Added on 1/25/2022


Today our article is written by GM Ronen Har-Zvi.

After round 9, everything seems logical – Carlsen leading alone with 6.5 / 9; in the sole second spot Giri – with 6 out of 9 – Giri had some great results in the past in Tata tournaments. Mamedyarov with 5.5, and so is Vidit, who is having a fantastic event, and just behind them Caruana, Rapport, and Karjakin with 5 – yet looks can be deceiving. Magnus played his usual chess. Despite a few misses (against Esipenko – covered in round 1 video and Van Foreest – also covered in round 4 video), Carlsen won the critical games – crushing Giri in a great game in round 2; beating Rapport (who was sharing the lead) in round 6, and defeating Mamedyerov in a critical round 9 – to take the sole lead of the tournament. As for Giri – things were "crazy ": either crazy lucky or crazy good. Anish got crushed in round 2 against Magnus; after that, he took a few quick draws,  and it looked like he was already thinking about his next tournament. Then Giri faced Caruana: a game that changed everything ( we mentioned this as a possibility in our video for round 6 ). In a complicated game with Giri having the advantage and then slipping into what was just a losing position, Caruana played some wrong moves, taking a winning position into about equal and then even losing. A true rollercoaster! Then Covid came to his assistance – ok, maybe not Covid but more Dubov being stubborn. Daniil refused to wear a mask after the organizers asked him to since someone in his inner circle tested positive. Therefore, Dubov didn't show at the board, and Giri got the whole point. Anish beat Esipenko with the black pieces in the next round – great preparation and powerful play by the Dutch GM. Then Giri defeated Shankland with the white pieces in what seemed like a convincing game. So, 4 wins (3 wins and one gift?) in a row and fighting for the title! It was amazing to hear Carlsen "suggesting" that Giri should try and play against Dubov during the free day and not take the point in such a way. Seriously? I want to think that I am being very sportive and fair, but if my opponent decides not to show up for his reasons, why should I? On a free day? Probably Magnus was just being "smart," as we all know how he and Anish love to tease each other. As for the other players, I will mention Mamedyarov – playing very creative chess, a few great games, and the loss to Magnus today will probably end his dream of winning the tournament. Vidit played great chess and has been leading since round 1. His loss to Van Foreest in round 7 was painful and pretty much ended his chances of winning this tournament. We have 4 more exciting rounds – with Giri having somewhat easier pairings, everything is open. And seeing those two fight each other is pure fun!  Mentioning the challenger tournament, the 18-year-old Indian - already one of the strongest online blitz players – is having the tournament of his life in Wijk aan Zee, with an 8/9 score and a performance of 2900 circa! He pretty much assured the victory of the challenger tournament – we can wait and see if this will be a crucial step for him to make it to the top. Do not miss our videos with round-by-round coverage and the key games – Enjoy!

GM Ronen Har-Zvi