Reports | January 14, 2012 20:18

Aronian, Carlsen, Giri start with wins in Wijk aan Zee

Aronian, Carlsen, Giri start with wins in Wijk aan Zee

Levon Aronian, Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri won their games in the first round of the 74th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands. Carlsen grinded down Vugar Gashimov in an ending while Levon Aronian used a pawn sacrifice with Black to defeat Sergey Karjakin. Anish Giri was the last to finish in the A group, and won, also with the black pieces, in a double rook ending against Boris Gelfand.

Event Tata Steel Chess Tournament | PGN Group A, Group B, Group C via TWIC
Dates January 13th-29th, 2012
Location Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands
System 3 GM groups with 14 players-player double round robin
A group
Carlsen, Aronian, Radjabov, Topalov, Karjakin, Ivanchuk, Gashimov, Nakamura, Gelfand, Caruana, Kamsky, Giri, Navara, Van Wely
B group
Bruzon, Potkin, Motylev, Tiviakov, Harikrishna, Ernst, L'Ami, Reinderman, Timman, Nyzhnik, Lahno, Vocaturo, Harika, Cmilyte
C group
Sadler, Turov, Adhiban, Tikkanen, Grover, Brandenburg, Danielian, Paehtz, Sachdev, Hopman, Ootes, Haast, Schut, Goudriaan
Rate of play 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds cumulative increment for each move starting from the first move.

Top favorites Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian are leading the 74th Tata Steel chess tournament from the very start, together with rising star Anish Giri. How fast this young star is rising will be clear in the next two weeks - can the 17-year-old Dutchman, after winning his first big event in Reggio Emilia earlier this month, fight for the top places yet again?

Well, at least after one round he can say so. Where Giri let the World Champion himself escape in a rook ending one year ago, this time he had no mercy against the Challenger. Boris Gelfand sacrifed or just dropped a pawn in the opening and somehow just couldn't get enough compensation.


PGN string

10.Be5!? [10.Nxd5 Nxd5 11.Bd2] 10...f6 11.Bg3 Nb4 12.Qb1 Qxd4 13.Bh3 e5 and it might have been a draw somewhere, but Giri just kept on pressing. Afterwards he said:

Can't be better! I'm very happy - the game was very interesting and I think I played very well. OK, I gave him some drawing chances but he's a strong player so he deserves it!

For this victory Giri won the 500-euro “Piet Zwart Prize” for the best game of the day.

Boris Gelfand vs Anish Giri, 0-1

One of the most fascinating games of the round was played between Sergey Karjakin and Levon Aronian.


PGN string

19...Be6!? 20.Bxa6 c4 21.Ra4 Qc7 22.cxb4 Bxf2+ 23.Kxf2 Qa7+ 24.Be3 Qxa6 25.Kg1 Red8 26.Qc1 Rd3

and about these developments, Aronian said afterwards:

After he took on a6 I had the feeling that all these complications may be not in my favor, but give me good play. He has to play really well, he has to keep his prospects but I think my opponent underestimated the dangers for him.

The third winner of the day was Magnus Carlsen, who played on of these typical games for him. He got a very slight advantage in an ending and just kept on playing good moves, until his opponent went wrong.


PGN string


I was slightly better form the opening. In the endgame it looked pretty drawish but I had a passed pawn and my pieces were a little bit more active.

Magnus Carlsen starts with a win in Wijk aan Zee

It looked like Hikaru Nakamura and Vassily Ivanchuk hadn't fully shrugged off the bad vibes from Reggio Emilia (in Nakamura's own words they were "still on tilt").

PGN string

In the B group, Kateryna Lahno won the 250-euro game of the day prize for a her victory over Sipke Ernst:


PGN string

28.Nf5 gxf5 29.exf5 Bxf5 30.Bxf5 Nf7 31.Bxg7+ Kxg7 32.Qh5 Rh8 33.Be6 Bd8 34.g6 Ng5 35.gxh7 1–0

Kateryna Lahno (Ukraine) played the best game of the day in 'B'

In the C group the best game prize is worth 100 euro, which was awarded to Hans Tikkanen for his win against Elisabeth Paehtz:

PGN string


Swedish GM Hans Tikkanen, starting his debut in Wijk aan Zee with a win

Daily video by the organizers

Games group A, round 1



Tata Steel 2012 | Grandmaster Group A | Pairings

Round 1 14.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 2 15.01.12 13.30 CET
Navara ½-½ Topalov   Topalov ½-½ Van Wely
Gelfand 0-1 Giri   Gashimov ½-½ Kamsky
Radjabov ½-½ Caruana   Ivanchuk ½-½ Carlsen
Karjakin 0-1 Aronian   Aronian 1-0 Nakamura
Nakamura ½-½ Ivanchuk   Caruana 1-0 Karjakin
Carlsen 1-0 Gashimov   Giri ½-½ Radjabov
Kamsky ½-½ Van Wely   Navara ½-½ Gelfand
Round 3 16.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 4 17.01.12 13.30 CET
Gelfand - Topalov   Topalov - Gashimov
Radjabov - Navara   Ivanchuk - Van Wely
Karjakin - Giri   Aronian - Kamsky
Nakamura - Caruana   Caruana - Carlsen
Carlsen - Aronian   Giri - Nakamura
Kamsky - Ivanchuk   Navara - Karjakin
Van Wely - Gashimov   Gelfand - Radjabov
Round 5 19.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 6 20.01.12 13.30 CET
Radjabov - Topalov   Topalov - Ivanchuk
Karjakin - Gelfand   Aronian - Gashimov
Nakamura - Navara   Caruana - Van Wely
Carlsen - Giri   Giri - Kamsky
Kamsky - Caruana   Navara - Carlsen
Van Wely - Aronian   Gelfand - Nakamura
Gashimov - Ivanchuk   Radjabov - Karjakin
Round 7 21.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 8 22.01.12 13.30 CET
Karjakin - Topalov   Topalov - Aronian
Nakamura - Radjabov   Caruana - Ivanchuk
Carlsen - Gelfand   Giri - Gashimov
Kamsky - Navara   Navara - Van Wely
Van Wely - Giri   Gelfand - Kamsky
Gashimov - Caruana   Radjabov - Carlsen
Ivanchuk - Aronian   Karjakin - Nakamura
Round 9 24.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 10 25.01.12 13.30 CET
Nakamura - Topalov   Topalov - Caruana
Carlsen - Karjakin   Giri - Aronian
Kamsky - Radjabov   Navara - Ivanchuk
Van Wely - Gelfand   Gelfand - Gashimov
Gashimov - Navara   Radjabov - Van Wely
Ivanchuk - Giri   Karjakin - Kamsky
Aronian - Caruana   Nakamura - Carlsen
Round 11 27.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 12 28.01.12 13.30 CET
Carlsen - Topalov   Topalov - Giri
Kamsky - Nakamura   Navara - Caruana
Van Wely - Karjakin   Gelfand - Aronian
Gashimov - Radjabov   Radjabov - Ivanchuk
Ivanchuk - Gelfand   Karjakin - Gashimov
Aronian - Navara   Nakamura - Van Wely
Caruana - Giri   Carlsen - Kamsky
Round 13 29.01.12 12.00 CET        
Kamsky - Topalov        
Van Wely - Carlsen        
Gashimov - Nakamura        
Ivanchuk - Karjakin        
Aronian - Radjabov        
Caruana - Gelfand        
Giri - Navara        

Tata Steel 2012 | Grandmaster Group A | Round 1 standings


Games group B, round 1



Tata Steel 2012 | Grandmaster Group B | Pairings

Round 1 14.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 2 15.01.12 13.30 CET
Reinderman ½-½ Motylev   Motylev ½-½ Potkin
Bruzon 0-1 Harikrishna   Tiviakov 1-0 Timman
Lahno 1-0 Ernst   Nyzhnyk ½-½ l'Ami
Harika ½-½ Vocaturo   Vocaturo 1-0 Cmilyte
Cmilyte 0-1 Nyzhnyk   Ernst ½-½ Harika
l'Ami 1-0 Tiviakov   Harikrishna 1-0 Lahno
Timman ½-½ Potkin   Reinderman ½-½ Bruzon
Round 3 16.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 4 17.01.12 13.30 CET
Bruzon - Motylev   Motylev - Tiviakov
Lahno - Reinderman   Nyzhnyk - Potkin
Harika - Harikrishna   Vocaturo - Timman
Cmilyte - Ernst   Ernst - l'Ami
l'Ami - Vocaturo   Harikrishna - Cmilyte
Timman - Nyzhnyk   Reinderman - Harika
Potkin - Tiviakov   Bruzon - Lahno
Round 5 19.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 6 20.01.12 13.30 CET
Lahno - Motylev   Motylev - Nyzhnyk
Harika - Bruzon   Vocaturo - Tiviakov
Cmilyte - Reinderman   Ernst - Potkin
l'Ami - Harikrishna   Harikrishna - Timman
Timman - Ernst   Reinderman - l'Ami
Potkin - Vocaturo   Bruzon - Cmilyte
Tiviakov - Nyzhnyk   Lahno - Harika
Round 7 21.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 8 22.01.12 13.30 CET
Harika - Motylev   Motylev - Vocaturo
Cmilyte - Lahno   Ernst - Nyzhnyk
l'Ami - Bruzon   Harikrishna - Tiviakov
Timman - Reinderman   Reinderman - Potkin
Potkin - Harikrishna   Bruzon - Timman
Tiviakov - Ernst   Lahno - l'Ami
Nyzhnyk - Vocaturo   Harika - Cmilyte
Round 9 24.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 10 25.01.12 13.30 CET
Cmilyte - Motylev   Motylev - Ernst
l'Ami - Harika   Harikrishna - Vocaturo
Timman - Lahno   Reinderman - Nyzhnyk
Potkin - Bruzon   Bruzon - Tiviakov
Tiviakov - Reinderman   Lahno - Potkin
Nyzhnyk - Harikrishna   Harika - Timman
Vocaturo - Ernst   Cmilyte - l'Ami
Round 11 27.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 12 28.01.12 13.30 CET
l'Ami - Motylev   Motylev - Harikrishna
Timman - Cmilyte   Reinderman - Ernst
Potkin - Harika   Bruzon - Vocaturo
Tiviakov - Lahno   Lahno - Nyzhnyk
Nyzhnyk - Bruzon   Harika - Tiviakov
Vocaturo - Reinderman   Cmilyte - Potkin
Ernst - Harikrishna   l'Ami - Timman
Round 13 29.01.12 12.00 CET        
Timman - Motylev        
Potkin - l'Ami        
Tiviakov - Cmilyte        
Nyzhnyk - Harika        
Vocaturo - Lahno        
Ernst - Bruzon        
Harikrishna - Reinderman        

Tata Steel 2012 | Grandmaster Group B | Round 1 standings


Games group C, round 1



Tata Steel 2012 | Grandmaster Group C | Pairings

Round 1 14.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 2 15.01.12 13.30 CET
Sadler 1-0 Hopman   Hopman 0-1 Turov
Tania ½-½ Grover   Schut ½-½ Danielian
Paehtz 0-1 Tikkanen   Haast ½-½ Goudriaan
Brandenburg ½-½ Ootes   Ootes ½-½ Adhiban
Adhiban 1-0 Haast   Tikkanen ½-½ Brandenburg
Goudriaan 1-0 Schut   Grover 1-0 Paehtz
Danielian 0-1 Turov   Sadler ½-½ Tania
Round 3 16.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 4 17.01.12 13.30 CET
Tania - Hopman   Hopman - Schut
Paehtz - Sadler   Haast - Turov
Brandenburg - Grover   Ootes - Danielian
Adhiban - Tikkanen   Tikkanen - Goudriaan
Goudriaan - Ootes   Grover - Adhiban
Danielian - Haast   Sadler - Brandenburg
Turov - Schut   Tania - Paehtz
Round 5 19.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 6 20.01.12 13.30 CET
Paehtz - Hopman   Hopman - Haast
Brandenburg - Tania   Ootes - Schut
Adhiban - Sadler   Tikkanen - Turov
Goudriaan - Grover   Grover - Danielian
Danielian - Tikkanen   Sadler - Goudriaan
Turov - Ootes   Tania - Adhiban
Schut - Haast   Paehtz - Brandenburg
Round 7 21.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 8 22.01.12 13.30 CET
Brandenburg - Hopman   Hopman - Ootes
Adhiban - Paehtz   Tikkanen - Haast
Goudriaan - Tania   Grover - Schut
Danielian - Sadler   Sadler - Turov
Turov - Grover   Tania - Danielian
Schut - Tikkanen   Paehtz - Goudriaan
Haast - Ootes   Brandenburg - Adhiban
Round 9 24.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 10 25.01.12 13.30 CET
Adhiban - Hopman   Hopman - Tikkanen
Goudriaan - Brandenburg   Grover - Ootes
Danielian - Paehtz   Sadler - Haast
Turov - Tania   Tania - Schut
Schut - Sadler   Paehtz - Turov
Haast - Grover   Brandenburg - Danielian
Ootes - Tikkanen   Adhiban - Goudriaan
Round 11 27.01.12 13.30 CET   Round 12 28.01.12 13.30 CET
Goudriaan - Hopman   Hopman - Grover
Danielian - Adhiban   Sadler - Tikkanen
Turov - Brandenburg   Tania - Ootes
Schut - Paehtz   Paehtz - Haast
Haast - Tania   Brandenburg - Schut
Ootes - Sadler   Adhiban - Turov
Tikkanen - Grover   Goudriaan - Danielian
Round 13 29.01.12 12.00 CET        
Danielian - Hopman        
Turov - Goudriaan        
Schut - Adhiban        
Haast - Brandenburg        
Ootes - Paehtz        
Tikkanen - Tania        
Grover - Sadler        

Tata Steel 2012 | Grandmaster Group C | Round 1 standings


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.


FBardamu's picture

Giri for president!

phil's picture

giri for barbecue stick

The Player's picture

Magnus for king!

KingTal's picture

Aronian for god!

darkergreen's picture

God for Carlsen!

TomTom's picture

Gelfand for title!

phil's picture

gelfand looks like angry bird

John's picture


Zacalov Ramsay's picture


sirschratz's picture

van Wely for coffee-shop :-)

nickeur's picture

Nakamura for queen!

Parkov's picture

Fishing for compliments

Anthony's picture

Giri has passed Gelfand on the Live rating list. He's 18 with 2734.

This is going to be a great tournament!

Ashish's picture

If Giri wins all of his games, he will break into the top 5!

nickeur's picture

yes, and a historical point performance...

darkergreen's picture

If Giri wins all his games, then we may have a wormhole too!

aerodarts's picture


redivivo's picture

Gelfand is The King!!!

joey's picture

Gelfand for wc, sure showing how good he is...

redivivo's picture

But he doesn't care about ratings, isn't interested in winning tournaments, and is hiding his preparation. Otherwise he would of course win instead of trying to avoid last place as usual. :-)

Interesting that he picked an opening line he had lots of experience from both as white and black. As white he had played it against Gagunashvili and Fressinett, and as black against Ponomariov twice and Bu once. Not that it helped much against Giri, Gelfand was just slowly outplayed from beginning to end in spite of being white against one of the few lower rated players in the field.

S3's picture

Slowly outplayed..or maybe he just lost a pawn in the opening, one opening that he knows very well. That would make most people think, but not redivivo...

redivivo's picture

He had an OK position out of the opening, Houdini had the game as equal after 15 moves but Gelfand had a bishop pair in a rather open position and had full compensation for the pawn sacrifice. Giri just played much better chess long after preparation was a question.

Thomas Richter's picture

Is five games (including against considerably lower-rated oppponents, including rapid and blitz) really "lots of experience"? If so, Kramnik is a VERY experienced player in the Pirc and Scandinavian!?

I am not even sure if the pawn loss was a home-prepared sacrifice, the game went through the opening phase rather slowly. I consider Houdini's assessment just an opinion - in such positions, an engine evaluation isn't gospel truth (unless they come up with a forced repetition or a forced way to regain the pawn). Dennis Monokroussos also has, and is entitled to his opinion. As I was in Wijk aan Zee yesterday, I can add the opinion, or rather psychological assessment, of Ivan Sokolov doing the live commentary (not necessarily his exact words): "Now the game becomes concrete at an early stage, white has to justify his material investment, every single move matters and he cannot just shuffle his pieces around. I know Gelfand a bit, he probably doesn't like it, he's out of his comfort zone."

And for what it's worth my own opinion (which obviously can't compete with expert comments): Maybe white had enough for the pawn, maybe he could have held a draw, but it's hard to believe that he could ever hope for an advantage (and that's what you normally want with the white pieces!). In that sense, while Giri played well, Gelfand played poorly. In any case, I don't think we will see this line in his match against Anand.

redivivo's picture

"Is five games (including against considerably lower-rated oppponents, including rapid and blitz) really "lots of experience"? If so, Kramnik is a VERY experienced player in the Pirc and Scandinavian!?"

Of the 26 games ever played in this rare line, going by, Gelfand is the player with by far most experience in the world since he has been involved in 5 of those games (he also played a novelty here). I wouldn't compare that to Kramnik's answering 1. e4 with d5 in the World Blitz Championship 2009, it was just a first move that has been played 6000 times only in the limited database of Credit to Giri for just playing much better chess in a line he never had played, it's never easy to win with black against players on Gelfand's level.

It isn't Gelfand's fault that he may be the comparatively weakest challenger ever. Maybe Janowski is in the same region, but at least he was strong enough to be ranked #1 by Chessmetrics a few years before the title match, at the time of the match he had fallen down to #14 though but returned to a top 10 position in 1917-18. Gelfand is #19 on the live rating list before today's game. If he loses with black he will be #24 but is probably stronger than that. I would rank him around #15-20 in the world.

Thomas Richter's picture

Correct but rather irrelevant IMO: 4.Qb3 (or 4.Qc2 which transposes after 4.-dc4: 5.Qc4: - which doesn't recognize) is a Slav sideline, there may be two or three reasons for playing it: leave the beaten track and long theoretical lines, surprise the opponent and/or (very likely here) hide prep in topical lines for forthcoming games. At all levels, players may be in a more "experimental" mood in blitz and rapid games - and don't tell me that Gelfand prepared a lot for a blitz game against Gagunashvili!

Kramnik playing the Scandinavian in blitz and rapid games (also at Zurich Champions Rapid) is a somewhat similar story - maybe he just wanted to have some fun, maybe he considered to play it also in classical games (but then didn't). It doesn't really matter that the opening is relatively popular at lower levels, all the way to a respectable subtop GM as Tiviakov who plays it regularly at all time controls.

BTW for what it's worth, Gelfand's 7.Bf4 wasn't quite a novelty - it was recently played in the high-level blitz game Mamedyarov-Le Quang Liem , World Mind Sports Games 2011 (but this one went via 4.Qc2). Giri's 7.-Nb6 is a novelty at top GM level, even this had a somewhat obscure predecessor Fedder-Juhnke, EU-Ch U20 final(B) 1969: this game continued with the same pawn sacrifice, but the way black played white got full compensation and even some advantage before it finished with a draw.

redivivo's picture

All the explanations concerning why Gelfand is a much better player than his results get fanciful in the long run though. He only had an equal position out of the opening, he was just a little bit more experienced than his opponent in the line, he's only in Wijk for the paycheck and isn't interested in actually playing chess, etc. To me he is overestimated for winning a knockout. Impressive to be close to top 15 after almost decades in top tournaments, but I was more impressed with him 20+ years ago when he was good enough to reach top three for a while and score top results in the toughest tournaments.

S3's picture

20 years ago you defenitely did not follow chess, obviously.
And you seem to forget time and time again that he won 2 knock outs, not one.

S3's picture

So after 15 moves he had "an ok" "equal" position a pawn down and not the slightest advantage with white. Yup, sounds about right.

AFKAM's picture

What a great round ! More tournaments should have this many players and categories me thinks.

Question Offtopic> Sorry to ask here but chessbase has no forum : Why is almost everyone white in Susan Polgar's article from South Africa ? Did i miss any important new about that continent?

Daaim Shabazz's picture

Long story AFKAM.

kees's picture

I am interested too, Daaim. If you know the answer, please share it with us.

aerodarts's picture


fen's picture

Hey everybody, remember last year when the GMs did postmortems on those wooden demonstration boards? Are they doing anything like that this year? I can't find anything on the website.

Chess Fan's picture

It is unbelievable how talented Carlsen, Aronian, and Giri are. Aronian beating Karjakin (of all people, as I hold him nearly the same esteem) with black makes Aronian, well, Chess God! And I am not even Armenian (though in my ancestry I might be according to my Doctor) ;-)

Looks to be a wonderful battle between these Chess Gods in this tournament. Poor Gelfand. I hope he does well for his sake.
Does anyone know when his title match with Vishy is?

redivivo's picture

Giri's seven latest, four of them with black (and today Radjabov awaits):

vs Caruana 1-0
vs Ivanchuk 1-0
vs Moro 1/2
vs Vitiugov 1-0
vs Nakamura 1-0
vs Caruana 1/2
vs Gelfand 1-0

Monokroussos on Gelfand vs Giri:

"Gelfand's pawn sac in the opening looked pretty interesting to me, and in return his bishop pair seemed to offer some chances. As things went, though, Giri was able to absorb the pressure a bit at a time, and finally went on to win a long double rook ending"

Hanseman's picture

btw why is Anand not participating?

Hanseman's picture

and Kramnik?

classic's picture

Anand-Gelfand - probably one of the least interesting wc-matches in history of chess.

Thomas Richter's picture

The full story about Sokolov's reaction to Nakamura's 18.a4: As always, the commentator was on mid-stage in front of the demo boards, with Aviv Friedman sitting behind a computer to transmit the moves from the playing hall. Friedman - instead of telling the move immediately - said "you'll never guess ...". Indeed Sokolov didn't manage (another story is how seriously he tried).

He had discussed a3 for white before - the idea is to weaken the black pawn on b4, if this one falls, c3 also cannot be defended. So 18.a3 wasn't just the lesser evil ("if you accidentally touch the a-pawn, move it one square") but a rather plausible move now or later. Then 18.a4 has two disadvantages: it loses time AND the option a2-a3 is gone forever. What was the idea behind a4? Hard to believe that it was a simple fingerfehler, but this is my preferred explanation for lack of better ones ... .

VK's picture

Very poor collection of photos..! Why can't you let us know the reason behind uploading very less number of photos?

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