Tata Steel 2016: Round 6, Giri Gets 1st Point, Carlsen Wins Again

World Champion joins Caruana and Ding in 3-way tie at the top

Round 6 of the 78th Tata Steel Chess Tournament, took place on Friday the 23rd of January, in Wijk aan Zee, Holland. Magnus Carlsen won his second game on the spin, defeating Evgeny Tomashevsky as White in a London System. Black was actually doing perfectly fine, balancing White’s nice knight on e5 with a strong bishop on b7, ready to fire over to the White King’s position should the centre open up. Therefore, White was content to keep it closed and focussed his ideas on playing around it, towards the Kingside.

The crunch came upon White’s 19.Qh4. The idea is, that upon 19…fxe3, to play 20.Rxf6! with an initiative. Qh4, then, in effect, a very constructive waiting move to see how Black would go about improving his situation. Tomashevsky began well, with 19…Qd8 (…Nh7 was also a possibility) but then after 20.Rxf4 (the only respectable move here) came the error, 20…Ne4? This actually loses and allows White to turn Black’s b7-bishop into a liability and ultimately pick up a pawn. Carlsen did just that, and Tomashevsky’s position rapidly collapsed.

The other win of the section came from Anish Giri, who put paid to any recovery that Shakhryar Mamedyarov and his supporters were hoping for. Black was holding things together quite well in their Catalan, but when material became unbalanced, started to struggle. Giri showed excellent technique, and with very nice piece play, limited Black’s activity and brought about a situation where he was a piece up in a single rook endgame. Black had no compensation and was soon resigning.

Wesley So had a good go at joint tournament leader, Fabiano Caruana, who has not had an easy time of it at the top of the leader board in the last few rounds. So, playing the white side of a Giuoco Piano, obtained a nice edge, his pieces better placed and more active than those of his opponent. So pressed, and the endgame left him with an extra pawn. Despite his efforts, however, So was unable to make progress, Caruana doing all he can to defend and cause difficulties. In the end, the game was an 80-move draw.

David Navara did not have the best opening as Black against Liren Ding. In the Grunfeld, White was able to obtain quite an advantage, with very good quality pieces. Perhaps a little quiet play from White in places, as well as gritty resistance from Black, helped Black to get himself back in to the position and the balance gradually returned.

Yifan Hou managed to obtain a very nice position against countryman, Yi Wei, but her decision to sacrifice the exchange on her 48th move didn’t work out for her. It was quite a surprising decision, really, because it certainly was not a necessity. In any case, she went from very much better to worse. Ultimately the endgame of pawn and knight v rook was a technical draw, and netted her a half point anyway.

In Karjakin-Eljanov White didn’t really play with much ambition, and Black managed to equalise rather comfortably. It wasn’t really a very eventful game and the players merely exchanged down and shook hands on move 28. In my opinion, Adams-van Wely was always going to be a draw, and it was in 39 without much of note going on.

Standings after Round 6:
Caruana, Ding, Carlsen — 4pts
Hou, So, Eljanov – 3.5pts
Giri, Wei, Karjakin – 3pts
Navara, Mamedyarov — 2.5pts
Tomashevsky, van Wely — 1.5pt
Adams – 1.5pts

Round 7, Saturday 23rd January 2016 13:30 local time:
Van Wely-Giri

The Challengers group saw three decisive games, the first if which saw Miguoel Admiraal over-cooking things slightly against Samuel Sevian. White’s 19.Rxf5 was not in his interests it seems, and Sevian looked to be handling the situation well, with his 19.d4! Admiraal’s 20.Qh6? was flawed, as could have been demonstrated by 20…Rfc8! The point is that after 21.Rxh7 Kxh7 22.Qxh7+ Black’s King escapes to e8. As it was, Black’s 20…Qc6? was a little too ineffective and after White’s 21.Be4, Black felt he had little better than to sacrifice Queen for knight and bishop. From here, though Sevian made him work hard for it and was not without his own threats, Admiraal converted his advantage nicely.

Anne Haast lost her 6th game in a row, this time to Eltaj Safarli. Playing with the white pieces, in a Ruy Lopez, Birds Defence, Haast let her opponent become too active and neglected her structure. Safarli had a lot of play on the Queenside, which included a passed pawn on the wing. This was a lot to deal with, and Haast’s position collapsed rather rapidly.

Jorden van Foreest and Nijat Abasov threw pieces at each other like there was no tomorrow in their game, sacrifice and counter-sacrifice, which was all very exciting to watch. White came out the better from it; but, some mistakes in the endgame resulted in Black turning the tide, and soon swamping his opponent’s position and when he started to pick pawns off, it was time to acknowledge defeat.

The other games in the round were drawn, without too much of note going on. This left Dreev and Baskaran still at the top of the table, with 5.0/6. Eltaj Safarli is hot on their heels, however, with 4.5/6.

Standings after Round 6:
Dreev, Baskaran – 5pts
Safarli – 4.5pts
Nisipeanu, Antipov, Batsiashvili – 3.5pts
l’Ami – 3pts
Ju, Bok, Sevian, van Foreest – 2.5pts
Admiraal, Abasov – 2pts
Haast – 0pts

Round 7, Saturday 23rd January 2016 13:30 local time:
l’Ami-van Foreest

About John Lee Shaw 291 Articles
Total chess nut! I enjoy following the chess world and giving my two-penneth. I don't pretend to be an expert, I'm more a knowledgeable enthusiast. My chess writing can also be seen at www.chessimprover.com.