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Sunday, January 13, 2013

75th Tata Steel Chess Begins: R1 Begins with Karjakin Beating Yifan, Giri Losing to Harikrishna; Other Draw

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

Hi everyone,
Here is the official report from the first round of the 75th edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament that took off to a slow start with the vast majority of grandmaster games ending in a draw. First exception was Sergey Karjakin of Russia who celebrated his 23rd birthday with a clean victory over 19-year-old Hou Yifan, the Chinese former Women's World Champion who makes her debut at the highlest level in Wijk aan Zee.

The only other player making his debut in the A Group fared much better. Last year's winner of Group B, Pentala Harikrishna of India, punished Holland's number one Anish Giri for sloppy play in a rook endgame that still contained “a few tricks”, to quote Harikrishna.

All the remaining games in GMA ended in a draw, although Peter Leko of Hungary came very close to victory when Dutch Erwin l'Ami inexplicably sacrificed a pawn. Leko missed several promising ways to consolidate his material advantage, but eventually allowed l'Ami to escape into a drawn rook-and-knight endgame.

Also exciting was the battle in a sharp King's Indian Defence between last year's winner Levon Aronian and Wijk aan Zee Dinosaur Loek van Wely that soon left theoretically well-trodden paths. Van Wely picked up the gauntlet grabbing a b-pawn left undefended and then offering his queen for a rook and a minor piece a few moves later. This could have led to an unclear position, but Aronian refused to take the 'bait' and instead went for a more positional approach. The pressure was on, but the Dutchman's stubborn defence kept the door shut.

Despite a very sharp line of the French Defence, the split point between World Champion Viswanathan Anand and American Champion Hikaru Nakamura was much less exciting, as after just a few original moves game ended quickly. World Number One Magnus Carlsen on the other hand left mainline theory in no time and tried to squeeze water from a rock against Italy's Fabiano Caruana. After a slight inaccuracy by the star from Norway on move 28 a draw became inevitable. Finally, Holland's Ivan Sokolov had a slightly better game throughout with White against China's Wang Hao, but the student in advertizing at Beijng University held his own.

In Grandmaster Group B the Dutch T's Jan Timman and Sergey Tiviakov were the only victors with wins over Sipke Ernst, recent winner of the Groningen Open, and World Junior Champion Alexander Ipatov respectively. Three of the four top seeds, Fernando Peralta, Sabino Brunello and Krikor Mekhitarian, took an early lead in Group C.

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