Tata Steel Rd2: Caruana wins again, event heats up

The second round showed the players warming up as Ding bounced back to beat Hou, while Caruana who won his second straight game. Carlsen was unable to make a dent versus So and drew, while Van Wely squandered a winning advantage to the despair of his fans. In the Challengers event, Gunina beat top Arab GM Saleh, while Wei Yi blew apart Potkin in a powerful display. Report with GM analysis.

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament has two main tournaments. They are played according to the ’round robin’ system, whereby each competitor plays in turn against every other during the tournament. The Tata Steel Masters has 14 participants and the Tata Steel Challengers has 14 participants. Both groups start on January 10th 2015 and the last round is on January 25th. All rounds in Wijk aan Zee begin at 13.30 hours, except for the last round on January 25th, which begins at 12.00 hours. The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds cumulative increment for each move starting from the first move.

Admission to the playing hall in Wijk aan Zee, Rotterdam and The Hague is free of charge

Round two – Masters

Before we being our report, we would like to take the time to remember Vugar Gashimov, a great player, and former participant of the Wijk Aan Zee super-tournament, who passed away far too early, exactly one year ago.

Round 2 – Sunday Jan. 11
Van Wely, L. – Wojtaszek, R.
Carlsen, M. – So, W.
Aronian, L. – Giri, A.
Caruana, F. – Saric, I.
Hou, Y. – Ding, L.
Jobava, B. – Vachier-Lagrave
Radjabov, T. – Ivanchuk, V.

Not Magnus Carlsen, but maybe better: Kaja Marie Snare from Norwegian TV2 is here to cover the event live…

While the studio analyzes the games with a live show from Norway!

Van Wely, Loek ½-½ Wojtaszek, Radoslaw
Van Wely might have some trouble sleeping tonight. After outplaying Wojtaszek powerfully after the middlegame and beautifully exploiting his opponent’s weakened king position, he kept missing the finishing blows. First it was a beautiful rook deflection, then a simple controlling tactic, then the transition into a winning pawn endgame, and finally a way to restrain his opponent’s queen in the endgame…

 Van Wely, L.2667Wojtaszek, R.2744½–½A0877th Tata Steel GpA211.01.2015
1.f3 d5 2.g3 c5 3.g2 c6 4.d4 e6 5.0-0 f6 6.c4 dxc4 7.a4 d7 8.xc4 b5 9.d3 c4 10.d1 c8 11.e1 b6 12.e4 d8 13.g5 h6!? The start of an amazingly complex game. This fighting signal will pit the pair of bishops and active pieces against White’s solid structure and center. Both sides have interesting chances. 14.xf6 gxf6 15.c3 c8!? 16.d5 c5 17.d2! Preventing Black from castling. e5 17…0-0 18.xh6 xf2+ 19.h1 xe1 20.xe1! Is simply unplayable; the attack is too strong. 18.xe5 fxe5 19.b3!? An interesting idea. White opens up files for the attack on the queenside while Black’s rook on h8 is stuck on the other side. cxb3 20.ab1 d4 21.xb3 a6 22.d1 This seems a little passive, deeper analysis might reveal a better move. 22.Rc1 springs to mind. exd5 23.exd5 0-0 Black has creatively defended h6 now that the path of the queen has been opened by removing both the f6 and e6 pawns. 24.a4 d7 25.axb5 axb5 26.c3 c8 27.eb1 xc3 27…g6! A strong move missed by Wojtaszek. This would be awkward to meet as Nxb5 is not a possibility. 28.xb5 c2-+ 28.xc3 xc3 29.xc3 d6 The passed pawn on d5 is blockaded, but so is the one on b5. 30.h4 c8 31.b2 b8 32.e1 f6 I’m not a fan of weakening the king. 32…e8= 33.c2 g7? The start of Wojtaszek’s problems. 33…f5 34.b2 e4= 34.h5! e8 35.a1! Despite being low on time Van Wely started playing with vigor and accuracy. d8 36.h3!? Really pushing for Ra7. b6? 36…e7 37.e4± 37.e6! xh5 38.c1? Missing the first of many wins. 38.a6! xa6 39.c7+ g6 40.xd8 And Black’s king is completely helpless against the multiple threats from White. 38…e8 39.e4 h5 40.b4 d6 41.a5 f8? 41…g6! 42.a7! d7 43.c6! Powerful play! e7 44.c7 e8 45.a6 45.b6 was just a touch more exact. 45…b4 46.b6 b3 47.xb3 47.b7!+- Would have prevented the game continuation. 47…d6 48.c2 e4 49.xd7+ xd7 50.xe4+ 50.c8+! f7 51.xe4 xd5 52.e8+ g7 53.h8+ g6 54.g8+ f5 55.xh5+ e6 56.e8+ d6 57.e2 looks very gloomy for Black. 50…d8 51.xd7+ xd7 52.h2 g4 probably some psychological warfare, using the fact that the opponent was low on time. 53.f3? 53.xg4 hxg4 54.g2 d7 55.f3 gxf3+ 55…d6 56.fxg4 xd5 57.f3 e5 58.e3 d5 59.f4 e6 60.g5+- 56.xf3 d6 57.e4+- 53…g5 54.h3? 54.f4! g4 55.d6+- d7 56.e7+ c6 57.d7! xd7 58.xf6+ is pretty hard to hold, if not just lost. 54…c1! Here finally Wojtaszek has strong counterplay. The king feels unsafe on h3. 55.f4 f1+ 56.h4 d1 57.f5 d2 58.h3 d1 59.h2 d2+ 60.g1 d1+ 61.g2 d2+ 62.h3 d1 63.d6 xd6 64.f3 e7 65.xh5 d5 65…d3! 66.e2+ f7 67.g4 d4+ 68.h5 d5 69.c2 f3+ 70.h4 g7 71.c7+ h6 72.c1+ g7 73.c7+ h6 74.f4+ xf4+ 75.gxf4 g7 76.g3 g8 77.f3 f7 78.e4 e8 79.d4 d8 80.c5 c7 ½–½

Carlsen, Magnus ½-½ So, Wesley
The American player equalized without problems from the opening and never let Carlsen have even a hint of an advantage. Carlsen took his time before agreeing to the repetition, probably trying to find something better, but there was simply no rope to pull from.

A battle between titans was again rather quiet

Aronian, Levon ½-½ Giri, Anish
Both players blitzed out 23 moves of theory to arrive in a position in which Aronian had two extra pawns, but Giri’s activity and the opposite colored bishops made it extremely hard for White to convert. After a transition into an endgame Aronian was forced to give back one of his pawns, which made the resulting endgame unwinnable.

Levon Aronian and Anish Giri was full of fireworks on the board…

ok, maybe not…

Caruana, Fabiano 1-0 Saric, Ivan
Fabulous Fabi starts 2-0!

Daniel King shows Caruana’s win over Saric

 Caruana, F.2820Saric, Iv26661–0C9277th Tata Steel GpA211.01.2015
1.e4 e5 2.f3 c6 3.b5 a6 4.a4 f6 5.0-0 e7 6.e1 b5 7.b3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 e8 10.d4 b7 The Zaitsev Variation of the Spanish is not exactly topping the popularity rankings nowadays, but it remains fully playable. 11.bd2 f8 12.d5 b8 13.f1 bd7 14.3h2 Both players were playing rather quickly up to this point. The main line and a move that has been tried more than 100 times is 14…Nc5, but Saric felt like deviating. a5 Actually this move has only been seen twice in grandmaster play. 15.a4 Perhaps Caruana was not familiar with the Saric game from 2010, because he spent a significant amount of time fron this move forward. However his moves were good and strategically sound. 15.f3 h6 16.e3 c6 Brkic-Saric, 2010! 15…b4 16.cxb4 axb4 In the long term Black will have problems with this passed pawn on a4, but for now he can hope to put pressure on e4 and break the center with c6. 17.g5 With the impending central breaks and potential weakness on e4, it makes sense to trade this bishop off. e7 18.c4 c5 Threatening 19.. .Nxd5, as unlike 18…Nxd5 the bishop on b7 is now defended at the end. 18…xd5?? This standard trick doesn’t work. 19.xd5 xg5 19…xd5 20.xe7+- 20.xb7+- 19.xf6 xf6 20.b5 f8 21.d2 a6 22.b3! xb5 23.xc5 e8 24.d3 White’s pair of knights is not that much inferior than the pair of bishops yet, and with the protected passed pawn on a4 White has a long term s trategical advantage. Black has to hurry up and open the game. b8 25.b3 g5 26.f1 26.f3 was maybe more cautious. 26…c6 27.b2 f5! Certainly the correct approach. 28.dxc6 xc6 28…fxe4 29.c4 a7∞ 29.exf5 d5? But this is way too ambitious. Black’s play does not compensate the lack of a pawn, and he will soon be forced into the defensive. 29…xf5 30.c2 c8 31.g3 and both sides still have chances. 30.e3! b7 30…xe3 31.fxe3 xf5 32.c1 b7 33.d3 the pawn center yields nothing to Black while his pieces look misplaced. White would hold a strong advantage in this line. 31.d3 ae8 32.g4 xe3 33.fxe3 d7 34.xb4 Two free pawns, the rest just requires some accuracy in time pressure. a8 35.g4 why not be greedy? a6 36.c5 d6 37.e4 c8 38.ac1 fd8 39.exd5 e4 40.e3 h6 41.e1 xf5 42.gxf5 xd5 43.xe4 1–0

Hou Yifan 0-1 Ding Liren
A strange game, as Hou Yifan seemed to lose a pawn out of the opening. Her compensation was at best good enough for equality, and maybe not quite that. Ding Liren’s precision was felt as he slowly uncompressed from his restrained position, and slowly but surely his position improved. Hou Yifan entered a bad endgame that was cleanly won by her opponent.

Not the best start for Hou Yifan

Jobava, Baadur ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
After spending an hour and a half on the clock to reach a harmless position in the Accelerated Dragon, things were not looking so hot for Jobava. MVL decided that his position was not good enough to try to win and press his time advantage, but it would have been good to see him try. The end position was objectively equal, but not without any resources for both sides.

Radjabov, Teimour ½-½ Ivanchuk, Vassily
Radjabov’s opening experiment seemed to yield him a sizeable advantage. He had some sort of good version of the Fianchetto King’s Indian, but he was unable to capitalize on the advantage. Once Radjabov took en passant on e6 it seemed his advantage dissipated. If anything Ivanchuk started looking for a win somewhere, but it was not to be found.

Replay Masters Games

Giri, Anish2784Carlsen, Magnus2862½–½A4077th Tata Steel Chess Masters110.01.2015

1.d4 g6 2.c4 g7 3.e4 d6 4.f3 e5 5.c3 c6 6.g5 f6 7.e3 h6 8.h3 f7 9.c5 dxc5 10.dxe5 fxe5 11.xe5 fxe5 12.b5 d7 13.xc6 xc6 14.xc5 f8 15.xf8 xf8 16.0-0 xd1 17.fxd1 d8 18.xd8+ xd8 19.d1+ e7 20.d5+ xd5 21.xd5 e6 22.f3 c6 23.d3 f7 24.f2 d7 25.xd7 xd7 26.h4 c5 27.g3 b5 28.b3 e6 29.e3 h6 30.f4 h5 ½–½

Masters standings after two rounds

Round two – Challengers

Round 2 – Sunday Jan. 11
Wei, Y. – Potkin, V.
Gunina, V. – Saleh, S.
Sevian, S. – Michiels, B.
Klein, D. – Van Kampen, R.
l’ Ami, E. – Timman, J.
Haast, A. – Navara, D.
Shankland, S. – Dale, A.

The Challengers section has some interesting highlights.

The first and and most visually pleasing was the demolition of Potkin by Wei Yi. A beautiful attack conducted by the Chinese young player annihilated his opponent’s defenses and won him a nice game.

Robin Van Kampen and David Klein in their quick draw on Sunday

Gunina was able to take care of Saleh in a complex Benoni structure. Sevian had a promising position against Michiels, but instead of putting more pressure he finds himself in a disappointing 0-2 start.

Baadur Jobava giving Valentina Gunina some pre-game encouragement

The last decisive game of the day was of Navara cleanly outplaying Haast. Shankland can be happy about this, as he seems to have miraculously survived against the lowest rated player of the event.

One of the players got the memo about the picture being taken

As usual, Sagar Shah provides us with awesome commentary:

Replay Challengers Games

Haast, Anne2352Navara, David27290–1B9077th Tata Steel GpB2.111.01.2015Sagar Shah

1.e4 c5 2.f3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.xd4 f6 5.c3 a6 6.e3 g4 7.g5 h6 8.h4 g5 9.g3 g7 10.h3 e5 11.f5 xf5 12.exf5 bd7 12…bc6 is the main move here. 13.d5 b6 It is surprising to see Navara repeat the line that he played a few months ago in EU Cup against Emil Hermansson. It is definitely possible that his opponent had come prepared for this variation. 14.f6!? Only two games have continued with this move previously and that too by not so famous players. Anne Haast must have prepared thi move at home. 14.e2 was how Hermansson-Navara continued. 14…xd5 14…exf6 There doesn’t seem anything wrong with this move at all. 15.d4 xd5 16.xd5 b6 17.0-0-0 0-0 18.xd6 a5 Black should be more than fine. 15.fxg7 a5+ 16.d2 16.c3 could have been a wiser decision as it makes sense to keep the queen’s on the board. g8 17.xe5 dxe5 18.c4 0-0-0 19.g4+ e6 20.xd5 xd5 21.0-0= 16…xd2+ 17.xd2 g8 Black doesn’t have any problems in this endgame. 18.e1 0-0-0 19.xe5 dxe5 20.xe5 A brave decision. There are no good discovered attacks with the knight. f6 21.e1 xg7 22.c3 22.c4 f4+ 22…b4+ 23.c3 23.c3 e5 22…e5 23.c2 gd7 24.c4 b5 25.xd5 xd5 The endgame is slightly more dangerous for White but I guess it should not be a problem to defend it. 26.d1 e4 26…xd1 27.xd1 xd1 28.xd1 d7 29.e2 e6 30.d3 d5= 27.xd5 xd5 28.e1 28.d1 This exchange and entering the endgame is not advisable for White has black’s kingside majority is more potent than the White queenside majority. xd1 29.xd1 f5 30.d2 f4 31.c4! b4 31…bxc4 32.c3 e3 33.fxe3 fxe3 34.c2 c7 35.d1 d6 36.e2 e5 37.xe3= 32.c2 d7 33.b3 a5 34.c2 d6 35.b3 c5 36.d2 h5 37.e2 d4 38.d2 h4 39.e2 a4 40.e1 40.d2 axb3 41.axb3 g4 42.hxg4 f3-+ 40…f3 41.f1 a3 42.g1 e5 43.f1 f4 44.g1 f5 45.f1 e5 46.g1= the position looks drawn but I maybe missing something here as my gut feeling says that Black should win it. 28…f5 29.a4 bxa4 30.a1 g4 31.hxg4 31.xa4 gxh3 32.gxh3 would have given White better drawing chances. 31…fxg4 32.e1 f5! 33.e2 h5 34.c4 34.g3 34…h4 35.c3 f4 36.d4 h3 37.gxh3 gxh3 38.e3 f3+ 39.xe4 h2 40.xf3 40.e1 xf2-+ 40…h1+ 41.e3 c1+ 42.d3 a3 0–1

Challengers standings after two rounds

All pictures by Alina l’Ami from the Official Website

Schedule and results – Masters group

Round 1 – Saturday Jan. 10
Radjabov, T. – Van Wely, L.
Ivanchuk, V. – Jobava, B.
Vachier-Lagrave – Hou, Y.
Ding, L. – Caruana, F.
Saric, I. – Aronian, L.
Giri, A. – Carlsen, M.
So, W. – Wojtaszek, R.
Round 2 – Sunday Jan. 11
Van Wely, L. – Wojtaszek, R.
Carlsen, M. – So, W.
Aronian, L. – Giri, A.
Caruana, F. – Saric, I.
Hou, Y. – Ding, L.
Jobava, B. – Vachier-Lagrave
Radjabov, T. – Ivanchuk, V.
Round 3 – Monday Jan. 12
Ivanchuk, V. – Van Wely, L.
Vachier-Lagrave – Radjabov, T.
Ding, L. – Jobava, B.
Saric, I. – Hou, Y.
Giri, A. – Caruana, F.
So, W. – Aronian, L.
Wojtaszek, R. – Carlsen, M.
Round 4 – Tuesday Jan. 13
Van Wely, L. – Carlsen, M.
Aronian, L. – Wojtaszek, R.
Caruana, F. – So, W.
Hou, Y. – Giri, A.
Jobava, B. – Saric, I.
Radjabov, T. – Ding, L.
Ivanchuk, V. – Vachier-Lagrave
Round 5 – Thursday Jan. 15
Vachier-Lagrave – Van Wely, L.
Ding, L. – Ivanchuk, V.
Saric, I. – Radjabov, T.
Giri, A. – Jobava, B.
So, W. – Hou, Y.
Wojtaszek, R. – Caruana, F.
Carlsen, M. – Aronian, L.
Round 6 – Friday Jan. 16
Van Wely, L. – Aronian, L.
Caruana, F. – Carlsen, M.
Hou, Y. – Wojtaszek, R.
Jobava, B. – So, W.
Radjabov, T. – Giri, A.
Ivanchuk, V. – Saric, I.
Vachier-Lagrave – Ding, L.
Round 7 – Saturday Jan. 17
Ding, L. – Van Wely, L.
Saric, I. – Vachier-Lagrave
Giri, A. – Ivanchuk, V.
So, W. – Radjabov, T.
Wojtaszek, R. – Jobava, B.
Carlsen, M. – Hou, Y.
Aronian, L. – Caruana, F.
Round 8 – Sunday Jan. 18
Van Wely, L. – Caruana, F.
Hou, Y. – Aronian, L.
Jobava, B. – Carlsen, M.
Radjabov, T. – Wojtaszek, R.
Ivanchuk, V. – So, W.
Vachier-Lagrave – Giri, A.
Ding, L. – Saric, I.
Round 9 – Tuesday Jan. 20
Saric, I. – Van Wely, L.
Giri, A. – Ding, L.
So, W. – Vachier-Lagrave
Wojtaszek, R. – Ivanchuk, V.
Carlsen, M. – Radjabov, T.
Aronian, L. – Jobava, B.
Caruana, F. – Hou, Y.
Round 10 – Wednesday Jan. 21
Van Wely, L. – Hou, Y.
Jobava, B. – Caruana, F.
Radjabov, T. – Aronian, L.
Ivanchuk, V. – Carlsen, M.
Vachier-Lagrave – Wojtaszek
Ding, L. – So, W.
Saric, I. – Giri, A.
Round 11 – Friday Jan. 23
Giri, A. – Van Wely, L.
So, W. – Saric, I.
Wojtaszek, R. – Ding, L.
Carlsen, M. – Vachier-Lagrave
Aronian, L. – Ivanchuk, V.
Caruana, F. – Radjabov, T.
Hou, Y. – Jobava, B.
Round 12 – Saturday Jan. 24
Van Wely, L. – Jobava, B.
Radjabov, T. – Hou, Y.
Ivanchuk, V. – Caruana, F.
Vachier-Lagrave – Aronian, L.
Ding, L. – Carlsen, M.
Saric, I. – Wojtaszek, R.
Giri, A. – So, W.
Round 13 – Sunday Jan. 25
So, W. – Van Wely, L.
Wojtaszek, R. – Giri, A.
Carlsen, M. – Saric, I.
Aronian, L. – Ding, L.
Caruana, F. – Vachier-Lagrave
Hou, Y. – Ivanchuk, V.
Jobava, B. – Radjabov, T.

Schedule and results – Challengers group

Round 1 – Saturday Jan. 10
Shankland, S. – Wei, Y.
Dale, A. – Haast, A.
Navara, D. – l’ Ami, E.
Timman, J. – Klein, D.
Van Kampen, R. – Sevian, S.
Michiels, B. – Gunina, V.
Saleh, S. – Potkin, V.
Round 2 – Sunday Jan. 11
Wei, Y. – Potkin, V.
Gunina, V. – Saleh, S.
Sevian, S. – Michiels, B.
Klein, D. – Van Kampen, R.
l’ Ami, E. – Timman, J.
Haast, A. – Navara, D.
Shankland, S. – Dale, A.
Round 3 – Monday Jan. 12
Dale, A. – Wei, Y.
Navara, D. – Shankland, S.
Timman, J. – Haast, A.
Van Kampen, R. – l’ Ami, E.
Michiels, B. – Klein, D.
Saleh, S. – Sevian, S.
Potkin, V. – Gunina, V.
Round 4 – Tuesday Jan. 13
Wei, Y. – Gunina, V.
Sevian, S. – Potkin, V.
Klein, D. – Saleh, S.
l’ Ami, E. – Michiels, B.
Haast, A. – Van Kampen, R.
Shankland, S. – Timman, J.
Dale, A. – Navara, D.
Round 5 – Thursday Jan. 15
Navara, D. – Wei, Y.
Timman, J. – Dale, A.
Van Kampen – Shankland, S.
Michiels, B. – Haast, A.
Saleh, S. – l’ Ami, E.
Potkin, V. – Klein, D.
Gunina, V. – Sevian, S.
Round 6 – Friday Jan. 16
Wei, Y. – Sevian, S.
Klein, D. – Gunina, V.
l’ Ami, E. – Potkin, V.
Haast, A. – Saleh, S.
Shankland, S. – Michiels, B.
Dale, A. – Van Kampen, R.
Navara, D. – Timman, J.
Round 7 – Saturday Jan. 17
Timman, J. – Wei, Y.
Van Kampen, R. – Navara, D.
Michiels, B. – Dale, A.
Saleh, S. – Shankland, S.
Potkin, V. – Haast, A.
Gunina, V. – l’ Ami, E.
Sevian, S. – Klein, D.
Round 8 – Sunday Jan. 18
Wei, Y. – Klein, D.
l’ Ami, E. – Sevian, S.
Haast, A. – Gunina, V.
Shankland, S. – Potkin, V.
Dale, A. – Saleh, S.
Navara, D. – Michiels, B.
Timman, J. – Van Kampen, R.
Round 9 – Tuesday Jan. 20
Van Kampen, R. – Wei, Y.
Michiels, B. – Timman, J.
Saleh, S. – Navara, D.
Potkin, V. – Dale, A.
Gunina, V. – Shankland, S.
Sevian, S. – Haast, A.
Klein, D. – l’ Ami, E.
Round 10 – Wednesday Jan. 21
Wei, Y. – l’ Ami, E.
Haast, A. – Klein, D.
Shankland, S. – Sevian, S.
Dale, A. – Gunina, V.
Navara, D. – Potkin, V.
Timman, J. – Saleh, S.
Van Kampen, R. – Michiels, B.
Round 11 – Friday Jan. 23
Michiels, B. – Wei, Y.
Saleh, S. – Van Kampen, R.
Potkin, V. – Timman, J.
Gunina, V. – Navara, D.
Sevian, S. – Dale, A.
Klein, D. – Shankland, S.
l’ Ami, E. – Haast, A.
Round 12 – Saturday Jan. 24
Wei, Y. – Haast, A.
Shankland, S. – l’ Ami, E.
Dale, A. – Klein, D.
Navara, D. – Sevian, S.
Timman, J. – Gunina, V.
Van Kampen, R. – Potkin, V.
Michiels, B. – Saleh, S.
Round 13 – Sunday Jan. 25
Saleh, S. – Wei, Y.
Potkin, V. – Michiels, B.
Gunina, V. – Van Kampen, R.
Sevian, S. – Timman, J.
Klein, D. – Navara, D.
l’ Ami, E. – Dale, A.
Haast, A. – Shankland, S.


The tournament has a slight change this year. Most of the rounds will be played in the traditional De Moriaan Community Centre in Wijk Aan Zee, but two of the rounds will be played elsewhere. Last year the tournament traveled to the National Museum in Amsterdam and the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven.

This year the fifth round will be held in De Rotterdam. De Rotterdam is a building on the Wilhelminapier in Rotterdam, designed by Rem Koolhaas in 1998.

Rotterdam is ready to host Tata Steel!

The tenth round will be played in the International Press Cnetre Niewuspoort in the Hague. Councillor Karsten Klein of The Hague had this to say: “The Hague is honored to be able to host the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2015 at the heart of the Dutch parliamentary democracy. Our city has a long history of international chess tournaments, a tradition which is continued in this manner. ”



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