For round 10, the Tata Steel Masters moved to the city of Groningen, its second tour destination, about a two hour drive away from Wijk Aan Zee.
Some exciting chess was witnessed at the new venue as four out of the seven games of the round ended decisively. More importantly, Anish Giri, who had taken sole lead after his win in the last round, was caught in the lead once again by Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
Viswanathan Anand won his third game of the tournament beating the English GM Gawain Jones.
Playing with the white pieces, Giri wasn’t able to create too many chances against Sergey Karjakin and settled for a draw after 26 moves of play.
Mamedyarov played the shortest game of the round which lasted only 21 moves. With the black pieces against Peter Svidler, Mamedyarov essayed a rare line in the Ragozin variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined.
Svidler was clearly unprepared for this and within the first ten moves, Mamedyarov had equalized and begun his attack on the queenside.
Unable to castle because of the forthcoming attack on the g-file, Svidler blundered on his 15th move allowing black’s queen knight rush into the centre while gaining tempo on the white queen.
Mamedyarov’s heavy pieces also ushered in soon after through the g-file and by the 21st move, Svidler was a piece down and decided to throw in the towel.
Carlsen played a much longer game against Wesley So in a London System-like setup. Giving up the right to castle early in the game, Carlsen let his king ramble in the centre. But around move 30, Carlsen was able to exchange queens and win a pawn to the good.
On the final move of the time control, Carlsen sacrificed a full piece, however as compensation had three pawns and won the fourth soon afterwards.
In the ensuing endgame, Carlsen’s four pawns turned out to be far too many for So’s extra bishop to keep under control.
On his 74th turn, the Norwegian added another connoisseur’s touch to the game by sacrificing another exchange. Carlsen now had only three pawns against So’s rook, but the pawns were too far advanced and the rook was in no position to stop them.
Just two moves later, the Filipino-American GM resigned.
Anand’s Sicilian Defence was challenged with the Alapin variation, a rarely seen line at the top level, by the British GM Gawain Jones.
However, Anand equalised easily out of the opening and on his 17th turn, came up with a brilliant exchange sacrifice which not only gave black pieces immense activity but also a far advanced passed pawn on the queenside.
In the next few moves, Anand won a couple of pawns and re-established material equilibrium. But by this point, Anand’s passers on the queenside had become unstoppable and Jones resigned as soon as the first time control was reached.
The other Indian in the fray, Adhiban Baskaran also had a dominating position against Hou Yifan after the first time control.
Though the two opened with a strange version of the King’s Indian Defence, where neither side really managed to get an advantage, the position was roughly even when Yifan erred on her 36th move and allowed Adhiban to win a pawn.
However, Adhiban didn’t go for the most lethal continuation but retained a decent edge and two extra pawns.
On move 64, Adhiban was forced to return one of his extra pawns to make progress in the position and even though Adhiban tried hard to try and break through the Chinese GM’s defence, the players finally decided to sign peace and call it a day on the 103rd move.
In the Challengers’ group, Vidit Gujrathi and Anton Korobov maintained their 1.5 point lead over the rest of the field drawing their games against Jeffery Xiong and Erwin L’ami respectively.
In the only all-female matchup of the round, Harika Dronavalli drew against Olga Girya in a 57-move game that opened with a Queen’s Gambit Declined.
Round 11 of the challengers will be a crucial one as it would feature a face-off between the two leaders of the group, Vidit Gujrathi and Anton Korobov.
Along with having the white pieces, Vidit also has the advantage of more than 60 rating points over his opponent.
If Vidit manages to win against the experienced Korobov, it will almost be a given that he wins the title prize. But Korobov will not be an easy nut to crack.
Thursday is a rest day at Tata Steel Chess. Play will resume back in Wijk Aan Zee on Friday, 26 January at 6: 00 PM IST.
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Updated Date: Jan 25, 2018 19:13:10 IST