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.


vhomas topalov's picture

someone said:
"Just try to imagine Kasparov and Karpov playing a game as miserable as that of Carlsen and Aronian today."

well I did it at once,

check with houdini (as you all do today), Karpov missing a 2 move win twice,
at a certain point the graphic will look like a saw,
on his recent book Kasparov was somewhat ashamed of this game ahahah,

I am a little tired of hearing people who stetes that player of previuos ages
were better, estimating as a mistake every second-choise of fritz-ribka-houdini

Anonymous's picture

Take the best three games between Kasparov and Karpov and compare them with the best three games between Carlsen/Aronian or Carlsen/Anand or Carlsen/Kramnik. A noticeable difference in the quality of play, in favour of the Kasparov/Karpov pair,will be evident.

redivivo's picture

Well, Kasparov and Karpov are sometimes seen as the two greatest players ever, and they played 144 games against each other only in title matches. It's still difficult to judge level of play, but much to ask of Carlsen, recently turned 21, to already be greater than Kasparov with shorter time controls and no game adjournments.

brabo's picture

You are fully right. In the 80's, adjournment after move 40 was still the rule and slower timelimits of 2,5h/ 40 moves too. If you compare the quality of the chessgames of today and back then one needs to take this into account. I guess the adjournment and longer timelimit gives maybe in the 80's an advantage of 50 points in quality. Today the advantage would be bigger as today computers would permit the phase after the adjourment to be played much better than in the 80's.
B.t.w. ratings have been slightly influenced due to the shorter timelimits and the abolishment of the adjournments. People who played the new type of game better, will have gained a little bit points compared with the others. However overall I don't believe the ratingsystem detoriated to a clear inflation or deflation due to these changes as some players have won and others have lost a few points.

S3's picture

I'm glad that you both implicitely agree on the K's playing much better games. Must be quite a step.

btw; on faster time controls; every player nowadays is booked up to the max thanks to engines and databases.The opening phase can be played much quicker nowadays.

brabo's picture

Then I have to disappoint you. I don't agree that the K's were playing much better games with or without any correction on the quality.
I only said that you need to compare apples with apples otherwise it has little sense. Give Carlsen 6 months time to prepare only for Aronian in a wc, 2,5 hours/ 40 moves and adjourning possibilities after 40 moves and you can bet the standard of his normal play will still rise.
Will you compare players A's blitzgames with player B's correspondence games and then say player B presents the best quality games so is the best player? No, well me neither as it doesn't say a thing about who is better.

brabo's picture

How ridiculous to make such comparison! Do you know how many games Kasparov - Karpov played against each other? 144 alone in wc matches and around 186 in total. It is much easier to find 3 games out of 186 games instead of the maybe 30 games Carlsen played against Aronian, Anand, Kramnik together.

Another point which makes it ridiculous. Kasparov was mature when he played the 186 games (except the very first game in which Kasparov was younger than Carlsen today). What I mean, is that one can only compare Carlsen games of the last 2, maybe 3 years as older ones are clearly inferiour. You see this youth-aspect also in the first game Karpov - Kasparov played before the wc where Kasparov himself admits that he still had to learn a lot (read book 7 Karpov - Kasparov 75-85).

Finally there is a serious difference in preparation and dedication in wc matches and tournaments. To be correct one should only take the none wc matches as carlsen didn't play yet a wc match so in the end only 44 games would remain from Karpov - Kasparov and I think that you will be quite dissappointed in the level of play as I remember that many of these none wc games were not containing the same intensity and level as the wc games.

S3's picture

A dude is comparing play and quality of games and you say it's ridiculous, when in fact you seem to have done the same already.
After all your only "defense" consists of making up excuses for why MC's games are worse (I noticed you suddenly limited your post to Carlsen instead of Carlsen and Aronian for some reason)

Carlsen-Aronian was just not that good a game, get over it. They can play a lot better than this, clearly, and it was a bit of a letdown to see the top rated players play a game like this.

redivivo's picture

I don't think it was a letdown for anyone else than the couple of users that flood these forums every time Carlsen wins a game to explain how unimpressive he is.

brabo's picture

The original poster compared games played by Carlsen against the other (ex) 2800 players (Anand, Kramnik and Aronian). So I just continued on Carlsen but ok we are diverting from the subject.

Comparing play and quality of games is ok if done in a balanced corrective way.
The original poster is just comparing apples with oranges as he simply ignores a lot of aspects.
1 example: defining who is a stronger chessplayer by comparing top 3 out of 186 games and top 3 out of 30 games without any corrections is ridiculous. Anybody knowing a bit statistics knows this.

Anonymous's picture

How about taking a random sample of Kasparov's games and Carlsen's games, you will still end up with the same conclusion, Kasparov's games are of higher quality than Carlsen's. Make whatever comparison you want, Carlsen has still a lot way to go to reach Kasparov's level (even young Kasparov's level), let alone the absolute determination, the killer instinct, Kasparov had to be always the winner, always the champion.

brabo's picture

If you take randomly games then your conclusion will also be randomly.
If you really want to compare apples with apples then one needs to select the games carefully and not completely randomly. I am thinking of following criteria:
- Timecontrol has to be more or less the same in all the games of K and C. (No blitz, rapid or any games which could last 10 hours or more...)
- No adjourment possibilities
- No wc matches (in which somebody can prepare himself on 1 person for 6 months and gets a lot of extra free days between the games)
- Rating of Kasparov and Carlsen must be close (say 20 points) as it has no sense to take games from Carlsen or Kasparov when they were still clearly progressing
- Rating of opponents must be beyond a certain standard. It has no point to look at games where the opponent has less than 150 points than yourself.
- 50 games or more must be selected to minimize the effect of randomness.

If you do all that and you put it in a topengine, make an evaluation profile (as is now done for the ongoing Tatatournament) of the games then I am quite confident that you won't see a difference in average quality of the selected games between K and C. In fact such similar work has been done recently in and
I know public perception is what you claim but as often happens, here facts and strong statistical work show a different less romantic reality.

redivivo's picture

By the way, I wonder about TWIC's assessment of Radjabov-Navara:

"Certainly by the time Navara dropped a piece to a small combination he was totally busted anyway"

TWIC doesn't see Navara's 29. ... Nc7 as ?? or ? or even ?! but just concludes that "black is lost anyway" whatever he plays.

Thomas Richter's picture

TWIC (i.e. Mark Crowther) may have taken this assessment from the tournament homepage:

"Teymour Radjabov of Azerbaijan’s win over Czech GM David Navara was not a case of sheer luck (see picture). Far from it. The Azeri, white in a King’s Indian, held a clear advantage throughout most of the encounter and was gradually increasing the pressure when Navara hastened matters by blundering away a piece on his 29th."

Even if this is correct, it seems strange to me compared to what they write on Karjakin's win against Giri: "In the third A-group win of the day, Lady Luck did play an important part. The player who profited from her smile was Sergei Karjakin of the Ukraine and he was extremely happy about it." 

To me both games were pretty similar: black played an inaccuracy early on (12.-Qe6 by Navara, 20.-f5 by Giri) and subsequently sacrificed or lost material. The only difference was that Giri - fair enough - played on an exchange down while Navara resigned immediately. Why does Radjabov get full credit, while Karjakin is called lucky?

h8dgeh0g's picture

i vaguely remember N+B ending appearing in a blindfold game between two supergm couple of years ago. carlsen could be one of them, i cant remember now. the defending side did not wait to be mated, he resigned on the spot.

Zeblakob's picture

I remember that Cheparinov played such endgame till the end (he was the losing side). But it was a usual game (Chess olympiad some years ago).

Zeblakob's picture

The only one who can answer to S3 iz Septimus.


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