Tata Steel Chess: 'Shak' joins Anand, Anish

by Johannes Fischer
1/18/2018 – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov beat Fabiano Caruana to pull even with Anish Giri and Viswanathan Anand for the tournament lead, in the "on tour" fifth round played in Hilversum. In the other two decisive games, Hou Yifan's woes continue as she lost to Peter Svidler — his first win of the tournament. Wesley So also got his first win, dealing Adhiban his third loss. Anton Korobov scored again in the Challengers and now leads alone. | Photo: Alina l'Ami Tata Steel Chess on Facebook © 2018 Tata Steel

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Mamedyarov makes a trio

Viswanathan Anand has carried his strong start through to the fifth round, leading the table along side Anish Giri, both of whom drew. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov moved to plus two with a win over Fabiano, who is uncharacteristically struggling in Wijk aan Zee.

Round 5 impressions

Anand played with White against Wei Yi, who scored his first victory in round four against Gawain Jones. But against Anand the Chinese showed no great ambition, despite proving to be excellently prepared. Wei Yi answered Anand's 1.e4 with the Petroff and shook off a novelty from Anand on move 15. Although the position looked tactically complicated at first sight, Wei Yi spent only a few minutes thinking until the game was drawn on the 29th move — a sure indication of thorough home prep.

Anand: "We'd found this [Qh5] at the last minute. We had to take a decision in the car" | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

The game between Maxim Matlakov and Sergey Karjakin was less forced, but the result was the same as between Anand and Wei. In a position on move 17 in which both sides could still play on, Matlakov and Karjakin shook hands.


Final position

After 17.axb4 b5 18.e4 Karjakin felt the game would see simplifying exchanges, yet with unbalanced material and pawn structure, once wonders if another pairing with the same moves would not have continued.

Karjakin: "I offered him a draw because I saw...we exchange everything." | Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

The match between Gawain Jones and leaders Anish Giri was also unspectacular. In a Caro-Kann both avoided sides risks and called it quits after 25 moves.

The four other games of the round, however, were rich in content and interesting. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov won an important game against Fabiano Caruana.


Mamedyarov explained after the game that his style has evolved as he has gotten older. He's less inclined to "go for broke", in a game that should end reasonably in a draw.


Mamedyarov: "In the last years I start to play a little bit strategical, positional." Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Peter Svidler and Hou Yifan

Peter Svidler adds to Hou Yifan's miserey | Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

Peter Svidler won against Hou Yifan, but was very self-critical after the game because he missed a simple tactical opportunity.


White had just played 20.Nxb5 and Hou Yifan responded with 20...Bd7? (better is 20...Qd8), after which Svidler could have won immediately. With 21.Nxd6 Bxa4 22.Nc8 Re6 23.Ng5! Black loses the exchange, since after 23 ... Re8 24.Nb6 follows with a double attack on the a4-bishop and the rook on a8.

But instead of 22.Nc8 Svidler played 22.Rb1 in the game, after which Hou Yifan mounted a come back. As Svidler admitted afterwards, he had completely overlooked the possibility of 23.Ng5 — he had no real explanation for this oversight. "It's a calculation which a ten-year-old child should make blindfolded", he said jokingly after the game. 

But later in the game, Hou Yifan returned the compliment, as after several inaccuracies Svidler won in the end. Hou now has lost four of five games and is in clear last place.

Peter Svidler: "I have a rest day tomorrow, so that's useful." Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

GM Daniel King took a look at this game for his Powerplay Chess channel:

GM Daniel King | Powerplay Chess on YouTube

Especially dramatic was the match between Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik. In an Italian game Kramnik reached easy equality with Black. After one "impulsive" move (28.b5) — as Carlsen said after the game — the Norwegian even came under pressure and had to save himself in a rook ending, where black had two pawns extra — although doubled on the g-line. With only one g-pawn it would be a theoretical draw, but the second g-pawn made the matter "tricky" to quote Carlsen. But Carlsen defended himself precisely and saved the draw. 

Carlsen: "My White games have been fairly disasterous...but I've had worse starts here." Tata Steel Chess on YouTube

Magnus Carlsen with Seseme Street muppets

Carlsen prepared for the game by taking part in quite possibly the best chess photo ever | Photo: Alina l'Ami © 2018 Tata Steel

The game between Wesley So and Adhiban Baskaran also turned out to be an interesting rook ending. After a tactical exchange of blows in a queenless middlegame, So emerged in a rook endgame with an extra pawn, which he was finally able to exploit.

Simon Williams' round-up of Round 5:

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

Round 5 results

Br. Title Name FED ELO Res. Title Name FED ELO
1 GM Magnus Carlsen
2826 ½ - ½ GM Vladimir Kramnik
3 GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
2791 1 - 0 GM Fabiano Caruana
4 GM Wesley So
2788 1 - 0 GM Baskaran Adhiban
5 GM Peter Svidler
2760 1 - 0 GM Hou Yifan
6 GM Viswanathan Anand
2783 ½ - ½ GM Wei Yi
7 GM Maxim Matlakov
2730 ½ - ½ GM Sergey Karjakin
8 GM Gawain Jones
2640 ½ - ½ GM Anish Giri

Standings after round five


All games (rounds 1-5)


Full commentary

Commentary by GM Robin van Kampen and FM Tex de Wit | Tata Steel Chess YouTube


The Challengers tournament was quite stormy fifth round. One of the decisive matches was the encounter between Bassem Amin and Dmitry Gordievsky. Beginners are always taught that you should develop your pieces in the opening before going pawn grabbing. But grandmasters like to violate rules — which in this case led to a spectacular defeat.


Front runner Vidit Gujrathi played a draw against Erwin L'Ami and Anton Korobov took the opportunity to take take sole lead with victory over Jorden van Foreest. Korobov benefited from a tactical blackout from his opponent after after the opening phase.


My best games in the Spanish Vol. 1

Let Shirov show you how to break down the super-solid Berlin Defence. There are not many top grandmasters who enjoy such a great popularity among chess fans all over the world like Alexei Shirov. Thanks to his aggressive and ingenious playing style, commentators often compare him with the former world champion Mikhail Tal. He often sacrifices material easily in return for initiative and complications where he always seems to be just one step ahead of his opponent – following Shirov’s games is like watching “fire on the board”. Now the genius from Riga presents and explains his best games in a series of training DVDs in the Chess Media System.

Matthias Blübaum had to fight against Michal Krasenkow for a long time, but in the end he was able to save a draw.

Standings after round five


All games (rounds 1-5)


Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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