Reports | January 26, 2014 18:10

Tata R11: Aronian Blunders, Gelfand & Naiditsch Win Again

Levon Aronian had already won the Masters Group on Saturday and finished his tournament with a good game, but a bad blunder. The Armenian grandmaster lost his only game to Dutch GM Loek van Wely, but still gained 13.7 rating points in Wijk aan Zee. Boris Gelfand and Arkadij Naiditsch both won again and can go home with at least a few wins.

Levon Aronian and his girlfriend Arianne Caoili (who played in the amateurs section) at the opening ceremony

“I tend to expect to play well in tournaments,” said Aronian at the traditional press conference given by the winner. He called Wijk aan Zee his favorite tournament, and clearly was happy with his fourth victory. (Later, at the closing ceremony he would state that he plays his best chess in Wijk!) Here's that press conference:

Even though he had already won the tournament, Aronian was clearly playing for a win in the last round, but ended up losing. He called the fight with Loek van Wely the most interesting game he played in the tournament. “It wasn't my intention to get in timetrouble but I did, and then I blundered a mate in one,” said the Armenian.

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Arkadij Naiditsch ended last, but he did finish with two wins. On Sunday he beat Richard Rapport in a nice attacking game, and so the two both scored 3.5/11. “Rapport seems to be in an even worse shape than me here. The game reminded me of my game with Harikrishna, but with opposite colors. I am happy that I won a few games, so that you don't have to go home with the feeling: maybe it's time to switch jobs,” said Naiditsch.

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Boris Gelfand also won two games in a row at the end of the tournament. His win over Pentala Harikrishna was a fine one; White kept the initiative from the start and even with equal pawns he was better. It's always a bit special when a pawn ending comes on the board at this level; in this case Gelfand had clearly seen that it was winning in all lines.

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Anish Giri finished shared second with Sergey Karjakin, and this was the best performance by a Dutch player since Jan Timman's victory in 1985. In the last round Giri once again showed how solid he had been in Wijk aan Zee this year - he finished undefeated, in fact. 

“Ne5 was new (to me at least). The way I played it was kind of safe; I gave a pawn but I had compensation. Later I had to give another pawn but I felt I should have enough for equality. I missed the whole idea of the queen to e8 so I was quite fortunate that it was a draw,” said Giri, who also revealed new ambitions for future events: “I think I should have played a little more risky and perhaps lose a game or two but maybe win three, four more.”

“I might have missed one or two chances but I think I played wel. To Anish's credit, I think he defended precisely. I had an extra pawn but I think it was always going to be a draw,” said Nakamura.

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Sergey Karjakin could have finished in sole second place, but the Russian GM also drew, with Leinier Dominguez. In fact it was Giri who could have finished sole second because Karjakin blundered a pawn in the opening and was just lost around the time control. However, Dominguez got very tired, as he stated himself, couldn't calculate accurately anymore and eventually failed to convert the ending.

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Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So also finished with a draw. The two followed a very theoretical line of the Grünfeld that leads straight to an ending, and soon after deviating from a correspondence game, the players started repeating.

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Masters Group, round 11 standings


Ivan Saric, the winner of the Challengers Group, almost finished his tournament with a loss as well. Around the time control things seemed to go really well for Sabino Brunello, but eventually Saric managed to hold it. 10.0/13 and a 2783 perfomance is of course a fantastic result for the young Croatian grandmaster.

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Jan Timman can look back at an excellent tournament. It would have been quite a story if he would have qualified for the 2015 Masters Group, and he got close! Eventually the Dutch legend, who drew with Radek Wojtaszek in the last round, tied for second place with Baadur Jobava, who drew with Kayden Troff. In the all-Dutch game between Dimitri Reinderman and Merijn van Delft, Black allowed himself to be checkmated.

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Challengers Group, round 13 standings


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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.


Anonymous's picture

Lemon Errornian is all "tricks & luck" and no skill.

Anonymous's picture

poor little man ! coming here to glue your frustration on anonymous screan

Thank You LEVON ARONIAN ! It was a joy to watch you play. I've learned so many things by your side

Anónimo's picture

Two days now and nobody gets it? The first commentator is trying to mock those who claim that Magnus wins because of "errors and luck". Ugly blunder, clearly Levon relaxed a bit too much after knowing he already had the tourney in the bag.

Anonymous's picture

he didn't blunder, he just gave the dutch a tip :)

SetNoEscapeOn's picture

Nice one!

Anonymous's picture

Thanks ! Anonimo didnt get it though, which makes his comment even more obscure than what i thought it was

Anonymous's picture

Luke Veli is VERY LUCKY player, he should go play lotto.

Remco G's picture

He plays a lot more poker than chess these days, so apparently he had the same idea :-)

Anonymous's picture

Someone who has beaten Kramnik three times in classical is not just raking up wins against the elite by "luck". Checkmate is the point of the game, right.

RG13's picture

An interference sacrifice to set up a queen sacrifice is a pretty spectacular shot. Aronian made a blunder but not an "ugly" one.

Bertil's picture

Agree with that one. With little time enough anybody can do any mistake, but I think Aronians expression of choice is made with some self distance.

noyb's picture

Chess is a "100% information" game and cannot be won without having the "luck" of your opponent making a mistake.

PDXTony's picture

you know whats funny,.. Lev says the same thing in interviews, he is just lucky and a tricky tactician ...
Come to mind it seems Capablanca said something like that too,.. and Lasker was called a coffeehouse player too
Oh well Lev needs to find better ways to win anyway,..

V's picture

Congratulations to Ivan Šarić who won B group in superior style (10/13 without a single loss)!
He is a gifted young player still developing and should cross 2700 elo mark in a year or so.

Niima's picture

Also congratulations to Timman and Muzychuk for a fine performance.

Bronkenstein's picture

...And to Jobava for some unforgetable Jobavian games =)

Calvin Amari's picture

Agreed. An entertaining combination of chess personalities in the B Group to be sure. I would not have been sad to See Jabova maintain his run to the end.

marcel's picture

So now Chessvibes is also infected with these patzer remarks whenever Stockfish gives a negative score?

Aronian and van Wely had only 1 minute (plus increment) for 10 moves. And when there is any move which Stockfish (1.000.000 moves a second) doesn't like is "blunder"??

Remco G's picture

Any move that makes the position go from more or less equal to immediate queen loss or mate in 3 is a blunder, yes.

Anonymous's picture

You wouldn't know what a blunder is even if it was served on a plate to you. Chess needs understanding, not reading engine numbers. You have little expert understanding, check up courses for intermediate players.

Remco G's picture

Well, seems Aronian himself disagrees with you, he also called it a blunder.

Thomas Richter's picture

Remco's initial definition of a blunder may be wrong or too harsh in certain situations - if it takes a tricky only move or a series of only moves to maintain the assessment 'more or less equal'. But here 38.exf4 opening the e-file was actually the worst move in the position (besides other ways to give away the queen).

Another definition of 'blunder': something a player normally wouldn't miss, not even in time trouble. This definition is a bit player-dependent: it wouldn't necessarily be a blunder if an average amateur like me had played it?!

brabo's picture

I wrote beginning of the month an article about annotations:

Remco G's picture

I think that definition of blunder is too strict, time trouble does lead to blunders after all. Limiting "blunder" to moves that one wouldn't even make in time trouble is too strict. I'd say a blunder is a very bad move of which the consequences are completely obvious the moment the opponent's reply is seen. Given that the reply here is a check that can only be answered by giving away the queen or running into check-check-checkmate, I'd say it was immediately obvious to Aronian what he had done after ...Bd4+ was played and therefore it was a blunder.

Remco G's picture

The key thing is that he would never have played 38.exf4 if he had considered the possibility 38...Bd4+ for only one second. That's what makes it a blunder.

PDXTony's picture

what is interesting to me is that type of blunder it was. A blockade sacrifice on a protected square with a self clearance move (38.ef4) . fun tactic that I am sure lev would see in normal situations 2 moves in advance in 1 min chess

Ralph's picture

I am a great Patzer. But the position had for several moves an intense smell of back rank mate, easy to see, independent of any evaluation. As a decent club player you would probably care about this, even in a blitz game.

>:)'s picture

don't like so or naka.

malper's picture

Levon sounded super-determined during the press conference about winning Zurich and the Candidates.

Anonymous's picture

Well ! If levon wanted to surprise the 4 russians he just did. Since Kramnik won't play in zurich, he has plenty of time to cook his own meal :)

Chris's picture

passing russian barrier is almost impossible.
RJF tried that in Quraco without success

Dirk's picture

He is going to have to take it up another notch. Carlsen awaits...

Andy's picture

Nice win for Loek!

Anonymous's picture

Great tip by Levon

Brutus's picture

Picture of a goodlooking girl on front of the article.
That might help.

Anonymous's picture

yes you're right ! or a picture of your mum, what do you think ?

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for this Peter, great stuff.
One observation is that Giri would not have been clear second if Karjakin had lost, Dominguez would have tied for second in that instance!
Enjoyed the coverage of tata, bring on Zurich!

Huy's picture

How come these press conferences are so lame? Good grief what a torture to listen to. By God! Is it impossible to combine a 2800+ rating with COMMUNICATIVE skills? What is this? And the questions?! Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase!

eltollo's picture

There are many people with communication skills, but few with a 2800+ rating.

Brutus's picture

I think Magnus greatly improved on the communication part the last few years.

Anonymous's picture

when you have a guy beginning each question by a 5 sec EUHHHHH so EUHHHHHH it becomes difficult to communicate

Anonymous's picture

I think you get a better interview if it is done by a chess player in stead of the tournement organisater that know litle about the game.
Chess patzers asking questions to top player always must lead to irritation because of the misunderstanding.

Thomas Richter's picture

I hesitated to join this mini-discussion, but let's defend someone else before defending myself: Tom Bottema may not be the best-ever interviewer, but (as anyone can verify via the FIDE rating list search function) he is a pretty decent chess player - current Elo 2213, formerly 2300+.

@Huy: Which questions should we have asked to Aronian? I say "we" because I attended the press conference - the question "how will you keep your form?" was mine. Maybe it was a silly question, nonetheless provoking an interesting answer.

I actually like the press conference (a lot), it might be a matter of taste what one prefers: Aronian sometimes pausing to think about an answer, or Kasparov talking nonstop - briefly interrupted by questions from journalists.

nonoyski's picture

so bringing along girlfriends during tournament is not bad after all. also i wonder if there is a phrase good blunder?

chess's picture

giri leaves the tournament as the only one undefeated. is he going to make chess full time now?

Remco G's picture

He had his final school exams last summer, since then he's full time chess pro I think.

Kostas's picture

Maybe it's only me, but I am not buying statements from 2700ers that chess is not their prime activity. Luke Mc Shane and M. Adly from Egypt are 2 exceptions that come to mind. But exceptions only confirm the rule as an old greek saying suggests.

Leo's picture

After 39 ...Qb1+ it's not "mate on the next move", but in two moves. Don't mean to split hairs, just thought you might want to correct that comment :)

Anonymous's picture

Probably interpositions that stall the mate for just one or a few moves are not counted by GM's.

Leo's picture

Not counted ...? "Mate on the next move" is incorrect, since there is no mate on the next move, that's all.


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