Tata Steel Chess: Kramnik shines

by André Schulz
1/17/2018 – Yesterday Anand caused a sensation, but in today's fourth round it was Vladimir Kramnik's turn to be the ex-World Champion star. After just 24, moves Peter Svidler gave up resistance as his lifetime classical score versus Kramnik dips to -8. Anish Giri and Anand remain in the lead in the Masters. In Challengers Korobov and Vidit extended their lead to a full point. | Photo: Alina l'Ami Tata Steel Chess on Facebook © 2018 Tata Steel

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No change afoot

Maybe there is a generational change in top chess, as some believe, but it is certainly doesn't seem a foregone conclusion at the moment — at least if you look at the table of the Tata Steel tournament after four rounds of play. The wintry, rainy and often stormy fishing village of Wijk aan Zee is once more a playground for some of the world's best players, but the world elite gathered there represents more than age demographic. Unlike other sports, chess players are known to be able to perform well in the "advanced" age. Chess not only connects people, but also connects the generations.

Amateur players in Wijk aan Zee

Many open tournaments are played alongside the elite tournaments | Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

Speaking of demographics: Where do the top players of this year's Tata Steel tournament come from? In the Masters tournament, there are four players from Russia, two from the USA, two from India and one each from China, England, Norway, Azerbaijan and the Netherlands.

In the Challengers tournament there are two other players from Russia, two more Indians, one more American and one more Norwegian, a Ukrainian, a German, a Pole, an Egyptian and four other players from the host country. 

If you look at the age of the players, Anand, Kramnik (two world champions!) And Svidler represent the "older" generation. All three are over 40 years old, but they are anything but old-fashioned. Svidler recently won the Russian championship for the eighth time. Anand became Rapid Chess World Champion. Kramnik will play in the Candidates Tournament — and is certainly not among the outsiders, seeing how his rating has held up for decades.

On the other hand, Wei Yi, at the age of 18, is the youngest participant in the Masters tournament. Lucas van Foreest, who scored a big upset today in the Challengers tournament by beating Bassem Amin, is even a little younger, being just 16 years of age.

Masters — Round 4

At the age of 23, Anish Giri is of course part of the younger guard. The former "prodigy" got off to a good start in the Masters and, after four rounds is alongside his senior colleague Anand. Giri's victory over Kramnik in round two made a splash, and today he shared the point with reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen.

Magnus ordered up a new dish from the openings menu with the black pieces; apparently, the French defense is the Norwegian's latest love. In the 7.Qg4 variation of the Winawer system, the two young grandmasters held a theoretical duel on quite unexplored terrain and both showed their best.


Attention danger! This game was played by trained experts. Please do not try to imitate this in your games

Warning! This game was played by trained experts. Please do not attempt imitation! | Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

Magnus: "For all the banter [and] nonsense, he's still very strong." | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Giri was prepared for the Winawer but not exactly the line in the game | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Anand had dispatched Fabiano Caruana — who has now dropped to third in the live world rankings — and the newcomer Maxim Matlakov in prior rounds. Today, the multiple world champion had black against his combative compatriot Adhiban. The younger man brought a Volga gambit with reversed colors to the table, and while Anand gradually took command, it was not enough to win.

Adhiban: "Hopefully one day I will succeed [Anand]" | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Reti - A Repertoire for White

Starting with 1.Nf3 the Reti is designed for those players who like strategy, manoeuvres and plans. Bologan presents a repertoire based on 1.Nf3 giving you options for all major replies.

Vladimir Kramnik was the star of the round, turning in his second win in the four rounds played so far, and it goes a long way toward compensating for his loss to Giri. The 14th world champion didn't shy away from Peter Svidler's Grünfeld terrain, but managed a veritable massacre today with the otherwise quiet Fianchetto variation. After a mere 24 moves, the game was over. Svidler's may have resigned a little early, but it seems justified, as in the final position he is virtually paralyzed. 


Kramnik's classical score with white against Svidler is 9 : 1 | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Solid and safe against the Indian openings: Play the Fianchetto

The King''s Indian and Grunfeld are notoriously tricky and theoretical openings. The Fianchetto variation avoids the main lines which Black players enjoy, and goes for a small but safe edge. GM Nick Pert played the Fianchetto variation for over 20 years, and at the time of recording was unbeaten with White since November 2011!

Maxim Matlakov could be happy finally earning a full point. The Russian GM with the black pieces was favorite on paper facing Hou Yifan. The Chinese responded to Matlakov's Marshall attack with a not-so-common twist (9.d4) that German Grandmaster Thomas Luther also enjoyed playing. The game then takes on the character of the open variation. For a long time the fight was balanced, but then Matlakov went up an exchange for a pawn, and successfully completed the technical phase.  


Hou gave up an exchange here with 28.Rxa4 but it proved to be dubious.

Wei Yi also celebrated his first victory in his game against Gawain Jones. In the King's Indian Defense, the world's best U20 player with white gained the iniative on the kingside. A queen exchange brought no relief for Black.


With 26.Rg5 White won a pawn after 26...Bg6, since 26...Bxg5 27.hxg5 would leave the light-squared bishop homeless.

Wei Yi vs Gawain Jones

Wei Yi's first win was Gawain Jones' first loss | Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

Fabiano Caruana got favorable position against Wesley So in the Nimzo-Indian defense, but then missed a hidden, but strong, opportunity.


Caruana missed a chance with 37.Rd6, when after 37...Nxf4, he would have 38.Ng5 and black's knight is lost. Instead after 37.Bg5 the game ended in a draw ten moves later.

Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So

The all-American clash: Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So | Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

The match between Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov also remained without a winner.

Daniel King's round-up of Round 4

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

Results of Round 4

Br. Title Name FED ELO Res. Title Name FED ELO
1 GM Anish Giri
2752 ½ - ½ GM Magnus Carlsen
2 GM Yifan Hou
2680 0 - 1 GM Maxim Matlakov
3 GM Vladimir Kramnik
2787 1 - 0 GM Peter Svidler
4 GM Baskaran Adhiban
2655 ½ - ½ GM Viswanathan Anand
5 GM Sergey Karjakin
2753 ½ - ½ GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
6 GM Yi Wei
2743 1 - 0 GM Gawain C B Jones
7 GM Fabiano Caruana
2811 ½ - ½ GM Wesley So

All games (rounds 1-4)


Standings after four rounds



With three wins in four rounds, Anton Korobov and Vidit Gujrathi are setting a brisk pace in the Challenger tournament. Korobov won against Olga Girya today. Vidit defeated his compatriot Harika Dronavalli, and Lucas van Foreest upset Bassem Amin. All other games ended drawn.


Vidit Gujrathi Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

Results of Round 4

Br. Title Name FED ELO Res. Title Name FED ELO
1 GM Santosh Gujrathi Vidit
2718 1 - 0 GM Dronavalli Harika
2 GM Anton Korobov
2652 1 - 0 WGM Olga Girya
3 GM Matthias Bluebaum
2640 ½ - ½ GM Aryan Tari
4 GM Jeffery Xiong
2634 ½ - ½ GM Jorden Van Foreest
5 GM Dmitry Gordievsky
2622 ½ - ½ GM Michal Krasenkow
6 GM Benjamin Bok
2607 ½ - ½ GM Erwin L'Ami
7 IM Lucas Van Foreest
2481 1 - 0 GM Bassem Amin

All games (rounds 1-4)


Standings after four rounds


Complete Round 4 commentary

Commentary by GM Robin van Kampen and Stefan Kuipers | Tata Steel Chess YouTube

Round and daily round-up show schedule

All rounds start at 13:30 CET except January 17th and 24th at 14:00, and the final round on January 28th at 12:00 Noon.

We'll be recapping each day's action with a live webcast at 21:00 CET (3pm EST) from a variety of familiar ChessBase contributors:

13. Jan Round 1 Yannick Pelletier
14. Jan Round 2 Daniel King
15. Jan Round 3 Simon Williams
16. Jan Round 4 Daniel King
17. Jan Round 5 Simon Williams
18. Jan Rest day  
19. Jan Round 6 Simon Williams
20. Jan Round 7 Daniel King
21. Jan Round 8 Yannick Pelletier
22. Jan Rest day 2  
23. Jan Round 9 Lawrence Trent
24. Jan Round 10 Yannick Pelletier
25. Jan Rest day 3  
26. Jan Round 11 Daniel King
27. Jan Round 12 Lawrence Trent
28. Jan Round 13 Daniel King
ChessBase authors

Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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