Tata Steel Chess R3: Caruana joins the leading pack

Carlsen plays the London

The two highest-rated players in the world met in round 3 of the Tata Steel Masters. Magnus Carlsen, playing white against Ding Liren, opened with 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4, entering the popular London System — not the most combative of setups. Given the format of the event, with 14 players ranging from 2681 to 2859 rating-wise, keeping it solid this early in the tournament seems to be a sound strategy for the world champion, who will face Anish Giri in round 4 prior to the first rest day of the event. Not surprisingly, the game against Ding ended in a 37-move draw.

However, there was no lack of excitement in other games, both in the Masters and the Challengers. A few of the encounters lasted over six hours, with Max Warmerdam and Eline Roebers only agreeing to a draw at almost the exact 7-hour mark. In the Masters, Vincent Keymer and especially Arjun Erigaisi defended fiercely to save draws in games lasting 78 and 61 moves respectively.

It was not all draws in the Masters, though, as Fabiano Caruana defeated Jorden van Foreest from the white side of a Petroff Defence. Van Foreest, who won the event back in 2021, approached the game creatively, going for an early …f7-f5 push with black. The very principled Caruana saw this as a chance to score his first win of the event, and managed to get the full point after 46 moves of play. The US ace will try to claim his second title in Wijk aan Zee, as he won the 2020 edition with an incredible 10/13 performance, finishing a full two points ahead of second-placed Carlsen.

The lengthy tournament is just beginning, but we can already draw some conclusions…

…or as Vishy Anand put it:

It is our greatest tradition, and a January not in Wijk Aan Zee is no January at all! 

Ding Liren, Magnus Carlsen

The most anticipated matchup of the day — Ding Liren playing black against Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Van Foreest’s failed experiment in the Petroff


Fabiano Caruana, Jorden van Foreest

Tournament director Jeroen van den Berg looking on as the Petroff between Fabiano Caruana and Jorden van Foreest unfolds | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Standings after round 3 – Masters


All games – Masters



Six leaders in the Challengers

Three games finished decisively in round 3 of the Challengers tournament, which left no fewer than six players — almost half the field — sharing first place on 2/3 points. 

All three winners of the day joined the leading pack. Velimir Ivic defeated former co-leader Abhimanyu Mishra with black; Javokhir Sindarov inflicted Vaishali Rameshbabu’s second consecutive loss; while Mustafa Yilmaz got the better of Erwin l’Ami, who came from losing to Eline Roebers in the previous round. Still in the shared lead after drawing on Monday are Alexander Donchenko, Amin Tabatabaei and Max Warmerdam.

In the one confrontation between co-leaders on Tuesday, Yilmaz will get the white pieces against Warmerdam.  

Eline Roebers, Max Warmerdam

Eline Roebers beat Erwin l’Ami on Sunday and missed a few chances to defeat Max Warmerdam on Monday | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Beerdsen’s missed chance

For a second round in a row, Jergus Pechac featured in the most exciting game of the day. Right after playing the King’s Gambit against Tabatabaei, he faced Thomas Beerdsen’s Evans Gambit. On move 25, Beerdsen failed to find a deep — and rather peculiar — tactical shot.


Jergus Pechac, Thomas Beerdsen

Bringing back the Romantic era of chess — Jergus Pechac and Thomas Beerdsen | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Standings after round 3 – Challengers


All games – Challengers




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