The traditional calendar-opening super-tournament in Wijk aan Zee (properly, the Tata Steel Chess Tournament) has come to an end, and - as we already knew yesterday and could see coming several rounds back - Magnus Carlsen is the winner. His draw with Anish Giri today was very shaky, but Giri was either careless or overlooked something, and allowed Carlsen to force a perpetual. Carlsen finished with a fantastic score of 10/13, equaling Garry Kasparov's score in 1999 (though without winning a game as memorable as Kasparov's victory over Veselin Topalov). His performance was good for a TPR of 2932, and pushes his rating record to 2872.3, good for a 62 point lead over Vladimir Kramnik and 63 points up on Levon Aronian.
Speaking of Aronian, he finished second in the event after drawing Fabiano Caruana. He was outplaying Caruana on the black side of the Berlin endgame, but inaccurate play deep in the ending allowed Caruana to escape to a drawn rook vs. rook and bishop finale. For Caruana, it was a merciful end to what had become a very poor tournament. Thanks to losses in his three previous games, he finished third from last and lost 24 rating points - ouch.
By contrast, Viswanathan Anand gained points in the tournament, which had been his first good one in quite some time. Unfortunately for the world champion, he lost his first and only game of the event, getting pretty comprehensively outplayed by Wang Hao in a Scotch Four Knights. (Vladimir Kramnik's 10.h3 strikes again, but I don't think Anand had any problems out of the opening.) Had Anand drawn, he would have tied for second with Aronian.
Instead, the loss allowed Sergey Karjakin to catch him with a brutal victory over Loek van Wely. Van Wely was pretty reliable with White in the tournament, but with Black he was a hog waiting to be butchered - he won one game, vs. tournament tail-ender Ivan Sokolov, drew another, and lost five. Against Karjakin he repeated the Dragon line he used against Peter Leko in round 11, and it wasn't a good idea. Karjakin varied, and van Wely collapsed speedily. (Karjakin varied from the Leko game on move 16, made a novelty on move 18, and van Wely resigned on move 25.) It was a good tournament for Karjakin, who only lost one game (a long, painful one to Carlsen) and gained six rating points.
Leko played well the second half of the tournament and finished in clear fifth with a +2 score. He had no chances for a win today though, as he met Hou Yifan's Ruy Lopez with the Marshall Gambit (a first big step towards a draw) and Hou responded by repeating a line Aronian pretty conclusively solved last October. Hou offered an essentially meaningless novelty on move 25, and the game was drawn 12 routine moves later.
Hikaru Nakamura was alone in 6th place with a +1 score. As always, he tried hard to make something happen, in this case against Pentala Harikrishna (whose even score was good for solo 7th), but the game ended in a draw.
The other players' games have already been discussed, except for that of the tail-enders. Erwin L'Ami and Ivan Sokolov battled for a long time, but after 84 well-played moves they agreed to a draw. L'Ami finished with four points - not a terrible score considering his rating and the opposition, and good enough to keep a point clear of Sokolov.
The final round games (with my comments) can be replayed here.
- 1. Carlsen 10 (out of 13)
- 2. Aronian 8.5
- 3-4. Anand, Karjakin 8
- 5. Leko 7.5
- 6. Nakamura 7
- 7. Harikrishna 6.5
- 8-10. Giri, Wang Hao, van Wely 6
- 11. Hou Yifan 5.5
- 12. Caruana 5
- 13. L'Ami 4
- 14. Sokolov 3
Group B came down to the wire; in fact, it came down to the last game of all three groups. Three players (Arkadij Naiditsch, Sergei Movsesian and Richard Rapport) came into the last round tied for first, with Jan Smeets half a point behind them. Movsesian drew and Smeets won, but they were eliminated from contention when Rapport won. Only Naiditsch could catch him with a win, but at the end of the first time control he and Sipke Ernst were in a drawn king and pawn ending. I haven't investigated it to see if it was forced, but Naiditsch was able to progress to a queen and h-pawn vs. queen ending that was still drawn, according to the tablebase, but not trivially. Indeed, Ernst eventually went wrong, and once he did Naiditsch never gave him a second chance to reach an objectively drawn position. Naiditsch thus caught Rapport, and due to better tiebreaks he gets the automatic invitation to next year's Group A tournament. (The Wijk organizers are often generous though, and I wouldn't be surprised if they found room for Rapport next year, too.)
In Group C, the two-horse race was finally settle in favor of Sabino Brunello. Both he and Fernando Peralta came into the round with 10 points and both players had the black pieces, but Peralta faced a strong GM (Alexander Kovchan) while Brunello faced an FM (Miguoel Admiraal [sic]). Peralta may have miscalculated in his opening prep, and that decided the issue. He chose the Pirc, perhaps hoping for a fight, but Kovchan forced Peralta to follow the quick perpetual check first known from Sax-Seirawan, Brussels 1988. That meant it was clear sailing for Brunello, and the Admiraal speedily went down with his ship. Brunello (whose TPR was better than any in Group B and was in theory good enough for sixth place in Group A) thus qualifies for next year's Group B tournament.