Report of round 6
Armenias Levon Aronian defeated Azerbaijans Vugar Gashimov (see picture) in a sixth round plagued by blunders and narrow escapes to become the sole leader in the standings of the 74th annual Tata Steel Chess Tournament Friday. His main rival, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, dropped a half point after drawing his game with black against Czech GM David Navara and fell back to second place.
Aronians win, which came after 48 moves from a Ben-Oni Defense, earned him a 500-euro bonus as Dutch GM Ivan Sokolov selected it for the daily Piet Zwart Prize, funded by the municipalities of Velsen and Beverwijk, of which Wijk-aan-Zee a small coastal resort that proudly claims to be the Chess Capital of the World these days forms a part.
Aronian played the opening very aggressively, Sokolov said. It was a great game except, maybe, for one mistake Gashimov made. Aronian identified that mistake as (see diagram) 18 Nb6 and said that Vugars position wouldve been alright if hed opted for 18 Rc8 with the idea Rc7 instead. As regards Sokolovs opinion about the opening, however, Aronian disagreed: I hadnt expected this line a very rare and very risky line but highly interesting. You should play it very precisely, which I didnt. I tried to play it safe, I think, and maybe giving the pawn on d5 wasnt such a great idea after all. If Vugar had found 18 Rc8, it wouldnt have been so easy for me to claim an advantage. As the game went, blacks position collapsed after (see diagram)21 c3 and the rest was a technical matter. I was able to beat a strong opponent in an easy game, Aronian said, which doesnt happen very often. It just goes to show that your opponent has to help a lot.
U.S. GM Hikaru Nakamura, for one, got all the help he needed in his Dutch Defense with black against Boris Gelfand (see picture). The Israeli GM was doing fine in a more or less balanced position until a frightful blunder forced him to resign after 35 moves. It was an awful game. I played horribly, complained poor Gelfand when he faced the press afterwards. It was probably drawn, admitted Nakamura, but I think Boris was running a bit short of time.
Another entrant to fall victim to a blunder was Bulgarias Veselin Topalov who brought Vassili Ivanchuk of the Ukraine to the verge of surrender with white in a Berlin-Wall game, when he decided erroneously - to cut off a black bishops retreat witth (see diagram)52.g5 in the hope of capturing the piece. But trapping the bishop turned out to be impossible and the game ended in a draw.
He had excellent chances, giggled Chukie after the two players had signed the peace. But I was lucky. Okay, it was just sheer luck.
Im very disappointed. I thought I was going to trap the bishop. But it was one huge disappointment, said Topalov.
The late Dutch GM Hein Donner used to claim that blunders are not made but pre-exist and, like viruses, infest tournament halls where they pick their victims among unsuspecting players. If so, this might explain why Hollands Loek van Wely escaped with a draw in his game with black against Fabiano Caruana despite the fact that the latter held a vast advantage. After Van Wely wasted his position with the blunder (see diagram) 18 Ne5 (better would have been 18 Ba4), the Italian missed several chances to force a win and then, in time trouble, allowed the position to result in a draw.
It might also explain why Dutch veteran GM Jan Timman inexplicably spoiled a balanced position in his Group-B encounter with Indias Pentala Harikrishna (see picture) and why Dutch champion Anish Giri came away with a win from the Group-A English game in which his U.S. counterpart Gata Kamsky was only able to free his trapped queen at the cost of a full piece.
Harikrishna, the leader in Group B, earned the 250 euros set aside for the Piet Zwart Prize in Group B, because of the most inventive way in which he managed to win the struggle for the initiative in the opening and the early middle game, in what was otherwise an exciting, seesawing game, Sokolov explained. Timman, he added, might have evened out as late in the game as at his 38th move.
Giri, who wasted his advantage to end up in a drawn position but then profited from Kamskys (see picture) inaccurate play to regain the upper hand and fight his way to a win on his 86th move, was far from happy with his victory. Isnt there an exit somewhere at the back, he asked reporters after the game. Im afraid to face my coach after this sad performance.
Neither luck nor bad luck, however, played a part in Teymour Radjabovs win against Sergei Karjakin of the Ukraine. Playing white in a Queens Indian, the young Azeri gained an ever so slight advantage early on and slowly but gradually expanded it to clinch victory on his 62nd move.
And neither blunders nor luck, be it good or bad, disfigured Carlsen and Navaras Meraner, which was just not much of an interesting game. The position was dead-drawn after some 25 moves and remained that way until there were just two kings and one black bishop left on the board after 81 moves. Asked why he had not settled for a draw much earlier, Carlsen explained: Id just get bored in my hotel room. So wheres the fun in that?
In Group C, Maxim Turov was held to draw, his first in the tournament, by Swedens Hans Tikkanen (see picture), but remained on top of the standings for a near perfect score of 5.5/6.
The Piet Zwart Prize 100 euros in this section of the tournament was shared by Englands Matthew Sadler and Hollands Etienne Goudriaan for the most entertaining way they battled their way to a peaceful result.