Youth on the March at Tata Steel

The Tata Steel Chess Tournaments are well-known among chess fans for the diversity of their playing fields. While many event organizers focus on ratings, the team in Wijk aan Zee creates tournaments that feature a healthy mix of the world’s elite and upcoming talents. Sometimes, of course, the youth are shark bait, fodder for the top players to chew up on their way to the top of the table.

And sometimes the youth rise up to give us a sense of what the future of top-level chess will look like.

16-year-old Alireza Firouzja leads the 2020 Tata Steel A Group with 5/7, trailed by three players at 4.5: Americans Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So, along with Jorden van Foreest of the Netherlands.

After a Round 4 loss to So, Firouzja has been on fire, defeating Anish Giri in Round 5 and American Jeffery Xiong in Round 7. In both games, Firouzja exhibits impressive handling of his knights. With his win Saturday, he breaks into the World Top 20 list in the live ratings.

[pgn] [Event "82nd Tata Steel GpA"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2020.01.16"] [Round "5.5"] [White "Firouzja, Alireza"] [Black "Giri, Anish"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D31"] [WhiteElo "2723"] [BlackElo "2768"] [PlyCount "101"] [EventDate "2020.01.11"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 c6 6. Qc2 Nf6 7. e3 Nh5 8. Be5 Nd7 9. Be2 Nxe5 10. dxe5 g6 11. Bxh5 gxh5 12. Nge2 f6 13. exf6 Bxf6 14. Rd1 O-O 15. O-O Kh8 16. e4 d4 17. Nf4 Be5 18. Nd3 Bg7 19. Ne2 h4 20. h3 Qe7 21. e5 Rd8 22. f4 Bf5 23. Kh2 Qe6 24. Ng1 Bh6 25. Nf3 Qe7 26. Kh1 Bxf4 27. Qc5 Qxc5 28. Nxc5 Bc2 29. Rxd4 Rxd4 30. Nxd4 Be3 31. Nce6 Bg6 32. Rf3 Bh6 33. Nf5 Bxf5 34. Rxf5 Be3 35. Rf3 Re8 36. Rxe3 Rxe6 37. Kg1 Kg7 38. Kf2 Kg6 39. Re4 Re7 40. Kf3 Kf5 41. Rxh4 Kxe5 42. Re4+ Kf6 43. Rxe7 Kxe7 44. Kf4 Kf6 45. g4 a5 46. a4 h6 47. h4 Ke6 48. g5 hxg5+ 49. Kxg5 Kf7 50. Kf5 b5 51. Ke5 1-0 [/pgn]
[pgn] [Event "82nd Tata Steel GpA"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2020.01.18"] [Round "7"] [White "Firouzja, Alireza"] [Black "Xiong, Jeffery"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2723"] [BlackElo "2712"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "135"] [EventDate "2020.01.10"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. O-O Nd7 7. c3 O-O 8. d4 (8. Nxe5 $6 Nxe5 9. d4 Qh4 10. dxc5 Qxe4 $15) 8... Bd6 (8... exd4 9. cxd4 Be7 {1/2-1/2 (19) Anand,V (2764)-Nakamura,H (2754) Paris 2019}) 9. Bg5 f6 10. Bh4 Qe8 11. Re1 (11. Nbd2 Qe6 12. Bg3 b6 13. Re1 Ba6 14. Qc2 Kh8 15. b3 c5 16. d5 Qf7 17. a4 {1-0 (58) Firouzja,A (2723)-Andreikin,D (2724) Moscow 2019}) 11... Nb6 12. Bg3 Bg4 13. Nbd2 Kh8 14. Qc2 Rd8 (14... a5 15. Nh4 Qf7 16. Ndf3 exd4 17. Nxd4 Bxg3 18. hxg3 {1-0 (75) Swiercz,D (2651)-Chandra,A (2513) Columbia 2019}) 15. h3 Bh5 16. Nh4 {Already Firouzja is eyeing the f5 square for a knight.} exd4 17. Bxd6 d3 18. Qxd3 cxd6 (18... Rxd6 19. Qe3 $14) 19. f4 Bf7 (19... Na4 $5 20. b3 Nc5 21. Qe3 $14) 20. Ndf3 Bg8 21. Nd4 c5 ({If} 21... g6 {now} 22. Qg3 $5) 22. Ndf5 Qd7 (22... g6 23. Nh6 Bc4 24. Qg3 $36) 23. b3 d5 24. e5 Be6 25. Ng3 f5 {An understandable reaction by Xiong, trying to prevent any future f4-f5 pushes, but now the e6-Bishop is a tall pawn and White has time to arrange his pieces as he wishes.} 26. Nf3 h6 27. b4 $5 {Trying to gain access to d4?} d4 {Xiong decides to give a pawn for activity.} 28. bxc5 dxc3 29. Qxc3 Nd5 30. Qd2 Qa4 31. Ne2 Nb4 32. Ned4 Nc6 33. Rad1 Bxa2 34. Qc3 Rd5 35. e6 $1 {Passed pawns must be pushed! (And diagonals aimed towards kings must be opened...)} Re8 36. Rd2 Qc4 37. Qxc4 Bxc4 38. Nxc6 bxc6 39. Rd4 Bb3 40. Re3 Ba2 41. e7 Kg8 42. Ra3 Rxd4 (42... Bb1 $2 43. Rxd5 cxd5 44. Rxa7) 43. Nxd4 Bd5 44. Nxf5 $1 (44. Rxa7 {is not as strong after} g6 45. Rc7 Kf7 46. Nxc6 Bxc6 47. Rxc6 Rxe7 {and Black should hold without much drama.}) 44... g6 45. Nxh6+ Kg7 46. Ng4 Rxe7 47. Ne3 Be4 48. Kf2 Rd7 49. Nc4 Rb7 50. g4 (50. Nd6 $2 Rb2+ $11) 50... Bd5 51. Ne3 Rb2+ 52. Kg3 Rb3 53. Rxa7+ Kf6 54. Kf2 Rb2+ 55. Kf1 $1 Be4 56. Rd7 Rh2 57. Rd4 Bf3 58. Rd6+ Kg7 59. f5 gxf5 60. Nxf5+ Kf7 61. g5 Bh5 62. Rf6+ Kg8 63. g6 Rxh3 64. Ne7+ Kh8 65. Rf8+ Kg7 66. Rf7+ Kh6 67. Rh7+ Kg5 68. g7 1-0 [/pgn]
After Friday’s draw with Magnus Carlsen, the 19th consecutive in their personal (Classical) series, Fabiano Caruana brought home the full point today against Daniil Dubov.

Tweet URL

[pgn] [Event "82nd Tata Steel GpA"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2020.01.18"] [Round "7"] [White "Caruana, F."] [Black "Dubov, Daniil"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B31"] [WhiteElo "2822"] [BlackElo "2683"] [PlyCount "157"] [EventDate "2020.01.10"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. c3 Nf6 6. Re1 O-O 7. d4 d5 8. e5 Ne4 9. Be3 Qb6 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. Qc1 Rb8 12. b3 Qa5 13. dxc5 Rxb3 14. axb3 Qxa1 15. b4 Qa4 16. Nd4 Bxe5 17. f3 Nf6 18. Qa3 Qxa3 19. Nxa3 Re8 20. Bg5 Bxd4+ 21. cxd4 Kg7 22. b5 Bd7 23. bxc6 Bxc6 24. Bd2 a6 25. Nc2 Bb5 26. Ra1 Nd7 27. Nb4 e6 28. Bf4 Ra8 29. Ra5 Nb8 30. g4 Kf8 31. Kf2 Ke8 32. g5 Nd7 33. Bc7 f6 34. h4 Ra7 35. Bd6 Ra8 36. Ke3 Kf7 37. f4 Kg7 38. Kd2 h5 39. Kc3 Kf7 40. Nd3 Bc6 41. Kb4 Ra7 42. Ra3 Kg7 43. Nc1 Kf7 44. Nb3 Bb5 45. Na5 Ra8 46. c6 Nb6 47. c7 f5 48. Re3 Rc8 49. Nb7 Nc4 50. Re1 Bd7 51. Kc5 Ke8 52. Be5 Kf8 53. Ra1 Bb5 54. Bd6+ Ke8 55. Na5 Nd2 56. Be5 Kd7 57. Kb6 Nc4+ 58. Nxc4 dxc4 59. Kc5 Re8 60. Rd1 Ba4 61. Ra1 Bb5 62. Ra2 Kc8 63. Kd6 Kb7 64. Bf6 Kc8 65. Bd8 Kb7 66. Ke5 Rf8 67. Ra3 Kc8 68. Kxe6 Re8+ 69. Kf7 Re4 70. Kxg6 Rxf4 71. Kxh5 Rxd4 72. g6 Rd6 73. Kg5 Rd3 74. g7 c3 75. Kxf5 Rg3 76. Bg5 Bc4 77. Rxa6 c2 78. Rc6 Bb3 79. h5 1-0 [/pgn]
Wesley So took an early lead in Wijk, but three draws in the last three rounds have slowed his momentum a bit. He drew a fairly quiet game against Vladislav Artemiev.
[pgn] [Event "82nd Tata Steel GpA"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2020.01.18"] [Round "7"] [White "Artemiev, V."] [Black "So, W."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A06"] [WhiteElo "2731"] [BlackElo "2765"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2020.01.10"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. e3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. Bxc4 a6 6. O-O c5 7. Be2 Nc6 8. d4 cxd4 9. exd4 Be7 10. Be3 Ng4 11. Bf4 Nf6 12. Rc1 O-O 13. Be3 Ng4 14. Bd3 Nxe3 15. fxe3 b6 16. Be4 Bb7 17. Ne5 Nxe5 18. Bxb7 Ra7 19. Be4 Nd7 20. Qe2 b5 21. Bf3 Rc7 22. a4 bxa4 23. Qxa6 a3 24. bxa3 Qc8 25. Qxc8 Rfxc8 26. Ne2 Rxc1 27. Rxc1 Rxc1+ 28. Nxc1 Bxa3 29. Nd3 Kf8 30. Bc6 Nb6 31. e4 Ke7 32. e5 Nc4 33. Kf2 f6 34. Bb5 Nb2 35. Nf4 fxe5 36. dxe5 Nd1+ 37. Kf3 Bb2 38. Ba4 Nc3 39. Bc6 Na2 40. Nd3 Bc3 41. Be4 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
While Firouzja’s success has garnered much attention, the real surprise of the event thus far is the stellar play of Jorden van Foreest. The 20-year-old Dutchman is the lowest rated player in the field, but you woudn’t know that by his play! van Foreest has wins over Dubov, Kovalev, and Vitiugov to his credit, and he gave Magnus Carlsen quite a fright in their drawn game in Round 4.

Vitiugov-van Foreest (photo Alina l'Ami)

On Saturday van Foreest took advantage of an opening error by Vitiugov, winning a fascinating endgame and moving to +2 (4.5/7).

[pgn] [Event "82nd Tata Steel GpA"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2020.01.18"] [Round "7"] [White "Vitiugov, N."] [Black "Van Foreest, Jorden"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2747"] [BlackElo "2644"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "124"] [EventDate "2020.01.10"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Nce2 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Nf3 Be7 8. a3 ( 8. Ng3 Qa5 9. dxc5 Qxc5 10. Bf4 Qb6 11. Qd2 Nc5 12. Qc2 a5 {1-0 (57) Fedoseev, V (2681)-Vitiugov,N (2727) Riga 2019}) 8... O-O 9. Nf4 Qa5 10. Bd3 $5 Nxd4 11. Nxd4 cxd4 12. Qh5 $2 (12. Nxe6 {seems forced:} dxc3 (12... fxe6 {is razor-sharp:} 13. Qh5 h6 14. Bxh6 Nc5 $1 15. Rd1 (15. Bb1 Ne4 $19) 15... Rf5 16. Bxf5 exf5 17. b4 Qa6 18. bxc5 gxh6 $13) 13. b4 Bxb4 14. axb4 Qxa1 15. O-O $13 {1/2-1/2 (41) Karthik,V (2470)-Moradiabadi,E (2539) Sitges 2019}) 12... f5 $1 13. O-O (13. exf6 Nxf6 14. Qe5 dxc3 $17) 13... Nxe5 14. cxd4 Nc6 15. Be3 Bf6 16. Ne2 Qb6 17. Kh1 Bd7 18. b4 Rac8 19. Rac1 Ne7 20. Rc5 Rxc5 21. dxc5 Qc6 22. Nd4 Qa4 23. Ra1 Be8 24. Qh3 Ng6 25. Bc2 Qa6 26. Rb1 Bf7 27. f4 Qc4 28. Bb3 Qc3 29. Rd1 Nxf4 30. Bxf4 Bxd4 31. Qxc3 Bxc3 32. Bd6 Rc8 33. b5 Bb2 34. a4 Ba3 35. a5 Bxc5 36. Rc1 b6 37. g4 fxg4 $6 (37... d4 $1 38. Rxc5 bxc5 39. b6 axb6 40. axb6 e5 41. b7 Rd8 $19) 38. Rxc5 $1 bxc5 39. b6 axb6 40. axb6 Rc6 41. Bc7 Rxb6 42. Bxb6 {One would think that five pawns for the bishop should be winning for Black but Stockfish 11 evaluates it at 0.00 on depth 53 and counting... Of course we can't play like Stockfish!} c4 43. Bd1 {Already a mistake per the engine.} (43. Bc2 $1 e5 44. Kg1 d4 45. Be4 $1 Bg6 46. Bxg6 hxg6 47. Bc7 $1 c3 48. Bxe5 c2 49. Bf4 $1 $11) 43... Bg6 44. Bxg4 (44. Bd4 $1 {may hold.}) 44... Bf5 45. Bf3 (45. Bxf5 $2 exf5 $19) 45... c3 46. Kg1 Kf7 47. Bd4 c2 48. Bb2 d4 49. Kf2 e5 50. Bd5+ Kf6 51. h4 Kg6 52. Kg3 Bd3 53. Bc1 e4 54. Bb2 Kf5 55. Bg8 h6 56. Bc1 e3 57. Bb2 Be4 58. Bc1 g5 59. h5 g4 60. Bh7+ Ke5 61. Bg8 e2 62. Kf2 d3 0-1 [/pgn]
Magnus Carlsen’s unbeaten streak continues, but with seven draws in seven games, he is not pleased with his performance. Although he may be a bit too harsh in self-assessment…

Tweet URL

… Carlsen will certainly be looking to win a few games as the back half of the tournament approaches. Tuesday’s Round 9 matchup with Firouzja will be highly anticipated.

Anand (photo Alina l'Ami)

Viswanathan Anand is the oldest player in the field at 50, and like Carlsen, he is currently in the middle of the table at 50% (3.5/7). Anand lost to So in Round 2, but bounced back with this powerful win over Jeffery Xiong in Round 5, showing that the young are not the only ones who can play this game.

[pgn] [Event "82nd Tata Steel GpA"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2020.01.16"] [Round "5.3"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Xiong, Jeffery"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C19"] [WhiteElo "2758"] [BlackElo "2712"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2020.01.11"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 Ne7 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. Qg4 Kf8 8. h4 {A sideline, but played by the likes of Grischuk and Svidler.} (8. Qd1 { is a main move, defending the weak c-pawns.}) (8. Bd2 {might be best, preparing piece play with Bf1-d3.}) 8... h5 $5 {And Xiong responds with an even rarer move... Leela loves it, while it doesn't appear in the top four of Stockfish!} 9. Qd1 b6 {Standard. Black tries to swap off his bad bishop.} 10. Bg5 (10. a4 {wti Ba3}) 10... Qc7 11. Rh3 cxd4 {Imprecise?} (11... Nf5 { immediately looks interesting.}) 12. cxd4 Nf5 13. c3 {White has a weak c3 pawn, but at the same time his center is (for now) secure and he can focus on development. Black also needs to sort out his king safety.} Ba6 14. Bxa6 Nxa6 15. Ne2 Nb8 16. Nf4 g6 17. g4 $1 hxg4 18. Qxg4 {Already h4-h5 is a tremendous threat.} Nd7 19. Rc1 Rg8 20. h5 gxh5 21. Qxh5 Qc4 22. Ne2 (22. Kd2 Rc8 23. Rf3 $1 Nxd4 $4 24. Nxe6+ Nxe6 25. Qxf7#) (22. Rf3 $5 {indirectly pins the f5 knight. If} Nxe5 23. dxe5 Qe4+ 24. Kd2 $1 Rxg5 {White has the powerful} 25. Qh8+ Ke7 26. Qf6+ Ke8 27. Nxe6 Qxf3 (27... fxe6 $2 28. Qxe6+ Kd8 29. Rh1 $18) 28. Qxf7+ Kxf7 29. Nxg5+ Ke7 30. Nxf3) 22... Rc8 23. Rf3 Rc6 24. Ng3 Ke8 25. Nxf5 exf5 26. Rxf5 Rcg6 27. Kd2 Nf8 28. Be3 Ne6 29. Qe2 Qa2+ 30. Rc2 Qb1 31. c4 $1 {Opening the center to great effect.} Rg4 {Xiong fruitlessly decides to head for an endgame.} (31... dxc4 32. Qxc4 $18) 32. cxd5 $1 Rxd4+ 33. Bxd4 Qxc2+ 34. Kxc2 Nxd4+ 35. Kd3 Nxe2 36. Kxe2 {Pawn up with a central pawn duo, Anand brings home the point without difficulty.} Rg4 37. f4 Rg3 38. Rg5 Rxa3 39. Rg8+ Kd7 40. Rf8 Ke7 41. Rb8 Kd7 42. Rb7+ Ke8 43. d6 1-0 [/pgn]
Pairings for Sunday’s Round 8: Dubov, Daniil - So, Wesley Giri, Anish - Artemiev, Vladislav Yu, Yangyi - Duda, Jan-Krzysztof Xiong, Jeffery - Kovalev, Vladislav Van Foreest, Jorden - Firouzja, Alireza Carlsen, Magnus - Vitiugov, Nikita Caruana, Fabiano - Anand, Viswanathan

Pavel Eljanov leads the B Group after seven rounds with 5/7. Surya Shektar Ganguly and Erwin l’Ami are tied for second place with 4.5/7. After a crushing win in Round 6, Eljanov was nearly tripped up by Lucas van Foreest’s shocking queen sacrifice on Saturday, resulting in a fascinating draw.

[pgn] [Event "82nd Tata Steel GpB"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2020.01.17"] [Round "6.4"] [White "Warmerdam, Max"] [Black "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B12"] [WhiteElo "2498"] [BlackElo "2650"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2020.01.11"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. h4 h5 5. c4 e6 6. Nc3 Ne7 7. Nge2 Nd7 8. Ng3 Bg4 9. Be2 Bxe2 10. Qxe2 g6 11. Bg5 Bh6 12. cxd5 cxd5 13. f4 Bxg5 14. fxg5 Qb6 15. Rd1 a6 16. O-O Rc8 17. Qf3 Nf5 18. Kh2 Rc4 19. Nce2 Nxe5 20. Qf4 Ng4+ 21. Kh1 Nxg3+ 22. Nxg3 Qc7 0-1 [/pgn]
[pgn] [Event "82nd Tata Steel GpB"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2020.01.18"] [Round "7.4"] [White "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Black "Van Foreest, Lucas"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E06"] [WhiteElo "2650"] [BlackElo "2523"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r2rk1/4b1pp/p2qp3/npp1Pp2/3P4/2N2PP1/PP4BP/R1QR2K1 b - - 0 20"] [PlyCount "26"] [EventDate "2020.01.11"] {[#]} 20... Qxd4+ $5 21. Rxd4 cxd4 22. Qe1 dxc3 23. bxc3 Rc7 24. Bf1 Rfc8 25. Rc1 Kf7 26. g4 g6 27. Kh1 Nc4 28. gxf5 gxf5 29. Bxc4 Rxc4 30. Qe3 b4 31. Qh6 Rh4 32. Qd2 Rhc4 33. Qh6 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]


Quick links: Tata Steel main website A Group Standings B Group Standings Live Games

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Plain Text Comments

Share Your Feedback

We recently completed a website update. If you notice a formatting error on this page, please click here.