Wijk aan Zee Rd3: Carlsen beats Aronian to snatch lead

by ChessBase
1/16/2012 – It was the clash of the titans as the top two players in the world bumped heads for first place. Magnus Carlsen scored an impressive win over Levon Aronian as he slowly built up an advantage into a convincing win. Radjabov joined Caruana and Aronian in second after a blunder by Navara. Both Harikrishna and Turov lead Group B and C respectively with 3.0/3. Illustrated report with video.

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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 three

The players arrive for the round

Group A: Round 3 - Mon. Jan. 16th
Boris Gelfand - Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov - David Navara
Sergey Karjakin - Anish Giri
Hikaru Nakamura - Fabiano Caruana
Magnus Carlsen - Levon Aronian
Gata Kamsky - Vassily Ivanchuk
Loek van Wely - Vugar Gashimov

The first result of the day came in disappointing fashion as the Czech champion David Navara blundered a piece right after a mistake and that was that, Radjabov moved in to equal second with 2.0/3.

19-year-old Fabiano Caruana is already looking at a 2750 rating

Hikaru Nakamura was almost on the wrong side of the next decisive result as he was possibly lost at one point against Fabiano Caruana, but fortunately he kept his wits about him and saved the game in the end. It is worth noting that while Caruana’s rating may have seemed stationary for about a year, he seems to be solidifying his gains and has gained nearly 40 Elo since September if one is to refer to the Live Ratings list where he stands at 2750 and 12th in the world.

Relief is spelled K-A-R-J-A-K-I-N

It was also a relief for Sergey Karjakin, and a disappointment to Anish Giri’s fans, when he beat the Dutchman to break his nervy start. The game was relatively balanced until Giri decided to undertake energetic measures on the queenside with f5 that only yielded him fatal weaknesses on e6 and the dark squares.

Carlsen made a first step for glory by beating his most dangerous rival

Still the game of the day was also the biggest encounter of the event: Magnus Carlsen versus Levon Aronian, the two top seeds in Wijk and in the world. Aronian was sole first, with a perfect 2.0/2 start, and Carlsen, trailing a half-point behind, had a chance to invert their places, which he took. His typical provocative play drew his opponent out to make several concessions which he then negotiated beautifully. In his attempt to find the most precise move, he actually ended up with a secondary choice, though the more aesthetic of the two. This caused the game to go longer than he had planned, but his famed technique did not let him down and he maneuvered his way to the top of the leaderboard. His win also takes him to a stratospheric 2843, a rating he no doubt plans to push past Kasparov’s record 2851 set in 2000.

In tomorrow’s game Carlsen faces Caruana with Black, a game that has great promise while Aronian takes on Kamsky. Radjabov will face Gelfand.

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

Group A standings after three rounds

Group B: Round 3 - Mon. Jan. 16th
Lazaro Bruzon - Alexander Motylev
Kateryna Lahno - Dimitri Reinderman
Harika Dronavalli - Pentala Harikrishna
Viktorija Cmilyte - Sipke Ernst
Erwin L'Ami - Daniele Vocatura
Jan Timman - Ilya Nyzhnik
Vladimir Potkin - Sergey Tiviakov

The third round in Group B came close to six wins in seven with the only draws being Lahno-Reinderman and Bruzon-Motylev. Top-seed Bruzon (2691) has been out of form and after losing to the leader, Harikrishna, in the opening round, came dangerously close to losing against Motylev. He was quite lost but the Russian allowed an ending with opposite-colored bishops in which his two extra pawns were no longer decisive.

The Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna once again showed off his technical skills as he outplayed his female compatriot GM Harika Dronavalli, and now has 3.0/3. In second place is the Dutch player, Erwin L’Ami, who beat the winner of last year’s Group C, Italian GM Daniele Vocaturo.

After a first round loss, Sergey Tiviakov won two games, including over Vladimir Potkin

That said, the highest profile win was Sergey Tiviakov’s second straight win, this time against European Champion Vladimir Potkin in an impressive game that has already put him in third.

Nyzhnik and Timman, a pleasing victory for Timman's fans

Of note also, was the meeting between the tournament's youngest and oldest players, 15-year-old Ilya Nyzhnik, and 60-year-old Jan Timman. This time experience had the last word as Jan Timman converted an extra pawn after 97 moves.

Group B standings after three rounds

Group C: Round 3 - Mon. Jan. 16th
Tania Sachdev - Pieter Hopman
Elizabeth Paehtz - Matthew Sadler
Daan Brandenburg - Sahaj Grover
Baskaran Adhiban - Hans Tikkanen
Etienne Goudriaan - Lars Ootes
Elina Danielian - Anne Haast
Maxim Turov - Lisa Schut

In the C Group, Turov continues to dominate with 3.0/3, though he had a large Elo advantage over his opponent Dutch junior Lisa Schut. Etienne Goudriaan, the lowest rating of the group with 2279, is the surprise second with 2.5/3, though it bears noting none of his opponents outrated him by more than 50 Elo until now.

Matthew Sadler has conceded two draws so far, both against the lovely Tania Sachdev in round two, and Elizabeth Paehtz in round three.

Group C standings after three rounds

All photos © Frits Agterdenbos of ChessVista


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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