Tata Steel Chess 2019 R10

| Sjakkbloggen
| Wijk, Netherlands

The weather was nice on the rest day Monday, and Peter and I went for a walk and also had a (quick) bath in the sea. For those who haven’t been to Wijk aan Zee, the beach is a spectacular and mighty sight both on sunny days and when the western winds bring roaring waves across the shallow water.

My play the day after with the black pieces against reigning US champion Sam Shankland may not have seemed particularly inspired though. The opening choice allowed him to play for a small advantage without too much risk. I calculated quite well and slowly equalized. His a4 weakness offset my isolated pawn on d5, but I did not find any way to make progress in the endgame, and we drew after 40 moves.

Yan Nepomniachtchi won seemingly without too much difficulty against Vidit to join me and Anand in the lead with four rounds to go, with Giri and Ding Liren half a point behind.

Round 10 was played in the Pieterskirk in Leiden, a University city 45 minutes drive from Wijk aan Zee.

I’ve already played more than 60 classical games against former World Champion V.Anand. Against 1.e4 yesterday he played the 3…a6 Ruy Lopez that he hasn’t used against me for quite some time. I went for the sideline 5.Nc3 Bc5 6.Bxc6. We exchanged pieces and I got a slightly better pawn structure although without having enough of an advantage to be particularly optimistic. Even the endgame after exchanging queens wasn’t really promising despite his isolated e6-pawn.

Neither my opponent nor I seemed in top shape yesterday. My calculations took longer than usual. Anand seemed somewhat uncomfortable and maybe tired, especially after the first time control. I worked quite hard to try to utilize the kingside pawn majority and the position was always slightly better for white although I missed some opportunities. His main mistake was probably exchanging rooks on h2. The three against two pawns knight endgame was surprisingly tricky, and he had a very difficult choice when I played a5. I thought bxa5 71.Kd5 Nf4 72.Kxc5 Ne2 73. Nd6 looked very promising for white, and at the very least it keeps the game going. Anand took a long think and chose 70….b5. Afterwards I’m told it is winning for white. Anyhow, he soon blundered with 74…Nxc3 having missed my response 76.Ne2, (he had seen 76.Nb1, which leads to a draw after 76…b3! 77.Kd4 Kb7 78.Kc3 Ka6 79.Kb4 b2, and I will win b5, but not mate his king in the corner since his remaining pawn will queen with a check) and I stop his b-pawns without losing the a-pawn.

That was one long and difficult game, and I’m of course thrilled to have won in the end and secure a sole lead with 7 points ahead of Giri at 6.5 before the final weekend!

Today some of us played indoor football over at Hemskerk and I’m starting to look forward to R11 against Radjabov tomorrow.

The round 8 victory against Rapport has received praise and the game had some nice features. After Nd5! I was a pawn down, but still the position was overwhelming. Black had no counterplay, and I could just build up the kingside attack until he allowed the cute final combination. He resigned facing a lost endgame a pawn and an exchange down.