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Sunday, January 19, 2014

76th Tata Steel Chess R6: Levon Aronian Extends Lead with Win as Wesley So Blunders Piece

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

Hello everyone,

There appears no stopping Levon Aronian at the 76th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee this winter. Here is the report via the official website on Round 6 where Aronian extended his overnight lead with a win over Wesley So. You can replay all the games with Chess King.

Official website photos by Vincent Bloothoofd (Tata Steel) and Peter Doggers (

All eyes were on the fight for first place between Levon Aronian and Wesley So. Aronian chose a line he came up with some time ago and enjoyed a pleasant advantage, having the two bishops. The world number two felt “the position was very difficult for black” and attempted to bring So to his knees. He succeeded doing so when the Filipino blundered and lost a piece with 32. …Nd8?Aronian extended his lead, clinching victory with 33.Bxa7 Ra8 34.Bb5 Bxe5 35.fxe5 Rxe5 36.Be3.

Anish Giri was unable to keep up, drawing Boris Gelfand. Gelfand opted for the Grünfeld Defense and the 19-year-old had a hard time seizing an advantage. Giri stated that “definitely the game was far from good.” The Israeli felt that “it was more or less equal” but “between move 30 and 40 I played too passively and after the time control it’s an unpleasant position.” Giri missed an opportunity to round up Gelfand’s kingside pawns with 59.d5!, after which the former World Championship finalist built an impenetrable fortress, earning him the draw.

Joining Giri in second place was Sergey Karjakin, who defeated Arkadij Naiditsch after a long battle. From a Catalan Karjakin got a minute advantage in a queen-and-rook-ending, having the safer king. The resulting queen-ending proved favourable for the Russian grandmaster: “it should be a draw but it wasn’t so easy.” Naiditsch failed to find the right plan and after 64. …Qa1 Karjakin struck with 65.Qb6+ Kh5 66.Qe3! threatening Qe8. Naiditsch had to pull back but then Karjakin’s passed a-pawn became the German’s downfall.

Leinier Dominguez came close to breaking down the Berlin Wall Hikaru Nakamura put up. The second-seed had to give up the exchange after an inaccuracy, providing him a tough defensive task. Nakamura stated that he “was fairly lucky, because Leinier probably wasted a few tempos in time pressure” giving the American some breathing room. Dominguez: “I kept on missing things when I was a bit in time trouble.” 

The Cuban spoiled his advantage when he played 37.Rf1, allowing Nakamura to counter with the sly (see diagram) 37. …Be6+ 38.Kg5 Bc4 and when Ne6 came next, Domiguez played a few more moves before he resigned himself to the fact that a draw was the only possible result

Loek van Wely was dissatisfied, only drawing Richard Rapport. The last few moves before the time control Van Wely outplayed the Hungarian. “It was winning,” he said, “but I missed some small details and then the guy managed to complicate matters. And then it was getting worse and worse and I started to miss more and more.” Rapport made it into a rook-ending that posed no problems, allowing him “a lucky escape,” as he called it afterwards.

In the final game of Saturday’s sixth round, Pentala Harikrishna and Fabiano Caruana only ended their onslaught when just two kings remained on the board. Caruana blundered when he opted for the horrific 40. …Rc6? After 41.Rc1 the Italian was forced to sacrifice the exchange with 41. …Rxc4. All remaining pawns being on the kingside, though, finding a win proved far from easy for the Indian grandmaster. Harikrishna desperately tried to crack Caruana’s defense but after an incredible 132 moves, the Italian achieved a hard-fought draw.
In the Challengers group Ivan Saric was close to taking the lead, almost defeating Baadur Jobava. The persistent Georgian, however, found a brilliant way to squeeze out, as he called it, “a miracle escape” with41. …a5!! After 42.g7 a4 43.g8=Q Rxg8 44.Nxg8 axb3 45.cxb3 Be4+ 46.Ka2 Bd5 47.Rg3 Bxg8 48.Qxg8 Qd2+Saric couldn’t avoid the perpetual checks. Anna Muzychuk did not benefit, as she could only muster up a draw against the tenacious Merijn van Delft. In other games, Jan Timman beat Dimitri Reinderman in a Dutch duel. Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Yangyi Yu and Radek Wojtaszek won as well, defeating Sabino Brunello, Etienne Goudriaan and Xue Zhao respectively.

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