Chess Piece -- By Bobby Ang

Wesley So

Posted on February 07, 2011

73rd Tata Steel "B"
Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands
Jan 14-30, 2011

Final Standings

(everybody is a GM)

1-2. Luke J McShane ENG 2664, David Navara CZE 2708, 8.5/13

3. Zahar Efimenko UKR 2701, 8.0/13

4-6. Wesley So PHI 2673, Le Quang Liem VIE 2664, Gabriel Sargissian ARM 2667, 7.5/13

7. Vladislav Tkachiev FRA 2636, 7.0/13

8. Radoslaw Wojtaszek POL 2726, 6.5/13

9-10. Li Chao CHN 2649, Laurent Fressinet FRA 2707, 6.0/13

11. Surya Shekhar Ganbuly IND 2651, 5.5/13

12. Wouter Spoelman NED 2547, 5.0/13

13. Jon Ludvig Hammer NOR 2647, 4.0/13

14. Friso Nijboer NED 2584, 3.5/13

Ave. Rating 2659 => Category 17

Time Control: 100 minutes for the first 50 moves then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with 30 seconds increment starting move 1

International Grandmasters Luke McShane (England, 27 years old) and David Navara (Czech Republic, 26 years old) tied for first in the 73rd Tata Steel Tournament "B" (formerly known as Corus Wijk aan Zee) and, although McShane was declared the winner on tie-break, both will be invited to the "A" tournament next year.

McShane was a child prodigy and considered England’s chess hope in the ’90s. He won the under-10 world championship when he was eight and became a grandmaster by 16 -- the youngest Englishman ever.

After several good results, however, Luke disappointed his fans by deciding to get a "normal" life. He entered Oxford University in 2003 and, after graduating in 2007, got a job at Goldman Sachs as a trader.

But when the chess bug bites, you stay bitten. He continued to play in the odd tournament and hit paydirt in December 2010 -- he tied for second place in the London Chess Classic Tournament which included Viswanathan Anand, Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik. Under a scoring system of three points for a win, one for a draw and nil for a loss, McShane finished joint second with Anand, behind Carlsen, whom McShane had beaten in their individual game. Undefeated, his event performance rating was 2838 -- higher than Carlsen’s or Anand’s. This second phenomenal performance can be considered a gigantic comeback.

David Navara, nicknamed the "Navara Express" by the Czech press, was no. 14 in the world in 2007 with an ELO rating of 2720, but his results have dipped since then. Hopefully, this tie for first in Tata "B" together with his victory in the 2010 Czech Championship with 8.5/9 is a sign that he is on the uptrend. His fighting and aggressive style is needed in elite tournaments.

By the way, Navara is known for his extreme modesty and politeness. Always immaculately dressed, while playing a game he would push back his chair and sit an arm’s length from the table so as not to disturb the opponent. Sound familiar? The great Akiba Rubinstein also used to do this.

But enough about the two! This is, after all, a Filipino publication and I am sure our readers are more interested in the performance of Wesley So.

Wesley took down four straight GMs in the middle rounds to grab the lead and up to the 11th (out of 13) round was still tied for first place, but a crucial loss to McShane dropped him down to fifth place. His fans probably were a bit disappointed, but they need not be. After all, Wesley was seeded fifth, so he finished exactly where he should.

Here, take a look at this dominating victory over one of the first placers.

So, Wesley (2673) -- Navara, David (2708) [D76]

73rd Tata Steel GMB Wijk aan Zee NED (7), 13.01.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 d5

The Gruenfeld is the current hot topic in the chess world and some players, like for example Wesley So, play it with either color.

5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nb6

This prophylactic move is nowadays more popular than kingside castling.

7.Nc3 Nc6

This knight move brings us to what may be called the Czech Variation, for its pioneers are Jan Smejkal and the two Vlastimils -- Hort and Jansa. The latter is Navara’s chess teacher, so it should be no surprise that he has taken this up as well.

8.e3 0-0 9.0-0 Re8

Black can play 9...e5 right away, but prefers to make a useful waiting move to see how White proceeds. Let us take a look at what might happen if Black goes for the committal move: 9...e5 10.d5 Na5 11.e4 c6 12.Bg5 f6 13.Be3 cxd5 14.exd5 Nac4 e.g. 15.Bc5 Rf7 16.b3 Nd6 17.a4 Bg4 18.a5 Nbc8 19.Qd2 Bxf3 20.Bxf3 f5 With chances for both sides. To compensate for white’s bishop pair and passed d-pawn Black has a mobile center and a blockade on d6. Pigusov, E (2525)-Conquest, S. (2445)/ Dordrecht 1988 1/2 (63).


The main alternative is 10.d5 trying to push black Black’s pieces. We don’t have space to go into its variations, but please do not play this line with either side unless you have studied it!

10...a5 11.Qe2

In an earlier round of the "A" tournament Carlsen was massacred by Giri after 11.Qd2?! (could this be a mouseslip? clearly the queen has no future here as it blocks her own bishop) 11...e5 12.d5 Nb4 13.e4 c6 14.a3 cxd5! 15.axb4 axb4 16.Rxa8 bxc3 17.bxc3 Nxa8 18.exd5 Nb6 19.Rd1 e4 20.Ng5 e3 21.Qb2 Qxg5 22.Bxe3 Qg4 0-1 Carlsen, M. (2814)-Giri, A (2686)/ Wijk aan Zee NED 2011.

11...a4 12.Rd1 Be6?! <D>

Position after 12...Be6

Black is restraining White’s center with his pieces and now intends ...Bc4 followed by ...Nb4 and ...c7-c6, which also negates the pressure exerted by White’s fianchettoed bishop. Navara first played this move against Laznicka in the Czech Championship last December. Wesley must have studied the game and now introduces a new move -- a temporary pawn sacrifice.

13.d5! Nxd5

[13...Bxd5? 14.Nxd5 Nxd5 15.e4 wins the knight]


Of course not 14.Nxd5? Bxd5 15.e4 which is refuted by 15...Bc4! 16.Qc2 Nb4! the tables are turned and it is Black who wins. Now, however, Wesley is threatening 15.e4 and Black’s position is awkward.

14...Qc8 15.Ng5 Rd8 16.Nxe6 fxe6 17.Rb1

Protecting the b2-pawn so that it will not become en prise when he plays Bd2.

17...Kh8 18.Bh3 Nf6 19.Bd2 Ra6 20.Bc3 Rd5 21.Rxd5 Nxd5 22.Bxg7+ Kxg7 23.Qc4

Threatening Qxd5.

23...Nf6 24.Rd1!

[24.Bxe6 Ne5 25.Bxc8 Nxc4 Black has already survived the worst]

24...Kf7 25.Qf4!?

I am sure that Wesley saw 25.Bxe6+ Qxe6 26.Qxe6+ Kxe6 27.Nxc7+ Ke5 28.Nxa6 bxa6 which is a pretty combination but, when all is said and done, I am not sure that it can be won.

25...Rb6 26.Qxa4

[26.Nxc7? g5! wins the wayward knight on c7]

26...Ne5 27.Nd4 c5 28.Qc2! Rd6 29.f4! Neg4

After 29...Nc6 30.Qxc5.

30.Re1 b6 31.Nf3 Qd7?

In this difficult position Navara blunders. The problem is that White is threatening to advance his e-pawn, and should he withdraw the rook 31...Rd8 32.Qb3 wins a pawn, as both Qxb6 and Ng5+ followed by Nxe6 are threatened.

32.Bxg4 Nxg4 33.h3

If the knight withdraws then Ne5+ forks the king and queen.

33...Nxe3 34.Rxe3 1-0

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