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Tata Steel Chess: Anand, Nepo retain lead after short but sharp draws

by Aditya Pai - 14/01/2019

After suffering a loss in the first round, both Anish Giri and Jorden van Foreest bounced back with victories in the second round of the Tata Steel Chess 2019. While Giri, as he himself admitted after the game played like "drunk Petrosian" to withstand a powerful kingside attack by Kramnik, Van Foreest came out on top against Duda after the latter made inaccuracies in mutual time trouble. In one of the top games of the day, Magnus Carlsen was happy to finish with a "short but exciting" draw against Ian Nepomniactchi as the latter kept his tournament lead. The other tournament leader, Viswanathan Anand also drew a short and sharp game against Vladimir Fedoseev to retain his top spot. Round 2 report.

Dutchmen seek revenge

The second round of the Tata Steel Masters once again saw two decisive games and five draws. The two Dutchmen in the fray, Anish Giri and Jorden van Foreest, who had both suffered defeats in their opening game, came back with a vengeance in round two.


“Yesterday, I played like drunk Tal. Today, I played like drunk Petrosian,” exclaimed a joyful Anish Giri after his second round win over Vladimir Kramnik. In the previous round, the Giri had braved giving up a full piece against Ian Nepomniachtchi and had paid the price for his bout of madness. This time around, he offered material again – not a piece, but an exchange – in a Petrosian-like manner against Vladimir Kramnik.


Kramnik, who had the white pieces in the game, had his attack mode on in the English Opening, which, as GM Danny King pointed out, looked a lot like the King’s Gambit eventually.


“After yesterday’s disaster, today was another one,” said Giri, referring to white’s kingside initiative. But things soon began to turn around after Kramnik’s played 19.e5 – when Giri said he had already begun to see the contours of the Petrosian exchange sacrifice.

Position after 19.e5

“I think e5 was a very bad move because I have all these ideas of having the light squares. Actually, after e5, he should have gone for material, either with Bd3 first, which I was actually very worried about because he picks up a pawn potentially,” Giri added.

Giri talks about his win | Tata Steel Chess
GM Daniel King analyzes Kramnik vs Giri | PowerPlayChess YouTube

The second victor of the day, Jorden van Foreest, took a page from Vishy Anand’s book as he essayed the Caro-Kann Defence, an opening which the former five time world champion had essayed against Van Foreest himself in the previous round. Jorden’s opponent, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, had a kingside initiative in the middle game but this never really transpired into much. A time scramble soon followed and, in the end, Van Foreest had come out on top.


“Many of the crucial moments happened in time trouble, so I don’t really know exactly what happened there,” Van Foreest said after the game. But the ticking clock took a larger toll on Duda than on van Foreest. Failing to find the best attacking resources, the Polish number one, slowly began to crumble. “After the time trouble was over, I was much better if not winning,” Van Foreest said.

Interview with Jorden van Foreest | Tata Steel Chess

Tournament’s co-leader, Viswanathan Anand, kept his shared lead with a draw against Vladmir Fedoseev while the other tournament leader, Ian Nepomniachtchi held Magnus Carlsen. Fedoseev chose the Petroff against Anand’s 1.e4. The game turned sharp very soon but none of this was unknown to either player.  

Position after 11.Nc3

After 11…Nxc3 12.Bxf5 Qxf5 13.Qxb7 Qd7, white exchanged queens and the fireworks burned out immediately.

Anand played a sharp but short draw against Vladimir Fedoseev | Photo: Alina L'ami

Meanwhile, Nepomniachtchi had to play black in his second straight game, and this time, his opponent was Magnus Carlsen. The game opened with a Benoni in which Nepo seemed very well prepared and was seen blitzing out his moves.

Position after 15.Rf2

Carlsen gave up an exchange on his 15th turn (diagram), allowing black to pin and win the rook with 15…Bd4 but said after the game that he didn’t remember much “apart from that the exchange sac was supposed to be playable”. Nepomniachtchi found his way through the complications without much trouble and signed peace after 32 moves. Carlsen, too, wasn’t unhappy with the outcome and described the game as “short but exciting” in the post-game interview.

Although it was a short draw, Carlsen was happy with his round 2 game | Photo: Alina L'ami

Talking of short and exciting games, Vidit Gujrathi’s game against Ding Liren could not remain left out. With the white pieces, the Chinese super-GM uncorked a novelty just 6 moves into an English opening and caught his opponent off-guard.


“He played a new move in the opening and I was out of the opening book. After a while it got very complicated when I pushed the pawns d4 and c4, and I had no clue what was happening,” Vidit admitted after the game. He won a pawn after the trade of queens but Ding had enough compensation due to his active pieces. By the 33rd move, a draw was agreed via repetition.

Vidit Gujrathi was caught by surprise by Ding Liren, just six moves into an English Opening | Photo: Alina L'ami

All games



1Anand, Viswanathan1.5 / 2277328611.5   ½       1  
2Nepomniachtchi, Ian1.5 / 2276330021.5  ½       1   
3Carlsen, Magnus1.0 / 2283527881.25 ½     ½      
4Fedoseev, Vladimir1.0 / 2272427521.25½   ½         
5Rapport, Richard1.0 / 2273127251   ½  ½       
6Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar1.0 / 2281727411      ½ ½     
7Shankland, Samuel1.0 / 2272527741    ½½        
8Ding, Liren1.0 / 2281327651  ½      ½    
9Radjabov, Teimour1.0 / 2275727970.75     ½       ½
10Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi1.0 / 2269527760.75       ½    ½ 
11Giri, Anish1.0 / 2278327700.5 0           1
12Van Foreest, Jorden1.0 / 2261227560.50           1 
13Duda, Jan-Krzysztof0.5 / 2273824610.5         ½ 0  
14Kramnik, Vladimir0.5 / 2277725770.5        ½ 0   



Like the Masters’, the Challengers’ segment also saw two decisive games: Vincent Keymar defeated Stefan Kuipers to hop into the tournament lead while, Parham Maghsoodloo beat Elizabeth Paehtz to recover from his first-round loss.


Paehtz had gone toe to toe with the reigning World Junior Champion until the final move of the first time control when she fumbled and lost a pawn.  

Position after 40.Qd3

40...b5 is necessary here but Paehtz, perhaps under time pressure, missed white’s threat and retreated her bishop with 40…Bf8. Maghsoodloo immediately plunged in with 41.Nxb6. The knight is immune from capture as, after 41…Nxb6 42.Bxb6, Black cannot recapture with the queen due to the threat of 43.Qd7+. Soon, Maghsoodloo won one more pawn and finished the game off with a nice knight fork trick.

Elizabeth Paehtz | Photo: Alina L'ami

The only Indian in the Challengers, R Praggnanandhaa played a very complex game against Vladislav Kovalev where the latter gave up two exchanges but had four extra pawns as compensation. Pragg gave up one exchange in the endgame and managed to hold his opponent’s extra pawns in a 64 move long battle.

Prag had a tough game against Vladislav Kovalev but managed to hold ground | Photo: Alina L'ami

All games


1Korobov, Anton1.5 / 2269928401.5     ½   1    
2Bareev, Evgeny1.5 / 2265027651.25  ½         1 
3Chigaev, Maksim1.5 / 2260427541.25 ½         1  
4L'Ami, Erwin1.5 / 2264327200.5      ½      1
5Keymer, Vincent1.5 / 2250026670.25          ½  1
6Gledura, Benjamin1.0 / 2261526011.25½       ½     
7Esipenko, Andrey1.0 / 2258426651.25   ½   ½      
8Kovalev, Vladislav1.0 / 2268725620.75      ½     ½ 
9Van Foreest, Lucas1.0 / 2250225440.75     ½     ½  
10Maghsoodloo, Parham1.0 / 2267925880.50         1   
11Paehtz, Elisabeth0.5 / 2247723970.75    ½    0    
12Saduakassova, Dinara0.5 / 2247223600.5  0     ½     
13Praggnanandhaa R0.5 / 2253924760.5 0     ½      
14Kuipers, Stefan0.0 / 2247017720   00         

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