Wijk aan Zee: Carlsen, Aronian, and Giri are first to score

by ChessBase
1/14/2012 – It was a day for the young up-and-comers, though with Carlsen and Aronian in the top two, perhaps up-and-camers is more appropriate. Carlsen had an edge in an endgame against Gashimov, and sure enough weaseled his way into a win. Aronian beat Karjakin with black in a complicated and exciting game, while Giri ground down Gelfand after 70 moves. Illustrated report with videos.

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The 74th Tata Steel Chess Tournament will take place from January 13 to 29, 2012 in the sports hall Moriaan in Wijk aan Zee. There are three grandmaster tournaments with fourteen players each playing thirteen rounds at 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves and finally 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30 seconds/move increment starting with the first move of the game. Rest days are on January 18, 23, and 26.

Tata Steel 2012

The opening ceremony took place in the Chess Pavillion in Wijk aan Zee 

Dr Karl-Ulrich Köhler officially opened the tournament

Round one

Group A: Round 1 - Sat. Jan. 14th
David Navara - Veselin Topalov
Boris Gelfand - Anish Giri
Teimour Radjabov - Fabiano Caruana
Sergey Karjakin - Levon Aronian
Hikaru Nakamura - Vassily Ivanchuk
Magnus Carlsen - Vugar Gashimov
Gata Kamsky - Loek van Wely

Whether a sign of things to come or not, Carlsen's live rating is just 12 points short
of Kasparov's record 2851.

Whether or not this round was a sign of things to come is impossible to say, but if one is to consider the opening ceremony prognostics by the players, perhaps. Magnus Carlsen obviously entered the favorite, but favorites are a statistic, not a guarantee. When asked about his expectations, the Norwegian said, " My goal is to play good chess, and maybe win the tournament", followed by a typical shrug.

The Opening Ceremony video report (courtesy of the Tata Steel Facebook page)

Dutch TV also did a report on the event. Even if you don't speak Dutch the footage is worth checking out.
(thanks to Rob Vlaardingerbroek)

He was able to do just that, carrying a small edge throughout the game. This was not enough though as the pieces came off and the weight of the opposite-colored bishops began to be felt. Vugar Gashimov then completely misjudged the situation and went chasing ghosts as he tried to carry out a king attack that only ended up misplacing all his pieces. This ended up being decisive and the number one chalked his first win of the year.

Aronian is also on a high, and not letting Carlsen steal the limelight without a fight

The world number two, Levon Aronian, actually beat him to the title of first win of Wijk aan Zee's A group, as he managed to force his opponent, Sergey Karjakin, to capitulate first. The opening was nothing special and was roughly equal for both players, however, Aronian played a pawn sac that he felt would give him good play, a sac that he later thought the Russian had underestimated. Energetic play in a dynamic and exciting middlegame led to a deserved win.

A tough game for Boris Gelfand, and a brilliant start for Anish Giri

The final winner not only of the A group, but of the tournament, was Gelfand-Giri, but the spectators who stuck around were rewarded for their patience. 17-year-old Anish Giri, fresh from his victory in Reggio Emilia just a week ago, was trying his best to convert a pawn up against Boris Gelfand, whose defensive technique is nothing to scoff at. It was unclear whether he would manage, however little by little he showed his growing endgame skills and edged his way forward until a win at move 70.

Former top Dutch player Loek Van Wely is back

The official video reports by the organizers, is some of the best we've ever seen, with top-notch
editing, presentation, and narration. They hired a professional video production company and should
not be missed. (courtesy of the Tata Steel Facebook page)

Video roundup by GM Yannick Pelletier

Still, while the video reports above may be nice, but they cannot compare to the quality and depth of the Playchess commentators who are there analyzing for hours for your pleasure. Don't take our word for it, watch the round-up
show by the GM Yannick Pelletier, the commentator of the day.

Group B: Round 1 - Sat. Jan. 14th
Dimitri Reinderman - Alexander Motylev
Lazaro Bruzon - Pentala Harikrishna
Kateryna Lahno - Sipke Ernst
Harika Dronavalli - Daniele Vocatura
Viktorija Cmilyte - Ilya Nyzhnik
Erwin L'Ami - Sergey Tiviakov
Jan Timman - Vladimir Potkin

In the B tournament, all the decisiev games stuck out for different reasons. Lazaro Bruzon was the top-seed and promptly lost to the Indian Pentala Harikrishna's Berlin as he was outplayed in a balanced middlegame. Sergey Tiviakov was also one of the favorites but also lost to Erwin L'Ami. Finally, while 15-year-old Ilya Nyzhnik started with a win over European Women Champion Viktorija Cmilyte, GM Kateryna Lahno avenged the losses of her female fellows by beating Sipke Ernst.

Dutch legend, Jan Timman, accepted his invitation to play

Group C: Round 1 - Sat. Jan. 14th
Matthew Sadler - Pieter Hopman
Tania Sachdev - Sahaj Grover
Elizabeth Paehtz - Hans Tikkanen
Daan Brandenburg - Lars Ootes
Baskaran Adhiban - Anne Haast
Etienne Goudriaan - Lisa Schut
Elina Danielian - Maxim Turov

Matthew Sadler, residing in Holland for a number of years now,
is the huge favorite.

The C group had few surprises and Matthew Sadler and Maxim Turov, the heavy elo-favorites, won their games with relative ease.

Still, given the choice between looking at his games, or these ladies, we know what
our choice will be...

All photos and information by courtesy of ChessVista – Frits Agterdenbos.
Many more pictures are available on this web site.

Click here for full schedule and results


There will be full broadcast of all games on the official site and on the Playchess server, which will provide live audio commentary of the most interesting games (free for Premium members) starting at 15:00h for each round, 14:00h for the final round.

Date Round Day Commentator
14.01.2012 Round 1 Saturday Pelletier
15.01.2012 Round 2 Sunday King
16.01.2012 Round 3 Monday Seirawan
17.01.2012 Round 4 Tuesday King
18.01.2012 Free Day Wednesday
19.01.2012 Round 5 Thursday King
20.01.2012 Round 6 Friday Seirawan
21.01.2012 Round 7 Saturday Seirawan
22.01.2012 Round 8 Sunday King
23.01.2012 Free Day Monday
24.01.2012 Round 9 Tuesday King
25.01.2012 Round 10 Wednesday Pelletier
26.01.2012 Free Day Thursday
27.01.2012 Round 11 Friday King
28.01.2012 Round 12 Saturday Trent
29.01.2012 Round 13 Sunday King

Commentary begins at approx. 3 PM and lasts 2-2.5 hours with breaks in between. A round up show is provided at 8 PM server time.


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client and get immediate access. Or you can get our latest Fritz 13 program, which includes six months free premium membership to Playchess.

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