International Chess Federation
Sunday, 22 Jan 2023 23:37
Tata Steel Masters: Abdusattorov leads going into second rest day

Nodirbek Abdusattorov preserved his one-point lead heading into the rest day.

It was the second high-scoring round in a row (four wins and just three draws) at Tata Steel Masters 2023, with Gukesh D, Richard Rapport and Jorden Van Foreest scoring their first victories. Magnus Carlsen improved his tournament situation after beating Fabiano Caruana with the black pieces.

Nodirbek Abdusattorov – Fabiano Caruana ½–½

The event leader essayed a new idea 9.Qe1 followed by 10.Qc3 in the Anti-Marshall of Ruy Lopez and managed to pose some problems for Black. Levon defended accurately, traded several pieces and then the queens to seal a draw in an equal endgame.

Fabiano Caruana – Magnus Carlsen  0-1

In another Anti-Marshall, the opponents followed the recent game Nguyen – Wojtaszek for quite a while, but Fabiano was first to deviate with a new move 15.Bf4. White advanced his central pawns and attacked Black's knight, probably hoping to throw it back to h7, but Magnus had different agenda.

21…Bc6! It turns out that the knight is taboo due to 22. exf6 Rxe1+ 23. Bxe1 Rxb3. Taken aback, Fabiano immediately committed the decisive mistake 22.Bc2?? (after 22.Qd3 White is OK) and after 22... Qd5 23. Re2 Rb4 24. Kh2 Rxd4 25. Qb1 Ne4, it did not take Magnus long to finish off his opponent.

Ding Liren – Wesley So ½–½

Ding and Wesley tested the advance variation of Caro Kann in which White got an edge thanks to the pressure on Black's week pawns. Probably 20.Nc4 instead of 20.Bc4 was a bit stronger (although even in this case, Black had sufficient defensive resources) because, as played, Wesley reached a draw without much of a hassle.

Anish Giri – Vincent Keymer  ½–½

The players followed the footsteps of Sethuraman and Yu Yangyi (2022) but Anish was first to deviate with 17. Qe2, which, according to chess engines, is not as strong as the immediate 17.b5 played by the Indian GM. Anish played b4-b5 a bit later and grabbed a pawn on the queenside.

On move 22 White had a chance to consolidate his position and achieve seizable advantage, but in order to do that, he should have retreated his pieces to the first rank. This option does not look attractive for a human player, and Anish opted for a more natural queens exchange. However, after thematic c7-c5 Black got full compensation. Apparently, Giri did not like his position as he offered a draw which Keymer had no reason to reject.

Richard Rapport – Praggnanandhaa R  1-0

Rapport renewed an old idea of advancing h-pawn in the Giuoco Piano and obtained a promising position but missed the best continuation on move 11. Praggnanandhaa, in his turn, also did not play optimally and after castling long and dislodging the opponent's queen from c3, White got a dangerous initiative in the center and kingside. The Indian tried to evacuate his king to the queenside, but as soon as White advanced his pawn mass in the center Black's defense collapsed. A few moves later, Praggnanandhaa parted with an exchange and got two extra pawns but found himself in a hopeless position. Rapport was merciless and scored his first victory in the event.

Jorden van Foreest – Arjun Erigaisi  1-0

The young Indian tried a relatively new idea in the King's Indian 7…h6, but soon the position took a more or less familiar shape. In the subsequent play White, as usual pushed on the queenside, while Black put some pressure on the c4-pawn. Eventually, Jorden planted his knight to c6, and after Black did not venture upon trading it for a rook and a pawn with a solid position, the Dutchman creatively sacrificed this piece for a couple of pawns. Black still had some defensive options, but after a few inaccuracies by Erigiasi, White advanced his queenside pawns and got the day.

Gukesh D – Parham Maghsoodloo  1-0

In this see-saw game, the Iranian GM pulled out an offbeat 3…h6 in the Nimzo-Indian but ended up in a standard position where this move was just a waste of tempi. Gukesh immediately grabbed the initiative, but instead of snatching a pawn on move 16 he preferred to continue manoeuvring and allowed Parham to consolidate his position. However, the Iranian had no desire to defend passively and unleashed a highly aggressive g7-g5 only to create some extra weaknesses in his camp. White pressured the queenside but underestimated Black's threats on the kingside, and the position became even. Moreover, in the heat of the battle Gukesh overpushed and gave Parham a chance to win the game on the spot.

Instead of 41... Nxg3+ 42. Kh2 Nf5 43. a7 Ra2 44. a8=Q Rxa8 45. Qxa8 Qf4+ 46. Kh1 Ng3+ 47. Kh2 Ne4+ 48. Kh1 Nf2# the Iranian played 41…Ra2 and just a few moves later, this dramatic game took the final U-turn.

Trying to avoid a draw by perpetual at any cost, Parham just played 42…Kg6, but missed a nice trick 43.g4! Ironically, Ng3+ winning just a few moves back fails to 44.Qxg3! Black tried 43…Ne3 but got checkmated after 44. Be4+ f5 45. Qd6+ Kf7 46. gxf5 g4 47. Qe6+ Kf8 48. Qf6+ Kg8 49. Bd5+ 1-0

Standings after Round 8: 1. Nodirbek Abdusattorov – 6; 2-3. Anish Giri and Wesley So – 5; 4-7. Levon Aronian, Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen – 4.5; 8. Ding Liren – 4; 9-10. Richard Rapport and Parham Maghsoodloo – 3.5; 11-12. Arjun Erigaisi and Richard Van Foreest – 3; 13-14. Vincent Keymer and Gukesh D – 2.5.

January 23 is the second of three planned rest days at Tata Steel Masters 2023. Round 9 will start on January 24 at 2 PM local time.  

Photos:, Jurriaan Hoefsmit and Lennart Ootes