Steel

Giri Defeats Ding, Narrows Abdusattorov’s Lead

GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov maintained his lead with a nearly seven-hour display of exceptional defensive technique vs. GM Vincent Keymer in round nine of the 2023 Tata Steel Chess Tournament. GM Anish Giri is now in a close second, narrowing the gap between them by fighting back to win a sharp game vs. GM Ding Liren. GM Richard Rapport defeated GM Arjun Erigaisi to win the second game in a row. 

The Challengers group was a bloodbath today with five decisive games, including GM Mustafa Yilmaz‘s victory to leapfrog into clear first. GMs Alexander Donchenko, Velimir Ivic, and Javokhir Sindarov chase from half a point behind. 

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GMs Levon Aronian and Jorden van Foreest were the first to finish, playing a very evenly-matched game and agreeing to a draw in a level bishop ending. 

In a Nimzo-Indian, GM Wesley So gave GM Parham Maghsoodloo doubled, isolated pawns on the c-file and then began applying pressure with his queenside pieces. Maghsoodloo countered by aiming at So’s semi-open kingside, and a dynamic fight broke out all over the board. As So’s pieces broke into White’s weakened position, Maghsoodloo set up a perpetual check on the kingside in the nick of time. 

Maghsoodloo showed his trademark fighting spirit on Tuesday. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

Rapport unleashed the novel idea …g5!? in the Nimzo Indian. Suddenly, the standard Nimzo Indian middlegame was infused with attacking ideas. As commentator GM Daniel Naroditsky described: “You can bet a silver dollar that any position he has, you’re just a couple of moves away from a queen sacrifice or some checkmating pattern. This is what everyone loves about Richard Rapport: No matter what form he is in, whether he’s in killer form or he’s in bad form… he is going to play in the same scintillating style, whether he wins or loses, whether he’s playing Magnus Carlsen or a 2000.”

Though Erigaisi castled queenside, Rapport managed to open up the g-file and create potent play against his opponent’s kingside weaknesses. When Erigaisi blundered in an already challenging position, Rapport’s kingside activity transferred into tactical play against the white king. 

In the early middlegame, Ding built up a grip on the center and attacking chances on the kingside, but after a couple slower moves, Giri activated his pieces and the battle started anew. After overlooking Giri’s tactical shot, 28…Bxc4, Ding placed all his pieces on ambitious squares to throw all his hopes into one last attacking chance. In this chaotic position, Giri countered with a beautiful mating combination. Can you find it?

This riveting matchup is our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

As Giri closes in on Abdusattorov’s lead, Naroditsky summed up the incredible tournament that the Dutch number one has had so far: “Beating Magnus and beating Ding: He beat the world number one and number two in the same tournament. How many times has that happened?” 

After the game, Giri shared his feelings about the game: “I was very happy. I feel so very lucky because the game was not looking good. At one point, I even thought, I’m borderline lost.”

Although GM Gukesh D. gained a comfortable position with Black out of the opening, GM Magnus Carlsen set the board on fire with his stunning 28.e4!? as commentator Houska described: “The world champion is weaving his magic.” In the face of the pressure Carlsen put on his position, Gukesh responded with cool-headed accuracy, watching out for his opponent’s threats while stirring up his own counter chances. Ultimately, Carlsen had to settle for a perpetual check due to Gukesh’s passed a-pawn on the verge of promotion. 

In the Ragozin, GM Praggnanandhaa R. expanded on the queenside while GM Fabiano Caruana played the 14…e5 pawn break, opening lines in the center. Caruana followed up with a clever idea to complete his development with 18…Ba6!?, leaving his bishop en prise but defending it by tactical means.

In the middlegame, both players built up their forces on the queenside, fighting over the b-file and pressing on each other’s weak c-pawns. As the game progressed, Praggnanandhaa gained a slight pull due to his greater space and pressure on Black’s isolated a-pawn and backward c-pawn. Caruana defended actively, and the players traded into a rook ending. After a battle of small improvements and pawn trades, they drew. 

Keymer made a valiant effort to try to defeat the tournament leader, Abdusattorov. With a powerful knight on the e5-outpost, a more active rook on the 6th rank, and Black’s isolated d-pawn, Keymer pressed his edge for nearly seven hours. Despite his opponent’s insightful attempts at the full point, Abdusattorov defended shrewdly to hold the game in the technical rook ending. 

IM Adrian Petrisor has annotated this extraordinary display of pressing an advantage vs. resourceful defense.

The true mark of a champion is being able to fight back with your best when things are not going your way. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

In the Challengers section, Yilmaz won a second game in a row, defeating Vaishali in a wild Najdorf Sicilian.

GM Erwin l’Ami played a major role in rearranging the scoreboard by defeating the tournament leader, Donchenko. 

GM B. Adhiban is also on a two-game winning streak, beating IM Eline Roebers in a dazzling attacking game. Sindarov defeated GM Abhimanyu Mishra with tactical play in the center. Finally, GM Max Warmerdam defeated IM Thomas Beerdsen in a tense queenless middlegame. 

Results – Masters Round 9

Current Standings 

Pairings – Masters Round 10


All Games – Masters Round 9

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