Round 3 Tata Steel Masters 2023: Caruana defeats Van Foreest and joins leaders
Round 3 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023 is over with Fabiano Caruana being the sole winner of the day, joining GMs Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri, Ding Liren, and Nodirbek Abdusattorov in a five-way tie for the lead.
Round 3 might have had only one win; Caruana beat Van Foreest in a thrilling game, but it was far from a dull day with Magnus Carlsen facing Ding Liren in a game that looked like a World Championship Match, and Keymer defending a lost position for 78 moves against Praggnanandhaa.
All eyes were on the Carlsen-Liren game, the only two players above 2800. Magnus initiated the London System which surprised Ding, who as he said knows that Magnus is playing this system in a lot of his online games but didn’t expect it in a classical one. It was a very strategic game and as it seemed a comfortable draw for Black. Ding manoeuvred his pieces harmoniously, and after a series of exchanges the game ended in a draw by repetition.
“Ding is a very strong player and I have never beaten him as White so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. This time I tried to play very positionally such to see if I can get something from a very very small edge. Unfortunately to make anything at all from a small edge you have to play precisely and I missed a couple of his moves and then there was just nothing. I think if I have played precisely then we would have had a game. Obviously there is a very long way to go in order to win but I think I could have made it a little bit more unpleasant for him. [...] I felt like I could press him a little bit so I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t do that but obviously draw is always highly likely.” Carlsen explained at his post-game interview.
Of course, Twitter couldn’t leave the London System without a comment with Peter Svidler saying: “I definitely toyed with the idea of banning anyone who plays the London against me on stream”
One of the most interesting games and the only decisive one was Caruana-Van Foreest. The 2021 Tata Steel Masters Champion started the game with the Petroff and offered a knight sacrifice in the center as early as move 11. “I wasn’t prepared for the Petroff. I can’t say it was a pleasant surprise. I was happy to get a game. And I figured even if I go wrong, we’ll still get a fight.” Caruana said about the opening.
Even though Caruana declined the sacrifice, Van Foreest continued aggressively, propelling his kingside pawns forward with 13...g5. Caruana didn’t lose his style even with these attacking advances, controlled the center and gained an advantage big enough to finally win the game.
Another game that caught the commentators’ attention was Erigaisi-Aronian, which was praised as an elegant example of the value of classical chess. For a long time not much was happening in the game with Aronian keeping his small edge until the endgame. Towards the end Erigaisi slipped and Aronian had a forced win, but the triangle zugzwang needed for the win was for engines to find and not for humans so the game ended in a draw.
A marathon game was Praggnanandhaa-Keymer with the German GM misplaying the opening, and giving winning chances to Pragg. The Indian chess prodigy had a pawn up and an advantage that could convert into a point a couple of times but just before the time control the position equalized with the last 30 moves being a hold for a mistake by Black. Keymer played precisely and after 6 long hours the game ended in a draw.
There were 3 more draws in Round 3. The Maghsoodloo-Giri game had little to offer in comparison to the Rapport-So game which was tense but ended in a 25-move draw by repetition. Even though Rapport’s pawn structure was demolished after an imbalanced variation in the Caro-Kann, his piece activity saved the game.
A young generation encounter was Gukesh-Abdusattorov with the game not being as exciting and eventful as their last one in the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India. It was a balanced game which ended in a draw, allowing Nodirbek to stay at the top and giving Gukesh his first half point in the tournament.
In Round 4 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023, Anish Giri will face Magnus Carlsen, a game that seems to have already become the day’s Twitter sensation!