Tata Steel Chess: Giri grabs early lead

by Macauley Peterson
1/15/2018 – Magnus Carlsen won in round two and, as luck would have it, two of three co-leaders after the first round met in round two. Anish Giri toppled Vladimir Kramnik, while Vishy Anand drew, so the Dutchman moves to the fore. In the Challengers group, no one can claim a perfect score after two rounds. The 2018 Tata Steel Masters and Challengers takes place January 13th to 28th. Grandmaster Daniel Fernandez dissects the Masters games in detail. | Photo: Alina l'Ami Tata Steel Chess on Facebook © 2018 Tata Steel

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Carlsen and Mamedyarov post wins as well

World Champion Magnus Carlsen got his first win of the tournament on Sunday, but Anish Giri managed to knock off his co-leader after round one, Vladimir Kramnik, and so takes the early sole lead. Magnus wasted no time in trolling his rival:

Giri for his part took it in stride:

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov also won, sending Hou Yifan to the bottom of the table:

Standings after two rounds


Click or tap a player name to see rating progression, or on a result to open a game via live.chessbase.com

Commentary and analysis by GM Daniel Fernandez

Today saw two of yesterday's winners in a battle which started with a really odd opening, and concluded with a very sudden attack that neither I nor engines understand easily. But clearly Anish Giri did. The game finishes clinically after the 14th World Champion gets his rook trapped deep in enemy territory...


Giri: "He tricked me a little bit...I would have been very happy with a draw." Tata Steel Chess YouTube

GM Daniel King also examined the game of the day in our round two round-up show:

Live at 21:00 CET (3 pm EST) — all rounds are available on-demand in ChessBase Videos

A black day

It looked like today Hou Yifan might like to make a quick draw, but as one inevitably learns on one's chess journey, there is play in even the most innocuous-looking of positions; and also, higher rated players always want to win. A combination of these two factors was to blame for her slow slide into a losing position against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who after several years slightly below the radar seems to have joined the top ten for good. As her loss was just a matter of slowly being outplayed, there are less clear-cut things here to say than about her loss yesterday, which may have affected her to some extent.


Hou Yifan

Hou Yifan cannot be happy with her play in the first two rounds | Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

The other Black win of the day started in an opening with which I have an association dating back some 10 years- it was partially responsible for my first IM norm. White did some preparation and got a nice enough position out of the opening, but it was of a variety which is a bit hard to play: Black's hard-to-touch pawn weaknesses were compensated by dynamic pawn play through the centre. The same kind of thing arises quite often from the 5.f3 Sicilian if Black replies with 5...e5 6.Nb3 d5 7.Bg5 Be6. 

Carlsen: "I faced this line in the World Rapid as well, and had a slightly unpleasant position". Tata Steel Chess YouTube


Magnus Carlsen won with black over Adhiban

Magnus Carlsen won with black over Adhiban | Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

There were once again four draws in the round (replay them all below with my notes). The most hard-fought of the draws came from the English GM Gawain Jones vs Fabiano Caruana, whose stated goal is to prove that he is not just in this tournament as decoration or cannon-fodder. Several times he was close to lost (against the second seed with black!) but with an exchange sacrifice and then precise defence in a rook endgame he managed to get the (probably deserved) half point. Probably White's best try to win was to give back the exchange a move sooner.

In Karjakin vs Anand, White obtained the bishop pair in a standard Catalan position but never looked like going anywhere with it. His final liquidating combination might have been the most noteworthy moment of the game, as this could have given Black an incentive to play on — the resulting opposite-coloured bishop ending might have troubled any player below about 2400 — but the two heavyweights just agreed a draw.

Karjakin vs Anand

Sergey Karjakin vs Viswanathan Anand | Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

Another Catalan was seen in Matlakov vs So, which was also not going anywhere other than a draw. Black played several really precise moves, which even the engine does not understand properly, to neutralise White's first move advantage. 

Finally, we deal with a game that undoubtedly will haunt one player's dreams for several years to come: Wei Yi vs Peter Svidler. After losing a game he 'really should have drawn' yesterday to Kramnik, today Wei was not able to put the finishing touches to another experienced master of the Russian school (and eight-time Russian Champion!). As has been commented, the Cyrillic spelling of Svidler's given name is properly transcribed in English as Pyotr, and maybe by winning here Svidler will be able to teach people by force how to say his name...


Click or tap a game in the list to switch games

Winning against King's Indian — The main line

In the classical system of the King's Indian White develops naturally and refrains from chasing ghosts looking for a refutation of Black's set-up. White instead relies on the fact that natural play should yield him a small but lasting advantage.

Svidler, Giri and Caruana

Svidler, Giri and Caruana shoot the breeze before round two | Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

Complete Round 2 commentary

Commentary by GM Robin van Kampen and Yasser Seirawan | Tata Steel Chess YouTube

The Challengers

Vidit Gujrathi, the top seed in the Challengers, got his first win of the tournament, and joins the trio who won their first round games at the top of the scoreboard. He was sent well-wishes from his teammate Abhijeet Gupta, who is busy playing himself in Delhi, where he is doing quite well.


Vidit has every reason to be confident | Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

Both Lucas van Foreest and Olga Girya bounced back from their first round losses to win in round two, leaving only Matthias Bluebaum in the position of having "castled" to start the tournament. Van Foreest beat World Junior Champion Aryan Tari.

Van Foreest on his goals: "Win as much as possible...12 out of 13 should be a nice aim." Tata Steel Chess YouTube

Standings after two rounds


All games of round two


Additional photos

Alina l'Ami is the official photographer and her photo galleries can be found at the tournament's Facebook page.

Round schedule

All rounds start at 13:30 CET except where noted.

  • Round 1: Saturday 13 January
  • Round 2: Sunday 14 January
  • Round 3: Monday 15 January
  • Round 4: Tuesday 16 January
  • Round 5: Wednesday 17 January (Masters in Hilversum starts 14:00)
  • Free day: Thursday 18 January
  • Round 6: Friday 19 January
  • Round 7: Saturday 20 January
  • Round 8: Sunday 21 January
  • Free day: Monday 22 January
  • Round 9: Tuesday 23 January
  • Round 10: Wednesday 24 January (Masters in Groningen starts 14:00)
  • Free day: Thursday 25 January
  • Round 11: Friday 26 January 
  • Round 12: Saturday 27 January
  • Round 13: Sunday 28 January (12:00 Noon)


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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