Tata Steel Chess: And then there were three (again)

by Macauley Peterson
1/25/2018 – Wins from Carlsen and Mamedyarov — the latter with the black pieces — re-established a three-way tie between the pair and Anish Giri, who drew with Sergey Karjakin. Kramnik also won to move within a half point of the leaders. Anand too notched a full point and is a full point back. In the Challengers no change at the top but newcomers Dmitry Gordievsky and Matthias Bluebaum improved to plus one scores with their victories today. | Photo: Tata Steel Chess on Facebook

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Chess on tour

Today the tournament moved about two hours across the country to Groningen, a famous city in chess circles, and also a university town. The games were played at in the main hall of the Academy Building of the University of Grongingen before a standing room only crowd.

But before the games began, the players received a very brief tour of the city's Museum of Art and Art History:

Magnus Carlsen

Come in, make yourself at home! | Photo: Juriaan Hoefsmit © 2018 Tata Steel

You'll find glimpse in the daily "impressions" video being produced by the official media team — essentially a little mini movie trailer for each round!

Impressions of Round 10 | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov were back to their winning ways, but they got there very differently — Mamedyarov won with black in just 21 moves, while Carlsen needed 75, and over six hours, to prosecute an unusual endgame where he had two pairs of connected passed pawns for a bishop. 

Aside from the log jam at the top, Vladimir Kramnik is a mere half point behind in sole fourth place and Vishy Anand is just a point behind as well. He sacrificed a pawn and then an exchange against Gawain Jones, to earn a vital win with the black pieces. Here he is reflecting on nearly thirty years since his first trip to Wijk aan Zee, as well as the importance of practice:

One minute with Anand | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

It looks like we may be heading for a photo finish!

Standings after ten rounds


Analysis and comments by GM Daniel Fernandez

Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Wesley So

The game everyone has been talking about! Unlike Anand-Carlsen or Carlsen-Caruana earlier in this event, here the reigning world champion shows both depth of homework and at-the-board industry and creativity to dispatch one of his possible challengers for the crown later this year. It is actually quite hard to patch up Black's opening after the incisive sequence of forced moves prepared by Carlsen, though I have suggested two ways in which this could be done. The endgame battle, featuring a piece-versus-pawns material imbalance, is worth seeing as well, and the practical decision to go for that rather than the maybe objectively better alternatives was both brave and well-rewarded.


Carlsen: "It was certainly a complicated game, and I'm happy to beat a strong player" | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

After the interview Carlsen went through the game on the live webcast with GM Eric Hansen:

"I was not as well prepared as I should be" | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Vladimir Kramnik 1-0 Maxim Matlakov

The first of the three wins today by male world champions was Kramnik-Matlakov. At many stages it looked like White had taken leaves out of his successor's book, and the game resembled Anand-Matlakov from the first round in a few ways, notably the opening and the way Black had an objectively fine but practically horrendous position. It is also surprisingly hard to find Black's actual errors in this game, though he missed a couple of chances to take the upper hand round about move 20.


Kramnik: "I decided to go for the sharpest possible play with long-castling" | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Gawain Jones 0-1 Viswanathan Anand

The reigning British Champion slightly refines the theory of the Alapin Sicilian, but underestimates first a pawn sacrifice and then an exchange sacrifice by his opponent. It is almost as if everyone knows they have to go material down against this man to try and win. However, in this case the exchange sacrifice was close to winning, and the technique was merciless.


Anand: "Both of us were trying to recollect our preparation." | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Sicilian Defense with 2.c3 - Alapin Variation

Sergei Tiviakov started playing the line 1.e4 c5 2.c3 in the Sicilian Defence as White in 1988. Since then, he has employed it in more than 100 games, including a yearlong period when he I managed to win twelve 2.c3-games in a row. White tries to occupy the centre with a second pawn, and Black must know his stuff very well in order to be able to equalize. And this is only possible with 2...Nf6 – all other lines give the first player a small edge everywhere. Especially against stronger opponents, 2.c3 is an excellent weapon.

Peter Svidler 0-1 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

To be fair to the White player in Svidler-Mamedyarov, I won't try and make this game more of an event than it was. He quite simply didn't show up to play a 2700+ level game of chess, and the punishment was merciless. Sometimes that happens. The most famous example might be Polgar-Anand, San Luis 2005.


Mamedyarov: "Today I wanted to play really active chess." | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Wei Yi ½-½ Fabiano Caruana

The game Wei-Caruana wasn't terribly interesting, to put it mildly. The most noteworthy missed chance in the game was when White could have maybe acheived a 4-v-3 rook endgame on move 22, and even then he would have still had doubled pawns.


Anish Giri ½-½ Sergey Karjakin

Equally uneventful was Giri-Karjakin (I expect there are all kinds of jokes going round on social media about this one!) Similar to Karjakin himself yesterday, Giri demonstrated a reasonable opening concept in a Catalanesque position, but while his position was slightly nicer he didn't manage to make much of his advantage. That, or he decided to have a rest day.


Giri: "He seemed to be very well prepared for today." | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Hou Yifan ½-½ Baskaran Adhiban

The final draw of round ten was in Hou-Adhiban, a very hard-fought game where both sides were winning at different stages. White doesn't play for an opening advantage, but instead plays to increase her comfort level in the position, and at the apex of this effort the knights could have given Black a really tough time indeed. Instead, White misses a wrinkle or two, plays a few passive moves and is then left on the defensive. Thankfully for her, when Black cashes out and enters a rook and knight ending two pawns up, his pieces are so completely tied up that winning efforts are actually very hard to find. There were a few though, as we shall see.


Impressions from Round 10

Scenes from Groningen | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Yannick Pelletier's round-up of Round 10

All games


Full commentary

Commentary by GM Eric Hansen and GM Sipke Ernst| Tata Steel Chess YouTube


Vidit and Korobov continue to have a 1½ point lead going into the final four rounds. But one player who started poorly has found his feet in rencent rounds, and that's Matthias Bluebaum. Bluebaum has received some high-level invitations in the past year, most noteably to the Grenke Chess Classic last April. Still just twenty years old, he's risen to number three in Germany.

Tata Steel Chess on Twitter

Standings after ten rounds


All games



Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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