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Ding Liren is no longer World’s No.2 after the Tata Steel Masters 2023

The Tata Steel Masters 2023 is over with Anish Giri having one of the best tournaments of his life and finally winning it after five times of being a runner-up. Things didn’t go as well for the 2023 Challenger Ding Liren though, who had a rather painful tournament and finished 11th with a 5.5/13 score, two months before the World Chess Championship Match in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Photos: Ding Liren by Lennart Ootes at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023, Ian Nepomniachtchi by Eric Rosen at the 2021 World Chess Championship Match / edit: World Chess

There were high hopes for Ding Liren at the Tata Steel Masters 2023 as he is not only World’s No.2 but also in his preparation for the World Chess Championship Match against Ian Nepomniachtchi, that will take place 7-19 of April in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The tournament started well for the Chinese GM who outplayed the 16-year-old Indian prodigy D. Gukesh in Round 1. “You have to prepare mentally, you have to imagine what will happen if you are in the centre of people and there will be only one game, and every eye will watch you.” Ding said at his post-game interview.

It’s impressive to think that Liren hasn’t played a single classical game since beating Hikaru Nakamura on July 4th last year at the Candidates Tournament. This win gave him the ticket to the WCCM and Tata Steel Masters 2023 was a great chance to warm up and check his form.

In Round 3, in a game that looked like a World Chess Championship game, Ding drew against Magnus Carlsen. At that moment Ding and Magnus were the only players above 2800 with Magnus confessing after their game: “Ding is a very strong player and I have never beaten him as White so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”

In Round 4 Ding Liren was defeated by Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu. “We both made some mistakes during the second time control, we were both down to seconds, and I don’t think my technique was good but ok, it’s not easy to find the right moves in this endgame, because there are so many options and it’s not easy to calculate everything!” Pragg said at his post-game interview.

After more draws against Arjun Erigaisi, Levon Aronian, Vincent Keymer, and Wesley So, Liren lost to Giri in Round 9. “I was very happy. I feel so very lucky because the game was not looking good. At one point, I even thought, I’m borderline lost.” Anish said at his post-game interview.

Round 12 was the last hit for Liren who lost against Richard Rapport and was blatantly disappointed. Liren finished the tournament 11th with a 5.5/13 score to lose 23.4 rating points and slide down to World No.3 on the rating list.

Will Ding be ready for the biggest match of his life in two months?

Breaking News: Anish Giri is the 2023 Tata Steel Masters Champion

GM Anish Giri beat Richard Rapport in the last round of the Tata Steel Masters 2023 to win his first Tata Steel Masters event. The 18-year-old GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov was the leader of the tournament until Round 12 but he lost against Jorden Van Foreest to tie second with Magnus Carlsen.

Photo: Lennart Ootes (Source)

Anish Giri finally won his first Tata Steel Masters tournament after finishing second five times, twice after a playoff!

The Dutch GM started the last round against Richard Rapport half a point behind the tournament’s leader since Round 5, GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov. After a huge blunder by Rapport, Giri shook his head, took the opportunity and along with it the desired point to move to the tiebreaks in case Nodirbek drew his game against Jorden Van Foreest.

“I’m very happy! The only problem is that I have to play the tiebreak and I don’t like the tiebreaks. The only good thing is that my son was looking forward to seeing me play and I know that he likes when it’s blitz and there’s over the board action. So maybe I’ll do it.” Anish said after improving to first place with 8.5/13, adding: “I told myself before that if it ever happens again, I’m not going to play. I’ll say ‘Just take your prize and go to hell’! I’m not gonna play it anymore because it’s completely nonsense. I mean we played so many days and at the end of the day everyone is happy, all the guys that did nothing during the tournament, and then there is one winner and one loser, and everybody else is just chilling! [...] But I think because of the fact that my son likes to watch blitz, maybe that will make it more tolerable. At least he’ll get to see a game”

As Mr.Dodgy has predicted, there was a chance! 18-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov was leading the tournament until the very last round, when he lost against Jorden Van Foreest and left half a point behind Anish Giri. Maybe the Uzbek GM failed to become the youngest winner of the Tata Steel Masters but he had an impressive tournament, winning World No1 & 2, Magnus Calrsen and Ding Liren, and gaining 20.5 rating points to get in the Top20.

Magnus Carlsen took down Arjun Erigaisi in Round 13 and joined the second place with Abdusattorov, with 8/13 points.

Abdusattorov keeps the lead while Carlsen is rising at the Tata Steel Masters 2023

Round 10 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023 is over with Magnus Carlsen achieving his fourth win, this time against Parham Maghsoodloo, to tie with Wesley So for the 3rd place. The tournament’s leader, 18-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov, and the runner-up Anish Giri drew against Ding Liren and Wesley So respectively to keep the Top.2 untouched.

Photos: Nodirbek Abdusattorov & Magnus Carlsen by Lennart Ootes, Anish Giri & Wesley So by Jurriaan Hoefsmit – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

After giving Magnus Carlsen his second loss in a row since 2015 in Round 5 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023, the 18-year-old GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov drew against World No.2 Ding Liren in Round 10. The game started with the Berlin and despite Nodirbek’s 7-hour encounter with Vincent Keymer the day before, the Uzbek GM initiated a very energetic play. Ding played conservatively and slowly developed his pieces to end up in a position with no weaknesses for both players. After 27 moves the game ended in a drew by repetition.

“I have 5 pretty winnable games left, so I’ll just try and keep going!” Magnus Carlsen said after beating Fabiano Caruana in Round 8, and as it seems he went with this spirit in Round 10 against Parham Maghsoodloo. After playing the Queen’s Gambit Declined and creating some tension in the middlegame, the players traded pieces and went for the endgame. Once more, Magnus used his excellent endgame technique, gave a pawn for hyper-active pieces to eventually take it back plus 2 and win the game.

“I’m realizing that there are possibilities [of winning the tournament], but most of all, I’m taking a further step to playing a decent tournament. I’ve turned it around in a good way, and I’m happy with that.” Carlsen said at his post-game interview.

The second decisive game of Round 10 was Gukesh-Praggnanandhaa. Gukesh spiced up this Indian super-battle with 11.g4!?, turning the symmetrical English opening to a strangely-aggressive one! Keeping up this sharp play, Pragg miscalculated and sacrificed a bishop to open up White’s king, but the compensation wasn’t enough. Gukesh defended accurately and won the game to achieve his second win in the tournament.

“He went for an interesting piece sac, but fortunately I could calculate it off. The main point was after 24…Rad8 I had to spot 25.gxf5 Qb3 26.Rxg7+ Kxg7 27.Qg3+ and what he missed was that after 27…Kh8 28.Qe5+ Kg8 I have 29.Bc4+ with a mating attack.” Gukesh said after the game.

Elsewhere, the two most solid competitors, Anish Giri and Wesley So, faced each other and comfortably drew an equal rook endgame. Also Richard Rapport and Levon Aronian agreed to a draw in 31 moves after reaching a symmetrical king and pawn ending in less than an hour.

Fabiano Caruana and Arjun Erigaisi might have ended their game in a draw by repetition but it was a rather complicated one. Fabiano initiated the d3 Ruy Lopez and Arjun went for a kingside attack. After a knight exchange both players were guarding their weak spots and couldn’t make progress to create problems to their opponent, so they left Round 10 with half a point each.

The last game to finish was Van Foreest-Keymer. It was another game that Keymer had the advantage but couldn’t make it a point with the players agreeing to a draw after 96 moves.

Round 11 will take place on Friday the 27th with Giri facing Abdusattorov and Carlsen going against So to clear the Top3 standings.

Watch Round 11

Anish Giri beats World No.2 Ding Liren in Round 9 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023

Round 9 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023 is over with Anish Giri beating World No.2 and 2023 Challenger Ding Liren, who suffered his second loss in the tournament. The leader of the tournament, 18-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov, drew against Vincent Keymer in a fascinating rooks endgame.

Photos: Jurriaan Hoefsmit – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

GM Anish Giri is undoubtably having one of the greatest tournaments of his life. After beating D. Gukesh with a double sacrifice in Round 2 and World Champion Magnus Carlsen in Round 4, Giri beats World No.2 Ding Liren in Round 9 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023.

Ding Liren built up tension to Black’s kingside putting both of them into a continuous struggle to find the best positional decisions. Giri had good piece-activity against Ding’s attacking strategy which led to a chaotic but very beautiful position, where White was inevitably mated.

“I was very happy. I feel so very lucky because the game was not looking good. At one point, I even thought, I’m borderline lost.” Anish said at his post-game interview. With a 6/9 score, the Dutch GM narrows the difference with the tournament’s leader Abdusattorov to half a point.

This game took Ding out of the 2800 club in live rating, right before his big World Chess Championship match against Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Another exciting game was Keymer against Abdusattorov. It was a seven-hour encounter with the players exchanging queens after 23 moves, and moving into a complicated rook & knight endgame.

Keymer had all odds on his favor as he had a powerful knight on e5, an active rook on the 6th rank, and Black’s isolated d-pawn after 37 moves. The game shifted to a technical rook endgame though and after a resourceful defence by the Uzbeki GM, the game ended in a draw.

After 9 Rounds, Abdusattorov keeps his lead with 6.5/9, followed by Anish Giri with 6/9, and Wesley So with 5.5/9. In Round 10, Anish Giri will face Wesley So, while the leader of the tournament Nodirbek Abdusattorov will fight against World No.2 Ding Liren.

Watch Round 10

Abdusattorov has a full-point lead after R8 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023; Carlsen beats Caruana

Round 8 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023 is over with the 18-year-old GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov drawing against GM Levon Aronian to remain the sole leader with a full point ahead. After losing two games in a row, Magnus Carlsen beat Richard Rapport and the 2018 Challenger Fabiano Caruana in Rounds 7 & 8 to be back in +1 in live ratings.

Photo: Lennart Ootes – Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

One of the most anticipated games of Round 8 was Carlsen vs Caruana. The two players have faced each other 55 times in classical games with Carlsen taking a 12-5 lead with 38 draws. Their game started with the Ruy Lopez, an opening which both of these GMs are experts, but with Caruana taking a wild road! First the American GM surprisingly decided to play 14.Nxd4 instead of 14.cxd4, and then started to push f4 and e5 with an ambitious plan.

In a few moves though, White’s position was falling apart. “I thought that I would be solid, but if he wants to go for a fight, the conditions are pretty good for me.” Carlsen said at his post-game interview.

The leader of the tournament, 18-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov, had a great game against GM Levon Aronian. Another Ruy Lopez for Round 8 with Abdusattorov trying to create an aggressive attack against Aronian’s uncastled king. The Armenian born American GM defended excellently and after a few-pieces-exchange, the players agreed to a draw on move 31.

Round 8 had 3 more decisive games with Jorden Van Foreest, Richard Rapport, D. Gukesh earning their first victories in the tournament against Arjun Erigaisi, Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, and Parham Maghsoodloo respectively.

Erigaisi initiated the King’s Indian Defense against Van Foreest to start an early kingside expansion with 12...f5, 13. Qd2 f4. Van Foreest decided to concentrate on the queen’s side, give a knight for 3 pawns and create good opportunities for White. The Dutch GM continued to make progress with his passed pawns becoming unstoppable which eventually gave him his first point in the tournament.

Rapport-Praggnanandhaa was a creative Italian game with Rapport castling longside and starting a kingside attack with 10.h4, a new move in this position. Pragg decided to move his king to the queenside in order to avoid the pressure and sacrificed an exchange to hold the position. Even though it was a winning endgame for Rapport, Pragg could try to fight on but the Indian GM lost on time.

Gukesh-Parham was an eventful game which went from a typical isolated-queen’s-pawn position to an open-center, kingside attack by Black. The 16-year-old GM held the attack on the king and slowly progressed on the queenside. There were chances for Parham to go for a perpetual check but one inaccurate move gave Gukesh the chance to gain an advantage and exploit it to his first point!

Elsewhere, Wesley So drew against Ding Liren in a Caro-Kann Advanced. The American GM played a novelty on move 11, creating a tactical tension. After a precise game around Black’s isolated e-pawn, the players ended in an equal rook endgame to agree to a draw in 42 moves.

Giri-Keymer also started more aggressively with the German GM pushing his kingside pawns against the Italian game. Giri gained space on the queenside to end in a position with an extra pawn against Keymer’s active pieces. The players exchanged their queens and agreed to a draw on move 28.


Round 9 is on Tuesday the 24th with Carlsen and Praggnanandhaa facing Gukesh and Caruana respectively.

Watch Round 9

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