Tata Steel Chess: Carlsen and Anand lead after round 8
Out of the five tournament leaders, only Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand retained their lead at the conclusion of the eighth round in the Masters' segment of Tata Steel Chess. Anand, as white, came up with a counter-intuitive opening novelty in the Caro-Kann Defence and went on to win a fine tactical game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in only 29 moves! Carlsen, who was playing GM Richard Rapport with the white pieces, thoroughly outplayed his Hungarian opponent in a Sicilian Taimanov to reach 5.5/8. Maksim Chigaev continued his fine form in the Challengers and took sole lead in the tournament after his third straight win. Andrey Esipenko also climbed up to the second place on the leaderboard after defeating the Indian chess prodigy R Praggnanandhaa.
And then there were two
After eight rounds, Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand have remained at the top of the leaderboard in the Masters’ segment of Tata Steel Chess. In round 8, which witnessed four decisive games – the most in a single round, thus far – Anand scored his second straight win by defeating Shakhriyar Mamedyarov while Magnus Carlsen settled scores with Richard Rapport.
Anand was really seen in his element in his eighth round game against Mamedyarov. In a Caro-Kann Defence game, the Indian ace came up with a counter-intuitive novelty, giving up his light-squared bishop for the black knight on move 11 and stunned his opponent very soon with a tactical wonder.
The computer evaluates the position to be equal, suggesting that black should immediately gang up on white’s backward c2 pawn with 19…Qc7. Mamedyarov, however, did not sense the danger ahead. He went for 19...b6, perhaps fearing 20.Qd2 which forked the g5 and a5 pawns. In response, Anand whipped out 20.c4, paying no heed to how many black pieces cover that square.
Taking with the pawn, of course, allows white to gobble a full piece with 21.Rxd7. Mamedyarov, instead, went for 20…Rxc4, when 21.Rxd5 exploited another tactical idea. There followed 21…Rf7 22.Rd3 g4, after which white was much better. Now under pressure, Mamedyarov made another critical tactical error, allowing Anand to exploit the weakness on d5 one more time.
Black’s last move has once again opened the a2-g8 diagonal, leaving the king vulnerable to a potential check. Anand exploited this immediately with 27.Nc2 Rbe4 and, once again, 28.Rxd5! After 28…exd5 29.Qxd5+ Mamedyarov resigned as 29…Kf8 leads to the loss of the d7 bishop after 30.Rd1. If black goes 30…Ke8, defending the bishop, 31.Ng6 delivers the knock-out punch.
GM Richard Rapport was one of the few players who had a better score against Magnus Carlsen – until yesterday, that is. Carlsen pointed out after the game that the last time he had played Rapport, which also happened to be in the eighth round of Tata Steel two years ago, the Hungarian Grandmaster had come out on top. This time, the colours were reversed. Magnus was playing with white, Rapport had the blacks.
Like he had done against Radjabov in round three, Rapport put his faith once again in the Sicilian Taimanov. Carlsen played in his trademark style with the 6.g3 variation, adopting a solid positional approach. His 14.Qe1 won him the praise of all pundits as he sought to undermine Black’s pawn centre.
White’s intent is to push forward with e5 while also keeping an eye on the c3 square, from where the queen could, eventually, threaten checkmate and, thereby distract the e7 bishop off the defence of d6. There followed 14…Nd7 15.Rd1 Bb7 16.Qc3 Bf6 17.Qd2 and soon black decided to body block the e5 square by going 20…e5 himself and leaving the d5 square for the taking.
As can be seen, Carlsen had, soon, firmly planted a knight on the conceded outpost. But the importance of the diagrammed position is not because the knight’s firm establishment on d5 but due to its sudden retreat from there. Carlsen went 31.Ne3! in the position, vacating the d5 square to carry out a rook lift. Once the last white piece had joined the attack, it did not take too long for Carlsen to finish the game off in style.
|1||Carlsen, Magnus||5.5 / 8||2835||2883||18.25||½||½||½||½||1||1||1||½|
|2||Anand, Viswanathan||5.5 / 8||2773||2886||18.25||½||½||½||½||½||1||1||1|
|3||Nepomniachtchi, Ian||5.0 / 8||2763||2878||20||½||½||½||1||½||½||½||1|
|4||Ding, Liren||5.0 / 8||2813||2832||19.75||½||½||½||½||½||½||1||1|
|5||Giri, Anish||5.0 / 8||2783||2858||17.75||½||0||½||½||1||½||1||1|
|6||Radjabov, Teimour||4.5 / 8||2757||2788||16.5||½||½||1||½||½||½||½||½|
|7||Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi||4.0 / 8||2695||2748||15.75||½||½||½||0||½||½||½||1|
|8||Duda, Jan-Krzysztof||4.0 / 8||2738||2730||14||½||0||½||½||1||½||0||1|
|9||Fedoseev, Vladimir||3.5 / 8||2724||2697||15||½||½||½||½||0||1||½||0|
|10||Shankland, Samuel||3.5 / 8||2725||2695||12.25||½||0||½||½||0||½||½||1|
|11||Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar||3.0 / 8||2817||2681||11.5||0||0||½||½||½||½||½||½|
|12||Rapport, Richard||3.0 / 8||2731||2686||10.75||0||½||0||½||½||½||½||½|
|13||Van Foreest, Jorden||2.5 / 8||2612||2617||9.75||0||0||0||½||0||1||1||0|
|14||Kramnik, Vladimir||2.0 / 8||2777||2582||8||½||0||0||0||½||0||½||½|
Russian GM Maksim Chigaev continued his fine form in the Challengers’ group. In the eighth round, he scored his second straight win, this time defeating tail-ender, Stefan Kuipers in a very sharp Italian Opening.
Kuipers gave up an exchange here with 16.Nd3, hoping to exploit black’s weak queenside. There followed 16…0-0-0 17.Nf4 Qf6 and eventually black managed to hold his position together and make his extra material count.
|1||Chigaev, Maksim||6.0 / 8||2604||2765||18.5||½||½||½||1||½||1||1||1|
|2||Kovalev, Vladislav||5.5 / 8||2687||2724||22.75||½||½||1||1||½||½||½||1|
|3||Esipenko, Andrey||5.5 / 8||2584||2728||20.75||½||½||1||½||1||1||½||½|
|4||Gledura, Benjamin||4.5 / 8||2615||2647||18||0||½||1||½||½||½||1||½|
|5||Van Foreest, Lucas||4.5 / 8||2502||2633||16||0||½||½||1||½||½||1||½|
|6||L'Ami, Erwin||4.5 / 8||2643||2598||15.75||½||½||0||½||1||½||½||1|
|7||Korobov, Anton||4.5 / 8||2699||2622||14.25||½||0||½||½||1||½||½||1|
|8||Bareev, Evgeny||4.0 / 8||2650||2595||15.75||½||½||½||0||0||½||1||1|
|9||Maghsoodloo, Parham||4.0 / 8||2679||2561||12.5||0||½||½||½||0||½||1||1|
|10||Keymer, Vincent||4.0 / 8||2500||2533||11.25||½||0||0||½||½||½||1||1|
|11||Praggnanandhaa R||3.5 / 8||2539||2543||11.25||½||0||½||0||½||½||½||1|
|12||Paehtz, Elisabeth||2.5 / 8||2477||2431||9.25||0||½||0||½||0||½||½||½|
|13||Saduakassova, Dinara||2.0 / 8||2472||2420||9||0||0||½||½||½||½||0||0|
|14||Kuipers, Stefan||1.0 / 8||2470||2269||4||0||½||0||0||0||0||0||½|