Wijk aan Zee Rd6: Aronian takes sole lead once more

by ChessBase
1/20/2012 – Levon Aronian is clearly on a streak, despite his third round loss to Carlsen, and once again took sole lead after beating Vugar Gashimov. Radjabov joined Carlsen in second after beating Karjakin, while Nakamura won a second straight after Gelfand blundered. Giri ground down Kamsky in 80 moves, while in B, Harikrishna beat Timman in the game of the day. Report, pictures and 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 six

Group A: Round 6 - Fri. Jan. 20th
Veselin Topalov - Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian - Vugar Gashimov
Fabiano Caruana - Loek van Wely
Anish Giri - Gata Kamsky
David Navara - Magnus Carlsen
Boris Gelfand - Hikaru Nakamura
Teimour Radjabov - Sergey Karjakin

The amateur open gets underway

It had seemed almost ironic. Two days after stating his intention was to take his game to the next level, Levon Aronian ran face first into a brick wall known as Magnus Carlsen, and the general impression was that the Norwegian had stamped his authority on the event and was now going to make it his.

The next three rounds didn’t quite play out that way, and Carlsen got into trouble in his games against fellow prodigies Fabiano Caruana and Anish Giri. His round six game was against David Navara who decided to avoid heroics and kept it simple, holding him to an easy draw. An easy draw that went for 82 moves, but an easy draw nevertheless. Carlsen explained that it was because the alternative to playing it out, was to twiddle his thumbs in his hotel room. Some players might have thought it an opportune time to get an extra rest day. Rest? Who needs rest when you’re twenty….

Carlsen explains why the game went as long as it did (courtesy of the Tata Steel Facebook page)  

Levon Aronian

Aronian on the other hand has never been in trouble, and has stormed ahead with 2.5/3 taking the lead once more after a win over Vugar Gashimov in round six. Gashimov was true to his self and played his pet Benoni, an opening that has been troublesome for its proponents at the very top.

Aronian retook the lead in Wijk. Place your bets, the race is on!

It didn’t help that he has been struggling with his form, and was playing the hottest player in the tournament. With that, Aronian not only retook the sole lead with 4.5/6, but his Live Rating is now at a potentially historic 2820, as it would make him the player with the third highest rating ever.

Teimor Radjabov won a good game against  Sergey Karjakin, who has been running cold, then hot, and now cold again. The Azeri obtained an edge soon in their game, and looked headed to a clean win, but stumbled a bit and seemed like he might not be able to convert. In the end, his passed queenside pawns were decisive and he concluded with a cute little combination. He is now equal second with Carlsen at 4.0/6.

Nakamura's face would not be glum at the end

Boris Gelfand, who had won a nice game in round five, was quite distraught after his game against Hikaru Nakamura, and visibly was rattled after an inspired performance the previous day.

Anish may have missed a quicker win earlier in his game against Kamsky, but win he did

Anish Giri moved up yet another rung, by scoring a win over Gata Kamsky in an impressive technical display, as he inched his way forward in a far from obvious endgame. It not only placed him in the upper tier of the leaderboard, but also has him in 16th in the live rankings.

Fabiano Caruana, who drew Loek Van Wely, has to be kicking himself for letting his prey escape. If it was far more forgivable missing that one chance he had against Carlsen, this time he squandered one chance after another in a game that by all rights was his for the taking. Had he won, he would now be tied with Carlsen and Radjabov with 4.0/6, nipping at the heels of Aronian in what has been a superb tournament so far by the young Italian. After all, he may be missing the killer blows, but he is still setting them up.

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

Group A standings after six rounds

Group B: Round 6 - Fri. Jan. 20th
Alexander Motylev - Ilya Nyzhnik
Daniele Vocatura - Sergey Tiviakov
Sipke Ernst - Vladimir Potkin
Pentala Harikrishna - Jan Timman
Dimitri Reinderman - Erwin L'Ami
Lazaro Bruzon - Viktorija Cmilyte
Kateryna Lahno - Harika Dronavalli

In spite of the multiple victories in the A Group, the game of the day goes to Pentala Harikrishna for his superb win over Jan Timman. Harikrishna has deservedly been the leader, playing rock solid positional chess, and out playing his opponents in the driest middlegames.

Harika Dronavalli watches the start of Pentala Harikrishna's victory over Jan Timman

It is perhaps this that prompted Timman to play such a provocative opening, hoping that the complications would turn out to be the Indian’s Achilles Heal. It was a worthy try, but instead it revealed a creative side we had not yet seen in the leader, and at a perfect time too. Pentala now leads with an impressive 5.0/6 and has created a one point wedge between himself and his nearest rival, Alexander Motylev.

Group B standings after six rounds

Group C: Round 6 - Fri. Jan. 20th
Pieter Hopman - Anne Haast
Lars Ootes - Lisa Schut
Hans Tikkanen - Maxim Turov
Sahaj Grover - Elina Danielian
Matthew Sadler - Etienne Goudriaan
Tania Sachdev - Baskaran Adhiban
Elizabeth Paehtz - Daan Brandenburg

Maxim Turov was finally held to a draw by Hans Tikkanen

In the C Group, Turov finally conceded his first half point against Tikkanen, though continues with a one point advantage. Top seed Matthew Sadler has been unable to get into second gear so far, and has had five draws out of six games, drawing today against a very energetic Etienne Goudriaan, who showed good form.

Elizabeth Paetz

Tania Sachdev is interviewed after her draw against Baskaran Adhiban
(courtesy of the Tata Steel Facebook page)

Group C standings after six rounds

Photos by Joachim Schulze and

© 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
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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