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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

76th Tata Steel Chess Round 8: Aronian Leads by 1/2 Point, Harikrishna beats Nakamura

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

Hello everyone,

The 76th Tata Steel Chess Tournament had an exciting eighth round. Here is the report via the official website: The eighth round proved to be another gory one, with a total of only three games in both the Masters and the Challenger groups ending peacefully! Remarkably, all other games resulted in white victories!
The only Master game to end in a draw was the battle between the top two in the rankings so far, Levon Aronian and Anish Giri. With 10. …Bd6 Aronian deviated from the first-round game Van Wely – Karjakin. Giri obtained some pressure, resulting in a slightly better rook-ending but as Aronian said “I still need to make some inaccuracies in order to lose.” Precise play by the top-seed made sure that the outcome was never in doubt.

The other player in second place, Sergey Karjakin, closed in on Aronian, as he emerged victorious in his game against Boris Gelfand. Karjakin felt he “got a better position out of the opening” but there was no reason for his opponent to despair. Gelfand tried to develop some play against white’s king but when the Russian found the strong 38.Qe3!, the Israeli was obliged to swap queens, leaving him with an utterly lost rook-ending. Karjakin could have ended the game sooner but in the end his technique sufficed.
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By that time, Pentala Harikrishna had already triumphed over Hikaru Nakamura. Harikrishna won a pawn in the opening but “black had compensation”, as the Indian stated. The game ended abruptly when Nakamura embarked on a faulty plan with 29. …Qc5? Harikrishna quickly laid waste to Nakamura’s position with 30.Nh5! initiating an unstoppable attack. A few moves later the American resigned, putting an end to his suffering.
Loek van Wely won his second consecutive game, defeating Arkadij Naiditsch. Things looked grim for the Dutchman when he played the obscure18.Ra7?! and his rook got boxed in, forcing him to give up an exchange. Van Wely stated that “in hindsight, it was the only way to win the game.” 

As Naiditsch was unable to come up with a constructive plan, Van Wely took control of the position. In time trouble ‘KingLoek’ missed a chance to conclude the game early on but still managed to win back the exchange, giving him a healthy position with a pawn up. To quote Van Wely: “it was not so difficult anymore after the time control.”

In a French Rubinstein, Fabiano Caruana managed to punish Richard Rapport’s creative opening play. Caruana commented he “had never seen this line before but I have a feeling it’s very risky for black.” He got a clear advantage, having the two bishops and a healthier pawn structure. The Hungarian sacrificed a pawn in order to get some counterplay. 

When it proved to be insufficient, Rapport tried another pawn-sacrifice but according to Caruana “it was never going to work.” As there was no method of preventing Caruana’s pieces from launching a final attack on his king with 33.Rdb4, Rapport resigned.

The encounter between Leinier Dominguez and Wesley So ended in a sound victory for Dominguez. In a Petroff Defence, the Cuban quickly revealed his aggressive intentions, attacking So’s kingside. Dominguez felt that16. …g6 was a mistake and “white is probably winning by force.” When he found 19. Rh7! penetrating So’s position, things got critical for the Filipino and after 19. …d4 20.Bc4 Qe7? 21.Qh4 So realized his position was beyond repair.
There was a ‘changing of the guards’ in the Challengers group, as Ivan Saric took the lead, defeating Radek Wojtaszek while Sabino Brunello got the best of Baadur Jobava. Saric now leads with 7.0/9, with Jobava in pursuit at 6,5/9. Jan Timman and Anna Muzychuk share third place with 6.0/9 each. Benjamin Bok scored his final GM-norm, drawing fellow Dutchman Etienne Goudriaan! Having fulfilled all other demands Bok can now apply for the title of Grandmaster.

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