The Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee is the first major of the year, and one with a long tradition. First starting as an employee tournament in the troubled late 1930s, it has grown in stature in the post-war years to become an international tournament of world class renown. But with the changes in ownership, along the way it has gone from Hoogovens to Tata Steel, the latest iteration coming after the Indian conglomerates’ 2007 takeover of the steel giant.
One constant for the success for this long-established Dutch tournament is its traditional mix of well-established players and promising young players that always makes for a lot of cut and thrust and the occasional underdog upset. And with its new Indian sponsor, there’s not unsurprisingly a good mix of young Indians in both the Tata Steel Masters and the Challengers tournament.
One of those young Indians on the rise, Santosh Vidit, his country’s No 2 behind Vishy Anand, is making his mark with a powerful start to his campaign, as he moves into the early sole lead. The Indian grabbed his moment in the limelight following a pulsating third round encounter against Daniil Dubov, that witnessed the Russian missing his moment to save the game. The wild game with the Black king wandering around in no man’s land would certainly have seen a raised pulse-rate for both players, and the victor readily admitted “Castling is always better for the heart” during his post-game interview.
And Vidit still remains in first place at the end of the fourth round, as another missed moment witnessed Magnus Carlsen ceding a draw that denied the World Champion joining Vidit in the co-lead going into the first rest day. Playing against last year’s dramatic underdog local winner, Jorden van Foreest, Carlsen looked set to win from today’s diagram, but erred with 38.Qg4?, missing that the brazen king walk with 38.Ke2! was simply winning, as now 38…Qa6+ 39.Kd1 sees Black runs out of checks and hopes as he loses material.
84th Tata Steel Masters standings:
1. S. Vidit (India) 3/4; 2-6. A. Esipenko (Russia), M. Carlsen (Norway), S. Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), R. Rapport (Hungary), J. van Foreest (Netherlands) 2½; 7-9. J-K. Duda (Poland), F. Caruana (USA), R. Praggnanandhaa (India) 2; 10-13. A. Giri (Netherlands), D. Dubov (Russia), S. Karjakin (Russia), S. Shankland (USA) 1½; 14. N. Grandelius (Sweden) ½.
Play resumes on Wednesday with live coverage on Chess24 starting at 14:00 CET (8:00 ET, 05:00 PT) on each day (with the exception of rest days on 19, 24 & 27 January) with top Grandmaster commentary from Peter Svidler and Jan Gustafsson.
GM Daniil Dubov – GM Santosh Vidit
84th Tata Steel Masters, (3)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 The Giuoco Piano – meaning ‘quiet game’ in Italian – is one of the oldest recorded openings in chess, recognised in early chess manuscripts from the 16th century. 3…Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 d6 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 a5 8.Na3 A bit more provocative the the usual plan of castling followed by Nbd2-f1-e3 etc. 8…Bxa3 The position becomes a little unbalanced now: White’s queenside pawn structure is shattered, but he also has the bishop-pair as compensation. 9.bxa3 Qe7 10.0-0 Nb8 11.d4 Nbd7 12.Rb1 g5 13.Bg3 Nxe4 14.Qc2 f5 15.dxe5 dxe5 16.Rfe1 Nxg3 17.hxg3 Black is a pawn up, but Dubov has a big lead in development and ways of striking a hole through Vidit’s kingside. To defend though, will require a cool nerve. 17…e4 18.g4! It didn’t take Dubov long to turn the ‘quiet game’ into a brawling street-fight! 18…Nc5 19.Nd4 Rf8 A dangerous position, and one where after 19…fxg4? 20.Bd5! Black will be constantly having to walk on eggshells with 20…Kf8 21.Bxe4 Qf6 22.Rb5! Nxe4 23.Rxe4 Rh7 24.Re8+! Kxe8 25.Qxh7 where Black’s position looks precarious, to say the least! 20.gxf5 Bxf5 21.Rxb7! Admittedly, it all looks spectacular from Dubov, but with careful play from Vidit, it should all fizzle out to a draw. 21…Rf6! A tad risky, but Vidit shows his mettle with a steely defence! 22.Qb1 The direct plan – but the only way to keep some life in the position, as the engine suggests, is to play 22.Rb5!? to keep everything “hanging in the air” for now. After 22…c6 23.Rb6 but after 23…Bd7 it gets hard to justify that White might still have hopes of winning here; more likely it will eventually peter out to a draw. 22…Nxb7 23.Qxb7 Also good but drawing, was 23.Nxf5 Rxf5 24.Qxb7 Rd8 25.Qc6+ Kf8 26.Qg6! (Not 26.Qxh6+?! Qg7 27.Qc6 Re5 and Black has genuine winning chances.) 26…Qf6 27.Qg8+ Ke7 28.Qh7+ Kf8 29.Qg8+ Ke7 30.Qh7+ etc and a repetition.] 23…Rd8 24.Nxf5 Rxf5 25.Rxe4 Rd1+ 26.Kh2 Re5 27.Qc6+ Kd8 [The only move, as 27…Kf8?? loses to 28.Qxh6+ Qg7 29.Qxg7+ Kxg7 30.Rxe5 easily winning. 28.Qa8+ Kd7 29.Bb5+ Ke6 30.Qc8+ Kf6 31.Qh8+ With the …Re5 hanging, Black can’t swing the queen over to g7 to shield from the checks. 31…Kf5 32.f3?? An unexpected losing blunder from Dubov. But in the heat of battle, sometimes you simply can’t see the woods for the trees, and here the Russian has missed his moment to save the game, as the rook isn’t needed to guarantee the draw. The right move was 32.Qc8+! Kf6 (The rook is taboo, not unless you want to walk right into a mate after 32…Kxe4?? 33.Qg4+ Kd5 34.Qc4+ Kd6 35.Qc6#!) 33.Qh8+ Kf5 34.Qc8+ and no way for Black to avoid the checks. 32…Rxe4 As Dubov blunders big-time, Vidit probably couldn’t believe his luck here! 33.fxe4+ Kxe4 34.Qa8+ Ke3 35.Bc6 After 35.Qf3+ Kd2 The king simply walks further up the board to escape from all the checks – and then there will be no defence to a …Qe5+ or …Qd6+ winning for Black. 35…Qe5+ 36.g3 g4! With the not-too-subtle threat of …Qh5+ followed by …Qh1 mate! 37.Qa7+ Kd2 0-1 Dubov resigns now, as his last check with 38.Qf2+ can be met by either 38…Kc1 or even 38…Qe2 forcing the trade of queens and a hopelessly lost ending.