GM Magnus Carlsen got his first win in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament’s second round as the world champion scored a fairly quick full-point vs. Dutch GM Anish Giri. GM Richard Rapport was the only other winner in the Masters as the Hungarian player beat last year’s winner GM Jorden van Foreest.
Back in 2011, in their first-ever encounter, Giri sensationally beat Carlsen in just 22 moves in Wijk aan Zee. Meanwhile, Carlsen had improved their mutual score to 4-1 in classical chess (not counting draws), but it took him 11 years to beat his opponent on Dutch soil in a classical game (and make it 5-1).
Carlsen played the opening a bit in the style of GM Daniil Dubov, who described it the other day as: “Put the bishop on g2, sacrifice a pawn for nothing, start playing for tricks.”
As his first big think only came on move 14, it is safe to say that Carlsen was using left-over preparation for his 2021 world championship match, where Dubov was one of his seconds.
Asked about this, Carlsen countered: “It was maybe backup world championship prep!”
On move 16, the world champion sacrificed an exchange, which was interesting but not necessarily better for White. Giri, however, miscalculated with his response, and just two moves later he started shaking his head, revealing on camera that he was in serious trouble.
Carlsen: “It was very tense. I think the opening was pretty successful in that it was a fresh position where he had to navigate some really difficult variations. Fortunately for me, he kind of went wrong at some point and I had a clear initiative.”
The Norwegian GM then missed a subtle intermediate move (19.Be4) but so did Giri (20…Qxd5 or even 20…Nc3!?), whose disappointment might have blurred his calculation even more. After he missed that last chance it was all over after all. It was a good and quick win for Carlsen and a game quick to forget for Giri.
It was a bad day for the local players as Van Foreest, who had started with a win in the first round, lost as well. Both Giri and Van Foreest didn’t lose a single game last year.
The 2021 winner misplayed a knight endgame vs. GM Richard Rapport and lost rather unnecessarily. The Hungarian player felt he had been “extremely lucky” because he was the one fighting to equalize in the opening.
About his opponent’s mistake, Rapport said: “We were both kind of short on time so he just sort of panicked I think.”
Early in the round, all the attention went to the game between GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and GM Andrey Esipenko. The reason was simple: Mamedyarov’s daring third move 3.g4!?. Dubbed “the extended Catalan,” this coffee-house move was just lovely to see at this level.
Carlsen would later say: “I would have snapped it off I think, as Black! I think he must have seen some of my father’s blitz games ’cause he always does this on move two, 1.d4 Nf6 2.g4; that’s his pet opening, which is probably considerably worse version than what Mamedyarov did.”
I think he must have seen some of my father’s blitz games.
While commentator GM Robert Hess praised Mamedyarov for it (joined by basically the whole chess community on social media), Esipenko couldn’t avoid a few smiles himself while pondering on the best reaction. Do you take the pawn, which surely cannot be bad but enters tricky home preparation from the opponent, or do you decline with some healthy moves instead, hoping that White’s pawn aggression can be countered in the center?
After eight minutes of thinking, Esipenko chose the latter plan with 3…d5. As the game progressed, the position remained somewhat unclear, but Mamedyarov won the opening battle anyway because of the clock situation: after 11 moves he still had more than an hour on the clock, with 24 minutes left for Esipenko.
The young Russian player was helped by the fact that he could soon trade queens and, by move 26, the players suddenly agreed to a draw rather early, which was something our commentators were less ecstatic about.
As Hess put it, plainly: “BAN THE DRAW OFFER!”
The clash between GM Sergey Karjakin and Dubov was potentially a spicy one as Karjakin had openly criticized his compatriot for helping Carlsen in a match against a co-Russian player. The game was, however, one of the quickest draws of the round as Dubov quickly managed to equalize with the Tarrasch Defense:
A bigger fight, but with the same result, was GM Sam Shankland vs. GM Nils Grandelius. In the end, it was Shankland who had a fortress with a rook and knight against a queen, but the American GM had more reason to be unhappy with the result as he was very close to winning in the middlegame
The Dutch torture extended partly to the Challengers group, where the reigning Dutch champion GM Max Warmerdam—last year in Wijk aan Zee as the second for Van Foreest—erred in a slightly better position despite a 38-minute think. Sometimes, the more you think, the less you see…
It wasn’t all misery for the Dutch as GM Erwin l’Ami, who started off with a loss the previous day, won his game vs. China’s WGM Zhu Jiner.
In this group, we find the only player still on a perfect score after two days, and it’s not one of the grandmasters. 15-year-old IM Volodar Murzin, originally from Nizhny Tagil, a town 125 km north of Yekaterinburg, Russia, beat the Belgian GM Daniel Dardha the other day and IM Polina Shuvalova, also from Russia, today: