Tata Steel R7: Dubov loses, Carlsen leads

A matter of principle

One of the longest-running chess events in the world, the Tata Steel Tournament (formerly known as Hoogovens and Corus) has been hosted every year since 1938 — with one exception, in 1945. The traditional event even took place in 2021, amid the pandemic . While last year only the Masters took place, this year both the Masters and Challengers will be played, with the amateur (open) tournaments of course canceled on both occasions.

Of course, there must be restrictions and sanitation measures during the pandemic. And, for the first time in the two Covid-hit events, an opponent lost by forfeit due to a rule disagreement. Daniil Dubov lost his seventh round encounter to Anish Giri after refusing to wear a mask during the match.

As the organizers announced, a member of Dubov’s inner circle tested positive for Covid-19, with the player himself testing negative on a quick-scan test – a PCR test was also done, but the results were set to arrive in the evening. To protect his opponent, the chief arbiter ordered the Russian to play with a face mask. Dubov refused, causing him to lose by forfeit.

Dubov was a strong, assertive player both on and off the board, and indicated that his refusal was a matter of principle as he told Jan Gustafsson that there was “a previous agreement that masks would not be necessary” during games. Dubov found himself at the center of new controversy recently, when he faced criticism in Russia after finishing second to Magnus Carlsen in the 2021 World Championship, despite Carlsen’s rival being a Russian.

Daniil Dubov

Daniil Dubov before the start of Friday’s sixth round | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Back-to-back wins for Carlsen

In the first five rounds, the world champion missed a few opportunities to score full points in matches that would ultimately end in a draw. In the final two rounds, however, Carlsen has made up for missed opportunities by scoring consecutive wins over Richard Rapport and Praggnanandhaa. These two wins make him the sole leader in the Masters.

Against Pragg with black, the Norwegian had a slightly lesser position from the opening. However, his teenage opponent faltered in the early midgame, giving Carlsen the upper hand.

Black is the one who puts pressure on his opponent after 20 … b4. The game continued 21.Na4 Nxd5, and here was Pragg’s best chance according to the engines to trade queens with 22.Nxb6 Nxf4, entering an endgame a pawn lower against the best player in the world (White will capture on e4 in the next lines).

Understandably, the youngster rejected this alternative and kept the ladies on the board by playing 22.Rxd5 — there followed 22…Qe6 23.Rad1

With the a4 knight far from the action, white will not be able to deal with the coming threats from black – the e4 pawn is attacked, the rook moves to a8 to threaten a c4 push, the light -squared bishop can potentially be placed on the long diagonal, and so on.

Carlsen never let go of the initiative and took the full point before reaching the time control. The world champion will face Sam Shankland with black on Sunday.

Magnus Carlsen, Praggnanandhaa

Magnus Carlsen fist bumps Praggnanandhaa | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit

Van Foreest and Caruana bounce back

The last two winners of the event also took full points in round 7. Coincidentally, both Fabiano Caruana (tournament winner in 2020) and Jorden van Foreest (winner in 2021) lost on Friday. While both grandmasters have racked up 3½ out of 7 points so far this year, the Dutchman has seen more ups and downs as he has won (and lost) three times throughout the event, while Caruana has one win and one loss to his name to stand .

Van Foreest’s win had a big impact at the top of the rankings as he brought down former co-leader Vidit Gujrathi. The Indian faltered decisively on move 36.

White is certainly the one who creates threats, but Black should be able to continue to defend with the natural 36…Rf8. However, due to time constraints, Vidit made a mistake with: 36…Rc8, giving way to a clear rebuttal – 37.d6 Qe6 38.Bf3 Nc5 39.Bd5 Qe5

The main point of the series is that after 40.Qxe5 fxe5, the tower infiltrates with 41.Rf7+, and 41 … Kg6 is followed by 42.Rxd7 Nxd7 43.Be6

Vidit has resigned. The whole line was almost forced, proving that even top grandmasters blunder when the clock is ticking dangerously.

Jorden van Foreest, Vidit Gujrathi

Jorden van Foreest took down former leader Vidit Gujrathi | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit

Caruana’s win over Jan-Krzysztof Duda came after 53 moves of a double-edged battle in which both players missed opportunities to either win faster (Caruana) or equalize (Duda) – according to the engines, of course. It was a sharp, enjoyable chess battle from a human point of view! Caruana later confessed:

Something went wrong leading up to move 40 because I’m sure I had something much, much better than what I did – I’m not sure what, it’s all a bit fuzzy now, but I’m sure he’s moving after 40 must not lose this position.

Watch Van Foreest and Caruana’s victories in the dynamic replayer below. You can try your own moves or check the engine’s analysis while replaying the game.

Results round 7

Standings after round 7

All games – Round 7

Replay all Masters games on Live.ChessBase.com

Nguyen in only second place

While Arjun Erigaisi had a dominant first half of the event in the Challengers, it is still too early for the Indian to relax as 20-year-old Czech grandmaster Thai Dai Van Nguyen is now one point behind the lone leader with six laps to go. to go. To go. While Nguyen defeated Marc’Andria Maurizzi on Saturday, Arjun had to work hard to hold on to a draw against second-seeded Rinat Jumabayev.

Lucas van Foreest, Jonas Buhl Bjerre, Daniel Dardha and Max Warmerdam also won in the seventh round. The latter scored his second consecutive win, as he defeated Polina Shuvalova by the black pieces.

Shuvalova stubbornly defended her position up to this point, but then had to resign 60…Kh7, because there is no effective way to deal with the threat of f6 and Rxh2.

Max Warmerdam, Polina Shuvalova

Max Warmerdam beats Polina Shuvalova | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit

Results round 7

Standings after round 7

All games – Round 7

Replay all Challengers games on Live.ChessBase.com

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