Tata Steel Chess 2022: leading by half-point, Magnus Carlsen could not penetrate Sam Shankland’s defense. Meanwhile, Mamedyarov overcomes Praggnanandhaa with White.
After eight rounds, Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are tied for first place and will it out in the next round.
The good news is that Daniil Dubov was back in action after his COVID tests return negative and was playing without a mask against Jan-Krzysztof Duda.
As soon as the opening phase came to an end, it was a position that depicted a draw. However, some sloppy play from Dubov kept it interesting heading to a pawn-down rook endgame.
Duda had a slight advantage but practically Daniil Dubov’s kingside pawn structure was a fortress. Duda never really had a chance as Dubov found a great setup with his pawns on the kingside. Instructive!
The first-ever classical game between Mamedyarov and Praggnanandhaa was of mixed feeling. It was a good game for the Azerbaijani GM while the Indian youngster would have hoped for better.
An English opening game with 4.Qa4 looked good for Mamedyarov as the game progressed. The opening was decent from Pragg but as the game went forward he went downwards.
“Of course, it’s not a very good move, but it is an interesting move to play for a win,” said Mamedyarov about 4.Qa4 and he felt he had “an absolutely winning position” by move 10-11.
The American GM Samuel Shankland held Magnus Carlsen and that gave Mamedyarov a chance to catch him. The Norwegian played his game with the Schara-Hennig Gambit.
Carlsen quickly won back the sacrificed pawn and with it the bishop pair, at which point Shankland said he “already felt a bit uncomfortable” but because his opponent took with the bishop on c3, Shankland could become a bit more active. After that, it was hard for Carlsen to avoid the liquidation that came on the board.
Meanwhile, Vidit Gujrathi who drifted from the early lead in the tournament got his way back up with a nice win over Nils Grandelius.
What Vidit brought to the table was interesting. Not many times do we see Vidit as aggressive as today. The Indian GM was pleased with his opening play (6.g4, 9.Nf5) and said Black has to be accurate to get a good game, which Grandelius failed to do. However, Vidit also didn’t make the most out of his chances, but this went sort of unnoticed.
“I for sure knew I was better, but I had so many choices and it was not easy to pick the best move,” he said.
Anish Giri was in tremendous touch today as his moves were sharp with Black against Andrey Esipenko. Scoring a full point the Dutchman now finds himself just half a point behind the leaders.
It was a theoretical Italian opening and it was the first time Giri was playing it as Black. In the 20th move, the game become a novelty and soon it was a knight against three pawns in the endgame.
The more pieces got traded, the more pleasant it became for the Dutch number one, who was indeed playing for two results by that point. In the end, Giri finished the game tactically.
Fabiano Caruana and Jorden van Foreest draw their third successive game in a row in three different years. An Open Ruy Lopez which is very much liked by Sipke Ernst, Foreest’s second.
For this clash with the world number four, the two Dutchmen had prepared the old Dilworth variation. It is characterized by Black giving two minor pieces for a rook and a pawn, and getting a nice pawn center. The line was always known to be somewhat speculative, but with the help of modern engines, it seems to be playable.
On move 15, Van Foreest deviated from a Carlsen-Mamedyarov online encounter from last year but still followed correspondence play. At some point, Black was just doing OK and Caruana decided to repeat moves, which Van Foreest didn’t mind.