Actionfilled weekend in Tata Steel Chess 2018

We played rounds 6 to 8 this weekend, and while the individual results cannot be considered particularly unexpected, the many comebacks from lost positions are exceptional. Friday it was Mamedyarov’s and So’s turn, and by winning Mamedyarov took the sole lead ahead of Anand and Giri.

I planned a non-theoretical, highly interesting and chaotic draw against Peter Svidler, were I unfortunately forced him to play the kind of dynamic chess he is so good at. Both of us felt we lost control, and it was a bit surprising to find out that the game was actually well-played.

Saturday I got a much needed endgame victory as white against Hou Yifan where I had been better and even clearly better only to let her escape into a probably drawn albeit tricky endgame with rook and three pawns against my knight and five pawns. I tried to pose as many problems as possible, and she seemed to think it was lost all around. Maybe that contributed to her decisive mistake at move 50. After h5? my advanced b- and d-pawn decided the game.

Mamedyarov used the chance to pull ahead with his third victory in a row.

Next I played Gawain Jones with the white pieces. As admitted in an interview immediately after the game Sunday, I disliked both the trend and frankly also my position, and in that situation discovering that I had blundered badly with 17.g4?? was partly a relief. It couldn’t get any worse, and despite the extra piece black does not have an obvious plan. Trying to exchange queens was a mistake and after g5! I was at least close to being back in the game. The position after Qa3 and b3 was fascinating and inspiring because it didn’t resemble anything I’ve seen before. Black is a piece up, white has no direct threats, but it is far from obvious that black is better. He continued to go astray and even material down it soon became apparent that I was winning.

Meanwhile the leader Mamedyarov lost without much resistance to Anish Giri.

Going into the final week, I’ve achieved what I had been hoping for this weekend – an exciting finish ahead. Giri, Mamedyarov and I are at +3, Kramnik and So at +2, Anand and Karjakin at +1.

Monday is a restday and Tuesday I’m playing Anand with the black pieces.