Report of round 7

Norway�s Magnus Carlsen defeated Israel�s Boris Gelfand in seventh-round action to regain his place on top of the standings in the premier division of the 74th annual Tata Steel Chess Tournament at the rain and wind-swept Dutch North Sea coastal resort town of Wijk-aan-Zee Saturday. (see picture)

Playing white against Gelfand�s Slav Defense, the world�s highest ranked grandmaster profited from a minor mistake to obtain a slight advantage and then gradually increased the pressure on his opponent, forcing him to resign after 52 moves.

Carlsen was not completely satisfied with his performance, however. �I had a plus straight out of the opening,� he explained after the game, �but then I blundered and lost all my advantage. It was just that later on, he exchanged queens one move too late. If he had simply played (see diagram) 30�Qc2 instead of 30�Nd7, there would have been no question of me having an advantage. When he came up with the exchange one move later, I won a pawn, and it became very difficult for him to fight his way back into the game.� Gelfand, who had not yet recovered from a horrible blundering loss in the previous round, proved unequal to the task. �Boris has produced only one fine win (against Ukraine�s Sergei Karjakin) so far. He�s not in great shape,� Carlsen said.

Armenia�s Levon Aronian, second on the international rating list and the Norwegian�s main rival in the field of fourteen, was black in Saturday�s round in Grandmaster group A. He settled for a draw after 30 uneventful moves from a Catalan opening against Vassili Ivanchuk of the Ukraine, dropping half a point and allowing Carlsen to come alongside again. (see picture) �The line we played is one of those variations that are supposed to be draws,� Aronian told reporters after he left the tournament hall. �But Vassili has a very good feeling for such positions. He had this cunning plan to make me lose my concentration and to beat me like that. Fortunately, I managed to avoid trouble.�

Two more encounters ended peacefully without much ado, with Hikaru Nakamura of the U.S. and Teymour Radjabov of Azerbaijan calling it a day in a Sicilian game after just 28 moves. Radjabov explained later that the balance had been �dynamical� and that the two players therefore �had to tread very carefully� but since they both did, the result was never in doubt. Vugar Gashimov of Azerbaijan and Italy�s Fabiano Caruana split the point in a Ruy Lopez that took 50 moves. Gashimov played white and was slightly worse throughout much of the encounter but that turned out to be insufficient for Caruana to score a win.

Also drawn was the Dutch derby between �Lucky� Loek van Wely and national champion Anish Giri � a drawn-out affair from a rare Trompowski opening, in which Van Wely had a lasting advantage that dwindled gradually and disappeared completely at move # 59. The peace was signed nine moves later.(see picture)

�Tiredness is taking its toll,� explained GM Ivan Sokolov, who is responsible for awarding the daily �Piet Zwart Prize� funded by the municipalities of Velsen and Beverwijk. �Van Wely was a long-time candidate but he let his advantage slip.� U.S. champion Gata Kamsky won his Berlin-Wall game with white against David Navara but that �was a very disappointing game,� Sokolov felt, with the Czech GM �on a disastrous roller coaster down� having lost four games so far. Bulgaria�s Veselin Topalov, black in a Sicilian game against Sergei Karjakin of the Ukraine (see picture), �was clearly better� when he, too, fell victim to tiredness and suffered �a dramatic turning of the tables� finally to lose after 99 moves, Sokolov said. �It was very difficult to choose in a round marred with blunders,� he added, in the end awarding the 500 euros to Carlsen, who gave a �fine display of his skill of exploiting microscopic advantages.

In Group B, Sokolov awarded the prize � set at 250 euros in this section of the tournament � to 15-year-old Ilya Nyzhnyk for his win in 34 moves with white in a Ben-Oni against Italy�s Daniele Vocaturo.(see picture) �The young Ukrainian nicely demonstrated the typical Ben-Oni central break (see diagram) 16.e5! after which Vocaturo�s position quickly collapsed,� Sokolov said, adding that Vocaturo �should have tried 16�exd5 if he had wanted to stay in the game rather than 16�dxe5.�

India�s Pentala Harikrishna kept the lead in Group B after a draw with black in 66 moves from a Nimzo-Indian against Russia�s Vladimir Potkin. He was one full point ahead of his nearest rival in the field of fourteen.

The 100-euro daily prize in Group C went to Russia�s Maxim Turov and India�s Sahaj Grover for the highly entertaining ending to their Queen�s Gambit which resulted in a draw after 65 moves. Turov remained in first place in this group with a score of 6 pts. He was followed at half a point by Sweden�s Hans Tikkanen, who defeated Holland�s Lisa Schut in 47 moves with black from a Sicilian Dragon.(see picture)