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    « Yet Another Cheating Scandal | Main | Wijk aan Zee, Rounds 11 & 12: Carlsen Clinches Clear First »
    Sunday
    Jan272013

    Wijk aan Zee Finale: Carlsen, Naiditsch and Brunello Win Groups A, B and C, Respectively

    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.

    Final Standings:

    • 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.

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    Reader Comments (5)

    It was a bit unsporting of Kovchan to play like that. I guess its all about professionalism nowadays.

    [DM: I'm not sure about that. It isn't his responsibility to help his opponent gain winning chances, and if a draw with a somewhat higher-rated opponent having a much better tournament suited him, then that's not a crazy decision. But I think it's also possible that he got caught in a sort of game theory loop: he probably believed that his opponent (Peralta) wanted to play for a win, and since Peralta knew that Black's best response to the line allows White to (more or less) force a draw Kovchan may have started down that path thinking Peralta would avoid it. Both players may have been trying to outlast the other, seeing who would vary first to avoid a draw that could be seen as slightly unsatisfactory to both of them. Neither player "blinked", and Sax-Seirawan redux was the result.]

    January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaideepblue

    The semi-forced repetition. Ah, modern chess!

    Regarding the Live Rating list of the 2700-plus crowd (52 and counting) and the Top Ten list, perhaps its time for a new entrant: The Magnus Minus One Hundred Club - or Magnus -100 Club, featuring a list of all the players within 100 rating points of Magnus at any given time. Currently, that list would have five players - including World Champion Anand - barely! Everyone not on that very short list can consider themselves "lapped."

    But Carlsen still has a ways to go to match Fischer and Kasparov. That is, in 1972 I think there were probably only two players within 100 of Bobby's 2785: Spassky and Tal. How many players were within 100 of Kasparov at any given time?

    January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGreg Steele

    In answer to Greg

    The 1 July 1972 Elo list (source Sahovski Informator 14):

    Fischer 2785; Spassky 2660; Petrosian and Polugayevsky 2645; Korchnoi and Portisch 2640; Karpov 2630; Larsen and Tal 2625; Stein and Smyslov 2620; Keres 2600.

    Alas, they stopped printing the Elo list in Informator towards the end of the 90s. But looking at cross tables, a sketchy picture is (:from the Frankfurt Rapid in June 2000):

    Kasparov 2851; Anand 2769: Kramnik 2758; Shirov 2751; Morozevich 2748; Leko 2725

    January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGraham

    Meanwhile, some interesting play at gibraltar (we are being spoiled at the moment eh?). Short ground down Le to move into joint first with Vitiugov, with Kamsky, vachier-legrave and Yu just behind. Hotting up with a couple of rounds left.

    January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

    I have those old Informants and could have checked them as well! I was surprised to see Tal listed so low with his excellent 1972 results - he went a whole year without a loss - but his rating spiike only appeared in 1973 when he was tied with Karpov for second at 2660 with Spassky third at 2655. In early '72 I thought Spassky was closer to 2700 (he was 2690 in early '71) and then I remember his subpar 6th place at the 1971 Russian Championship.

    Tal had another great year in 1979, tying for first with Karpov in Montreal, and going over 2700 on one of the 1980 rating lists (2705 behind Karpov's 2725 and ahead of Korchnoi's 2695).

    [DM: At the time he was only the third person in history to break 2700.]

    January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGreg Steele

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