A question of principle
One of the oldest chess events in the world, the Tata Steel Tournament (formerly known as Hoogovens and Corus) has been held every year since 1938 – with one exception, in 1945. The traditional event took place even in 2021, amid the pandemic. While last year only the Masters took place, this year the Masters and Challengers are played, the amateur (open) tournaments being canceled on both occasions, naturally.
Of course, restrictions and sanitary measures must be in place during the pandemic. And, for the first time in both Covid-affected events, an opponent lost by forfeit due to a disagreement over the rules. Daniil Dubov lost his round 7 encounter against Anish Giri after refusing to wear a mask during the match.
As announced by the organizers, a member of Dubov’s inner circle tested positive for Covid-19, with the player himself testing negative on a rapid scan test – a PCR test was also carried out, but results were due to arrive in the evening. In order to protect his opponent, the head referee ordered the Russian to play with a face mask. Dubov refused, which led to him losing by forfeit.
A vigorous and assertive player both on and off the set, Dubov said his refusal was a matter of principle, as he said to Jan Gustafsson that there was “prior agreement that masks would not be required” during matches. Dubov recently found himself in the middle of another controversy, as he faced criticism in Russia after working as second to Magnus Carlsen at the 2021 World Championship, despite Carlsen’s rival being Russian.
Daniil Dubov before the start of Friday’s sixth round | Photo: Lennart Ootes
Consecutive wins for Carlsen
The first five rounds saw the world champion miss a few scoring opportunities in games that would end in draws. In the final two rounds, however, Carlsen made up for lost chances by scoring back-to-back wins over Richard Rapport and Praggnanandhaa. These two victories make him the sole leader of the Masters.
Facing Pragg with black, the Norwegian had a slightly lower position coming out of the opening. His teenage opponent faltered early in the midgame, however, giving Carlsen the upper hand.
Black is the one who puts pressure on his opponent after 20…b4. The game continued 21.Na4 Nxd5, and here Pragg’s best chance according to the engines was to swap queens with 22.Nxb6 Nxf4, entering a pawn endgame against the best player in the world (White will capture on e4 in later lines).
Naturally, the youngster rejected this alternative and kept the queens on the board by playing 22.Rxd5 – he followed 22…De6 23.Rad1
With the a4 knight away from the action, white will not be able to deal with the coming threats from black – the e4 pawn is attacked, the rook will go to a8 to threaten a c4 move, the clear square bishop could potentially be placed on the long diagonal, etc.
Carlsen never let go of the initiative and collected the full point before reaching time control. The world champion will face Sam Shankland in black on Sunday.
Magnus Carlsen’s fist hits Praggnanandhaa | Photo: Jurrian Hoefsmit
Van Forest and Caruana rebound
The last two winners of the event also picked up all the points in round 7. Coincidentally, Fabiano Caruana (tournament winner in 2020) and Jorden van Foreest (winner in 2021) lost on Friday. While both grandmasters have collected 3½ of 7 points so far this year, the Dutchman has had more ups and downs, as he has won (and lost) three times throughout the event, while that Caruana has a win and a loss under his belt. .
Van Foreest’s victory largely impacted the top of the standings, as he beat former co-leader Vidit Gujrathi. The Indian faltered decisively at move 36.
White is certainly the one creating threats, but Black should be able to continue defending with the natural 36…Rf8. However, when he was having time problems, Vidit got it wrong with 36…Rc8, which gives rise to a simple refutation — 37.d6 Qe6 38.Bf3 Nc5 39.Bd5 Qe5
The key point of the sequence is that after 40.Qxe5 fxe5, the tower infiltrates with 41.Rf7+, and 41…Kg6 is followed by 42.Rxd7 Nxd7 43.Be6
Vidit resigned. The whole line was nearly forced, proving that even the best grandmasters blunder when time is running out.
Jorden van Foreest knocked out former leader Vidit Gujrathi | Photo: Jurrian Hoefsmit
Caruana’s victory over Jan-Krzysztof Duda came after 53 strokes of a double-edged struggle in which both players missed chances to win faster (Caruana) or equalize (Duda) – depending on the engines, although sure. It was a lively and enjoyable chess battle from a human point of view! Caruana later confessed:
Things went wrong before hit 40 because I’m sure I had something much, much better than what I did – I don’t know exactly what, it’s all a little blurry now, but I am sure that after move 40 he should not lose this position.
Browse Van Foreest and Caruana’s wins in the dynamic player below. You can try your own moves or check engine analysis while replaying the game.
Round 7 Results
Ranking after the 7th round
All Games – Round 7
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Nguyen only second
While Arjun Erigaisi dominated the first half of the event in the Challengers, it is still too early to relax for the Indian as 20-year-old Czech grandmaster Thai Dai Van Nguyen is now one point away. of the only leader with six rounds to go. go. While Nguyen beat Marc’Andria Maurizzi on Saturday, Arjun had to work hard to draw against second seed Rinat Jumabayev.
Lucas van Foreest, Jonas Buhl Bjerre, Daniel Dardha and Max Warmerdam also won in round seven. The latter earned her second consecutive victory by defeating Polina Shuvalova with the black pieces.
Shuvalova stubbornly defended her one-trade position up to this point, but had to resign afterwards. 60…Kh7, as there is no effective way to deal with the threat of f6 and Rxh2.
Max Warmerdam defeated Polina Shuvalova | Photo: Jurrian Hoefsmit
Round 7 Results
Ranking after Round 7
All Games – Round 7
Replay all Challengers games at Live.ChessBase.com