2019 Wijk aan Zee, Round 5: Ding, Nepo Lead; Carlsen Wins
Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at 10:45PM
Dennis Monokroussos in 2019 Wijk aan Zee, Ding Liren, Magnus Carlsen

Finally! After a crazy 21-game drawing streak, Magnus Carlsen once again did what world champions do: he won a game. More precisely, he won a classical game, and with it pulled to within half a point of the leader - now leaders - in the 2019 edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament.

His victim was Jorden Van Foreest, who deserves points for boldness, though not for prudence, for repeating the 6.Nd5 Anti-Sveshnikov line Fabiano Caruana tested against Carlsen in their match without success. Van Foreest can use a computer, just like Carlsen, but the many hours Carlsen and his team spent on the line before and during the match cannot be duplicated with a couple of hours at the computer. White's position was fine as far as the engine was concerned, coming out of the opening, but Carlsen outplayed him pretty easily to win in crushing style in just 33 moves.

The day's other winner also won with Black (who leads in the event 9-2 in decisive games!), and also did the job in 33 moves. The winner was Ding Liren, who caught up to Ian Nepomniachtchi in first place with a +2 score, and his victim was Sam Shankland. Shankland had looked very good in his previous games, and with a little more accuracy might entered the round tied for first with his own +2 score. This game was a disaster for him, and vaulted Ding into a tie for first and the #3 spot on the live rating list.

Two other games could have finished with a winner. Santosh Vidit was winning (with Black, naturally) against Vladimir Fedoseev after grinding away in the ending for hours, but didn't manage to put him away in the day's longest battle. Teimour Radjabov was winning against Jan-Krzysztof Duda and was still better at the end of the game when he acceeded to a repetition. 22.Re3 was a mistake; either 22.Qh2 or 22.g4 (followed by Qh2) kept a winning advantage.

The remaining games were had fewer dramatic moments. Vladimir Kramnik and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov drew a well-played Open Ruy, Richard Rapport managed to minimize the ill-effects of his damaged pawn structure to draw against Nepomniachtchi, and Viswanathan Anand neutralized Anish Giri's theoretical opening edge with a new idea in the Italian Game. (In fact, he was a little better in the end, but Anand has tended over the years to be too quick to draw in better positions with Black against players when a draw was his principal ambition entering the game. A bit like Carlsen in the last classical game with Caruana, except that Carlsen's advantage was much bigger and Anand's tendency appears to be far more ingrained.) (The games are here, but without notes due in part to zeitnot in my world.)

Tomorrow - Thursday - is the first rest day; on Friday round 6 will have the following pairings.

Taking a quick peek at the Challengers' event (the winner of which will receive automatic promotion to next year's top group), the top two seeds - Anton Korobov and Vladislav Kovalev - lead with 3.5/5, half a point ahead of the quintet Andrey Esipenko, Maksim Chigaev, Erwin L'Ami, Evgeny Bareev, and Parham Maghsoodloo.

Article originally appeared on The Chess Mind (http://www.thechessmind.net/).
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