17 January 2016

Tata Steel Chess 2016, Round Two

When was the last time that two Americans shared the lead with a Chinese player in Wijk aan Zee? After the first round, they do.

Disappointing Chess Fans

Loek Van Wely and Sergey Karjakin had four draws at Wijk aan Zee before Karjakin's win in 2012. Karjakin then won again in 2013 and 2014. Their overall record together stands at two wins for Van Wely, the latest in 2005, seven wins for Karjakin, and six draws. After Van Wely missed a clear win against Shakhryar Mamedyarov yesterday, he will be hard-pressed to end Karjakin's streak of wins since 2012.

Van Wely played a Dragon and reached an interesting position analyzed in some depth by Yasser Seirawan and Lawrence Trent.

Karjakin,Sergey -- Van Wely,Loek [B76]
Tata Steel Chess Wijk aan Zee, 17.01.2016

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0–0 8.Bb3 d6 9.f3 Bd7 10.h4 h5 11.Qd2 Qa5 12.0–0–0 Rfc8 13.Kb1 Ne5 14.Bg5 Kf8 15.f4 Neg4 16.Rhe1 Rc5 17.f5 gxf5 18.Nxf5 Bxf5 19.exf5

Black to move


In their analysis, Trant and Seirawan concluded that 19...Re8 was Black's only non-losing move, and then learned from their researchers that it had been played before.


20.Bf4 was played in the reference game that I was able to locate. 20...Rxf5 21.Rxe7 Rxe7 22.Bxd6 Rfe5 23.Qf4 Kg8 24.Bxe7 Rxe7 0–1 Guempges,P (2076) -- Wisskirchen,A (2266) Germany 2004.

Apparently Karjakin offered a draw with the move's novelty. ½–½

Fighting Draws

Mamedyarov leads Evgeny Tomashevsky 3-5-1 (W-D-L) in their encounters. However, Tomashevsky's win in February 2015 was their most recent battle at classical time control. That win came in the fourth round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Tbilisi, an event that Tomashevsky won. In August 2015, Tomashevsky won the Russian Championship, which pushed him to his peak rating of 2758.

Among amateurs, there would still be some play in the position where Tomashevsky and Mamedyarov agreed to a draw, but I sense that the position is completely equal for Grandmasters. Black has a bishop pair and rook against White's bishop, knight and rook. Black also has an extra pawn, although two pawns are threatened.

In August 2014, Wei Yi lost to Pavel Eljanov in their only game prior to today. After a battle, the players reached a queen and minor piece ending with fourteen pawns still on the board. Maybe White's knight is a little better than Black's bishop according to the theory that knights work well with bishops. On the other hand, White's queen must guard the first rank or Black's queen and bishop will create checkmate threats. After a repetition of moves, the game was drawn.

White to move

Assuming that my database is complete, Magnus Carlsen leads Fabiano Caruana 16-10-7. In 2014, Caruana's astounding success, especially at the Sinquefield Cup where he beat Carlsen, created expectations that he was on the verge of challenging Carlsen's reign at the top of the rating charts. His results since then have not been as strong, although he defeated Carlsen again in 2015. It was Carlsen's second loss in the first two rounds of Norway Chess in Stavanger (see video). The two played seven games in 2015 with Carlsen winning three, Caruana winning one, and three draws.

Their game today was an intense battle.

Carlsen,Magnus -- Caruana,Fabiano [A00]
Tata Steel Chess Wijk aan Zee, 17.01.2016

1.g3 g6 2.Bg2 Bg7 3.e4 e5 4.Ne2 c5 5.d3 Nc6 6.Be3 d6 7.Qd2 Nd4 

7...Nge7 has been reached in at least four games with three White wins.

8.c3 Nxe2 9.Qxe2 Ne7 10.h4 h6 11.h5 g5 12.f4 exf4 13.gxf4 gxf4 14.Bxf4 Nc6 15.Na3 Be5 16.Be3 Be6 17.Nc4 Bg3+ 18.Kd2 Qd7 19.d4 cxd4 20.cxd4

Black to move


Seirawan and Trent thought this move was forced. Caruana, in his postgame interview with Seirawan thought so as well.

21.Nxe5 dxe5 22.d5 Bg4 23.Bf3 Bxf3 24.Qxf3 Qb5 25.Rac1 Qxb2+ 26.Kd1 Bf4 27.Bxf4 exf4 28.Qxf4 Rg8 29.Rf1 Qd4+ 30.Ke1 Qb4+ 31.Kd1 Qd4+ 32.Ke1 Qb4+ ½–½

Navara's Activity Level
David Navara has two draws and four losses against Michael Adams. He played well yesterday against Carlsen. It seems that Navara's level of activity has increased in the past year or two. He also is currently at his peak rating. Perhaps he will score his first victory against Adams.

He did not win. The game was a battle that ended when the players reached a knight and pawn ending after 31 moves.

Ding Liren and Anish Giri tied for second in last year's Tata Steel Chess tournament, along with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Giri won their individual encounter with an instructive endgame of knight and bishop against rook with three pawns each. Ding had won their first encounter in 2012 and the two have had three draws, two of them at the Bilbao tournament in 2015.

Ding is the highest rated Chinese player ever and the second to break into the FIDE top ten.

After Black's 33rd move, the knights are coming off the board and the resulting queen ending with five pawns each should be objectively drawn. The players agreed to a draw vefore exchanging knights.

Hou Yifan surpassed Judit Polgar as the top rated woman in 2015. Polgar had been the top rated woman for 26 years. Her five prior encounters with Wesley So have all ended in draws, typically fifty moves or more. Their shortest draw was in Dortmund last year and lasted forty moves.

At the time that I needed to turn my attention to the Seattle Seahawks and their effort to return to a third Super Bowl appearance in three years, this game was at its 49th move. So seemed to have the upper hand earlier, but now Hou seems better.

At the end of the first quarter, the Seahawks were already in a hole and I saw that after five more moves, Hou -- So ended with a draw.

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