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Scandinavian, cheap tricks, brilliant tactics at Tata Steel Chess India blitz

by Sagar Shah - 26/11/2019

The blitz event is much more intense than the rapid. You have to play nine games in four and a half hours. It was quite obvious that the players were quite tired and made a lot of errors. However, you could also see a lot of brilliant moves being played. Magnus Carlsen once again set the tone up with a 6.5/9 performance. He is now the overall leader by a gap of five points over the nearest contender. For Indian fans the main goal would be to see Vishy Anand qualifying for the Grand Chess Tour finals to be held from 28th of November in London. In this report we bring you some of the best and the most interesting games, selected tactical positions and mating attacks! Report by ChessBase India team from Kolkata, India.

Imagine this situation - you are facing Levon Aronian. You have white pieces. You have one minute 23 seconds on the clock and it is your move.

 

You vs Levon Aronian

Time is ticking down and it's your move. White to play. What would you do?

Did you decide to make a queen? Or you did you figure out that it was a mistake? Well, if you did the latter then you are as good as Magnus Carlsen! It was Magnus who had the white pieces against Levon Aronian and he decided to play...

...the brilliant move Rc2!!

Now it is easy to dismiss this move as ordinary because White wanted Black to take the rook and then after a8=Q, the queen defends the pawn on g2. However, the real genius lies in finding out why direct a8=Q doesn't work. If Black starts giving perpetual checks, then the white king can simply run over to the c1 square. There would be no perpetuals, right? Well, Magnus had seen through Levon's trap. And this he did within 30 seconds! If White makes a direct queen (without Rc2) then Black takes Rxg2+ Kf1 Rbf2+! Ke1 Re2+! Kd1 and now comes the move which is quite difficult to see.

...Rbf2!!

What a powerful move this is! Black threatens mate both from f1 and g1 and White has to play Ke1 in order to stop the mate. Moves like Qa5 or Qe8 with the idea of Qe1 do not work as after Rf1+ Qe1 Rxe1 Kxe1 Rg1+ skewers the rook and wins it.

What is the most impressive is how Magnus Carlsen managed to find all of this within 30 seconds! | Photo: Amruta Mokal
Sagar Shah explains in this video why he thinks Magnus is a genius

Standings of Blitz after nine rounds:

Rk.NameFED12345678910Pts. TB1 
1GMCarlsen MagnusNOR***½11½01½116,50,0
2GMNakamura HikaruUSA½***½½½½½½115,50,0
GMNepomniachtchi IanRUS0½***1½½11015,50,0
4GMAnand ViswanathanIND0½0***1½½½½14,50,0
GMSo WesleyUSA½½½0***½½1½½4,50,0
GMDing LirenCHN1½½½½***0½104,50,0
7GMVidit Santosh GujrathiIND0½0½½1***½½½4,00,0
GMGiri AnishNED½½0½0½½***½14,00,0
GMHarikrishna PentalaIND001½½0½½***14,00,0
10GMAronian LevonARM0000½1½00***2,00,0

After the rapid section Magnus already had a four point lead over the field. This, he increased to five after first nine rounds of blitz.

With wins over Vidit, Harikrishna, Nepo, Aronian and Vishy Anand Magnus gained 28 Elo points.

Carlsen started the tournament as the fourth seed behind Nakamura, Nepo and Ding Liren. After the first day, he gained 28.4 Elo taking him to world no. 2 just 12 Elo points short of Hikaru Nakamura. If Carlsen manages to become World No.1, he becomes the world no.1 in all the formats- classical, rapid and blitz!

The only player who could beat Carlsen was Ding Liren. In fact this was Carlsen's first defeat in a tournament game on Indian soil! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Carlsen vs Ding Liren, round 5

White has a very solid position and Magnus has just played f3. What should Black do here?

Ding Liren thought for some time here. He wanted to do something active with ...Kg7 followed by ...h5. But he realized that it would weaken his own king. Hence, he came up with the ingenious plan of running with his king to the queenside!

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Ding Liren's choice was ...Kf7, so that he could now play Ke8-d7-c8, Yes, it is time consuming and risky, but if he manages to do that, he would have a nice position.

Carlsen tried hard to stop Black's plan. He even threw quite a bit of material to get to Black's king. However, all the attempts were unsuccessful. Ding gobbled up the material, launched his own counter-attack and checkmated Carlsen's king! A game which made Ding Liren feel good about his trip to India!

Ding Liren explains his win over Carlsen and also shows a glimpse of his super complicated game against Ian Nepomniachtchi

Being Vishy is not easy! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

A lot is at stake for Anand, who has a realistic chance of making it to the Grand Chess Tour finals to be held in London. A sixth place or above finish will seal the deal for Vishy. Hence it is quite important that he keeps up his momentum. Vishy scored 4.5/9 and is currently in fifth place.

 

Aronian vs Anand, Round 2

The knight has just moved to e5. How did Anand take advantage of this mistake?

Vishy simply took on e5, then took on d2 and then on f2 winning a pawn and getting a completely better position.

The entire game between Anand and Aronian is recorded

Vishy now has a 2-0 score against Aronian, with wins in both rapid and blitz | Photo: Amruta Mokal

For Aronian it was a day when things just didn't go right. He scored just two points out of nine games. Here's a typical example of how he misplayed completely better positions:

 

Giri vs Aronian

Black has two ways to try and win the b4 knight. One of them is Rb2 and the other is Rb5. Which would you choose?

...Rb2 is the winning move. The point is simple - the rook on d5 blocks the queen's path to move to f3 with a check. After Rb2, Black wins the knight and quite easily the game. However, Levon played ...Rb5 and this just showed how rusty he was. Giri played Qf3+ and then picked up the rook on a2. A heartbreak.

For Anish Giri things were not the best as well. He scored 4.0/9, drew many of his games and even lost one of his battles against Wesley So in a completely winning position.

 

Anish Giri vs Wesley So

White has an extra pawn and also the bishop pair. It was here that Anish (white) lost on time. 

Nepo showcased his blitz skills at the event by scoring four wins against Giri, Vidit, Anand and Aronian | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vidit vs Nepo

White to play and win!

Vidit could have very easily won his game with Ng6+ and based on Black's reply either take on f4 or take the pawn on a7 with the queen. However, Vidit was a bit impatient and immediately went Qxa7.

It's time for Black to reach White's king! There isn't much time left!

First came ...Qd1+ and after Kg2, Nepo found the only way to deliver checkmate by first sacrificing his knight with Ne3+ and then Rxb2+ A very pretty checkmating pattern!

Vidit's checks the player's name | Photo: Amruta Mokal

It seems as if that table belongs to Vishy Anand | Photo: Amruta Mokal

As far as cumulative points (nine rounds of rapid and nine rounds of blitz) are concerned GM Vidit Gujrathi is still on the last spot with 10.0/27. However, he was able to score his first win in the Grand Chess Tour. It was a fine piece of opening preparation by Vidit:

 

Ding Liren vs Vidit Gujrathi

Vidit played this move (8....Be6) instantly which meant that he was still in his preparation. Ding Liren thought for a while here. Around one and a half minutes. By blitz standards it was quite a lot! But he was trying to calculate the possibilities after the move d5. When your opponent plays Be6 quickly, you usually do not want to play d5 because it would mean he is well prepared. But Ding is player with huge self-confidence. He went ahead and played it anyway! It was not the best move, Vidit played well, and converted the better position into a full point.

Vidit Gujrathi vs Vishy Anand

An important position to keep in mind. Black moved his rook back to a8 and just stands there moving his king from h8-g8. The position is a theoretical draw.

Carlsen's Scandinavian

The Scandinavian is not considered to be a very sound opening at the highest level. But Magnus isn't perturbed about the reputation of the opening if he has to try out something. He just plays what he likes and has the belief in himself that he can outplay his opponents.

The entry of a champion! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vishy Anand enters with Aruna by his side | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The most awaited game of the day begins! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

As you could see, the opening phase didn't really matter to Magnus. He is ready to try out new things so that he understands what are the things he has to improve as a player. If you too would like to play the Scandinavian, we have some material available to help you understand this opening faster.

What would players do without their support team. Ye Xiaoping (Ding Liren's mother) and Lotis Key (Wesley's foster mother)

Standings:

The London finals

Starting from 28th of November 2019 there will be the Grand Chess Tour finals in London. Four players qualify for the finals. At stake would be US $3,50,000. Magnus Carlsen has already qualified for the finals and so has Ding Liren. The other two players in with a chance are Levon Aronian and Vishy Anand. Levon has already qualified because no matter how he performs, even if he finishes last, he gets one point. That will take him to 37.5, which is ahead of MVL who is on 36.8. Vishy Anand is on 32 Grand Chess Tour points. Anand needs to get five or more GCT points to qualify for the finals.

These are the current Grand Chess Tour standings (without Tata Steel Chess India points)

The points that the players will receive for different placings

For Anand 6th place works fine as it will give him 5 points and take him ahead of MVL. This would be a phenomenal achievement by Anand as he would finish ahead of players like MVL, Nepo, Caruana, Karjakin and many more. The last day of the Tata Steel India Grand Chess Tour Blitz promises to be an exciting one. Be sure not to miss any action. The round starts one hour before the usual time of each. Instead of 2 p.m. it will begin at 1 p.m.

Video Gallery:

Nepomniachtchi vs Carlsen
Magnus beats Anish Giri
Vidit vs Carlsen