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Sunday, January 19, 2014

76th Tata Steel Chess R5: Levon Aronian Retains Lead with Super Performance

Chess Blog for Daily Chess News and Trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2013

Hello everyone,

Here is the report from the fifth round at the 76th Tata Steel Chess Championship 2013 where Levon Aronian is in lead with a super performance. 

Levon Aronian doesn’t cease to amaze, grinding down Arkadij Naiditsch in a tricky endgame. The German dusted off an old variation of the Ruy Lopez, culminating into an equal middle game position. The top seed decided to change gears:

“I felt my only chance to win a game like this is to play fast, to try to put him under pressure.” Naiditsch initially defended well, though, but several inaccuracies after the time control provided the Armenian with excellent winning chances. Aronian steadily increased his advantage and after 57 moves, Naiditsch threw in the towel.

Levon Aronian - Steady and on course
Official website Photos by Vincent Bloothoofd (Tata Steel) and Peter Doggers (

Replay all the games of Round 5 at the 76th Tata Steel Chess (Masters Section) with Chess King.

Wesley So kept the pace, defeating Boris Gelfand. Over the board So decided to try a new move with 8.Qd2. He felt “the opening was just equal but I tried to put some pressure.” 

The Israeli had a few pawn weaknesses on the queenside which So tried to exploit. The momentum shifted towards the Filipino when Gelfand played20. …Qe4. So initiated an offensive and after the consolidating 29.Rf1 Gelfand resigned as he was unable to stop So from gobbling up his queenside pawns.
Sharing second place is Anish Giri, who beat Pentala Harikrishna in a quiet Giuoco Piano. Giri sacrificed a pawn in order to mop up the Indian’s queenside. The young Dutchman entered “a rook-ending that is so winning that basically everything wins but how I played was very unconvincing.” For a moment Giri was afraid he had spoiled his profitable position but as he stated “the limit of the win was so big that I didn’t manage to waste it all.”

In a Sveshnikov Defense, Loek van Wely fell victim to Fabiano Caruana’s positional approach. Caruana enjoyed a pleasant edge but the Dutchman’s position was solid. According to the Italian, the game was “more or less equal going into the ending. I’m a pawn up but it’s very hard to do anything.” 

When Van Wely lost a second pawn, though, Caruana obtained real winning chances. The Italian kept improving his advantage, creating several passed pawns in the process. Even the opposite-coloured bishops didn’t offer any solace as Caruana secured his third victory with the white pieces.

In the battle between Richard Rapport and Leinier Dominguez, the former once again displayed his creativity when he opted for1.c4 c5 2.Nc3 g6 3.g4!? The Cuban, surprised by this choice, had a deep think before he acted out his battle plan. According to Dominguez, Rapport “probably overestimated his chances” in the middle game, not realizing the danger his king was in. After 19.Nb3? Dominguez immediately capitalized with 19. …Bxe2!launching a decisive attack on the Hungarian’s king.

The only game to end in a draw was the Hikaru Nakamura – Sergey Karjakin encounter. The Russian grandmaster sacrificed a pawn to gain a lead in development, while Nakamura struggled to finish his. When Karjakin followed up with the strong 18. …d4 (see diagram), however, he stated that “there is probably nothing else for him but to force a draw with 19.h4.” Nakamura agreed that in the end “we both played quite accurately and found the best moves so I think a draw is a pretty normal result.”
Aronian is still in the lead with 4.0/5. So and Giri are right on his tail, having 3,5/5 each. 

In the Challengers group, Baadur Jobava drew Anna Muzychuk in a game in which the equilibrium was never disturbed. Ivan Saric took advantage, defeating Etienne Goudriaan, and now shares the lead with Jobava, having 5.0/6 each. Tomorrow, both contestants face one another.

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