19 Jan

Wei To Go, Kid!

Millennials – folks born between 1980 and 2004, they tell us – are on the cusp of pushing out the old guard to dominate  the chess scene. Veterans left over from the Kasparov era, such as Vishy Anand, Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov are no longer the force they once used to be, and a new crop of talent is emerging in the wake of Magnus Carlsen's rise. And indeed, many are predicting that, after the Candidates tournament in March, which will determine Carlsen’s title challenger, we could well have the first all-millennials world championship match. 


But what comes after that for Carlsen? Leonard Barden, the chess journalists’ chess journalist, who is a past-master of scouting chess talent, predicts that the prestigious Chinese talent Wei Yi will challenge Carlsen for the world crown within five years. And with the 16-year-old playing in his first major at the 78th Tata Steel Masters in Wijk aan Zee, all eyes were on the teenager’s first game against the world champion.

Interviewed last week by the Norwegian newspaper VG, with the anticipated first of what could well be many clashes between the two, Carlsen said that “Wei understands the dynamics of the game. If I want to beat him, I have to think like the old guys. I'll get him in the endgame.”


And this indeed was the game-plan adopted by Carlsen, who played a main-line Marshall Attack and Wei Yi faced what all his older colleagues have before him: a worse ending vs Magnus. However the position became too sterile for Carlsen to make anything of the position, and Wei successfully held the draw. And now, like Carlsen before him, Wei at 16 achieves a draw against the world champion. Wei to go, kid!

Photo © | http://www.tatasteelchess.com/

Wei may well be the future, but another millennial, Fabiano Caruana of the USA, is widely tipped to win the upcoming Candidates tournament for the first to get a crack at Carlsen - and he managed to grind down Michael Adams to score his second win of the tournament to take the early sole lead. Game of the day, though, was a near miss involving an exciting encounter between another couple of millennials, as David Navara came close to beating Anish Giri.

Round 3
Caruana 1-0 Adams
So draw Karjakin
Ding Liren draw Hou Yifan
Wei Yi draw Carlsen
Van Wely draw Tomashevsky
Navara draw Giri
Mamedyarov 0-1 Eljanov

Round 3 Standings: 1. Fabiano Caruana (USA) 2.5/3; 2-3. Wesley So (USA), Ding Liren (China) 2; 4-11. Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Hou Yifan (China), Sergey Karjakin (Russia), Wei Yi (China), Evgeny Tomashevsky (Russia), Loek van Wely (Netherlands), Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine), David Navara (Czech Rep.) 1.5; 12-13. Anish Giri (Netherlands), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) 1; 14. Michael Adams (England) 0.5.

Round 4 (Tues. 19th Jan): Karjakin-Tomashevsky, Eljanov-Van Wely, Carlsen-Mamedyarov, Adams-Wei, Giri-Caruana, Hou-Navara, So-Ding.

There’s live video commentary coverage featuring former US champion Yasser Seirawan each round, starting at 13:30 local time (07:30 ET, 04:30 PT) by clicking here.

GM David Navara - GM Anish Giri
78th Tata Steel Masters, (3)
Grünfeld Defence
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 Giri has the reputation of being arguably one of the best-prepared players in the game today, and nothing much gets by him. However, Navara has a reputation of finding unbelievable lines over-the-board rather than at home, and today he again came up with a corker - and indeed, Giri mentioned in his post-game summary that he had a feeling before the game that "something bad was going to happen” to him. And it almost did. 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4 a6 The sharp Hungarian Variation, so-called because it was pioneered about 40 years by a school of leading young Hungarian players, led by Grünfeld guru András Adorján. 8.Be2 b5 9.Qb3 c5 10.dxc5 Bb7 11.e5 Nfd7 12.Be3 e6 13.0-0 Qc7 14.Rad1 Nxc5 So far, so theory. Giri would normally feel on safe ground here in his favourite Grünfeld - but little does he know that in a few moves he's going to get hit by a bolt out of the blue. 15.Qa3 Ne4 I'm sure this was in Giri's play-book, but previously seen has been 15...Ncd7 16.Qe7 Rc8 as in Gelfand-Svidler,Khanty-Mansiysk 2015. 16.Nxe4 Bxe4 17.Ng5 Bc6 18.f4 Qb7 And also here, previously seen was 18...h6 19.Nf3 Rc8 20.Rc1 Bf8 21.Qc3 Qd8 in Holzmueller-Mertens, Corr. 2012. 19.Bc5 Re8 20.f5! Now all the fun starts, and Giri may well have been believing his fears going into this game. 20...exf5 21.Rxf5!! (See Diagram) "I thought White didn't risk too much and I liked my position," opined Navara. "It was probably better than I expected." 21...gxf5 22.Bh5 Bd5 The alternative 22...Rf8 leads Black into serious trouble after 23.Bxf8 Bxf8 24.Qh3! and White has a dominating attack. 23.Rxd5 Qxd5 24.Bxf7+ Qxf7 25.Nxf7 Kxf7 26.Qb3+ Kg6 27.Qg3+ Kf7 28.Qb3+ Kg6 29.Qg3+ Navara isn't angling for a draw; after using up a lot of time on his clock fathoming out his stunning rook sacrifice, he's just quickly repeating a few moves to get nearer to the time control at move 40. 29...Kf7 30.Qf3 And now, this is where Navara has to find the win - and he fails to find the best continuation. The win would have been 30.Bd4, and Black is left in dire straits trying to defend this, as after 30...Nd7 31.e6+ Kxe6 32.Bxg7 White would have  a better version of what he got in the game. But now, at the critical moment, Navara overestimated Black's resources.  30...Nd7 31.Qd5+ Kg6 32.Qc6+ Nf6?! As pointed out in the commentary, the best way to play for the draw was with 32...Bf6! 33.Bd4 Rad8 34.exf6 Ne5 35.Bxe5 Rd1+ 36.Kf2 Rxe5 and White can't make anything of this position. 33.exf6 Rac8 34.Qxa6 Ra8 35.f7+! Kxf7 36.Qxb5 Rad8 37.Qb3+ Kg6 38.Qg3+ Kf7 39.Qb3+ Kg6 40.Bd6? Navara again had the luxury of repeating a couple of moves to get closer to making the time control. He can't afford to repeat the position again, so right at the time control he misses his shot and let's Giri off with an easy draw. Instead, after 40.Kf1! he would have retained excellent chances of playing on for the win. But not now. 40...Bxb2 41.Qxb2 Rxd6 42.h3 Ra6! ½-½

1 Comments January 19, 2016

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  • Joey

    “Veterans left over from the Kasparov era, such as Vishy Anand, Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov are no longer the force they once used to be”

    I feel this should be nuanced.. Topalov won the prestigious Norway Chess and was top 3 of the world a large portion of 2015. Up until last month, Anand still was number 3 in the world and he won Zurich and the Gashimov memorial, getting second at Norway.

    Finally, Kramnik had on of the best 2015’s of any chess player. He is back to number 2 in the world right now and has showed some great chess last year.

    Of course, the three former world champs aren’t as good as they were at their peak – though a case could be made that Kramnik is as good as ever -, but they are still three of the greatest players in the scene, able to beat anyone.