The first supertournament of 2016 is now history, and it's little surprise that the winner is the world champion and world #1 Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen is just 25 years old, and yet this is already the fifth time he has won the main event in Wijk aan Zee. His score of 9/13 was not a record, but his 2881 TPR was good enough for him to pick up 6.6 rating points - 7 points once it's rounded it on the new list, 50 points ahead of world #2 Vladimir Kramnik.
The last round looked ripe for drama coming in, with Carlsen only half a point ahead of Fabiano Caruana and a point ahead of his last round opponent, Ding Liren. The drama never materialized: Carlsen was always comfortable with white against Ding, who managed a draw after hours of suffering. Caruana was in a must-win situation, but winning to order with the black pieces against a solid, strong grandmaster like Evgeny Tomashevsky is a tall order. He didn't come close, and whether he was simply outplayed or because he took strategic risks in the hopes of getting a position where he could fight for more than a draw, Caruana was much worse straight out of the opening. It wasn't always clear whether Tomashevsky would win - he did - but it was clear that Caruana wouldn't win and wouldn't catch Carlsen.
It was still a good tournament for the American #1; he gained rating points, tied for second with Ding (and finished ahead of him on tiebreaks, not that that mattered), and is for now safe in his position as the #1 player in the U.S. It was a fine result for Ding Liren as well, currently rated #9 in the world.
Two other events are worth a quick mention. First, the other victor on the day was Pavel Eljanov, who defeated David Navara. Second, Hou Yifan nearly finished the tournament on a very high note, as she was clearly winning with black against Anish Giri. Unfortunately for her fans, she let the win slip, but one can be very impressed by Giri's tenacity in holding the rook ending.
- 1. Carlsen 9/13
- 2-3. Caruana, Ding Liren 8
- 4-6. So, Giri, Eljanov 7
- 7-8. Wei Yi, Mamedyarov 6.5
- 9. Karjakin 6
- 10-11. Navara, Tomashevsky 5.5
- 12-14. Hou Yifan, Adams, van Wely 5
In the Challengers' Group the three-man race between Baskaran Adhiban, Eltaj Safarli, and Alexey Dreev ended in a photo finish: all three wound up with 9/13. The former had the best tiebreak score, so he will play in the main event next year.