24 Jan

Wijk as in Wake

In the days before you could even google Google, when I made my first pilgrimage to the Dutch chess hamlet of Wijk aan Zee, I thought that the name "Wijk" rhymed with bike, like, Mike, pike or tike (and not with weak, beak, geek, reak, meek, seek or Greek). Well, close, as I was to discover: It is pronounced like "wake", "take" and "make". The "aan" is pronounced "ahn" as in the name of German football player Oliver "Kahn" (so with a long "ah"), and "Zee" is "Zey" as in “they”, “may”, “play”.


But no matter how you pronounce it, everyone affectionately just calls it “Wijk”, and it means one thing: The location for one of the world’s longest-running super-tournament with a storied history, and a tournament every player likes to win. And just before leaving Norway, World Champion Magnus Carlsen gave an interview for the newspaper VG, and stated: “Of course it’s important to win Wijk, but I have to find the balance between chasing wins and not take too big risks.”

I don’t know about the balance bit, but Carlsen’s certainly been taking risks as he chases down those wins, as his streak continues by now beating Pavel Eljanov in round seven for a third successive win at the 78th Tata Steel Masters. He’s certainly on fire. - and on the back of big wins in December 2015 at the London Chess Classic and the Qatar Open Masters, he’s now in the hunt for a third successive tournament victory.


Carlsen shares the lead with Fabiano Caruana - who beat joint leader Ding Liren - on 5/7, as the two potential title-rivals begin to pull away from the chasing pack with a one-point lead, and look set for what could well become an exciting two-horse race to the finish line.

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

Round 7:
Navara draw Karjakin
Caruana 1-0 Ding
Wei draw So
Mamedyarov 1-0 Hou
Wan Wely 0-1 Giri
Tomashevsky draw Adams
Eljanov 0-1 Carlsen

Round 7 Standings: 1-2. Fabiano Caruana (USA), Magnus Carlsen (Norway) 5/7; 3-5. Wesley So (USA), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Ding Liren (China) 4; 6-10. Hou Yifan (China), Wei Yi (China), Sergey Karjakin (Russia), Paverl Eljanov (Ukraine), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) 3.5; 11. David Navara (Czech Rep.) 3; 12. Evgeny Tomashevsky (Russia) 2.5; 13-14. Loek Van Wely (Netherlands), Michael Adams (England) 2.

Round 8 pairings (Sun 24th Jan): Karjakin-Carlsen, Adams-Eljanov, Giri-Tomashevsky, Hou-Van Wely, So-Mamedyarov, Ding-Wei Yi, Navara-Caruana. 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 Pavel Eljanov - GM Magnus Carlsen
78th Tata Steel Masters, (7)
Catalan/Bogo Indian
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 0-0 7.0-0 Nbd7 8.Qc2 Ne4 9.Bf4 c6 10.Nc3 g5!? It looks well "dodgy", to say the least. But one thing about Magnus Carlsen is that he is extremely well-versed in historic games of the past, and he will have known that - via a slightly different move-order - in this position Botvinnik also played ...g5!? against Petrosian, in game 9 of their 1963 World Championship match, that ended in a tough 55-move draw. 11.Be3 In the aforementioned Petrosian-Botvinnik clash, Petrosian retreated with 11.Bc1 and Botvinnik played 11...f5 and the game took on the shape of the Dutch Stonewall. But here, Carlsen has his own twist that takes immediate advantage of the fact that Eljanov put his bishop on e3. 11...Nd6 12.b3 Nf5! It could well be that Eljanov didn't realise Carlsen could play this, because with the bishop on e3, the knight hop d6-f5 means he can't retreat the bishop, as ...g4 picks up the d-pawn and leaves Black with a big advantage. 13.g4 Nxe3 14.fxe3 b5! From a very original opening idea, Carlsen has Eljanov under pressure by move 14 with the Black pieces - not often you see that in elite chess! 15.e4?! The ‘Carlsen fear’ strikes again! Accepting the pawn sacrifice, which looks dangerous, is probably Eljanov’s best option here: 15.cxb5 cxb5 16.Nxb5 Ba6 17.a4 (If 17.Nc3 Rc8 18.a3 and suddenly White is being ripped open, because after 18...h5! 19.h3 hxg4 20.hxg4 Qc7 and Black could well have a winning advantage here.) 17...Qb6 18.Qc7 Qxc7 19.Nxc7 Bxe2 20.Nxa8 Bxf1 21.Bxf1 Rxa8 22.Rc1 Nf6 and Black is arguably a little better in the endgame due to White's pawns being weaker. And perhaps fearing Carlsen legendary endgame grind in such position, Eljanov opts to go on a foolhardy adventure with 15 e4?! 15...b4 16.exd5 bxc3 17.dxc6 Nb8 The sacrifice for the pawn storm looks dangerous and complex - but not only did Carlsen not believe it, he immediately saw right through it. 18.Qe4 f5! Carlsen has a pretty clear plan of what he's going to do. 19.gxf5 exf5 20.Qd5+ Qxd5 21.cxd5 Na6 22.Rac1 Nc7 23.Ne5 f4! (See Diagram) A nice move that importantly stops White from playing e4, and after which, Carlsen will set about organising his pieces to start attacking White's central pawn mass. 24.Nc4 Another inaccuracy - better was the immediate 24.Rxc3 Bb4 25.Rc4 a5 and Black is now ready to play ...Nb5-d6, and this bishops will start chipping away at the pawns. 24...Rd8 Carlsen could also have played 24...Bf6; but he has a clear vision here of what he want to play. 25.Rxc3 Nxd5 26.c7 Nxc7! It's so simple - Carlsen exchanges down to having the active pieces, and where White's central pawns can't be defended. The rest of the game is, as the old saying goes, simply a matter of technique - and expertly executed. 27.Bxa8 Nxa8 28.e3 Bb4 29.Rc2 Bb7 30.h4 If 30.exf4 Rxd4! and f4 will also fall. 30...Be4 31.Rh2 Nb6 32.Ne5 There's no respite in 32.Nxb6 axb6 33.exf4, as 33...g4! easily wins. 32...fxe3 33.hxg5 Rxd4 34.Ng4 Nd5 0-1

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