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    Entries in Wijk aan Zee 2013 (13)

    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.

    Sunday
    Jan272013

    Wijk aan Zee, Rounds 11 & 12: Carlsen Clinches Clear First

    I'm exhausted after travel and coaching, but with the final round coming up in a few hours I'll try to get caught up before hitting the hay. To no one's surprise, Magnus Carlsen has clinched clear first in the 2013 Tata Steel Chess Tournament (Group A). His crushing victory in round 12 over Hikaru Nakamura gave him a point and a half lead with a round to go, which means he wins unless the organizers decide to switch to a 3-1-0 format for the last round alone. That gives him a crazy score of 9.5/12, and with a draw in the final round he'll equal Kasparov's great 10/13 from 1999; a win, obviously enough, would break that record.

    Levon Aronian defeated Nakamura in round 11 to keep within range (Carlsen drew Wang Hao in that round - and he was in deep, deep, deep trouble) of first, but in round 12 he didn't get much with White against Anish Giri and only drew. Aronian has 8 points, and so does Viswanathan Anand - though he could easily have reached 8.5. He was winning against Hou Yifan in round 11, but was swindled in the endgame and only drew. In round 12, Erwin L'Ami was fine out of the opening with Black, but Anand ground him down and won the endgame.

    Hou Yifan had a good pair of rounds. In addition to the swindle against Anand, she defeated Ivan Sokolov in round 12. Another overperforming underdog is Loek van Wely, who bounced back from a loss to Peter Leko (the latter won a nice rook ending) by defeating Fabiano Caruana. Caruana also lost in round 11, crushingly, to Anish Giri, making three losses in a row for him.

    You can see the other players' fates in replaying the last two rounds' games, here; I've offered some notes to three of the games. Here are the final round pairings, with player scores in parentheses: 

    • Karjakin (7) - van Wely (6)
    • Hou Yifan (5) - Leko (7)
    • L'Ami (3.5) - Sokolov (2.5)
    • Wang Hao (5) - Anand (8)
    • Nakamura (6.5) - Harikrishna (6)
    • Giri (5.5) - Carlsen (9.5)
    • Caruana (4.5) - Aronian (8) 

    While the drama in Group A has left the building, there's plenty left in groups B and C. Arkadij Naiditsch, Sergei Movsesian and Richard Rapport share the Group B lead with 8 points apiece, and Jan Smeets is just half a point behind. In Group C Sabino Brunello and Fernando Peralta have shared or flip-flopped with the lead all tournament long, and coming into the last round they each have 10 points, a whopping 2.5 points ahead of their closest pursuer.

    Thursday
    Jan242013

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 10: Guess Who Wins Again?

    Who else? Magnus Carlsen. Not that he was the only winner, though, as five of the Group A games in round 10 at Wijk aan Zee had a decisive result. Carlsen did what he does best: take a small edge (sometimes not even that), grind away, and persist until the opponent crumbles. Eventually, Erwin L'Ami did, though he defended well for a long time. Carlsen now has a crazy 8/10 (7 of his last 8!), good for a 1.5 point lead; a 2954 TPR and a 2871.8 live rating.

    Viswanathan Anand lost ground, as he drew again, against Sergey Karjakin. He tried pressing patiently, a la Carlsen, but without success. That's to Karjakin's credit, but maybe he should have tried longer, as Carlsen did in his earlier game with Karjakin. Or...as Hikaru Nakamura did in this round against Fabiano Caruana. Their game was dead equal for a long time, but at a certain point in the second time control Caruana fell prey to tactics based on Nakamura's bishop pair and lost. With the win, Nakamura caught Anand in second with 6.5 points, and they were both joined by Levon Aronian, who won rather easily against Wang Hao.

    Tomorrow is a rest day, and on Friday the round 11 pairings for Group A look like this (player scores in parentheses):

     

    • Leko (5.5) - van Wely (5)
    • Karjakin (5.5) - Sokolov (2.5)
    • Hou Yifan (3.5) - Anand (6.5)
    • L'Ami (3) - Harikrishna (5)
    • Wang Hao (4) - Carlsen (8)
    • Nakamura (6.5) - Aronian (6.5)
    • Giri (4) - Caruana (4.5)

     

    The other Chinese representative fared better, as Hou Yifan defeated Pentala Harikrishna. Speaking of representatives of the same country, Dutchmen Loek van Wely and Anish Giri drew their battle. Finally, another game involving a Dutchman - Ivan Sokolov vs. Peter Leko - led to a disaster for the home player. Sokolov went all-in on a kingside attack that never looked close to succeeding, and the result was a 26-move wipeout.

    Group B has some drama: Richard Rapport and Sergei Movsesian shared the lead with 7 points apiece, and Arkadij Naiditsch and Jan Smeets are just half a pont behind. In Group C, Sabino Brunello leads with a great score of 8.5/10; Fernando Peralta is half a point back.

    Games (without notes) here; lots of good reports elsewhere, including the official site, have some annotations by the players. For example:

    Tuesday
    Jan222013

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 9: Carlsen Wins Again, Leads By A Full Point

    With a full point lead and all but one of his main rivals out of the way, Magnus Carlsen is in excellent shape to win the Group A event of 2013 edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament. Today's victim was Hou Yifan, who cheekily played the Ponziani against Carlsen. (Carlsen had played it against Pentala Harikrishna in round 4, winning that game too.) Hou lost a pawn, which (after some ups and down) Carlsen managed to convert in a queen ending. Here's commentary by the man himself:

    World champion Viswanathan Anand remains in second place, but he's a further half a point back. He achieved an easy draw with Black against Peter Leko in a Najdorf Sicilian--a good result, certainly, but not good enough to keep pace with Carlsen, who has won five of his last seven games. Another half a point back are Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura. The former pressed against Erwin L'Ami; the latter was pressed upon by Anish Giri, but ultimately both games finished in draws.

    The games Sergey Karjakin - Pentala Harikrishna and Wang Hao - Fabiano Caruana were also drawn, but Loek van Wely finally enjoyed a good result with Black, defeating Ivan Sokolov, who is having a very difficult tournament. (All the games can be replayed here, but without notes.)

    Here are the round 10 pairings, with player scores in parentheses:

     

    • van Wely (4.5) - Giri (3.5)
    • Caruana (4.5) - Nakamura (5.5)
    • Aronian (5.5) - Wang Hao (4)
    • Carlsen (7) - L'Ami (3)
    • Harikrishna (5) - Hou Yifan (2.5)
    • Anand (6) - Karjakin (5)
    • Sokolov (2.5) - Leko (4.5)

     

    In Group B, Sergei Movsesian leads with 6.5 points, half a point clear of Arkadij Naiditsch (who defeated previous co-leader Jan Timman) and Richard Rapport. Group C is lead by Sabino Brunello with 7.5 points; Fernando Peralta is half a point back.

    Sunday
    Jan202013

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 8: Carlsen Regains the Lead

    Magnus Carlsen has reclaimed the clear lead after eight rounds of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, thanks to yet another characteristic example of the power of persistence. Carlsen, like no one else today and few (if any) in history, is able to keep creating problems for his opponents for hour after hour after hour. Today's victim was Sergei Karjakin, who with Black was fine after 20 moves, was fine after 40 moves, and was probably fine (but on the defense) after 60 moves. Finally, on move 68, faced with a complicated choice, Karjakin went wrong, and finally had to resign after 92 moves. Karjakin had been just half a point back, but now his chances for first have taken a serious hit.

    Of course, Carlsen's chances are even stronger than they were coming into the round. He had been tied with Viswanathan Anand, and as Anand had White against Ivan Sokolov it looked like the champ was in great shape. He has a big plus score against Sokolov, the white pieces, a much higher rating and had been in much better form. Yet despite all that, and despite Sokolov's choice of opening (or maybe because of it? He played a sideline of the Schliemann/Jaenisch, of all things) Anand got nothing from the opening and offered a draw after his 24th move.

    Anand is half a point back, and Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura are a further half a point behind. Aronian won with startling ease after Hou Yifan's error on move 24 and outright blunder on move 25. As for Nakamura, he was on death's door throughout much of his game with Loek van Wely, but dogged defense saved half a point. (60...Bc2!! was especially nice.)

    In other games, Fabiano Caruana defeated Erwin L'Ami, while the games Harikrishna-Leko and Giri-Wang Hao were both drawn. All the day's games (with notes to four of the games) can be replayed here. As for the round 9 pairings, they follow, with player scores in parentheses. Note that Monday is a rest day; round 9 will be played on Tuesday.

     

    • Sokolov (2.5) - van Wely (3.5)
    • Leko (4) - Anand (5.5)
    • Karjakin (4.5) - Harikrisha (4.5)
    • Hou Yifan (2.5) - Carlsen (6)
    • L'Ami (2.5) - Aronian (5)
    • Wang Hao (3.5) - Caruana (4)
    • Nakamura (5) - Giri (3)

     

    In Group B, there's a three-way tie for first: Richard Rapport, Sergei Movsesian and Jan Timman (!!) all have 5.5 points; Arkadij Naiditsch has 5. Timman's performance is noteworthy both because of his age - he's 61, by far the oldest player in all three groups - and because he has the highest TPR of any of the Dutch players! The most successful Dutchman in Group A is van Wely, with a TPR of 2692. Timman's is 2753.

    In Group C, the two-horse race is again even, with Fernando Peralta and Sabino Brunello sharing first with 6.5 points apiece; David Klein is a point back.

    Saturday
    Jan192013

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 7: Anand Catches Up Again

    It's great to see that this year's Tata Steel Chess Tournament is very competitive, with the top four players separated by just half a point.

    Magnus Carlsen entered the round in clear first, but with Black against Peter Leko his first task was to draw, and he managed it after a long defense - 83 moves. This allowed Viswanathan Anand to catch him with a win, and he accomplished this at Loek van Wely's expense. The latter erred early on with 11...Nxb3 (11...Qa6 was better, according to Anand), and ten moves later he lost a pawn. After that the win was a matter of time and technique, and Anand was more then up to the task.

    Sergey Karjakin could have joined the lead as well, had he defeated Levon Aronian, but he was extremely fortunate not to lose. Karjakin had White but was completely busted, a move away from resigning by his own admission, but shortly before the time control Aronian spoiled his advantage, and had to agree to a draw early in the second time control. Karjakin thus remains half a point behind the leaders, and is tied with Hikaru Nakamura after the latter defeated Wang Hao.

    The other three games were drawn, making for a quiet day after three especially violent rounds. (Games can be replayed here; alas, without notes today.) Round 8 is the last one before the second rest day, and these are the pairings (with player scores in parentheses):

    • van Wely (3) - Nakamura (4.5)
    • Giri (2.5) - Wang Hao (3)
    • Caruana (3) - L'Ami (2.5)
    • Aronian (4) - Hou Yifan (2.5)
    • Carlsen (5) - Karjakin (4.5)
    • Harikrishna (4) - Leko (3.5)
    • Anand (5) - Sokolov (2)

    In Group B, Richard Rapport leads with 5.5 points, half a point ahead of Arkadij Naiditsch and Sergey Movsesian (notably, Jan Timman is just another half a point back); in Group C, Fernando Peralta leads with 6 points, with Sabino Brunello half a point behind.

    Friday
    Jan182013

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 6: Carlsen In Clear First

    It's too soon to crown Magnus Carlsen the (Group A) winner of the 2013 Tata Steel Chess Tournament, but with his third win in his last four games he has taken the clear lead after round 6; seven rounds remain.

    Carlsen's win came against Ivan Sokolov, whose fortunes are fading fast. Sokolov was fine out of the opening, but as often happens against Carlsen, he was outplayed a little at a time and was lost after the first time control. Carlsen did make a mistake late in the game, but Sokolov didn't catch it and regular service was resumed.

    Either Viswanathan Anand or Sergey Karjakin could have kept pace with a win, but both players drew (comfortably, with Black). Anand had slightly the better of things in a complicated game against his countryman Pentala Harikrishna, while Karjakin drew very comfortably with Black in a Berlin against Fabiano Caruana.

    Hikaru Nakamura - Erwin L'Ami was also a comfortable draw for Black, while Anish Giri-Hou Yifan was still another success story for the black pieces - except that she earned a full point. She thereby escaped the cellar (Sokolov dwells alone there) and caught up with Giri.

    The other two games were won by White. Loek van Wely won his second straight game with the white pieces, thanks in part to a probably dubious pawn sacrifice by Wang Hao. Van Wely accepted the pawn and the resulting queenside majority, and was able to use it while snuffing out his opponent's kingside ambitions. Finally, Aronian won his second straight game, this time over Peter Leko. The players reached a Marshall Gambit-like ending where White had a bishop and knight and a 2-1 queenside majority against Leko's bishop pair. (Both sides had three kingside pawns.) The particular Marshall ending this resembled is now basically a dead draw at the GM level, but Aronian had some small trumps in the game version. It should have been a draw in any case, but it was tougher and Leko failed to save the game.

    The games can be replayed here (with varying levels of annotation); meanwhile, here are the pairings for round 7 (as usual, player scores are in parentheses):

    • Anand (4) - van Wely (3)
    • Sokolov (2) - Harikrishna (3.5)
    • Leko (3) - Carlsen (4.5)
    • Karjakin (4) - Aronian (3.5)
    • Hou Yifan (2) - Caruana (2.5)
    • L'Ami (2) - Giri (2)
    • Wang Hao (3) - Nakamura (3.5)

    Finally, a little update on the B- and C-groups, which are qualifiers for the groups above them. (In other words, the B-group winner gets an automatic invite to next year's A-group, and likewise for the C-group winner with respect to next year's B-group.) Richard Rapport leads the B-group with 5 points, a full point ahead of Arkadij Naiditsch, Daniil Dubov and Sergei Movsesian. The C-group has two leaders at the moment, Sabino Brunello and Fernando Peralta, both of whom have 5 points. David Klein is a point behind them.

    Friday
    Jan182013

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 5: Five More Wins

    After a slow start, play has heated up the past two rounds of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee. In both rounds 4 and 5 of the A-group, five of the seven games finished with a victor.

    Alas, though, all the leaders drew: Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen with each other in a dull Petroff, and Sergey Karjakin with Anish Giri in a Gruenfeld (of course).

    No one managed to catch up to the three leaders, but four of the day's five winners are now just half a point behind. Two of the winners, Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian, managed to win when their opponents (Hou Yifan and Ivan Sokolov, respectively) blew themselves up trying to make something happen in complicated but worse positions. Pentala Harikrishna and Wang Hao won attractive games with spectacular finishes. Finally, Peter Leko won a positional gem, outplaying Fabiano Caruana on the white side of the latter's beloved Ruy Lopez.

    It has been a long and busy day, so no annotated games today, but those of you who haven't yet replayed the games can do so here. Meanwhile, here are the pairings for round 6, starting a few hours hence (player scores are given in parentheses):

    • van Wely (2) - Wang Hao (3)
    • Nakamura (3) - L'Ami (1.5)
    • Giri (2) - Hou Yifan (1)
    • Caruana (2) - Karjakin (3.5)
    • Aronian (2.5) - Leko (3)
    • Carlsen (3.5) - Sokolov (1.5)
    • Harikrishna (3) - Anand (3.5)

    Tuesday
    Jan152013

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 4: Five Wins, Including An Instant Classic By Anand

    It's true that part of Viswanathan Anand's magnificent win over his bete noire, Levon Aronian, was home preparation, work he had done for his match with Boris Gelfand. But a good part of it he found on his own, including the sequence from 16...Nde5 through 19...f5, which sealed the win. With this spectacular game, which I've analyzed for you (see the link below), Anand joined Sergey Karjakin (who drew with difficulty against Hikaru Nakamura) and Magnus Carlsen (who defeated Pentala Harikrishna in a generally good but not perfectly smooth game) in first place. All three players are at +2 with 3-1 scores going into the rest day. Anand, who is working his way back up the rating list, will face Carlsen (new high: 2864.5!) on Thursday.

    In other games, Loek van Wely was better early against Erwin L'Ami, and although that was the last game to finish it was the first to be decided. Anish Giri and Peter Leko drew a fairly placid-looking game - the only one of the round. Wang Hao outplayed his countrywoman Hou Yifan with White in a Nimzo-Indian, thanks largely to Hou losing the threat near the time control. Finally, Fabiano Caruana bounced back from yesterday's loss by defeating Ivan Sokolov on the white side of an Archangelsk.

    The games (with fairly deep notes to Aronian-Anand) are here, and the tournament website is here. And here are the pairings for round 5, on Thursday (player scores are given in parentheses):

     

    • Harikrishna (2) - van Wely (2)
    • Anand (3) - Carlsen (3)
    • Sokolov (1.5) - Aronian (1.5)
    • Leko (2) - Caruana (2)
    • Karjakin (3) - Giri (1.5)
    • Hou Yifan (1) - Nakamura (2)
    • L'Ami (1.5) - Wang Hao (2)

     

    Monday
    Jan142013

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 3: Wins for Karjakin, Carlsen and Anand

    The world's #1 and the world champion - not the same person, unfortunately for chess - both got their first win of the tournament. Magnus Carlsen won easily against Loek van Wely (easy for him, that is) when van Wely goofed something up in the opening, while champ Viswanathan Anand kept creating little problems for Fabiano Caruana until the latter went astray near the time control.

    Their wins were enough to catch Pentala Harikrishna on +1, but they're not in first. Sergey Karjakin leads with 2.5 out of 3 after defeating Wang Hao with White in a Petroff. Karjakin had an edge right out of the opening, but a little carelessness gave Black a pull. A turning point came when Black played 25...Nf6 rather than 25...Ne4. The latter would give him an edge, while the former left him with the worse side of a heavy piece ending after 26.Nxg5 Qxg5 27.g4! - the move Wang Hao surely missed. With perfect play the ending was probably drawn, but in time trouble Black was unable to save the game.

    The games, most of which have some comments, can be replayed here. The tournament site is here (lots of good videos, by the way), and the round 4 pairings are below (with player's total scores in parentheses):

    • van Wely (1) - L'Ami (1.5)
    • Wang Hao (1) - Hou Yifan (1)
    • Nakamura (1.5) - Karjakin (2.5)
    • Giri (1) - Leko (1.5)
    • Caruana (1) - Sokolov (1.5)
    • Aronian (1.5) - Anand (2)
    • Carlsen (2) - Harikrishna (2)