Tata Steel Chess: Tied trio

by Macauley Peterson
1/27/2018 – A draw between co-leaders Carlsen and Mamedyarov did not change the basic calculation, as Giri had the unenviable task of black against Caruana, and also drew. Anand's win over a downtrodden Hou Yifan, gives him some momentum heading into the final weekend half point behind. Karjakin beat Kramnik, but both (along with Wesley So) still have theoretical chances, just a point back. Vidit and Korobov keep their edge with a safe draw in their head-to-head game. | Photo: Alina l'Ami Tata Steel Chess on Facebook

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On tenterhooks

The final weekend in the Masters is shaping up to be quite an exciting one. With three players tied for first, Magnus Carlsen predicted today that the winner will need to finish strong with 1½ points from the final two rounds. In the event of a tie, however, he figures his successful track record in tiebreak games should favor him. In addition to the leaders on 7½ — Carlsen, Anish Giri, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov — Vishy Anand is still very much in the running with 7 points amassed.

Impressions from Round 11

Scenes from round eleven, back in Wijk aan Zee | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Standings after eleven rounds


Sergey Karjakin has made a late charge, beating Fabiano Caruana in round seven and Vladimir Kramnik today. Karjakin, who had a difficult 2017, has passed Russian Champion Peter Svidler in the live rankings and is closing in on Alexander Grischuk. Today's win over Kramnik also has psychological significance, as he explained after the game, due to the fact that both his victims are also Candidates in Berlin in six weeks time. With white against Magnus in the final round, he still has an outside chance to catch the leaders and make his 20 days away from home worthwhile.

Analysis and comments by GM Daniel Fernandez

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov ½-½ Magnus Carlsen

Mamedyarov-Carlsen featured an unusually compliant opening from the World Champion, where he strove to simply equalise and neutralise rather than doing anything spectacular. It is a shame that quite often games between tournament leaders go this way. There might have been one or two chances for Mamedyarov to make something of his bishop pair, but once those had passed the game was headed very swiftly to a draw.


Meet the Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2

Rustam Kasimdzhanov, the FIDE World Champion in 2004, has been extremely successful with the Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2 with White and with Black. In over 4 hours of video, Rustam Kasimdzhanov explains all the important ideas, strategies and tricks helped by sample games in which the white side is represented, e.g., by Kasparov, Anand, Kramnik and Ivanchuk as well as the author himself.

Carlsen: It's a decent result but I'm not really satisfied with the way it went early on | Tata Steel Chess YouTube

Carlsen still a frontrunner

Still a frontrunner | Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

Fabiano Caruana ½-½ Anish Giri

Caruana-Giri was an interesting game to look at, being one of those where White's advantage drifts in and out of being for no discernible reason. The opening was a London, where White played a creative and quick g4, and soon it looked more like some kind of Petroff (despite the pawn on e6!)  The tactical subtleties at the end, connected with the duel between the respective centralised minor pieces of each side, are noteworthy.


Caruana: I sort of lost motivation...everything went wrong from the start | Tata Steel Chess YouTube

Giri: "I chose to play very safe" | Tata Steel Chess YouTube

Viswanathan Anand 1-0 Hou Yifan

Anand-Hou featured a line I've never looked at much, but maybe I should after today. Like many pseudo-Grunfeld things (i.e. Black recaptures on d5 with a knight at some point and then takes on c3) it should objectively equalise for Black but is hard to play over the board. Certainly with the simplifications initiated by Hou Yifan it was difficult to see her ending up anything but worse, and Anand demonstrated (once again) quite clinical technique to clinch it. It must be said that he has a habit of getting into 'better' positions that nevertheless appear to 'win themselves' — against Matlakov, Jones and now Hou in the same event!


Semi-Tarrasch: A universal weapon against 1.d4

Even though the Semi-Tarrasch cannot offer a complete repertoire against 1.d4, being conditioned of White’s move order, it is an excellent complement to the Nimzoindian Defence. Throughout history, great players like Fischer, Kortschnoj and Kramnik have included the Semi-Tarrasch in their repertoire which strongly speaks about its safe character and Black’s possibilities for counterplay. GM Mihail Marin presents a complete Semi-Tarrasch repertoire for Black, explaining the main strategic ideas of the resulting structures.

After the win, Anand analysed the game with GM Eric Hansen on the live webcast:

Anand and Hansen towards the end of round 11 | Tata Steel Chess YouTube

Mameedyarov, Giri, Anand

Mamedyarov faces Anand in Sunday's final round, while Giri has Adhiban and Wei yet to come | Photos: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

Sergey Karjakin 1-0 Vladimir Kramnik

Karjakin-Kramnik was an interesting Catalan duel between the man who has been playing most Catalans in this event, and the one who has played the most Catalans in his life. After playing a slightly slack 14th move Black soon found himself in quite big trouble, ironically, centred on the very file which his 14th had contested.


The Catalan: A complete repertoire for White!

The Catalan is one of the most solid openings for White. It forms part of the large and strong fianchetto family in which White builds his strategy mainly around the bishop on g2. Grandmaster Victor Bologan covers all of Black’s replies to the Catalan, some of which can even transpose to other openings such as the Tarrasch System and the Queen’s Indian. Suffice it to say that the Catalan rules!

Sergey Karjakin, happy on plus two with two to go | Tata Steel Chess YouTube


Not Kramnik's day | Tata Steel Chess YouTube

Wesley So 1-0 Gawain Jones

So-Jones was a game in two parts: the opening battle was really interesting, though brief — it was over by move 14 and White had a better position. The second real part of the game came when Wesley chose to play 29.Nh7!?, allowing Black's fortress chances to become much more explicit. It is something of a pity that Black cracked quickly and gave a pawn, because the fortress possibilities were really interesting.


Chess Endgames 7 - Endgame Principles Weaknesses & Fortresses

The 7th volume of this endgame series deals with many different aspects of endgame play: the art of pawn play, weaknesses, converting an advantage, stalemate, fortresses, the art of defence and typical mistakes. Learn how to convert an extra piece or an exchange or how to exploit space advantage and better mobility. The themes the art or defence, fortress and stalemate are also intertwined. If your position has a solid fundament then you may surprisingly reach a fortress which might even be based on a stalemate.

Jones: "I was one move away from drawing this one" | Tata Steel Chess YouTube

Round-up show with Daniel King

All round-up shows are available in ChessBase Videos, for Premium account holders

All games


Full commentary

Commentary by GM Eric Hansen and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni | Tata Steel Chess YouTube


Vidit and Korobov finally crossed swords after jointly leading the tournament for several rounds, but with a 1½ point gap between them and their nearest rivals, a draw was naturally a reasonable result for both. In round twelve both will be heavy rating favourites to win facing Girya and Lucas van Foreest respectively.

Standings after eleven 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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