Every major supertournament has at least one game that makes you go “wow” when you see it, especially live. Currently, the 80th Annual Tata Steel Masters is taking place in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands. Even though the players are only through a portion of the tournament, there’s a possibility that a “wow” game has already taken place. In round three, Vishy Anand faced off against Fabiano Caruana in a battle of two heavyweights. In the first two rounds, Anand had a win and a draw, while Caruana had two draws, so neither player had to go all out in this game, especially this early in the tournament. That said, this game quickly morphed into a tactical minefield. In the end, the game was a beauty that brought along some interesting implications.
As we saw, the game started with a Petroff, which signaled that Caruana was not playing for much more than a draw. Black’s novelty on move 12 led to a 30+ minute think for Anand, likely for deciding whether to delve into the complicated tactics or continue in a more positional struggle. In hindsight, Anand chose correctly, as the mobility and square coverage of the two pieces ended up trumping the extra rook for Black. While Caruana was attempting to create play against White’s king in the end, Anand was slowly gearing up for an attack of his own – the only difference being that Anand’s was the attack that proved successful.
Currently, the tournament is a little past the halfway mark, with the 9th round underway at the time this is published. Three players are tied at the top, including Magnus Carlsen and two others that may be surprising: Anish Giri and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. All three of these players have played very well so far so it will be interesting to see how the last few rounds go as the tournament comes to a close. Of course, there are a number of players just behind them that could catch them, which means that there is the possibility (as always) that there will be some more fascinating games down the line.
However, I will be leaving you with just one for now. As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!