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23 Jan

Storm Warning

Millions of people across a dozen states are bracing themselves as a “historic” storm  - Storm Jonas - is set to seriously disrupt travel, possible major power outages and unprecedented white-out conditions as it begins to bear down this weekend on the eastern US.  Meanwhile there’s also a storm brewing in the North Sea coastal town of Wijk aan Zee - but unlike the last time this little chess hamlet was hit by a major storm, this time all the damage is being done inside and not outside of the playing venue.

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Perhaps the most dramatic episode in the history of the fabled Dutch tournament was a number of years back, when a violent storm also hit the area on the night of the penultimate round. That winter storm was so violent that it ripped the roof off of the De Moriaan playing venue. But the legendary Dutch organisers took it all in their stride, and with no playing venue for the last round, they hastily arranged a number of rooms in the hotel to successfully stage the final round.

But this time the storm warning is for inside and not outside of the playing venue, as ‘Storm’ Magnus Carlsen looks as if he’s about to blow the field apart, as back-to-back wins moves the World Champion ominously into the joint lead at the end of round six of the 78th Tata Steel Masters. His latest victim this time was Russian champion Evgeny Tomashevsky, who blinked at the decisive moment to allow Carlsen to score a quick, decisive victory.

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And some felt Tomashevsky resigned somewhat premature when he did at move 30 - Nigel Short even tweeting: “Why did Tomashevsky resign?  It was bad, but if I resigned every time I had a lousy position I would never score any points.”  True, but in reality, Tomashevsky was facing a hopeless cause trying to defend the coming endgame two pawns down to the World Champion.  

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

Round 6:
Karjakin draw Eljanov
Carlsen 1-0 Tomashevsky
Adams draw Van Wely
Giri 1-0 Mamedyarov
Hou draw Wei
So draw Caruana
Ding draw Navara

Round 6 Standings: 1-3. Fabiano Caruana (USA), Ding Liren (China), Magnus Carlsen (Norway) 4/6; 4-6.Wesley So (USA), Hou Yifan (China), Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine) 3.5; 7-9. Anish Giri (Netherlands), Wei Yi (China), Sergey Karjakin (Russia) 3; 10-11. David Navara (Czech Rep.), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) 2.5; 12-13. Evgeny Tomashevsky (Russia), Loek Van Wely (Netherlands) 2; 14. Michael Adams (England) 1.5.

Round 7 (Sat 23rd Jan): Navara-Karjakin, Caruana-Ding, Wei-So, Mamedyarov-Hou, Van Wely-Giri, Tomashevsky-Adams, Eljanov-Carlsen. There’s live video commentary with host GM Yasser Seirawan and his guest each round, starting at 13:30 local time (07:30 ET, 04:30 PT) by clicking here.

GM Magnus Carlsen - GM Evgeny Tomashevsky
78th Tata Steel Masters, (6)
London System
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 The London System is the ideal opening for those who do not wish to get heavily involved in a sharp, theoretical duel, nor to explore reams of opening theory, but prefer to simply complete their development in a solid, non-confrontational way. The set-up of d4, Nf3, Bf4, e3, h3 and c3 can indeed be frustrating to play against - and this anti-theory strategy fits in well with Carlsen's style. 3...b6 4.e3 Bb7 5.h3 Be7 6.Bd3 0-0 7.0-0 c5 8.c3 Nc6 9.Nbd2 d5 10.Qe2 Bd6 11.Rfe1 The battle in the London is generally over the e5 square - if White can control e5 and put his knight there, generally he will have the better game. This is why Carlsen doesn't exchange on d6; if Black plays ...Bxf4, then exf4 and White gets e5. 11...Ne7 12.Rad1 Ng6 13.Bxg6 hxg6 14.Bxd6 Qxd6 15.Ne5 The theme to look out for in the London is White planting a knight on e5, exchange some pieces, and then head towards an ending where the knight dominates Black's white-squared bishop. 15...g5?! "Here I just got excited about the possibility of an attack," said Carlsen in his post-game summery, "so I just went for it." If Tomashevsky does 'nothing', then Carlsen's plan is f4, Ndf3, Qf2-h4 and Ng5 mating. And if 15...Nd7 16.f4! and White has an easy game, either going for the knockout blow on the kingside, or perhaps the endgame of good knight vs bad bishop. Black really is in a spot of bother here. 16.f4 gxf4 17.Rf1! And round about here, Tomashevsky must have feared 'Storm Magnus' was about to lay waste to his kingside. 17...Nd7? And here's where the whole game swings on a dime. In his post-game summery, Carlsen said that after 17...fxe3 he had at least a draw with 18.Rxf6 "but it feels like more" - and the World Champion's  instincts look to be spot on: 18...exd2 (There’s carnage after 18…gxf6? 19.Qg4+ Kh7 20.Rf1!! exd2 21.Rf4! d1Q+ 22.Qxd1 and there's now way to avoid Qh5+ and Rg4 mating.) 19.Rxd2! (If 19.Rdf1 Ba6! 20.Qh5 Bxf1 21.Nxf7 Rxf7 22.Qxf7+ Kh8 leads to a perpetual; 19.Qh5 gxf6 20.Qg4+ Kh7 21.Qh4+ Kg7 is also only a perpetual for White) 19...Qe7 20.Rf4 and something's got to give, as very soon White will have all his pieces swarming around Black's undefended king. 18.Qh5! (See Diagram) 18...Nf6 19.Qh4 Qd8 The carnage is quicker this time if you take on e3, as White already has the queen on the h-file: 19...fxe3? 20.Rxf6! exd2 21.Rxd2 cxd4 22.cxd4 gxf6 (If 22...Qb4 23.Rdf2 wins.) 23.Qg4+ Kh7 24.Rd3 and Black can't stop Qh5+ and Rg3 mate. 20.Rxf4 Ne4 This is the best Tomashevsky has to avoid being mated - but it gives Carlsen a big endgame advantage. And the alternative retreat was worse: 20...Nd7 21.Nxd7 Qxd7 22.Qh5 followed by Rh4 and a mating attack. 21.Nxe4 Qxh4 The queens off means no mating attack - but the resulting endgame is horrific for Tomashevsky. 22.Rxh4 dxe4 23.dxc5 bxc5 24.Rd7 Rab8 25.b3 The Black pawns on c5 and a7 are prime targets now for Carlsen; and he also dominates Black's bishop, as a ...Bd5 will be met with c4. The rest is now academic. 25...a5 26.Rc7 a4 27.bxa4 Ba8 28.a5 Rb7 29.Rxc5 Ra7 30.Nc4 1-0

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