How a 2700+ prodigy punishes an opening mess-up
The Tata steel Chess Tournament found a mild start with two and three games turning decisive out of the possible seven in the two playing sections on the first day of the event yesterday. Among the Masters it was the 16-year-old Alireza Firouzja and Dutchman Jorden Van Foreest who emerged victorious. In the Challengers category Surya Sekhar Ganguly, Erwin L'ami, and Pavel Eljanov clinched full points. The highly anticipated Magnus Carlsen versus Anish Giri ended in an anticlimactic draw after looking promising initially, while Vishy Anand's encounter against Vladislav Artemiev too fizzled out into a split of point. A detailed report on round one from Wijk Aan Zee.
The Tata Steel Masters in Wijk Aan Zee began with a sparkling show by the youngest player in the field. The 16-year-old Alireza Firouzja who recently created a stir by winning the silver medal in World Rapid 2019 and almost beating Magnus Carlsen in the blitz event, started off his campaign by registering an emphatic victory over Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus.
After the round Alireza described his game against Kovalev as strange because the latter had actually forgotten his opening preparation in a very old line of the Ruy Lopez. The Belarusian made a reckless pawn push on move 16 instead of consolidating his queenside and that really came to bite him in the face as his young opponent kept playing one good move after another to force a clinical victory in just 36 moves!
Alireza Firouzja - Vladislav Kovalev, Round 1
Black didn't really have a satisfactory continuation from here. In the game Kovalev simply gave up on b5 and went 17...Nd7 but even a move like 17...Qb6 would not have been any better because after something like 17...Qb6 18.N2f3 Nd7 19.a5 Qc7 with the idea of following up with Be3 next, Black gets a very comfortable grip over the dark squares on the queenside.
The correct move instead of 16...c5-c4 would have been 16...Nd7 which sort of consolidates everything on the queenside and is also presumably the mainline. Check out the full annotated game below where the nuances of this variations is discussed in detail.
The only other game that ended decisively in the Masters was Jorden Van Foreest versus Yu Yangyi, where the former played a 75-move long game with white pieces to ultimately a force a win in a queen versus rook position. Jorden was able to liquidate into a slightly better rook ending out of a Sicilian Alapin but somehow misplayed quite a few times and missed clearer means to win.
The highly anticipated Magnus Carlsen versus Anish Giri failed to live up to its expectations as it fizzled out into a draw in just 25 moves and was in fact the quickest game to finish. Vishy Anand and Fabiano Caruana too drew fairly quickly against Vladislav Artemiev and Wesley So respectively.
In the challenger's event Surya Sekhar Ganguly started off with a fine victory over Max Warmerdam. The Bengal Grandmaster found the upper hand with white pieces in a Sicilian Najdorf when his opponent weakened his castled king on move 20. Let's now see the highlights of this encounter.
Surya Sekhar Ganguly - Max Warmerdam, Round 1
Round 2 pairings - Masters
Dubov, Daniil - Kovalev, Vladislav
Duda, Jan-Krzysztof - Firouzja, Alireza
Artemiev, Vladislav - Vitiugov, Nikita
So, Wesley - Anand, Viswanathan
Giri, Anish - Caruana, Fabiano
Yu, Yangyi - Carlsen, Magnus
Xiong, Jeffery - Van Foreest, Jorden
Round 2 pairings - Challengers
Eljanov, Pavel - Nihal Sarin
Smirnov, Anton - Keymer, Vincent
Warmerdam, Max - L'Ami, Erwin
Van Foreest, Lucas - Ganguly, Surya Shekhar
Abdusattorov, Nodirbek - Smeets, Jan
Saduakassova, Dinara - Anton Guijarro, David