Tata Steel: Crucial Encounters Loom Large with Three Games To Go

Masters: Giri on Abdusattorov's Tail

A popular tournament strategy is to play for a win as White. Another popular strategy is to be content with draws against the top seeds and look to beat the lower rated players.


Giri Ding
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Giri versus Ding (courtesy Jurriaan Hoefsmit)


Anish Giri, the Dutch grandmaster still on his quest to win his first tournament in Wijk aan Zee outright, has found a radically different strategy. After beating Chinese GM Ding Liren with the black pieces in a truly chaotic game, Giri now boasts wins over both of the players who entered the event rated over 2800.



With only one win and seven draws from the remaining games, Giri now sits at 6½/10. Uzbek prodigy GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov still leads with 7/10 after drawing his last two games. Giri will play white against Abdusattorov in their pivotal encounter in round 11.


,crosstable after 10


Although he has lost (consecutively!) to both leaders, GM Magnus Carlsen is back in contention with 6/10 after a bread-and-butter endgame win against Iranian GM Parham Maghsoodloo.


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courtesy Jurriaan Hoefsmit




With two more draws, American GM Wesley So also joins Carlsen in a tie for third. Incidentally, Carlsen also plays So today.


Challengers: Donchenko and Yilmaz Lead the Way

In the Challengers section, Russian GM Alexander Donchenko and Turkish GM Mustafa Yilmaz are tied for first with 7/10.


challengers after 10


Unlike in the Masters, however, there will be no decisive showdown between the two players, who will instead be in a race to outperform each other over the next three rounds.


Alexander Donchenko (courtesy Jurriaan Hoefsmit)


Donchenko actually defeated Yilmaz in their seventh round encounter, demonstrating subtle mastery of the Carlsbad structure in determining which pieces to keep on the board.



Since then, Yilmaz has managed to keep winning. His spry, maneuvering play against Indian IM Vaishali was a delight to watch.


Yilmaz Vaishali
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Yilmaz versus Vaishali (courtesy Jurriaan Hoefsmit)



Play resumes January 27 at 7:15 a.m. CT and continues until January 29. Games can be followed live on Lichess.

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