Magnus Carlsen dominates day one of Tata Steel Chess India 2019 Rapid
The strongest ever tournament on Indian, in fact Asian soil, kicked off on the 22nd of November 2019. Three rounds of rapid chess were played on day one. Six years ago, on this very day Magnus Carlsen had become the World Champion by beating Anand in Chennai. Carlsen continued from where he left and now leads the tournament with 5.0/6. He is followed by Nakamura on 4.0/6. We bring to you the game analysis of all six decisive games of day one and also pictorial impressions and videos from the venue. Not to be missed is Anand's win against Wesley So, Vidit's Houdini like escape against Ding Liren and Nakamura's positional squeeze against Giri.
22nd of November is a special day in Magnus Carlsen's life. Is it because he ended day one of the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid 2019 with 2.5/3 and as the sole leader? Not really! Six years ago in 2013, this happened:
Magnus is just 29 years old (will be 29 on 30th of November) and he has already been the World Champion for six years! Quite amazing isn't it! Seeing him in action, fans of the game often exclaim, "It's an honour to be born in the same era as Magnus!" Celebrating this day Magnus wrote on Instagram, "Good times so far in #Grandchesstour! Exactly six years ago I became world champion by making a draw in the Bb5+ Sicilian, today I won with it, using some preparation from the match."
What was really amazing to see was how the crowd erupted into cheer and applause when Magnus Carlsen arrived on the stage! It just goes to show what a great chess culture, the city of Kolkata has.
The first round of the event saw only one decisive result. On board four Anish Giri defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi with the black pieces while the remaining encounters fizzled out into draws. Anish played quite an enterprising game out of the opening, he sacrificed a pawn and managed to completely box in Nepo's dark-squared bishop. Things did turn a bit tricky around move 25 but the Dutchman had it all under control and when his opponent suffered a lapse, he pounced on his chance.
Ian Nepomniachtchi - Anish Giri, Round 1.
|1||10||IND||2674||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||½ - ½||GM||Nakamura Hikaru||USA||2812||6|
|2||7||NED||2705||GM||Giri Anish||½ - ½||GM||Aronian Levon||ARM||2768||5|
|3||8||NOR||2849||GM||Carlsen Magnus||1 - 0||GM||Nepomniachtchi Ian||RUS||2765||4|
|4||9||IND||2757||GM||Anand Viswanathan||1 - 0||GM||So Wesley||USA||2802||3|
|5||1||IND||2667||GM||Harikrishna Pentala||½ - ½||GM||Ding Liren||CHN||2832||2|
In round two Vishy Anand registered an emphatic win against Wesley So to emerge as one of the leaders along with Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri. Vishy had the White pieces and out of a Spanish managed to secure quite a promising position in the middlegame with excellent play on the queenside but failing to take the ideal continuation landed him in a drawish bishop-knight ending. The Madras Tiger however kept pushing on and got his chance once again on move 57 when his opponent blundered.
Vishy Anand - Wesley So, Round 2
The problem with 26.Qc6 is that after 26...Qxc6 27.dxc6 Rfc8 28.Rea1 even though White has more active pieces but Black has everything well defended and there is no straightforward way to make progress. A better move would have been 26.Nb3! which comes with the very interesting Nc5 threat. Notice that Black actually can't capture dxc5 as that allows the devastating Qg6+ followed by Rxe5. In the game Vishy lost most of his advantage after 28.Rea1 and ended up in an equal bishop versus knight ending where he had an extra pawn.
The game continued 58.Bxe5 Kxh6 59.Kc2 Kg6 60.Kb3 and White brought his king to c4 to win the d4 pawn as well. With two extra pawns the rest was easy.
|1||2||CHN||2832||GM||Ding Liren||½ - ½||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||IND||2674||10|
|2||3||USA||2802||GM||So Wesley||½ - ½||GM||Harikrishna Pentala||IND||2667||1|
|3||4||RUS||2765||GM||Nepomniachtchi Ian||1 - 0||GM||Anand Viswanathan||IND||2757||9|
|4||5||ARM||2768||GM||Aronian Levon||0 - 1||GM||Carlsen Magnus||NOR||2849||8|
|5||6||USA||2812||GM||Nakamura Hikaru||1 - 0||GM||Giri Anish||NED||2705||7|
Nepomniachtchi vs Anand, Round 3
Black is doing fine here. Yes, he is under some pressure, but Anand made things works by taking on c3. After bxc3, White has two more things going his way - the open b-file and the bishop developing on a3.
Nepo could have just retreated his knight to e3 and it is not possible to keep things under control. However, the Russian GM found the killer blow - Nh6+! Kh8 was followed by Rxf6! The kingside was ripped open and after gxf6 Qf3 it was all over. The f6 pawn is hanging and there is a threat of exd5 winning back material. Vishy resigned.
To resign or not?
Ding Liren vs Vidit Gujrathi, Round 3
Ding Liren has just retreated his rook to a4. Vidit can resign here with a safe conscience. But he decided to continue playing! "I did it out of inertia", says Vidit. A few moves later we reached this position:
b6 was expected from Ding Liren in this position. But instead he played the huge blunder 79.a7?? Vidit simply played Ka8 and now his king is stalemated in the corner. This means that his rook is free to check and sacrifice itself to draw the game!
It's a good time to ask as to how a player of Ding Liren's stature can make a mistake like this. Well, time pressure is an obvious defence. But let's assume that instead of this endgame, if Ding Liren had to mate with a bishop and knight. Not matter how low you are on time you would expect him to checkmate his opponent. In the same way, this is also a well-known theoretical position. A player like Ding Liren should not be missing such a win. That being said, such mistakes will keep happening from even the best, every now and then, because chess is a tough game!
Nakamura vs Giri, round 3
After a fine opening, Nakamura managed to get a small edge in the position as can be seen above. The knight on c4 sits pretty and cannot be disturbed. The white rook is nicely perched on a5 and actively placed. It's time for the king to join in. Yes, the position is only slightly better for White, but as Nakamura pointed out after the game, such positions are extremely difficult to defend in a rapid game when you are running short of time. Very soon the white king made its way up from f1 to e2 to d3 to e4, all the way to d5 and Anish had to eventually throw in the towel.
Aronian vs Carlsen
Magnus was extremely alert here and found the move ...Bxg5. The point is that after Qxg5 Qf1+ Kc2, Black has the powerful Bxc4 when the rook on d3 has to be given up. Levon brought back his queen to e3 and after the exchanges on d3 we reached the following position.
Nf4+ is possible and the h5 pawn is lost. Aronian missed this chance and the game ended in a win for Magnus.
Rank after round three
|10||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||IND||2674||1,5||0,0||3||1,5||1,11||0,39||20||7,8|
Humility of the greats!
The players at the event are some of the greatest chess players in the world. But after their games, they are making sure to interact with the crowd, to give them autographs, take selfies and in general quench the chess craze of Indian youngsters!
Grand Chess Tour:
The Grand Chess Tour is into its fifth year. It is series of events for the best players in the world. Although it is not related to the World Championship cycle, all the top players of the world take part in it because of the hefty prize fund. This year, in 2019, the Grand Chess Tour has extended itself to eight events and twelve participants. There are also wild cards added at different events to compete with the best players. The events are a mixture of classical chess as well as rapid and blitz. The Tata Steel Chess India is the seventh and the penultimate event in the Grand Chess Tour 2019. This is how the standings look until now:
Magnus Carlsen is in the lead with 54.5 points. As MVL and Sergey Karjakin have played all their five tour events, their score of 36.8 and 36.5 is final. Vishy Anand on 32 points has an excellent chance of overtaking them! This is how the points are allocated. Basically Anand has to finish sixth or above to make it to the finals.
The top four finishers after the Tata Steel Chess India in terms of cumulative points will proceed to the super finals that will be held in London from 2nd to the 8th of December 2019. The London finals has an excellent prize fund of US$ 3,50,000. While Aronian's qualification looks almost certain, Vishy has to score five more points to finish fourth and make it to the finals.
Special thanks to Satanick Mukhuty and Shahid Ahmed for their contribution to this article.