Reports | January 23, 2014 20:21

Aronian Also Beats Karjakin, Close to 4th Tata Victory

Aronian Also Beats Karjakin, Close to 4th Tata Victory

With two rounds to go Levon Aronian is very close to clinching his 4th victory in Wijk aan Zee. In the 9th round of the Tata Steel tournament's Masters Group the Armenian grandmaster beat Sergey Karjakin with the white pieces and increased his lead to 1.5 points. Aronian might also improve upon his all-time highest rating of 2825 this month - in the live ratings he is now on 2828.4. In today's round Pentala Harikrishna quickly beat Arkadij Naiditsch and Wesley So won against Loek van Wely. Nakamura-Caruana, Rapport-Giri and Gelfand-Dominguez were drawn. The players of the Challengers Group enjoyed a rest day.

The players of the Masters Group will play their last two rounds in Wijk aan Zee on Saturday and Sunday, and it can hardly go wrong for world #2 Levon Aronian, who is simply in top shape. On Thursday he beat his closest rival Sergey Karjakin, and because Caruana, Dominguez and Giri all drew their games, they are also trailing by 1.5 points. 

In a Queen's Indian, Aronian ended up with better development and more active pieces. At some point Karjakin decidede to sacrifice a pawn so that he could trade the minor pieces and activate one of his rooks, but White managed to liquidate to a rook ending with an extra pawn on the queenside. With his rook behind the pawn, his advantage was very big from the start and Aronian converted the point after 61 moves.

PGN string

Levon Aronian

The round started with a strange game. Completely out of form, Arkadij Naiditsch decided to do something completely different and played 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Bf4. This setup just lacks any punch in the center and Pentala Harikrishna got a better position quickly when he found moves such as 6...Nc6! and 7...Bg6!. Around move 11 White was already lost!

PGN string

Arkadij Naiditsch

Whereas Naiditsch played it on move 3, Richard Rapport moved his bishop to f4 right away. Normally this leads to a London System, but when he answered Anish Giri's 2...c5 with 3.dxc5!? Rapport yet again left theory early on. Right out of the opening some wild tactics arose, and after the dust had settled Rapport had only a slight edge in a rook ending.

PGN string

Boris Gelfand and Leinier Dominguez played a very correct draw. The Cuban came up with a new move in the Grünfeld that looked very solid; he got clear compensation for a pawn and was never in danger. The players reached an ending but soon realized that there was little to play for.

PGN string

In the winning mood, Van Wely returns to his old love, the King's Indian. He must have been prepared for Wesley So's 13.g4 but maybe not for the strange-looking 22.fxg4. We all learnt that one should take back towards the center, but sometimes it takes a 2700 GM to find exceptions in chess! The game developed like a typical King's Indian where White crashes through on the queenside while Black hopes to find a checkmate somewhere. Giving an exchange on f4 was a good practical choice, and in timetrouble Van Wely lost the thread.

PGN string

Wesley So

The last game to finish was the one between Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana. It was a Fianchetto King's Indian and the players played a fashionable line where White accepts an isolated c-pawn in return for pressure on the queenside. Caruana sacrificed his b-pawn and got some threats, but it seems that White still had the better chances. When the queens were traded the ending was about equal.

PGN string

This 9th round was not played in Wijk aan Zee but in Eindhoven, at the High Tech Campus - dubbed as "the smartest square km in the Netherlands". After the fourth round was played in the Rijksmuseum, this was the second "away game" for the grandmasters. Friday is a rest day; the last two rounds will be played over the weekend. On Saturday Garry Kasparov will visit the tournament and join the live commentary.

Masters Group, round 9 standings


The Tata Steel tournament runs 11-26 January and is held in Wijk aan Zee, Amsterdam and Eindhoven. You can find the official website here and the live games here. The live streaming commentary can also be found here on

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


RG13's picture


bishop1's picture

viva le tour :) thanks pete, good commenting the other day :)

wortwart's picture

What an awful game by Naiditsch. Has there ever been a 2700+ playing so badly? Naiditsch looked like a club player today.

Remco G's picture

It reminded me of a Nakamura - Volokitin game (1.e4 c5 2.Qh5?!) in which black won brutally. But I found it ( ) and Nakamura was only 2660 at the time.

Thomas Richter's picture

In Naiditsch's game, 3.Bf4 may be unambitious but not yet plain bad - Jobava "used" this move to beat Zhao Xue in round 3 of the B group (of course the win in the endgame was unrelated to the opening). Jobava had dinner with Naiditsch one day (as he mentioned in the live transmission), maybe it was his suggestion?

Then it seems Naiditsch suddenly changed his mind and became ambitious with 4.f3, spending 11 minutes on this move.

Sir Schratz's picture

It must be terrible to be out of form exactly in such a tournament - the players with wijk-format are ruthless. Even if they only think they could smell blood will they go for the full point ....

And on Saturday Kasparov will be there for a visit - one can only hope for Naiditsch his game will not be finished within 2 hours ....

Good Lord - Naiditsch dominated Wijk B last year against very strong opponents - such a shame he's a far cry from his chess in wijk ....

Morley's picture

Very excited to see how Aronian does against Anand, Kramnik, and Carlsen in a week.

>:)'s picture

don't like so or the 'american'

Anonymous's picture

Well, So what.

IrotCounsel's picture

Don't like you also. Take a bath.

our conor fan's picture

35. Rf6 b5 36. Re7 Qg8 "looks beautiful but I'm not going anywhere with this."

But it looks like 37 Qd4 wins.

A.S.'s picture

I think Levon said 36...Kg8

A.S.'s picture

I think Levon said 36...Kg8

chess's picture

aronian is spending all his energy here. tell him to save some for the candidates...

Anonymous's picture

Aronian really works hard to boost his rating here and in Zurich but when Candidates come a month after that he will be spent force and have no chance against Big Vlad who doesn't care about ratings but is content with once again proving that he is the best player in the World when it is not just exhibition event.

Anonymous's picture

Kramnik doesn't care about ratings ??? ARF ARF ARF

Anonymous's picture

Who is that big Vlad?

buddha's picture

Student - How may I enter the Way?
Teacher - Do you hear the murmur of the mountain stream? There you may enter

ntarog's picture

You are lying sir!

Tom's picture

Oh no...what is wrong with Gelfand and the American Japanese guy? They are both So out of shape!
Aronian is doing great!! I think he is ready to battle Carlsen.

Sulotas's picture

I will remember this tournament with the most off-days. It feels like they have more spare days than game days in this tournament.

Also the next game between Jobava and Rapport should be interesting. Don't be surprised if Jobava opens with 1. Nh3! and Rapport replies with 1. ... Na6!! Obviously the fact that this tournament is being played in the Netherlands has a certain influence on some players.

Lee's picture

Too much stop/start with the schedule for the masters group.

Anonymous's picture

When Loek plays without his google glasses, he doesn't win.

jhoravi's picture

But it worked for Aronian, Giri & Caruana. They're now top 3 in standing.

BVK's picture

Lollzzz..! :P :P

RealFakeRealGreco's picture

Good form by Aronian! Lets see if he can bring it to the candidates!!!!!

Anonymous's picture

Thought for the day :
perhaps the report author could run the text through a spell checker, before publishing

Coco Loco's picture

In Aronian - Karjakin, did Sergey just miss 44.Qb2? How does white make progress if black does not allow the queen trade and plays smth like 43...Qb5?

Bartleby's picture

Neither the queen endgame nor the rook endgame looks easy to win or easy to hold. It's not so much about how you evaluate both endgames but how you play either. Aronian made the rook endgame look so easy that his next opponent will try to keep the queens on in a comparable situation.

Bartleby's picture

I guess in the case of the queen endgame the black king looks vulnerable especially if Black has to concede space time and again to avoid a queen exchange.

S5's picture

Aronian is on fire!!

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