Caruana Defeats Swashbuckling Van Foreest to Join Leaders

Caruana Defeats Swashbuckling Van Foreest to Join Leaders


GM Fabiano Caruana scored the sole victory of round three vs. GM Jorden van Foreest at the 2023 Tata Steel Chess Tournament. The young Dutch grandmaster threw the game into thrilling, swashbuckling waters out of the opening, but Caruana countered by seizing control of the center. Today’s sole winner joins GMs Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri, Ding Liren, and Nodirbek Abdusattorov in the tie for the lead.

In the Challengers group, two fresh victors, GMs Velimir Ivic and Javokhir Sindarov, join the six-way tie for first. 

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Although there was only one victory this round, many of the games were compelling displays of the players’ vast abilities. In particular, the draw between GM Arjun Erigaisi and GM Levon Aronian was an elegant example of the value of classical chess.

In a Classical Nimzo Indian, Aronian developed his pieces more harmoniously and gained a small yet persistent edge that he kept as the players traded into an ending. With a good bishop vs. a passive knight, Aronian pressed his advantage over the next 40 moves, activating his king and gaining an outside passed pawn on the a-file. In response, the 19-year-old grandmaster created counterplay by pressing his own passed e-pawn down the board and limiting Aronian’s king with his well-coordinated pieces. 

Commentator Sachdev describes the quality of play in this ending: “This is the beauty of classical chess. We’re only treated to these intricate, complex situations because the players have time to navigate through these complications. If it was blitz or rapid, by now we would’ve had about four queens on the board, there would’ve been about 20 blunders made already, but as we can see the level of accuracy is so high by both players, and the fight still continues.”

This is the beauty of classical chess. We’re only treated to these intricate, complex situations because the players have time to navigate through these complications.

—Tania Sachdev

After the game, the grandmasters were so intrigued by the possibilities of the position, they analyzed the game while still at the board. The commentators followed along with the players’ analysis, sharing their delight to see grandmasters eager to analyze without engines. Sachdev observed: “It’s heartwarming to see that the players don’t just get up, go back, switch on their engines and check the lines. Instead they want to sit and calculate with each other.” 

Round three also matched up the two top seedsnot just in this tournament but in the worldand only players currently above 2800, Carlsen and Ding. Carlsen surprised Ding by employing the London System, and the players ventured to a strategic middlegame with Carlsen gaining a little activity and pressing on Ding’s isolated a7-pawn. Ding maneuvered his pieces harmoniously to orchestrate the exchange of his a-pawn for Carlsen’s b3-pawn. After a slew of exchanges, the players agreed to a draw in a minor piece ending with pawns left on only one side of the board.

It’s a treat to see the top two players in the world face off. Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

Giri equalized with the black pieces in the Italian game vs. GM Parham Maghsoodloo. Sachdev described Giri’s play in the opening: “Giri has done all that he could and gotten a dream position out of the Italian: your bishop on a7 is super active. You’ve gotten rid of White’s strong minor pieces.” After some exchanges, the players agreed to a draw on move 30, the earliest they are allowed to. 

Hess shared his thoughts on their early draw: “I have pretty big feelings about this. I think the players should always play it out. I think it’s better for the spectators.”

GMs Richard Rapport and Wesley So transposed into an imbalanced variation in the Caro-Kann where Black sacrifices a pawn to give White one and later a second pair of doubled isolated pawns. 

Despite the lively opening and Rapport’s extra pawn, he was unable to find a way to make progress. Their game ended up being the shortest game, drawing by repetition in just 25 moves. 

2021 champion Van Foreest played the most aggressive game of the round vs. 2020 champion Caruana. Upending the Petroff’s reputation as a drawish opening, Van Foreest offered a knight sacrifice in the center on move 11. When the American grandmaster declined, the Dutch number-two followed up with more fearless moves, propelling his kingside pawns forward. 

After the game, Caruana shared his thoughts on the opening: “I wasn’t prepared for the Petroff. I can’t say it was a pleasant surprise. I was happy to get a game. And I figured even if I go wrong, we’ll still get a fight. I was also kind of worried because your opponent starts blitzing out f5, and you get a little bit scared.”

Despite his opponent’s attacking advances, Caruana countered by cementing a bishop on the e5-outpost, giving him control of the center and turning the tables on Van Foreest. This fierce duel is our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

Van Foreest came ready for a fight, but so did Caruana. Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023.

GM Gukesh D. and Abdusattorov drew a very level game in 44 moves, allowing Abdusattorov to maintain his tie for the lead and Gukesh to join the scoreboard. 

GM Praggnanandhaa R. gained an extra pawn and pressed his edge with determination for 78 moves vs. GM Vincent Keymer. But the young German grandmaster defended accurately, and they drew as the last game to finish. Their game has been analyzed by IM Arian Petrisor.  

In the Challengers group, Ivic defeated 13-year-old GM Abhimanyu Mishra in a tense, dynamic battle. Can you find the clever way the Serbian grandmaster finished the game?

Additionally, Sindarov beat IM Vaishali R. by doubling rooks on the seventh rank in the ending. Ivic and Sindarov join GMs Alexander Donchenko, Mustafa Yilmaz, Amin Tabatabaei, and Max Warmerdam in the lead with two points each. 

Results – Masters Round 3


Pairings – Masters Round 4

All Games – Masters Round 3

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