Tata Steel Chess R6: So and Caruana score

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/21/2023 – Nodirbek Abdusattorov is still the sole leader after six rounds at the Tata Steel Masters in Wijk aan Zee. The Uzbek GM drew his game with white, as did Anish Giri, who entered the round a half point behind in sole second place. The winners of the day were Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So, who got the better of Dommaraju Gukesh and Vincent Keymer respectively. | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

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Carlsen in good spirits

The world champion losing two games in a row was the most salient news story of the previous rounds in the Netherlands. However, after returning from the trip to the Johan Cruyff Arena, Magnus Carlsen stopped the bleeding by drawing Jorden van Foreest with the black pieces. In the post-game interview, the Norwegian looked cheerful, albeit realistic about his (slim) chances to win the tournament. Referring to the ‘Chess on Tour’ experience in Amsterdam, he joked:

The stadium was beautiful. To take a page out of Bobby Fischer’s book, I thought the lighting was probably insufficient, but that’s not the reason I lost (smiles).

Going forward, the world champion will face Richard Rapport and Fabiano Caruana on the weekend, prior to the tournament’s second rest day.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Sunday’s game against Caruana will be crucial in the fight for first place, as the US grandmaster is now sharing second place with Anish Giri. In round 6, Caruana inflicted Gukesh’s third loss of the event as he beat the Indian from the white side of a Ragozin Defence. Before facing Carlsen, Caruana will play black against Parham Maghsoodloo.

In the other decisive game of the day in the Masters, Wesley So grabbed his first win of the tournament by beating Vincent Keymer, also with white. Both contenders showed excellent preparation in an Anti-Marshall, but it was So who got the initiative in the middlegame. Keymer tenaciously kept the balance until reaching a minor-piece endgame, but failed to find the correct move order at around move 33, allowing his rival to get a passer that would decide the outcome of the game.

Wesley So

Wesley So | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

A second win for Caruana

Caruana thought Gukesh misplayed the position early in the game, especially by pushing his pawn to c5 on move 13. Almost immediately after this push, Caruana got to align his queen and bishop on the long, dark-squared diagonal

 

Instead of defending his knight on f6 with 14...Ne8 — an ugly move, but one that engines consider playable — Gukesh doubled on the c-file with 14...Qc8, allowing 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Qxf6 Ng6 17.h4.

From this point on, Caruana considered that he did not handle his initiative well, as he gave Gukesh some hope to escape from a clearly inferior position. Nonetheless, the youngster could not fully recover from the opening debacle, and ended up resigning — somewhat early, according to Caruana — on move 36.

 

The rooks on the seventh rank combined with the passed pawn on the a-file give White a comfortable and stable advantage. 1-0

Gukesh, Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana got the better of Dommaraju Gukesh | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Standings after round 6 - Masters

 

All games - Masters

 
 

L’Ami’s striking combination

Three games finished decisively in round 6 of the Challengers tournament. Alexander Donchenko joined Mustafa Yilmaz in the lead by beating Eline Roebers with black; Vaishali Rameshbabu grabbed her first victory of the event by defeating Jergus Pechac, also with black; while Erwin l’Ami returned to a fifty-percent score by taking down Max Warmerdam with white in a very entertaining game.

As noted by Fiona Steil-Antoni, the current Dutch champion got the better of the 2021 Dutch champion. And he did it in style:

 

Both kings are in danger and the queen on d2 is under attack, but there is one move that gives White a clear advantage (all alternatives are, in fact, losing), and L’Ami found it in a bit over two minutes — 29.Rh8+ Kxh8 is justified by 30.gxf7, gaining control over g8 thus threatening mate along the h-file.

 

After noting that it is always nice to sacrifice material, L‘Ami cheerfully told Steil-Antoni:

And it works, that was the best part, so it was not some kind of desperate thing. It really works. So it was a happy moment, yeah.

Warmerdam only had a way to continue the struggle — i.e. with 30...Rxb2+ 31.Kxb2 Qxd4+ 32.Kb1 Qh4, covering the h-file. However, the material balance has been restored, and White still has a pawn on the seventh rank and a fantastic bishop on d3. Soon enough, L’Ami simplified the position into a winning endgame, which he duly converted into a 50-move win.

The experienced Dutch grandmaster will face top seed Amin Tabatabaei on Saturday, just as Donchenko plays white against Yilmaz in a direct encounter between co-leaders.

Erwin l'Ami

Erwin l’Ami | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Standings after round 6 - Challengers

 

All games - Challengers

 
 

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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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