Carlsen wins Tata Masters

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

81st Tata Steel Masters
Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands
Jan. 22-31, 2019

Final Standings (all GMs)

1. Magnus Carlsen NOR 2835, 9.0/13

2. Anish Giri NED 2783, 8.5/13

3-5. Ian Nepomniachtchi RUS 2763, Ding Liren CHN 2813, Viswanathan Anand IND 2773, 7.5/13

6. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2695, 7.0/13

7-9. Teimour Radjabov AZE 2757, Samuel Shankland USA 2725, Richard Rapport HUN 2731, 6.5/13

10. Jan-Krzysztof Duda POL 2738, 5.5/13

11-12. Vladimir Fedoseev RUS 2724, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AZE 2817, 5.0/13

13-14. Jorden Van Foreest NED 2612, Vladimir Kramnik RUS 2777, 4.5/13

Ave Rating 2753 Category 21

Time Control: 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, followed by 15 minutes for the rest of the game with 30 seconds added to your time after every move starting move 1

World Champion Magnus Carlsen won the Tata Steel Masters tournament for the 7th time (this is a record, Viswanathan Anand is the only other player to have won it for five or more times) with a final score of 9/13 composed of five wins and eigth draws.

You will recall that last year he skipped the Chess Olympiad and instead participated in the European Club Championships, where, after a round 2 win over GM Vladimir Potkin he finished with five straight draws. After that Carlsen defended his world title vs the American Fabiano Caruana. That was a historic match in a negative sense — for the first time all 12 games of the match were drawn. Carlsen retained his title by winning the rapid tie-breaks.

This inability to win continued through the first four rounds in Wijk aan Zee and finally in round 5 he beat Dutch GM Jorden van Foreest with the black pieces to end the “draw streak” at 21 games.

Having broken the slump he finished the tournament with four wins and four draws. They say Magnus Carlsen can squeeze water from stone – the following game is a very good example.

Carlsen, Magnus (2835) — Rapport, Richard (2731) [B80]
Tata Steel Masters 2019 Wijk aan Zee (8.1), 20.01.2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.g3

The Fianchetto Variation of the Sicilian Taimanov. Rather than go all-out to wipe Black off the board, the first player aims for a small positional edge and to keep Black’s counterplay to a minimum.

6…a6 7.Bg2 Nf6 8.0–0 d6

Usually in this line Black goes 8…Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Bc5 10.Bf4 d6 11.Qd2 with white concentrating on putting pressure down the d-file.

And oh yes, here is a trap you should be aware of 8…Be7 9.Re1 Nxd4? is a serious mistake, he should have castled or played d7–d6. Here is why: 10.e5! Nb5 (10…Ng8 11.Qxd4 White is clearly better with no material investment; 10…Nc6 11.exf6 Bxf6 12.Nd5 Qd8 13.Be3 White has the very strong threat of Bb6, and it is not sure how Black can meet it) 11.exf6 gxf6 (11…Bxf6 12.Nd5 Qd8 13.Be3 White is winning) 12.Nd5! exd5 13.Bxd5 Black could not survive his opponent’s assault. De La Riva,O-Plaskett, J Mondariz Zonal, Spain 2000 1–0 22.

9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Na4 Rb8 11.c4 c5 12.b3 Be7 13.Bb2 0–0 14.Qe1!

A new move, and a strong one. Carlsen leaves the d1–square free for his rook and prepares a later Bb2–c3–a5 incursion. It also doubly protects the e4–square in anticipation of …Bb7.


Now 14…Bb7 15.e5! Ng4 (15…dxe5 loses a pawn to 16.Bxe5 Bd6 17.Bxd6 Qxd6 18.Rd1 Qe7 19.Bxb7 Rxb7 20.Qa5) 16.exd6 Bxd6 17.Bxb7 Rxb7 18.Qe4 breaks Black’s pawn formatrion on the queenside. We get the sort of position which is ideal for Magnus Carlsen — he will squeeze and squeeze Black until the hapless foe capitulates 100 moves later.

15.Rd1 Bb7 16.Qc3 Bf6 17.Qd2 Be7

Not 17…Bxb2? 18.Nxb2 the d6–pawn falls

18.Qc3 Bf6 19.Qd2 Be7 20.f4

Threatening e4–e5.

20…e5 21.Bc3!

We go back to squeezing water out of stones. Rather than the obvious 21.Nc3, Magnus improves the position of his pieces first.

21…Bc6 22.Ba5 Qb7 23.Nc3 exf4 24.gxf4 Rfe8 25.e5!

No let-up.

25…Bxg2 26.Qxg2 dxe5

The queen trade 26…Qxg2+ 27.Kxg2 loses the d6–pawn.

27.Nd5 e4 28.Bc3 f6 29.Kh1!

Shifting to a direct kingside assault.

29…Kh8 30.Rg1 Bf8 <D>

[30…g6 31.f5!]



I thought this was a mistake at first but now I am very impressed. You see, White could win a pawn with 31.Nxf6 as the threat of mate on g8 stops Black capturing twice on f6. Come to think of it though, I realize that White did not sacrifice a pawn just so that he can win it back a few moves later! As the website Chess24 points out, Carlsen went for the deadly maneuver of 31.Ne3! followed by Rd5–h5, when there was no way to defend the black king.

31…Qc6 32.Rd5 Qe6! 33.Rh5 Qf7 34.Qh3 g6 35.Rh4 Rb6 36.f5! Ne5

There is no defense:

36…g5 37.Rxg5; or

36…gxf5 37.Nxf5 Ne5 38.Ng7! Qxg7 (38…Bxg7 39.Rxh7+ Kg8 40.Rh8#) 39.Rxg7 Bxg7 40.Bxe5 fxe5 (40…Rxe5 41.Qc8+) 41.Rxh7+ Kg8 42.Rh5 with a winning game.

37.Nd5 Rd6 38.fxg6 Nxg6 39.Bxf6+! Rxf6 40.Rxh7+ [and Black resigns because of Because of the fork after 40.Rxh7+ Qxh7 41.Qxh7+ Kxh7 42.Nxf6+] 1–0

“Overpowering” is the adjective which comes to mind.

Don’t feel so bad for Rapport. The Hungarian tactical genius also got a few licks in. This early I daresay that his 37th move against the Polish GM Duda is an early favorite for “Move of the Year.”

Duda,Jan-Krzysztof (2738) — Rapport, Richard (2731) [D00]
Tata Steel Masters 2019 Wijk aan Zee (10.1), 23.01.2019

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 d5 3.Bxf6 exf6 4.e3

Believe it or not 4.c4? is a mistake. After 4…dxc4 5.e3 (5.e4 Nc6 6.d5 Ne5 7.Bxc4 Nxc4 8.Qa4+ Bd7 9.Qxc4 Bd6 10.Ne2 0–0 11.0–0 f5 Black is doing very well. Yanovskaya, O (2004)-Korchagina, V (2173) Vladimir 2007 0–1 (40)) 5…Be6 6.Nc3 c6 Black holds on to the extra pawn with the superior game. The move Ne5 to recover the pawn on c4 is no longer available to White Juettner,A (2105)-Miezis,N (2553) Schwaebisch Gmuend 2008 0–1 30.

4…Be6 5.Nd2 c6 6.Ngf3 b5 7.a4 b4 8.a5 Bd6 9.c4 bxc3 10.bxc3 0–0 11.Be2 f5 12.0–0 Nd7 13.Qa4 c5 14.c4 Nf6 15.Nb3 Ne4 16.Nxc5 Bxc5 17.dxc5 Rc8 18.c6 Nc3 19.Qc2 Nxe2+ 20.Qxe2 Rxc6 21.cxd5 Bxd5 22.Nd4 Rc5 23.Qd2 Qg5 24.f3 Rfc8 25.Rfc1 g6 26.Rxc5 Rxc5 27.Rb1 h5 28.Rb8+ Kh7 29.Re8 Qf6 30.Rb8 Qa6 31.Nb3 Bxb3 32.Qd8?!

Correct was 32.Qb2 which wins back the piece after 32…Rc8 33.Rxc8 Qxc8 34.Qxb3 with the likelihood of a draw. Duda wants more than a draw though and really goes for the neck. We should thank him for this, for now we really get to see some fireworks.

32…Rc1+ 33.Kf2 Qf1+ 34.Kg3

It looks like Black’s king is in danger of being mated. Black has a nice counter though.

34…f4+! 35.Kxf4

[35.exf4 Qe1+ 36.Kh3 Be6+ 37.g4 hxg4+ 38.fxg4 Rc3+ 39.Kg2 Qe2+ followed by mate]

35…Rc4+ 36.Kg3

There is no salvation:

36.e4 g5+! 37.Ke5 (37.Kg3 Qe1+ 38.Kh3 Qh4#; 37.Qxg5 Qc1+ 38.Kf5 Rc5+ 39.e5 Rxe5+) 37…Qa1+ 38.Kd6 Rd4+;

36.Ke5 Qa1+ 37.Kd6 Qa3+ 38.Ke5 f6+ 39.Kxf6 Qb2+ 40.Ke6 Rc5+ 41.Rxb3 Qxb3+ 42.Kd7 Qd5+ and wins.

36…Qe1+ 37.Kh3

Now for the “move of the year”.

37…Rc8!! 38.Rxc8

[38.Qxc8 Be6+]

38…Be6+ 39.g4 hxg4+! 40.fxg4 Qxe3+ 41.Kh4

[41.Kg2 Qe2+ 42.Kg1 Qxg4+ 43.Kf2 Bxc8]

41…Qf2+ 0–1

Mate will follow: 41…Qf2+ 42.Kg5 (42.Kh3 Qf3+ 43.Kh4 Qxg4#) 42…Bxc8 43.Qxc8 f6#

A lot of exciting chess was played in Wijk aan Zee. We will continue our coverage in the next column.


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.