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Monday, January 14, 2013

75th Tata Steel Chess 2013 Round 2: All Games Drawn

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hi everyone,
A Bonanza of draws was the last thing anyone expected a few hours into round 2 of the 75th Tata Steel Chess Tournament, but at the end of a long day, all games in Group A had ended peacefully. Top seed Magnus Carlsen of Norway had a seriously compromised King's Indian against second seed Levon Aronian. The Armenian Olympian had several approaches available to secure his advantage, but instead offered a piece which Carlsen declined. Nevertheless, Aronian kept the pressure on, but the former child prodigy from Norway showed off his qualities as an escape artist and hung on by the skin of his teeth.

Of the two leaders, Pentala Harikrishna seemed on his way to a big upset, outplaying 3rd seed Fabiana Caruana with the black pieces. However, the Italian from Florida managed to put up a line of defence just in time and was eventually rewarded with a draw. Sergey Karjakin from Russia equalized with black against Dutch Erwin l'Ami, but never had chances for more.
Round 2: Aronian-Carlsen 1/2-1/2

Meanwhile the other three Dutchmen seemed well on their way to promising positions. Young Anish Giri was directing all his pieces to Viswanathan Anand's king, sacrificing a knight, but with his “super knight on e6” (Anand) Black was never in any danger. In fact, it was White who had to be careful not to lose the game on the other side of the board. Giri was not looking forward to a repeat of yesterday and got away with a draw when Anand missed the best opportunity.
Much more promising was Loek van Wely's handling of the white side of a Sicilian Dragon. After recovering from the Dutchman's rather surprising opening move, it soon became clear to China's Hou Yifan that there was an afternoon of suffering in store for her. However, She defended with determination and after Van Wely had missed several better or even winning continuations, the former Women's World Champion caught her opponent's pieces completely off guard. In a last ditch effort, Van Wely bluffed his way out in timetrouble and drew. Yifan missed a nice win.

Whereas Van Wely was in high spirits after his game, countryman Ivan Sokolov could only utter the words “I was completely winning. If I don't kill myself tonight, I will live for a thousand years” before walking away in disgust from his drawn game with Hikaru Nakamura. The Bosnian Dutchman could have produced an absolute gem had he continued in style with a beautiful combination. However, Sokolov's more prosaic approach spoiled nothing, the ending was still completely winning. But somehow the Bosnian managed to gradually drift into a drawn position.

Finally, Peter Leko neutralized Wang Hao's edge with some precise moves. Just as the players were readying themselves to shake hands, the Chinese grandmaster blundered a pawn. To the surprise of both players, it was precisely this 'blunder' that led to a forced repetition of moves and the already expected result.
In Grandmaster Group B Holland's Sergey Tiviakov continued his great form from United Arab Emirates where he led the Dutch team to a resounding victory. Top seed Arkadij Naiditsch was overly optimistic and was punished for it with a crushing mating attack along the h1-a8 diagonal. In Group C Sabino Brunello of Italy and Fernando Peralta of Argentina still have a 100% score. 
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