Wijk aan Zee Rd13: Aronian is sole winner!

by ChessBase
1/30/2012 – It was a deserving finish to a great tournament by Levon Aronian. He takes sole first and his seven wins is the highest since Kasparov in 1999. Carlsen tried hard to crack Van Wely to no avail and shared second with Radjabov. Joining them is Fabiano Caruana who beat Gelfand in the last round. Pentala Harikrishna won Group B, and Maxim Turov took Group C. 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 Tournament 2012

Round thirteen

It was a race for first but eventually one took the lead

For some, it will be an event to contemplate about

The city's steel industry

Group A: Round 13 - Sun. Jan. 29th
Gata Kamsky - Veselin Topalov
Loek van Wely - Magnus Carlsen
Vugar Gashimov - Hikaru Nakamura
Vassily Ivanchuk - Sergey Karjakin
Levon Aronian - Teimour Radjabov
Fabiano Caruana - Boris Gelfand
Anish Giri - David Navara

A barbarian horde

It was a deserving end to a great tournament. There seemed to be quite a lot of questions as to how the game between Levon Aronian and Teimor Radjabov would go. With no tiebreaks in place, a win by the Azeri meant a tie for first with Aronian, whereas a draw or better simply guaranteed the Armenian an unshared first. Carlsen, who was playing Van Wely, depended on their result to see if he had a chance of a piece of first of his own. After all, If Radjabov beat Aronian, and Carlsen beat Van Wely, they would be three sharing that top step on the podium. Not long after the games started, the answer was in: a lightning draw between Teimor and Levon.

Levon Aronian drew in many fans

In the post-game interviews conducted by the Tata Steel video crew, Magnus admitted he was surprised that the Azeri didn’t even try for a win, and speculated that perhaps Radjabov was already happy with his result. This is was not without risk, since if Carlsen won his game, he would leapfrog into sole second. Even Aronian was caught offguard, clearly happy with this turn of events. In the end Radjabov himself explained his decision, which was not nearly as simple as complacency with his position.

Their fates were decided after twelve minutes (photo: Frits Agterdenbos / www.chessvista.com)

According to him, he had somehow concluded that Aronian would himself push hard for a win as it would allow him to pursue a secondary goal of the top rating (note that this was not achievable even if he won and Carlsen lost) and as he already had so many titles, would not be averse to risking his sole first win in Wijk. Although there is no reason to doubt his word for it, it seems like he over reasoned the situation and instead missed a chance. Instead of taking his fate into his own hands and pursuing his share of first, he waited for his opponent to take the risk for him, and give him a free shot at it. Wishful thinking.

Magnus Carlsen graciously congratulates Levon Aronian on his victory

In spite of this squandered opportunity, Radjabov still came in second, the only undefeated player in the tournament, and is now on the verge of a 2784 rating. As to Aronian, it marks not only a fantastic tournament victory, possibly the greatest of his career, but a mind-boggling climb to a 2824 rating, which will make him the third highest rated in Elo history. For those who thought Carlsen’s 2830+ rating placed him in untouchable regions, think again. Note that this was achieved as a much more dynamic player, with seven wins and two losses, willing to shake the boat to maximize his winning chances. Examples of these changes are eminently visible in his games against Karjakin and Giri.

Ian Rogers and Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam hunting for a quote from Magnus Carlsen
(photo: Frits Agterdenbos / www.chessvista.com)

As to Magnus Carlsen, he played for a win against Loek Van Wely with black, but was unable to get anything, and after 41 moves, with a dead drawn opposite-colored bishop ending, he threw in the towel and shook hands. It was a solid result for the number one, but somewhat disappointing after his strong start. It is a tribute to his class that he was able to do as well as he did, considering the number of ugly situations he got himself into, which he then poured all his energy and skill to get out of.

Fabiano Caruana beat Boris Gelfand in the end to share second and join the Top Ten
(photo: Frits Agterdenbos / www.chessvista.com)

The surprise addition to the group at 2nd-4th with 8.0/13 was Italian Fabiano Caruana, who once again comes second after a similar success in Reggio Emilia a few weeks ago, and is now about to enter the world Top Ten, after a gain of 50 Elo since the September 2011 list. He must also be crowned the King of the Unexpected, since none of his results seemed to correspond to their probable outcome. It was a list of missed wins, drawn losses, and won draws, but ultimately, it was a list that displayed alert opportunism and unfailing fighting spirit in all his struggles.

On the lower end of the crosstable, Giri will no doubt be tending to his wounded ego as he fell down a staircase of chess disasters, and after a promising start had a series of five losses. Time and experience will help him stop the rot in the future.

Veselin Topalov still trying to straighten his game out

Veselin Topalov was also very upset as shown in more than one interview, and though he bemoaned his loss to Carlsen, it was his overall play and unrealized chances that really grated at him. The former number one has still not been able to get his game back into gear, and his confidence seems badly shot. To this great player, we offer the following words of consolation: a king may lose his crown, but never his majesty.

The official video report of the final round (courtesy of the Tata Steel Facebook page) 

Group A final standings

Group B: Round 13 - Sun. Jan. 29th
Jan Timman - Alexander Motylev
Vladimir Potkin - Erwin L'Ami
Sergey Tiviakov - Viktorija Cmilyte
Ilya Nyzhnik - Harika Dronavalli
Daniele Vocatura - Kateryna Lahno
Sipke Ernst - Lazaro Bruzon
Pentala Harikrishna - Dimitri Reinderman

The B tournament ended as it started, with Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna alone at the top, and deservedly so. He set the tone with a beautiful win over the top seed Lazaro Bruzon in the first round, and showed it was not a fluke, but the sign of things to come. He stormed into sole first and never let go until the very end. This was his fourth try at the B tournament, and this one was the charm. He can now look forward to his first participation in a tournament with the world’s greatest players. Bruzon who had a very rocky start, also showed great resilience by working his way back up the ladder and sharing second with Alexander Motylev, while a last round loss by Erwin L’Ami denied the Dutchman the same honors.

Indian Pentala Harikrishna on his tournament and next year (courtesy of the Tata Steel Facebook page

Group B final standings

Group C: Round 13 - Sun. Jan. 29th
Elina Danielian - Pieter Hopman
Maxim Turov - Etienne Goudriaan
Lisa Schut - Baskaran Adhiban
Anne Haast - Daan Brandenburg
Lars Ootes - Elizabeth Paehtz
Hans Tikkanen - Tania Sachdev
Sahaj Grover - Matthew Sadler

The C group ended up working out as it had started, with a win for Russian GM Maxim Turov, however all was decided in the last round, since Hans Tikkanen had caught up with him, and had his chance as well. Indian IM Tana Sachdev turned out to be the insurmountable wall to climb, and she held him to a draw in the last round. She was actually in a position to win, but even if she had, there was no way others could have caught him.

Maxim Turov in his post-tournament interview, celebrating his victory, as well as newborn son
(courtesy of the Tata Steel Facebook page

Group C final standings

Pictures by Joachim Schulze and

© Frits Agterdenbos of ChessVista


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