Tata Steel Chess 10: Mamedyarov and Carlsen reunite with Giri as joint-leaders
The tenth round of Tata Steel Chess saw Carlsen and Mamedyarov reunite with Giri in the joint first place. While Mamedyarov demolished Peter Svidler in merely 21 moves, Carlsen won stylishly sacrificing a piece first and then a full rook in a 75 move long battle against Wesley So. Vishy Anand also registered a classy win against Gawain Jones and is currently fifth on the leaderboard. The other Chennaiite, Adhiban Baskaran, got a dominating position against Hou Yifan and tried to find a breakthrough until the 103rd move before conceding a draw. In the Challengers, both Harika and Vidit drew their games as did Vidit's co-leader, Anton Korobov. It seems the deadlock between Vidit and Korobov will only be resolved in their head to head encounter. Round 10 report.
Masters: And it's a three-way tie again!
For round 10, the Tata Steel Masters moved to its second tour destination. This time, it was the city of Groningen which is about a two-hour drive away from Wijk Aan Zee which hosted the games in the Academy building of the University of Groningen.
Some exciting chess was witnessed at the new venue as four out of the seven games of the round ended decisively. More importantly, Anish Giri, who had taken sole lead after his win in the last round, was caught in the lead once again by Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Viswanathan Anand also won his third game of the tournament beating the English GM Gawain Jones.
Playing against Sergey Karjakin with the white pieces, Giri wasn’t able to create too many chances and settled for a draw after 26 moves of play. This allowed Carlsen and Mamedyarov, who were both half a point behind him, a chance to join Giri in shared first.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov played the shortest game of the round which lasted only 21 moves. With the black pieces against Peter Svidler, Mamedyarov essayed a rare line in the Ragozin variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Svidler was clearly unprepared for this. Within the first ten moves, Mamedyarov had equalized and begun his attack on the queenside.
Right out of the opening, Svidler found himself under enormous pressure. Unable to castle because of the forthcoming attack on the g-file, Svidler blundered on his 15th move allowing black’s queen knight rush into the centre while gaining tempo on the white queen. Black’s heavy pieces also ushered in soon after though the g-file. By the 21st move, Svidler was a piece down and decided to throw in the towel.
Giving up the right to castle early in the game, Magnus Carlsen let his king ramble in the centre. But around move 30, Carlsen was able to exchange queens and win a pawn to the good.
On the final move of the time control, Carlsen sacrificed a full piece. As compensation, though, he had three pawns and won the fourth soon afterwards. In the ensuing endgame, Carlsen’s four pawns were turning out to be far too many for So’s extra bishop to keep under control. On his 74th turn, the Norwegian added another connoisseur’s touch to the game by sacrificing another exchange. Carlsen had no pieces now; only three pawns against So’s rook. But the pawns were too far advanced and So’s rook was in no position to stop them. Just two moves later, the Filipino-American GM resigned.
Viswanathan Anand’s Sicilian Defence was challenged with the Alapin variation, a rarely seen line at the top level, by the British GM Gawain Jones. Anand equalized easily out of the opening and on his 17th turn, came up with a brilliant exchange sacrifice which not only gave black pieces immense activity but also a far advanced passed pawn on the queenside.
In the next few moves, Anand won a couple of pawns and re-established material equilibrium. But by this point, Anand’s passers on the queenside had become unstoppable. As soon as the first time control was reached, Jones resigned.
The younger Indian in the fray, Adhiban Baskaran also had a dominating position against Hou Yifan after the first time control. The two opened with a strange version of the King’s Indian Defence where neither side really managed to get an advantage.
The position was roughly even when Yifan erred on her 36th move and allowed Adhiban to win a pawn. Adhiban didn’t go for the most lethal continuation but retained a decent edge and two extra pawns. On move 64, Adhiban was forced to return one of his extra pawns to make progress in the position. Adhiban tried hard for almost another 40 moves to try and break through the defence of the Chinese GM. On the 103rd move, the players finally decided to sign peace and call it a day.
Standings after 10 rounds
Challengers: No change at the top
In the Challengers’ group, Vidit Gujrathi and Anton Korobov maintained their 1.5 point lead over the rest of the field drawing their games against Jeffery Xiong and Erwin L’ami respectively.
Round 11 of the challengers will be a crucial one as it would feature a faceoff between the two leaders of the group, Vidit Gujrathi and Anton Korobov. Along with having the white pieces, Vidit also has the advantage of more than 60 rating points over his opponent. If Vidit manages to win against Korobov, it will almost be a given that he will win the title prize. But Korobov is also a very experienced GM and will not be an easy nut to crack.
Thursday is a rest day at Tata Steel Chess. Play will resume back in Wijk Aan Zee on Friday, January 26 at 6:00 PM IST.
Standings after 10 rounds
About the Author
Aditya Pai is an ardent chess fan, avid reader, and a film lover. He holds a Master's in English Literature and used to work as an advertising copywriter before joining ChessBase India. He loves all things German and is learning the language. He has also written scripts for experimental films.