20 January 2013

Tata Steel Chess 2013, Round 8

After seven rounds of the thirteen round Tata Steel Chess tournament, the current world champion shares the lead with the highest rated player ever. Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen lead with 5/7. Two players follow with 4.5/7--Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin. Levon Aronian and Pentala Harikrishna are a full point behind the leaders. Things would be different if Aronian had closed the deal yesterday in his game with Karjakin, but "it is what it is," as Nakamura seems to say in every interview.

I usually follow this tournament live. Some years, I have logged in to the Playchess server and had eight game boards open at once trying to watch all the games in the A group and at least one game in B or C. I remember watching the games of a thirteen year old International Master as he won the C Group in 2004. Magnus Carlsen earned his first Grandmaster norm in that event, and beat second place Sipke Ernst in dramatic fashion. His next two norms came quickly and he was awarded the GM title in April.

This year, I decided to follow one game each day, but follow it closely. As the players contemplate their moves, I look over their shoulders, as it were, trying to anticipate their play. Today, I cannot decide which game to watch.

While writing the beginning of this post, my live feed failed on my iPad. Now, I cannot bring up the games via iPad nor via notebook computer. The iPad shows a message "too many connections." But there are other means, so I logged into the Playchess server to discover that Levon Aronian won his game against Hou Yifan.

Aronian,Levon (2802) - Hou,Yifan (2603) [A18]
75th Tata Steel Chess Group A Wijk aan Zee (8), 20.01.2013

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.e5 d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.Nf3 e5 8.Bd3 Bg4 9.Be4 Nd7 10.Bxb7 Rb8 11.Bd5 c6 12.Be4 Nc5 13.Qe2 Nxe4 14.Qxe4 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 Qxf3 16.gxf3 Bd6 17.Kd1 Kd7 18.Kc2 f5 19.d3 Rhf8 20.Rg1 g6 21.Bh6 Rf7 22.Rad1 Ke6 23.Bc1 Rb6 24.f4

Black to move
This position caught my eye as I was in bed, checking on the games with my iPad.

24...Ra6 25.fxe5 Rxa2+ 26.Kb1 Rxf2 27.exd6 Rb7+ 28.Ka1 Kxd6 29.Rd2 Rf3 30.Re1 Rd7 31.Kb1 g5 32.Kc2 f4 33.Ba3+ Kc7 34.d4 g4 35.d5 cxd5 36.cxd5 h5 37.Be7 g3 38.Re5 Re3 39.d6+ Kc6 40.Rxh5 1–0

I do not know what to make of the opening of this strange game.

Back at the Playchess server, I flit through the games that are ongoing, looking for something of interest.

Update 7:31 am PST; 16:31 CET

Carlsen provoked some pawn moves on the queenside, then shifted action to the kingside. Meanwhile, I am again able to follow the games on the website! It is much easier to put up my diagrams when I can follow the game on one device, and input the moves to another.

Still, there's something to be said for the software and live stream available from Playchess.

Aronian prepared today's endgame some time back.

Update 8:27 am PST

This tournament is exhausting. It starts early in the morning (for spectators on the west coast of North America). There are twenty-one good games nearly every day, and the weather outside is frightful. It has been much easier this year to concentrate on a single game each day. Sometimes the game ends just as I am getting settled, and other days the play continues beyond the time that I am able to devote to watching.

Today Magnus Carlsen is making Sergey Karjakin play chess in a position the engines consider equal. But, there are pawn imbalances.

I'm watching the game on Playchess and on the Tata Steel Chess website. But, I keep going back to the Aronian -- Hou game. Aronian's novelty 10.Bxb7 seems to have rushed the game to an endgame that computers consider equal (see video above). But, as I remarked yesterday, "computers often fail" when it comes to pawn structures. So it was in Aronian's victory today, and so it might be in Carlsen -- Karjakin.

Update 8:46 am PST

Some reference games:

Up until the White's eighth move, Aronian -- Hou followed another Aronian win against a strong opponent.

Aronian,Levon (2807) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2791) [A18]
Moscow Botvinnik Memorial Moscow (6), 03.09.2011

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.e5 d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.Nf3 e5 8.d4 exd4 9.Bg5 Qe6+ 10.Be2 Be7 11.cxd4 Bxg5 12.Nxg5 Qf6 13.Qd2 0–0 14.0–0 Nc6 15.d5 Nd4 16.Ne4 Nxe2+ 17.Qxe2 Qg6 18.Rfe1 Bf5 19.Ng3 Bd3 20.Qe5 Bxc4 21.Nf5 Kh8 22.Ne3 Bd3 23.Qxc7 Be4 24.Qf4 Rfe8 25.f3 Bd3 26.Rad1 h5 27.Rd2 Bb5 28.Red1 Rad8 29.d6 Bc6 30.d7 Re6 31.Nc4 Qf6 32.Qxf6 gxf6 33.Na5 Kg7 34.Rd4 f5 35.Kf2 b6 36.Nxc6 Rxc6 37.Kg3 Rc2 38.Kf4 Kg6 39.Ke5 Re2+ 40.Kd6 Kf6 41.Rd5 Rxg2 42.Kc7 Rgg8 43.f4 Rgf8 44.Rg1 Ke7 45.Rd6 1–0

Aronian had played 8.Bd3, as he did today, in a game last September. Today Hou Yifan responded differently than Aronian's previous opponent.

Aronian,Levon (2816) - Naiditsch,Arkadij (2712) [A18]
Istanbul ol (Men) 40th Istanbul (9.1), 06.09.2012

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.e5 d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.Nf3 e5 8.Bd3 Na6 9.0–0 Bd6 10.Bc2 Bg4 11.d4 Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Qxf3 13.gxf3 exd4 14.Ba4+ Kd8 15.cxd4 c5 16.d5 Kc7 17.Re1 Nb4 18.Bd2 Nd3 19.Re3 Ne5 20.Rc1 g5 21.Ba5+ b6 22.Bc3 f6 23.Rce1 Rhg8 24.Kg2 Raf8 25.Re4 Ng6 26.Kh1 Be5 27.Bd2 Kd6 28.R4e3 Nf4 29.Bc2 Rg7 30.Re4 Re7 31.Bxf4 gxf4 32.Rg1 f5 33.Re2 Bd4 34.Rxe7 Kxe7 35.Re1+ Kd8 36.Kg2 Re8 37.Rxe8+ Kxe8 38.Bxf5 h6 39.d6 h5 40.Kf1 Be5 41.d7+ Ke7 42.Ke2 Bc7 43.Kd3 Kd6 44.Ke4 Kc6 45.h4 a6 46.Bg6 Bd8 47.Bxh5 Bxh4 48.Be8 Bd8 49.Kxf4 b5 50.Ke5 bxc4 51.Ke6 c3 52.Bg6 Kc7 53.f4 Bh4 54.f3 Bg3 55.Ke7 Bh4+ 56.Ke8 a5 57.Bc2 c4 58.f5 Bd8 59.f4 Bh4 60.Ba4 Bd8 61.Kf7 c2 62.Bxc2 Kxd7 63.f6 Bc7 64.Ba4+ Kd8 65.Kg8 1–0

In all three games, Aronian won in the endgame. That is part of the appeal of his play to me. His openings suit my tastes, he seeks the truth in the position, and he wins the endgame. Yesterday's disappointment aside, he is a player who models the play that I struggle to emulate.

Update 8:56 am PST

Houdini 2.0 favors Loek van Wely by three-quarters of a pawn against Hikaru Nakamura. I think the computer exaggerates the value of White's passed h-pawn. Nakamura's queenside pawns appear to me to be a more substantive factor. Not that Nakamura has the advantage, but he does not seem worse in my estimation. On the other hand, I am often overly optimistic about my own position when playing, and I must root for a player who has lived in Washington state. Nakamura, to his credit, views his own positions with objectivity. It will be interesting to hear what he says after the game.

Carlsen seems to be doing what he does, squeezing blood from a turnip. He might find a win today and move back into the sole lead.

Update 9:04 am PST; 18:04 CET

Houdini has +1.57 in favor of the Dutchman against the American.

Update 9:16 am PST

Houdini's evaluation has dropped to +1.39, but I am starting to believe the engine. Nakamura's position looks uncomfortable. White's e5-e6 cannot be stopped, but does it lead anywhere?

Black to move
van Wely -- Nakamura after 47.f6+
Update 9:29 am PST


Somehow, this move did not look safe to my eyes.

48.e6 fxe6 49.Rxe6 Kg5

Improve your weakest piece! Nakamura's king steps into the battle.

Update 9:44 am PST

50.f7 Rf8 51.Rxc6 Rxf7 52.Rxb6 Rf1 53.Rb5+ Kh6 54.Rxa5 Rb1 55.Kf4 Rxb2 56.Ra6+ Kg7

White to move

57.Ke3 Rg2 58.Bf3 Rg3

Nakamura's position clearly is worse, but is it losing? I think that he can hold.

Update 9:51 am PST


On the other hand, van Wely has two advantages: an extra pawn and a more active king. Still, perhaps White's king is not so active, nor Black's so passive. There are tactics in the position.

Black to move

Update 10:10 am PST

Nakamura created a theoretically drawn ending with some sharp play!

59...Kh7 60.Rc6 Bc2! 61.Rxc4 Bd1 62.Rf4 Rxf3+! 63.Rxf3 Bxa4

Update 10:13 am PST

64.Rf6 Be8 65.h6 Bg6 66.Rxg6 Kxg6 67.h7 Kxh7 1/2-1/2

Carlsen still presses on that turnip.
White to move
Carlsen -- Karjakin after 70...Kh6
While I was contemplating the transparent threat 71.Re8, Carlsen showed why he is the master with a nice double attack.

71.Bd5 Rh2+ 72.Kg3 Rh3+ 73.Kxg4 Rxd3

White to move

74.f5 Re3 75.Rxg6+ Kh7 76.Bg8+ Kh8 77.Kf4

Update 10:50 am PST; 19:50 CET

77...Rc3 78.f6 d3 79.Ke3 c4 80.Be6 Kh7 81.Bf5

Black to move

Yesterday, Karjakin dodged a bullet. He plays on hoping for another escape. Houdini is not optimistic.

81...Rc2 82.Rg2+ Kh6 83.Rxc2 dxc2 84.Bxc2 Kg5 85.Kd4 Ba3

White to move

86.Kxc4 Bb2 87.Kd5 Kf4 88.f7 Ba3 89.e6 Kg5 90.Kc6 Kf6 91.Kd7 Kg7 92.e7 1-0

Magnus Carlsen leads by 1/2 point over Anand. Aronian and Nakamura share third. Tomorrow is a rest day. There are five rounds remaining.

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