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Saturday, January 25, 2014

76th Tata Steel Chess R9: Levon Aronian Extends Lead

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

Hello everyone,

With just two rounds to go, Levon Aronian has already opened a 1.5 lead over the others after the 9th round at the 76th Tata Steel Chess Masters Group in Wijk aan Zee. Here is the report via the official website:

The ninth round of the Tata Steel Masters Group was held at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven.
Levon Aronian dealt a huge blow, defeating his main rival Sergey Karjakin. Both combatants repeated the first 15 moves from an earlier encounter in 2013, which Karjakin won. The top-seed deviated, playing 16.Ne2 instead of 16.Na4. On this occasion, Aronian got the advantage after Karjakin played 30. …Kh8?. Aronian replied with the strong 31.Nxb6!, winning a pawn.
Replay all Round 9 games with Chess King.

Aronian: “I think somewhere he should have had a way to escape but in a practical game it is not easy to do so.” Karjakin failed to find a way out of his predicament. A pawn down, he ended up in an unpleasant ending and was forced to resign on his 61st move. Aronian is now firmly in the lead with 7.0/9, one and a half point ahead of the pack.

The battle between Richard Rapport and Anish Giri took off slowly, with Rapport taking his time before playing 3.dxc5. In the resulting original position, the Hungarian sacrificed two pawns with 13.Nf3!? Qxc2 14.0-0 Qxe4 to obtain a lead in development. Giri defended well, though, not allowing his opponent to take control of the position. Several exchanges later, a rook-ending was reached. Sound play by both competitors assured that a draw was the inevitable outcome.

In the encounter between Boris Gelfand and Leinier Dominguez, both combatants agreed it was “a balanced game.” In a Grünfeld, Dominguez sacrificed a pawn in order to activate his pieces. The Cuban got sufficient compensation, winning back the pawn, but Gelfand had no problems in the resulting ending. After a few more moves, a draw was agreed.

Pentala Harikrishna had no trouble with Arkadij Naiditsch, defeating the German in a mere 19 moves. Unorthodox opening play by Naiditsch gave the initiative to Harikrishna. After some dubious maneuvers by Naiditsch, the Indian developed a strong attack against the white king. Harikrishna did not see a way for his opponent to get out of the tight predicament, stating he thought “it’s just lost for white.” Things escalated quickly when Naiditsch went for 16.dxc5? The Indian demolished the white position with 16. …Bxc3! 17.cxb6 axb6 18.bxc3 Nxa2+ 19.Kb2 Qd6 and as he could not prevent the checkmate, Naiditsch resigned.
Loek van Wely “wanted to show the home crowd some fireworks” so he opted for an aggressive King’s Indian Defense in his game against Wesley So. A double-edged position arose, where So got the usual queenside-play while Van Wely tried to break through on the kingside. So said “it was a complicated game and it could have gone either way” but in the end Van Wely blundered with 39. …Bxc6??. After 40.dxc6 dxe5 41.Be4 the Dutchman realized the ending was dead lost and ceased combat.

The last game of the round was the interesting duel between Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana. Nakamura won a pawn but Caruana’s pressure against the white position made up for the deficit. The American tried but failed to outmaneuver his opponent and, eventually, had to give back the pawn in order to reach an equal rook-ending. Nakamura desperately attempted to break through but his actions were in vain as a solid defense by the Italian secured the draw.

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