Wind aan Zee

| Chess
| Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands

Even for January in Wijk aan Zee the storm was quite heavy this morning. The planned basketball match in Ijmuiden was cancelled due to an authority red alert related to traffic dangers, falling trees etc. Early afternoon it calmed down a bit and we enjoyed a walk on the beach and a late afternoon basketball session at the local Heliomare, before playing the first online Proleague match of the year for the Norway Gnomes. Today's opponents were aptly named the (Gorky) Stormbringers. We won convincingly.

I did well with the black pieces in the King Salman Rapid & Blitz World Championship three weeks ago, and much better than with white. So far the trend has continued in Tata Steel Chess. In round 2 Baskaran Adhiban, India got a small but pleasant edge in the opening as white against me. Maybe he was too eager to draw the game and his attempt at simplifying resulted in an equal position with still some play left. I gave him a difficult choice with Bf5 and as expected he hesitated to play c3 and enter the complications after my d4-push. After two inaccuracies from him I had two passed pawns against his one and the rest was technique. 0-1.

As white against Wei Yi I played the Catalan. Already when he played Na6 I envisioned the resulting endgame and pawn structure and it didn’t offer much for white. I tried, but he kept the balance without too much difficulty.

Taking on the early leader Anish Giri with black in round 4 I went for a theoretical line in the Winawer French. Black has some compensation for the pawn and the position is quite interesting and dynamic with his vulnerable king offsetting the outside passed h-pawn. After a long think he went for Ne4 forcing Rxc2+ and the simplifications lead to a drawn ending.

Yesterday we visited Hilversum east of Amsterdam for round 5. In retrospect the highlight for me was maybe the Sesame Street pictures and game with Bert:-)

Well, to be fair, I’m very happy with the endgame. The variation Kramnik chose in the Ruy Lopez is supposed to be slightly dubious for black, but I couldn’t find a really promising continuation after his d5-push. I tried to complicate things with Ng3, exd5 and Be3 despite expecting Kramnik to find the principled and best response. He did. He captured on d5 with the Knight and took the pawn on d3. The resulting rook and knight ending was balanced. I mistakenly tried to play for an advantage with b5(?) and after Ne5 black was better. In the three against two pawn rook ending, I went for g4 to reach a known drawn, albeit tricky, ending rather than risk keeping the pawn and having to cope with numerous somewhat difficult decisions. I did hold the rook endgame against his two g-pawns despite his active king. The main point is to stop his king from coming to h3. Draw.

I would not be entirely happy with the situation in a short event, but with eight rounds to go, +1, half a point behind leaders Anand, Mamedyarov and Giri, is just fine for now.

Friday 19th 1:30 pm local time I’m black against Peter Svidler.