Tata Steel Chess R7: Abdusattorov extends his lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/22/2023 – In the most eventful round of the 2023 Tata Steel Masters so far, Nodirbek Abdusattorov extended his lead to a full point after obtaining a remarkable win over Arjun Erigaisi. Sharing second place are now four players, as Wesley So and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu both scored full points to join Anish Giri and Fabiano Caruana in the chasing pack. In the Challengers, Alexander Donchenko is in clear first place after beating former co-leader Mustafa Yilmaz with the white pieces. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

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Pragg and So join the chasing pack

Tata Steel Chess 2023Out of the 14 games played on Saturday in the Masters and Challengers combined, 10 finished decisively, the highest number so far in this year’s edition of the Tata Steel Chess festival.

Once all was said and done at the Dorpshuis de Moriaan Hall in Wijk aan Zee, both tournaments have sole leaders, with Nodirbek Abdusattorov extending his lead in the Masters and Alexander Donchenko scoring a second consecutive win to go into round 8 alone atop the standings of the Challengers. But there is still about a week to go in the events, as the final round is scheduled for next Sunday, with two more rest days in the interim.

Following the lively seventh round, Abdusattorov is a full point ahead of his closest chasers. The 18-year-old remains undefeated and has so far collected four wins in the Masters — his fourth being a fine win with black over Arjun Erigaisi. A performance this strong against such a tough field has naturally yielded the youngster a considerable rating gain, as he is now the clear number two in the hyper-competitive juniors’ ratings list.

Standing sixth in that list is now Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, who is 1.2 points away from crossing the 2700 barrier after beating Jorden van Foreest in round 7. The Indian prodigy is one of four players sharing second place on 4½/7 points. Similarly to Pragg, Wesley So joined the chasing pack with a win on Saturday, as he grabbed a second consecutive full point in his game with black against an out-of-form Dommaraju Gukesh.

Two big guns complete the plus-two group (all undefeated with two wins to their names): Anish Giri and Fabiano Caruana. Both super-GMs grabbed half points, but their games could not have been more dissimilar — while Giri drew his game with Levon Aronian after only 21 moves, Caruana worked for over seven hours in his encounter against Parham Maghsoodloo. Nearing the end of the marathon, Caruana got winning chances in a tough queen endgame, but only after surviving an inferior position for hours on end. In fact, it was the Iranian’s eagerness to win which led to his needing to defend well into the night.

In other news, Vincent Keymer missed some chances to beat Ding Liren (draw in 58 moves), and Magnus Carlsen returned to a fifty-percent score by taking down Richard Rapport with the white pieces. Carlsen will face a (likely) exhausted Caruana in Sunday’s eighth round.

Tata Steel Chess 2023

The traditional exhibition boards are being used in the live commentary room | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Arjun 0 - 1 Abdusattorov


Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Arjun Erigaisi

Nodirbek Abdusattorov and Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023 

Praggnanandhaa 1 - 0 Van Foreest


Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Gukesh 0 - 1 So


Wesley So

Wesley So | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Standings after round 7 - Masters


All games - Masters


Challengers: Donchenko leads as 6 out of 7 games end decisively

Only the last game to finish in the Challengers section saw the contenders, Max Warmerdam and Velimir Ivic, splitting a point. Out of the six remaining games, five favoured the player marshalling the white pieces, including the crucial matchup between Alexander Donchenko and Mustafa Yilmaz, who entered the round sharing the lead with 4½ points each.

Second seed Javokhir Sindarov also won with white, and now stands in sole second place a half point behind his German colleague. Sindarov already faced Donchenko in this tournament — he drew the current leader with black in their first-round confrontation.

Still with more than realistic chances of winning the lengthy event are Thomas Beerdsen, Ivic and Yilmaz, all standing on 4½ points. Out of the three, only Beerdsen won on Saturday, as he got the better of Abhimanyu Mishra from the white side of a Sicilian Najdorf.

Eline Roebers, Javokhir Sindarov

Javokhir Sindarov defeated fan favourite Eline Roebers | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Donchenko 1 - 0 Yilmaz


Alexander Donchenko

Alexander Donchenko | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Standings after round 7 - Challengers


All games - Challengers



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.