It was a very frustrating result for the fans: Fabiano Caruana fell into a tactical trap just as his fight with Magnus Carlsen was about to get exciting. The Norwegian celebrates his second win in a row (before suffering two consecutive defeats) and is still not ruled out of first prize at the Tata Festival in Wijk aan Zee (Netherlands). With five laps to go after Monday’s break, Uzbek Nodirbek Abdusattórov remains the sole leader, 1.5 points ahead of the still world champion.
Caruana’s mistake squeaks a lot when made by someone who finished runner-up (2018) and is still in the top five. But it’s better understood when you know what happened to the American on Saturday night: he had a winning women’s final against Iran’s Parham Maghsoodloo but had to settle for a draw after seven and a half hours of grueling battle. In a situation like this, it’s not easy to know which is more negative, physical exhaustion or echoes of disgust.
In any case, it must be noted that Carlsen wanted to win the game with the black pieces by choosing a double-edged variant of the Spanish Opening (created by Ruy López in the 15th century) where all three outcomes are likely to be the same. His rivals in the last five rounds will be three Indian powerhouses Maghsoodloo and American Wesley So.
Gukesh, Saturday in Wijk aan ZeeLennart Ootes/Tata Chess
And that means Abdusattorov, whose White draw against Armenian-American Levon Aronian had little history today, can’t be too sure about the Scandinavian’s chances of a comeback. Mainly because the wonderful Indians are not very delicate. Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (17 years old) seemed to do that, but today he threw away a more than sensible position against Romanian-Hungarian origin Richard Rapport. Dommaraju Gukesh (16) seems completely unknown: today he had a very clear advantage against Maghsoodloo but suddenly he was lost; However, the Persian also paid for his almost eight hours against Caruana on Saturday and committed suicide. And Arjun Erigaisi (19th) also fell against Dutchman Jorden van Foreest after giving away many advantages.
Eighth round (Sunday, 2:00 p.m.): so-thing, pulls; giri-keymer, to draw; Abdusattórov – Aronian, draw; Van Foreest 1-0 Erigaisi; Rapport-Praggnanandhaa, 1-0; Caruana Carlsen, 0-1; Gukesh 1-0 Maghsoodloo.
Classification: 1. Abdusattorov 6 points; 2nd-3rd Giri and So 5; 4th-7th Praggnanandhaa, Carlsen, Caruana and Aronian 4.5; 8. ringing 4; 9th-10th Maghsoodloo and Rapport 3.5; 11-13 Erigaisi, Van Foreest and Gukesh 3; 14. Keymer 2.5.
Ninth round (Tuesday, 2:00 p.m.): Maghsoodloo–Sun; Carlsen Gukesh; Praggnanandhaa-Caruana; Erigaisi report; Aronian-Van Forest; Keymer-Abdusattorov; thing giri.
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