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Tata Steel Chess: Vidit crushes Vladimir Kramnik in merely 29 moves!

by Aditya Pai - 24/01/2019

The tenth round of Tata Steel Chess turned out to be a spectacle. As many as five out of the seven games in the Masters' leg were decisive. In the top matchup of the round, Magnus Carlsen managed to eke out a win in a drawn endgame against Vishy Anand to take the sole lead as Nepomniachtchi, the third co-leader, surprisingly lost to Jorden van Foreest. Vidit Gujrathi, in the meanwhile, crushed Vladimir Kramnik and became the second Indian after Anand to achieve the feat! In what was tactically the most fascinating game of the round, Richard Rapport brought down Jan Krzysztof Duda with a spectacular rook sac. In the Challengers, Maksim Chigaev also came up with a brilliant rook sacrifice to get the better of R Praggnanandhaa.

Magnus takes sole lead

What a day it was for chess fans last night at the tenth round of Tata Steel Chess. As many as five out of the seven games of the round finished decisively, each more entertaining than the other. Even in general, the round had been much anticipated, especially in the light of the leaderboard standings since round seven. Having scored back to back wins in rounds seven and eight, Indian ace, Viswanathan Anand, had made his way atop the leaderboard alongside his longtime rival, GM Magnus Carlsen and round 10 was that point in the tournament when the paths of two leaders were to collide in the 14 player round robin.

Round 10 saw a faceoff between the two co-leaders, Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand | Photo: Alina L'ami

However, before the spectators saw the end of the Carlsen-Anand game – wherein the players had gone toe to toe for the most part of its six-and-a-half-hour course – they were treated to a crushing kingside attack by Vidit Gujrathi in his game against Vladimir Kramnik. This was a fitting comeback for Vidit after his seventh round loss against Teimur Radjabov, where he was on the receiving end of the storm. Also, as IM Sagar Shah pointed out after the game, Vidit became only the second Indian after Anand to have defeated Kramnik in a classical game.


The two discussed a Nimzo-Indian Defence. Kramnik, as black, repeated a line Carlsen had deployed against Anand in the eighth game of their world championship match, with ambitions of getting play on the queenside. As it turned out, Vidit was very well prepared in the game and reacted in the most optimal manner. Giving up a pawn, Vidit reached a very strong position out of the opening and his attack on the enemy king went like clockwork. On his 29th turn, Vidit whipped out a brilliant queen sacrifice to finish the game in style.


“He was the only player whom I hadn’t played against before this tournament. Of course, I have studied his games and it was a great pleasure to play him – and upon that, to win,” Vidit said about the game.


Talking about his opening and the pawn sacrifice in particular, Vidit said: “Actually, this was the idea of my coach and one of my friends. They had worked it out. And they’d just told me (about it) this morning while we were walking to the bus. So, I didn’t know the concrete details; I just knew it is good.


Kramnik told me after the game that he had mixed up some preparation. And after that, the position just plays by itself. At least, I didn’t see a defence for him. After the opening, it just felt like white’s attack should be very strong.”

Vidit Gujrathi talks about his game | Tata Steel Chess
IM Sagar Shah analyzes Vidit's game with a 7 point test. Check how many points you can score! | ChessBase India YouTube

In the top matchup of the day, Anand had a little surprise of sorts for the reigning world champion in the opening as he went for the main line of the Spanish, instead of the Berlin Defence setups that he has preferred against Carlsen in the past. Soon, a delayed exchange variation of the opening was on the board.


In congruence with the traits of the opening, Carlsen got a mobile kingside pawn structure which gave him a slight edge in the endgame. However, Anand defended flawlessly for the most part and, in the opinion of the computers, Carlsen’s edge did not look convertible.


Carlsen had won a pawn by the 48th move but given that all of the pawns in the position were on the same side of the board, reaching anything concrete looked unlikely. But Carlsen, as he is known to do, kept probing in an attempt to trick his opponent. On his 70th turn, Anand made a critical error that threw away the game. He had to resign just six moves later.

“It was a huge win today." - Magnus Carlsen

While brilliancies abound the tenth round, one that still managed to stand out from the rest was Richard Rapport’s win over Jan Krzysztof Duda.

Position after 32.Qd8

Over the last couple of moves, Duda had cleared the line for his queen to enter the black camp by sacrificing a knight. But before white could begin with his checks, it is black to play and Rapport made the most of having the move. He began with 32…Rc1+ and after 33.Kf2 Qf1 34.Kg3 (diagram below), found the brilliant continuation, 34…f4!

Position after 34.Kg3

Notice that if Rapport had continued with 34…Qe1+, a draw would have been the most he’d have achieved as after 35.Kh3 Qc3 (covering h8) 36.Rxb3! black is forced to go 36…Qg7 (36…Qxb3 37.Qh8+ Kg5 38.f4#).  After 34…f4+, however, the c8-h3 diagonal is opened with decisive effect. There followed 35.Kxf4 Rc4+ 36.Kg3 Qe1+ 37.Kh3 when...

Position after 37.Kh3

Rapport found what is being speculated to be the move of the year here. Having opened the diagonal to the white king, black made way for his bishop to land on the critical e6 square with 37…Rc8!! No matter how white chooses to capture the rook, the bishop will reach e6 and deliver the killer blow.

GM Daniel King analyzes Duda vs Rapport | PowerPlayChess

Meanwhile, Ian Nepomniachtchi, who was the third co-leader of the group, shockingly lost his game to GM Jorden van Foreest, the bottommost seed of the tournament. With both of his co-leaders suffering losses, Carlsen is now the sole leader, with just three rounds to go. But despite his win, Carlsen is still closely followed.

Interview with Jorden van Foreest | Tata Steel Chess

Anish Giri, after a resounding win over Vladimir Fedoseev, moved up to the sole second place, half-a-point behind Carlsen. The two are slated to play each other in the final round. | Photo: Alina L'ami

All games


1Carlsen, Magnus7.0 / 102835289232.75  ½½1 ½½½1 11½
2Giri, Anish6.5 / 102783285428.5  0½½ ½1 11½½1
3Nepomniachtchi, Ian6.0 / 102763282930½1 ½½ 1  ½½0½1
4Ding, Liren6.0 / 102813282128.75½½½  ½½½1  1½½
5Anand, Viswanathan6.0 / 1027732824260½½  ½ ½½½ 111
6Radjabov, Teimour5.0 / 102757274123   ½½ 10½½½½½½
7Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi5.0 / 102695275323½½0½ 0 ½½ ½1 1
8Fedoseev, Vladimir4.5 / 102724271023.75½0 ½½1½ 1½00  
9Shankland, Samuel4.5 / 102725271422½  0½½½0 ½½1½ 
10Rapport, Richard4.5 / 102731273320.7500½ ½½ ½½ 1 ½½
11Duda, Jan-Krzysztof4.5 / 102738270219.25 0½  ½½1½0 0½1
12Van Foreest, Jorden4.0 / 102612268920.750½100½010 1   
13Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar4.0 / 102817269819.750½½½0½  ½½½  ½
14Kramnik, Vladimir2.5 / 102777257813.25½00½0½0  ½0 ½ 



In the Challengers group, Maksim Chigaev kept his lead having beaten R Praggnanandhaa in the tenth round. However, earlier in the game, it was Prag who seemed to be in total control. He had come out of the opening with an extra pawn but by the time the diagrammed position was reached, Chigaev had given up another pawn with some sly tricks in mind.

Position after 39.Ra5

Having missed his opponent’s wicked idea, Praggnanandhaa had moved his rook to a5 when Chigaev uncorked 39…Rd2+!! Truly, a bolt from the blue that could unsettle many a seasoned grandmaster. For Praggnanandhaa, this just spelt doom. While the position is still equal, Prag missed the critical line. The game continued 40.Kxd2 fxg3+ 41.Kd3 gxh2 42.Rxe5+ Kxe5 43.Bg3+ Bf4 44.Bxh2 Bxh2

Position after 44…Bxh2

A draw is reached from this point with 45.Ke2 as the white king will reach g1 sooner or later, after 45…Bg3 46.Kf1 Bh2 47.Kf2. But Prag went 45.Ke3? here, allowing the black bishop the e1 square. Chigaev quickly went 45…Bg3, taking over the critical diagonal and won the game soon afterwards.

All games


1Chigaev, Maksim7.5 / 102604276332.25 ½½ 1½ ½ ½1111
2Kovalev, Vladislav7.0 / 102687273034.5½ ½1 ½½½11½  1
3Esipenko, Andrey7.0 / 102584272934.25½½  ½½1 111½½ 
4Gledura, Benjamin6.0 / 102615265025.75 0  ½1½½½1 1½½
5Maghsoodloo, Parham6.0 / 102679263323.250 ½½  01½ ½111
6L'Ami, Erwin5.5 / 102643261826½½½0  ½1½ ½ 1½
7Korobov, Anton5.5 / 102699261824.75 ½0½1½ ½  ½½1½
8Bareev, Evgeny4.5 / 102650255821.75½½ ½00½ 0½1  1
9Van Foreest, Lucas4.5 / 102502254219.75 00½½½ 1 ½ 10½
10Keymer, Vincent4.5 / 102500252416.75½000   ½½ ½½11
11Praggnanandhaa R4.0 / 102539252718.250½0 ½½½0 ½ ½1 
12Paehtz, Elisabeth3.0 / 1024772417130 ½00 ½ 0½½ ½½
13Kuipers, Stefan2.5 / 102470239112.50 ½½000 100½  
14Saduakassova, Dinara2.5 / 102472241312.2500 ½0½½0½0 ½  


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