after 24....Nxa4 he got to strongly centralize his knight with 25.Nd5

Black will certainly have an advantage with his passer on the queenside if an endgame is reached, but first he needs to deal with White’s initiative both in the centre and on the kingside. There followed 25...Bb7 26.Rxe6 Nxe6 27.Re1 Qd7 28.Qg3 

 

Black’s only defensive attempt here is 28...Bxd5, although after 29.cxd5 Nc7 30.Re7 his position would be certainly unenviable. All other alternatives are worse, though, including Esipenko’s 28...Rf7.

Pragg knew he needed to be precise, so he spent over 12 minutes on his next move — 29.Nf6+ (29.Ne7+ was also good, but not as strong). After 29...Rxf6 30.Bxf6 Kf7 31.Qh4 White had ‘both the material and the compensation’.

 

Beating a stubborn defender is never easy. Pragg needed 28 more moves to demonstrate that he was able to convert his advantageous position into a win. 

 

Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2022

The playing hall during the final round of the 2022 edition | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit

Karjakin and Van Foreest win to finish with a plus score

Two former winners in Wijk had a fifty-percent score after round 12, and both of them got wins with white on Sunday to end the tournament as the only players with a +1 score in the standings table. Karjakin needed 64 moves to take down Vidit, while Van Foreest needed 69 to beat Sam Shankland.

In the following position, Van Foreest was forced to calculate a number of potential queen endgames, since it seems all but impossible to stop Black’s passer on the b-file without making major concessions.

 

Shankland’s 54...Ra5 prepares to protect his passed pawn from b5, a square controlled by the light-squared bishop on d7. As it turns out, this was a decisive mistake. Van Foreest thought for about 6 minutes before noticing that he needed to rely on his g-pawn in order to win the game — the Dutchman played 55.g5.

A pawn race emerged: 55...b3 56.g6 b2 57.Rb8 Rb5 58.g7

 

Despite queening first — 58...b1Q 59.g8Q — Black cannot give any checks, since all crucial squares are defended by white’s queen. Van Foreest is not only two pawns to the good, but also has the safer king. The defending champion needed ten more moves to get the win.

You can go through both decisive games in the dynamic replayer below.

 

Jorden van Foreest

Jorden van Foreest | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 13 results

 

Standings after round 13

 

All games - Round 13

 

Replay all the Masters’ games at Live.ChessBase.com

Arjun keeps up the pace

After securing tournament victory in the Challengers with a round to spare, Arjun Erigaisi defeated Marc’Andria Maurizzi with the black pieces to end the event with a 10½ out of 13 score. At 18, the Indian rising star seems to be headed to the 2700 club, as he gained 27.9 rating points in the last month to join the world’s top 100 in the live ratings list.

Erwin l’Ami, Daniel Dardha and Volodar Murzin also finished the tournament with wins. Murzin took down Zhu Jiner with the black pieces.

 

Black has been upping the pressure for a while now, and in this position he finally managed to grab a pawn — 44...Bxh3, when 45.gxh3 fails to the intermediate check 45...Qxg3, while 46.Nh5, attacking the queen, does not work due to 46...Rxg2, with mate in two.

In the game, there followed 45.Re2 Rxe2 46.Nxe2 Qxc1+ 47.Nxc1 Be6

 

Murzin converted this position a pawn up into a win to finish the event with a 7/13 score.

Arjun Erigaisi

The clear winner of the Challengers — Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 13 results

 

Standings after round 13

 

All games - Round 13

 

Replay all the Challengers’ games at Live.ChessBase.com

Links


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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