Wijk aan Zee Rd10: Aronian plays masterpiece against Giri

by ChessBase
1/25/2012 – Four wins for four Blacks, assuredly newsworthy, but the eye-catcher was Levon Aronian's win against Anish Giri, in which he played a superb exchange sacrifice for longterm pressure, and finished it off with a fantastic combination. Caruana bounced back with a win over Topalov, Kamsky beat Karjakin, and Ivanchuk is now sole second after beating Navara. Report with video analysis by Aronian.

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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 Tournament 2012

Round ten

Some readers may recall the pictures of the empty North Sea beach, and think this
is normal in cold weather. However as caught on film, there is plenty to do that does
not include sunbathing. Consider the modern day Ben-Hur above.

Then again, who needs a chariot, when one can gallop away?

Some prefer more modern pastimes taking advantage of the windy conditions

Naturally, there is nothing wrong with a straightforward stroll among crying seagulls
and crashing waves.

Group A: Round 10 - Wed. Jan. 25th
Veselin Topalov - Fabiano Caruana
Anish Giri - Levon Aronian
David Navara - Vassily Ivanchuk
Boris Gelfand - Vugar Gashimov
Teimour Radjabov - Loek van Wely
Sergey Karjakin - Gata Kamsky
Hikaru Nakamura - Magnus Carlsen

The Group A encounters

Hikaru didn't feel like pressing the issue, and nor did Carlsen
(photo: Frits Agterdenbos / www.chessvista.com)

If yesterday’s round was aptly described as the round where the players made their move on the gold, today’s round was even more so. The first unexpected result was Carlsen’s game against Nakamura. It isn’t that there is anything wrong with a draw per se, nor is it means as a slight to the American, but with only four rounds to go, and having lost his lead, one would have expected Magnus to at least steer the game toward more imbalanced positions, and not accede a draw with after less than two hours. Then again, Nakamura was frank in explaining that a draw was fine by him under the circumstances, and it would be tough for the Norwegian to force anything if White won’t cooperate.

Nakamura comments on the draw and on Carlsen (courtesy of the Tata Steel Facebook page)

Sergey Karjakin continues his singularly drawless tournament and lost today to Gata Kamsky. It was an offday for the Russian as his plans fell flat despite an opening advantage, and Kamsky was able to win what he described as a “very strange game”.

Ivanchuk also benefited from Navara’s mistake in an equal position, and quickly brought the point home. Caruana showed his tenacity as he bounced back from his loss yesterday to beat Topalov.

Fabiano Caruana showed alert opportunism and fighting spirit
(photo: Frits Agterdenbos / www.chessvista.com)

The Bulgarian achieved a healthy opening advantage and it seemed as if he would score his first win, but Fabiano demonstrated that his arrival in the Top Ten (Top Twelve to be exact) is no coincidence and he not only kept alive but sought to fight back. His resilience was rewarded on move 24, when Topalov, possibly out of frustration, elected to play a queen down and pawns, after which it was really just a matter of time.

A rocky ride for the gentle Anish Giri, who has suffered three straight losses
(photo: Frits Agterdenbos / www.chessvista.com)

The game of the day was of course Levon Aronian’s fantastic win against Anish Giri. A number of faltering comments and prose came to mind to describe the game, but an email by a reader, similarly inspired, summed it so well, we will just quote him:

“Levon Aronian's play at Wijk has reminded me increasingly of Bobby Fischer's games in the last year or so before he became World Champion (and, sadly, ceased to play publicly). The game against Anish Giri in particular is strongly reminiscent of, say, the 3rd, 5th and 6th match games against Spassky or the  game against Saidy in the 1969 Metropolitan League. One senses the same virtuoso control of complex tactical positions, whereby the master seems to shape the chaotic medium of the chess pieces and their relationships into a beautiful form like a painting or a piece of music. In the process extremely strong opponents somehow find themselves dancing to their opponent's tune, so that no matter where they try to go they always end up exactly where he wants them.”

Tom Welsh
Basingstoke, UK

Anish Giri's scoresheet during the game

As game commentary, we were planning on bringing in some GM assistance, but the Tata Steel media beat us to the punch and filmed Aronian’s own post-mortem given in the press room.

Levon Aronian analyzes his win in round ten (courtesy of the Tata Steel Facebook page)

The one thing that is striking is the Armenian’s nearly exasperating humility. In a sense, it is understandable to want to stay focused and not lose his edge, but consider his comments on his final tactical flourish with 41…Ne1!!

The position before 41...Ne1!!

The GM commentator Pelletier and the spectators, (not using any engines) never saw it coming, and even after it was played, the Swiss grandmaster stared at it in admiration, noting that if it worked, it was just magnificent. Of course, it did work, and it was magnificent. So what does he say? Nothing! One can imagine him as Moses being interviewed, “and here we arrived in front of the Red Sea, so I raised my arms, parted the waters and we crossed. Any questions?

Group A standings after ten rounds

Group B: Round 10 - Wed. Jan. 25th
Alexander Motylev - Sipke Ernst
Pentala Harikrishna - Daniele Vocatura
Dimitri Reinderman - Ilya Nyzhnik
Lazaro Bruzon - Sergey Tiviakov
Kateryna Lahno - Vladimir Potkin
Harika Dronavalli - Jan Timman
Viktorija Cmilyte - Erwin L'Ami

Pentala Harikrishna leads the B Group with 8.0/10 and a 2831 performance

Harikrishna's tournament has been utterly faultless until now, and round ten was no exception. Although slightly better his opponent made a tactical blunder, and had to resign. Motylev and L'Ami also kept their hopes alive by winning their respective games, though L'Ami needed some help from Cmilyte as he desperately tried to rein in the full point. His persistence was rewarded after 89 moves.

Group B standings after ten rounds

Group C: Round 10 - Wed. Jan. 25th
Pieter Hopman - Hans Tikkanen
Sahaj Grover - Lars Ootes
Matthew Sadler - Anne Haast
Tania Sachdev - Lisa Schut
Elizabeth Paehtz - Maxim Turov
Daan Brandenburg - Elina Danielian
Baskaran Adhiban - Etienne Goudriaan

Group C saw the surprise loss by co-leader Hans Tikkanen to tail-ender Pieter Hopman, whle Turov avoided such a fate and drew against German IM Elizabeth Paetz.

Tania Sachdev beat Lisa Schut just after the Dutch player scored
her WGM norm.
(photo: Frits Agterdenbos / www.chessvista.com)

Group C standings after ten rounds

The many levels of the Wijk aan Zee chess festival (photo: Frits Agterdenbos / www.chessvista.com)

Photos by Joachim Schulze and Frits Agterdenbos (www.chessvista.com)


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
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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