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    « Happy Birthday, Boris Spassky! | Main | Coming in April: A 6-Game Kramnik-Aronian Match »
    Sunday
    Jan292012

    Levon Aronian Wins Wijk aan Zee A-Group; Harikrishna, Turov Win B- and C-Groups, Respectively

    There were so many quick draws during the last round of A group event in Wijk aan Zee someone might think it was a gunslinger convention or a workshop for budding sketch artists. (Thank you, thank you.) With a win over Levon Aronian, Teimour Radjabov would have tied for first place, but with Black he was satisfied with a draw by repetition in just 12 moves, allowing Aronian to clinch clear first. Gashimov-Nakamura was even shorter, drawn in 11 moves, and Ivanchuk-Karjakin was only slightly more inspiring, drawn after 22 moves. Next was the draw between tail-enders Giri and Navara (29 moves); after this, the remaining three games had some fight.

    Magnus Carlsen hoped to take clear second, but with the white pieces Loek van Wely was able to stop the bleeding and draw right after the first time control in a dead drawn opposite-colored bishop ending.

    His performance was a quiet one, but with his victory over the slumping Boris Gelfand the Italian GM Fabiano Caruana made it a three-way tie for second. Gelfand was fine out of the opening, but was ground down in a heavy piece ending.

    Finally, Gata Kamsky beat his two-time Candidates' rival Veselin Topalov in a minor piece ending to reach a +1 score; Topalov sank back to a -3 score, missing the tie for last place by half a point.

    (For those curious about the pecking order at the top of the world, the essentially up-to-the minute live ratings can be seen here.)

    Final Standings (A Group):

    1. Aronian 9
    2-4. Carlsen, Radjabov, Caruana 8
    5-6. Ivanchuk, Nakamura 7.5
    7. Kamsky 7
    8. Karjakin 6.5
    9. van Wely 5.5
    10-12. Gelfand, Topalov, Gashimov 5
    13-14. Navara, Giri 4.5

    In the B-group, a draw was enough for Pentala Harikrishan to win the tournament and secure advancement to next year's Group A event. Alexander Motylev and Erwin L'Ami could have tied for first with wins, but Motylev could only manage a draw with Jan Timman, while L'Ami lost to European Champion Vladimir Potkin. By defeating Sipke Ernst (and very quickly), Lazaro Bruzon caught Motylev in second.

    Finally, the see-saw race in the C-group between Maxim Turov and Hans Tikkanen ending in the former's favor. He defeated Etienne Goudriaan in a long game while Tikkanen couldn't defeat Tania Sachdev (the game ended in a draw). Thus Turov wins the group and qualification to next year's B-event. As for top seed Matthew Sadler, his last game was - you guessed it - a draw (though never for want of trying - on average his games were more than 50 moves long). The fight was there but the results (+2 -1 =10) weren't. Hopefully this will stoke his competitive fire to play more and improve rather than encourage him to re-retire.

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    Reader Comments (6)

    How about a phalange of phlebotomists?

    Am a bit disappointed Nakamura didn't try to get into that tie for 2nd---after all, Carlsen tried to get out of it. I can understand Radjabov wanting to preserve being undefeated...a little... Overall a really great event, how great will take me a couple weeks to quantify...

    January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKenneth W. Regan

    I believe this is Caruana's best result ever. Radjabov and of course Aronian seemed to be in good form.

    The top half of finishers in the A group was dominated by players 24 years of age and younger (5 of 7).

    January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJordan Henderson

    Two observations. First what an entertaining tournament. Second Aronian truly earned his victory more than half his games were wins and two were losses, no drawing all the top players and feeding on the' fish.' Thirdly how do we get Caruana to return to the USA?

    January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLarry L

    No one seems to have commented (here or elsewhere, that I've noticed) on Kamsky-Topalov: First of all, that it's a Candidates rematch, and second, that Topalov appears to be playing for a win with ...Rd7, declining what looked like an incipient repetition.

    [DM: First of all, I commented on the Candidates issue in this very post: "Finally, Gata Kamsky beat his two-time Candidates' rival Veselin Topalov..." About the repetition, maybe Topalov was playing for a win. Did someone deny it? Kamsky was in time trouble though, so it's not clear that the game was destined for a draw even if Topalov had repeated.]

    January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDerek Slater

    Radjabov said something about not expecting the variation Aronian played because he thought Aronian would try to play for a win to get the number 1 spot on the live ratings list. I would have guessed the opposite, that Aronian would be quite content with a draw. I would think that securing clear first in a well played tournament (for him) would outweigh his desire to get the the live number 1 at that very moment. He could take his chances to achieve that some other time when clear first isn't at risk. So it seems Radjabov made a miscalculation before the game even started.

    January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommentercheVelle

    cheVelle: especially since a win alone obviously wouldn't make Aronian #1 anyway.

    February 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbasil

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