Reports | January 16, 2012 20:32

Tata R3: Carlsen beats Aronian, takes over the lead

Tata R3: Carlsen beats Aronian, takes over the lead

Magnus Carlsen is the new leader at the 74th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands. The Norwegian defeated Levon Aronian on Monday. Other victories in the A group went to Sergey Karjakin and Teimour Radjabov, who won against Anish Giri and David Navara respectively. Pentala Harikrishna and Maxim Turov maintained their lead in the B and C groups.

Carlsen won the important game between the two highest rated participants

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.

A bit surprisingly, the press room was very quiet on this first week day of the tournament. Some journalists, who had visited the tournament in the first weekend, were already gone - will they return later? Others - in fact most - probably decided to come by during the second half, when everything will be decided. And so, on the day when world number one Magnus Carlsen faced tournament leader Levon Aronian, almost nobody noticed, well, at least not in Wijk aan Zee! (By the way, this is also the reason why there hasn't been one of those famous press-conferences-with-demo-board yet.)

But of course, everyone noticed. Obviously, everyone is following the games at the official website. Kudos to the organizers for picking up something that was done before by the Russian Chess Federation: Pascal Pflaum's applet for streaming the live games. The German programmer created this splendid applet for the Schachbundesliga two years ago, and at some point started licensing his software to other organizations. It was already used during e.g. last year's FIDE World Cup, and on the website WhyChess (which saw its funding terminated recently).

And so the tens of thousands of chess fans enjoyed online yet another great game by Magnus Carlsen, who slowly outplayed Levon Aronian, then let a big advantage almost slip away but eventually won a BN vs R (and only a few pawns) ending.

I was completely winning of course, then I tried to find the most accurate way and evidently I didn't. Probably it was winning til the end, but if so it was only by luck. A win is a win.

PGN string

As Jan Timman explained to us last week during our interview, one of the few weakness left in Anish Giri's play is that he can be overoptimistic. It looks like this was the case also in the third round, when the Dutchman couldn't resist the anti-positional 20...f5, a move condemned by his opponent Sergey Karjakin after the game. The Moscovite added:

Finally of course I'm happy. It was difficult to recover but I managed to play a more or less good game today. It wasn't an easy win. 

PGN string

The third winner of the day was Teimour Radjabov, who saw his opponent going wrong already in the opening. Just when David Navara seemed to be putting up a stubborn defence, the Czech dropped a full knight.

PGN string

In the B group local heros Erwin l'Ami, Jan Timman and Sergey Tiviakov won. Timman must have enjoyed the final part of his game against Ilya Nyzhnyk.

PGN string

Jan Timman still attracting lots of attention at the start of the round

The 250-euro Piet Zwart Prize was awarded to Lithuania’s Viktorija Cmylite for her victory against Holland’s Sipke Ernst.

PGN string

In the C-group this prize is just 100 euros, and in the third round two players had to split the money: Elisabeth Paehtz and Matthew Sadler. Their game, a Modern Defence, was indeed spectacular:

PGN string

Daily video by the organizers

Games group A, round 3


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 ½-½ Topalov   Topalov - Gashimov
Radjabov 1-0 Navara   Ivanchuk - Van Wely
Karjakin 1-0 Giri   Aronian - Kamsky
Nakamura ½-½ Caruana   Caruana - Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Aronian   Giri - Nakamura
Kamsky ½-½ Ivanchuk   Navara - Karjakin
Van Wely ½-½ 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 3 standings


Games group B, round 3


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 ½-½ Motylev   Motylev - Tiviakov
Lahno ½-½ Reinderman   Nyzhnyk - Potkin
Harika 0-1 Harikrishna   Vocaturo - Timman
Cmilyte 1-0 Ernst   Ernst - l'Ami
l'Ami 1-0 Vocaturo   Harikrishna - Cmilyte
Timman 1-0 Nyzhnyk   Reinderman - Harika
Potkin 0-1 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 3 standings


Games group C, round 3


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 ½-½ Hopman   Hopman - Schut
Paehtz ½-½ Sadler   Haast - Turov
Brandenburg ½-½ Grover   Ootes - Danielian
Adhiban ½-½ Tikkanen   Tikkanen - Goudriaan
Goudriaan 1-0 Ootes   Grover - Adhiban
Danielian ½-½ Haast   Sadler - Brandenburg
Turov 1-0 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 3 standings


After the round, Veselin Topalov could be found in the bar of the venue, analyzing with his fresh new second, GM Romain Edouard from France

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.


Ashish's picture

After three rounds, Carlsen not only has the lead, but he's already played two of his potentially toughest competitors.

noyb's picture

Spot on! It's a race for 2nd place...

columbo's picture

what a game ! I'm wasted :) Congrats to Magnus

Daaim Shabazz's picture

Admitted by Carlsen, the game was full of mistakes, but it was complicated. Carlsen made the win much more difficult than it actually was.

Xeno's picture

Lousy game and horrible play by Carlsen, these guys have nothing on the mighty Gelfand!

joey's picture

Carlsen - Aronian, a game for the historybooks!

classic's picture

FIDE or somebody should arrange a match Carlsen-Aronian.
Probably the most interesting chess-event possible.

Daaim Shabazz's picture

Nah... not yet. I like Aronian... as a player and personally. Interviewed him a couple times. Let one of them pay their dues by winning the World Championship, then we can talk. None of this FIDE stuff where any one can challenge the World Champion if he has a million bucks. That was crap and we don't need to go back there. Let's be patient.

noyb's picture

Some of our best World Championships were played under this system and long before FIDE. I'd like to see it come back. : )

MJul's picture

I never get why some people think that matches are just for WCC.

It could be a match for chess fans pleasure and Carlsen and Aronian training/torture/whatever without any kind of title. Maybe a trophy, or ELO, but not something else.

The Devil's picture

This could be the tournament where Carlsen passes Kasparov's 1999 all time highest record of 2851 ELO.

Al's picture

Carlsen - The Chosen One - Rock On!!

Since when have we seen anybody in the 2840s?? Step aside Garry, 2852 is around the corner, and I can't wait. :-)

Bobby Fiske's picture

"Magnus won the opening, Aronian draw the midgame and Magnus won the endgame."

A very tense and exciting game, although slightly too one-sided to be considered "epic". One-sided in the meaning of Aronian getting on his heels already from the beginning, reducing the outcome down to a question of 1-0 or 1/2.

Magnus reaching Elo 2842.6 already now! Who would have belived that?!

redivivo's picture

On the subject of one-sided games not being considered epic the four most epic games may be The Game of the Century, The Immortal Game, The Evergreen Game and Morphy vs The Duke and the Count, and they were all won in the opening or early middlegame. All of them being the equivalents of watching Manchester United beat Notts County 8-0 in a training match and liking it better than Italy vs Brazil in the World Cup because there are more pretty goals against weak opposition. :-)

S3's picture

While most amateurs agree with you in finding those games epic the general concensus amongst stronger players is that those games are not that interesting. It's a matter of perspective I guess.

Anthony's picture

You just don't know what you're talking about S3.
Strong players know Carlsen as they know Kramnik, Karpov and all the other 'profylactic', 'intuitive' types. They fear them.

It's the masses like you who only understand Bxh7 and mate.

S3's picture

What a mediocre game today between the world number 1 and 2. Truly dissapointing.

rogge's picture

Cheer up, Carlsen might lose a game later in the tournament.

redivivo's picture

Sooner or later Carlsen's mediocre and disappointing wins will be followed by a beautiful and memorable loss like the one against Vallejo.

S3's picture

Thanks for your feedback guys!

columbo's picture

Can you explain to the poor ignorants we are why this game was mediocre ?

S3's picture

And what the hell happened to Navara? It's a pity.

calvin amari's picture

He Ivanchuked.

S3's picture

You think it happens most to savants?

Knallo's picture

Do you mean "idiots savants"?

S3's picture

That sounds so much less nice.

S3's picture

You think it happens most to savants?

TomTom's picture

Magnus Carlsen, the greatest chess talent since Capablanca.

Parkov's picture

It's clear that Carlsen and Aronian are a cut above the rest, they're just going to be picking up easy points from the likes of Giri, Caruana, Navara, Gelfand, Van Wely. They should create an 'S Group' for next year. Carlsen, Aronian, Kramnik, Morozevich, Radjabov, Anand in a double round-robin, hows that for a tournament?

Thomas Richter's picture

Carlsen lost against Giri last year, and had to fight for a draw against Caruana the year before. (He has improved in the meantime, but - relatively - the other even younger players have improved at least as much. So even if he should beat Giri and/or Caruana, these points aren't necessarily easy ones.)

Anyway regarding your proposed "S Group": Aren't there already enough exclusive 6-player double round robins? Tata Steel is special because it gives spots, other than organizer wildcards, to somewhat weaker players - including a qualifier from the B group, this time Navara, back in 2007 noone else than Magnus Carlsen benefitted from this system. I don't mind this at all, actually I like it!

Parkov's picture

Let them prove their worth on the rating list

Thomas Richter's picture

Today Carlsen picked up an easy point against Caruana - at least it would be one point if Tata Steel used football scoring. Regarding "prove their worth on the rating list", Caruana is currently #12 on the live rating list, 5 points (basically one win) away from the top 10. In Reggio Emilia, he was tied with Morozevich whom you consider supertournament-worthy, and Giri finished ahead of them.

Inflated's picture

FIDE ratings are inflated, Kasparov played against similar opponents but they had lower ratings, if this same opponents were rated like they are today, he would have be rated >2900

noyb's picture

Garry Kimovich noted this himself in NIC last year. Most of Carlsen's opponent are the SAME players GK played in the past 10-15 years. He's been gone for seven years now and not much has changed except for inflated ratings.

Remco Gerlich's picture

Yes, because nobody actually improved their chess during that decade...

Parkov's picture

I would say the opposite, most of their play has declined. Anand, Topalov, Shirov, Ivanchuk, these guys aren't at the same level they were 10-15+ years ago

brabo's picture

So for you, somebody of 35- 40 years old plays generally weaker chess than at 25 years old?
I don't see any reason for that as chess isn't a pure phsyical sport.

My experience tells me that in general from 50 years onwards a slow but continuous decline of the chessskills is happening due to growing difficulties with concentration and calculating.

Parkov's picture

Generally, yes. But that's not the point. It's apparent from their play that those particular players are not as good as they were, in the case of Shirov for example it's undeniable. An exception is Kramnik who I don't think has declined much if at all

brabo's picture

If they are not as good as they were before then they have less rating.
Your example Shirov has around 40 points less than before so of course he plays a bit less well lately. Anyway I remember Shirov's private life is quite a mess (several divorces and children) so this doesn't do well to somebodies professional career of course.

I don't agree by your statement that generally professional players are playing less good at 35-40 compared with 25. I am convinced of the opposite. 10 years experience or more isn't a small thing.

Please read once the very recent chrestbook on Polgar. Also there is a very interesting passage in which she explains that most people already wrote her off as topplayer and were very surprised that she was able after birth of her 2 children to come back at an absolute toplevel during 2011. She believes that with sufficient training that she can still achieve higher quality of games then before.

You and many others are too easily writing off (slightly) older people. I see the same happening in many companies where managers only hire young people, hereby throwing away strong talents and valuable experience.

biffmeatstick's picture

Why did Aronian resign? Carlsen may not know how to mate with a knight and a bishop. Has anybody ever seen him do it?

Hortensius's picture

B+N mate may be difficult for ELO 1500 and below, it is totally trivial for these guys.

Harry's picture

stupidest comment of the year so far

S3's picture


Zeblakob's picture

@Harry, he is just joking, do not brutalize him ;)

Harry's picture

very strange sense of joking

Knallo's picture

I hate to say this, but this comment is really asinine.

darkergreen's picture

if we both play then that can be the case:)

werner maes's picture

I also think Aronian resign way too early !!

Why not play on and see if Carlsen manages it. It's easy to make a mistake and you only have 50 moves.

James's picture

I agree with inflated. What is the point in all this talk of breaking kasparov's record when all know that the ratings now and then are incomparable. We are going to be subjected to a carnival of propaganda and hysteria about someone breaking 2851, when everyone actually knows it means very little....

Is there a technical reason why FIDE cannot fix inflation? Chessmetrics or something could get round this problem?

classic's picture

Actually, there are some convincing research that the ratings are NOT inflated.
In fact, one may measure this hypotesis with computers. The outcome is that the playing strength among the top players has increased. Not so surprising really, with the access to chess-software and internet for training and practising.


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