Ding, Abdusattorov Score First Victories

Ding, Abdusattorov Score First Victories


World championship challenger GM Ding Liren and GM Nordirbek Abdusattorov scored the first victories of the 2023 Tata Steel Chess Tournament in round one. Defending champion GM Magnus Carlsen drew a combative game vs. GM Levon Aronian.

In the Challengers group, GM Max Warmerdam and prodigy GM Abhimanyu Mishra each won to tie for the early lead.

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Every year the elite chess calendar begins in Wijk aan Zee, a seaside village in the Netherlands, with Tata Steel Chess, known as the “Wimbledon of chess.” This year, this storied event celebrates its 85th anniversary with an exciting mix of elite players and rising prodigies.

In addition to the exceptionally strong main event, Tata Steel also holds a Challengers tournament with up-and-coming GMs and IMs looking ahead for their seat at the Masters table next year. In addition, the amateur tournaments are back with this edition, and spectators are welcome again in the playing hall for the first time since the corona period. 

The vast range of players in the colorful Tata Steel playing hall. Photo: © Jurriaan Hoefsmit – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

Beyond the competitive aspect, Tata Steel is a complete chess festival geared for the local community, taking place all over Wijk aan Zee with a wealth of side events. The event is also being held at a new venue, Dorpshuis de Moriaan, a sporting hall that hosts an abundance of events. 

For this year’s tournament, the anti-cheating measures are more severe than ever:

  • the relay of moves to the internet is done with a 15-minute delay;
  • the participants will be scanned before their games;
  • there’s an extra Fair Play arbiter specially charged with preventing fraud in the playing hall;
  • spectators are no longer allowed to take photos with their phones

Tournament director Jeroen van den Berg told the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant: “Cheating is a threat to the sport. We had to do something. The top players are happy that we are taking this seriously.”

Round one kicked off with many thrilling matchups, including eight-time champion, Carlsen, facing four-time champion, Aronian. Utilizing a blend of tactical and strategic ideas with the white pieces, Carlsen had Aronian under pressure throughout the middlegame. Yet, the American grandmaster countered with one perceptive defensive idea after another. This exciting duel culminated with Carlsen’s queen and rook hunting after his opponent’s king, but Aronian sacrificing an exchange and creating enough counterplay to hold the balance in the nick of time. 

Another fascinating duel between these two legendary players. Photo: © Jurriaan Hoefsmit – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

The next game to finish was between newcomers GM Parham Maghsoodloo and GM Vincent Keymer. A dynamic battle took place in the center with Keymer pressing an advantage with black. At one point, Keymer crept onto his opponent’s side of the board with his center pawns advancing to d4 and e4 and his rook on an outpost on c3. Commentator Hess described his play as characteristic: “It’s crazy, and Vincent Keymer likes crazy.”

However, after an inaccuracy by the German grandmaster, Maghsoodloo was able to equalize, and soon many of the pieces were traded off, leading to a balanced queen ending. The intricacies of their game have been analyzed below by IM Adrian Petrisor.

Five-time runner up, GM Anish Giri gained an edge with the black pieces vs. 2020 champion, GM Fabiano Caruana. Then, the Dutch grandmaster up the ante by sacrificing a knight to break through on the queenside with connected passers. 

Ultimately, Caruana sacrificed the knight back and tenaciously held a draw. 

A game full of creativity and resilience. Photo: © Jurriaan Hoefsmit – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

Two more of the younger competitors, GMs Praggnanandhaa R and Arjun Erigaisi―winner of last year’s Challengers tournament, were matched up this round. Their fairly balanced game led to a draw on move 40. 

The first victory of the event was scored by Ding against the youngest player, GM Gukesh D. The Chinese grandmaster expanded boldly on the kingside by pushing his g- and f-pawns, unsettling his 16-year-old opponent and then crashing through tactically. This magnificent duel is our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

The first round of the Tata Steel tournament had great games and fulfilled the expectations of chess fans all over the world. Perhaps this impression is also accentuated because we’ve been a few days without elite chess tournaments and, as they say, hunger is the best seasoning.

In GM Jorden van Foreest vs. GM Wesley So, the queens were traded early and van Foreest obtained a more comfortable position with the white pieces. However, he later stumbled, placing five out of his six pieces on the back row and blundering a pawn. Can you find the clever tactical idea that So employed?

Though So pressed in the minor piece ending, van Foreest was unfazed by his material loss, fighting back to eventually draw. 

In the last game to finish, GM Richard Rapport unleashed the aggressive and rare Vienna Game on Abdusattorov. Despite his opponent’s surprising opening choice, the 18-year-old seemed comfortable with the position, countering with active play in the center. Abdusattorov castled queenside while Rapport tried his king’s luck in the closed center. After a slew of exchanges in the middlegame, Abdusattorov emerged with the better ending. As he pressed his edge, Rapport inaccurately checked his opponent’s king, chasing it exactly where it wanted to go―across the board to support its passed b-pawn. 

The rapidly-progressing, 18-year-old Abdusattorov starts off his first Tata Steel Masters with a victory over the seasoned Rapport. Photo: © Jurriaan Hoefsmit – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

Following the footsteps of the Masters, there were also just two decisive games in the Challengers group. Thirteen-year-old Mishra defeated IM Eline Roebers in a positional duel, proving her hanging pawns to be targets instead of strengths. Conversely, Warmerdam discovered the chance to play a rare tactical motif vs. GM Jergus Pechac. Can you find it?

Warmerdam had the rare delight of playing a windmill tactic vs. a fellow grandmaster. Photo: © Jurriaan Hoefsmit – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

Results – Masters Round 1

Pairings – Masters Round 2

All Games – Masters Round 1

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