Wijk aan Zee 2015 – Round 1

The first super tournament of the year is upon us and the excitement started even before the first round. Yesterday the World Champion made a cocky statement calling Giri a “coward” and explaining this that if Giri doesn’t get anything from the opening then he plays for a draw. Needless to say that the first round pairing of Giri-Carlsen promised a lot of action, if nothing else then at least an ego-driven reaction by Giri! However, the game showed that Carlsen was 100% right – Giri got nothing from the opening and played for a draw. Perhaps these young guys have no pride and self-respect?!

Ivanchuk beat Jobava after an inexplicable blunder by the latter on move 42. I somehow get the impression that this was a result of Jobava’s over-confidence: he managed to play a a good game against Ivanchuk implementing a rare idea in the Labourdonnais Sicilian (6…g6) and never felt inferior. Then he played a careless move that cost him the game:

Radjabov introduced a new way (or, rather, discovered the condemned way was possible) to play against the Pirc in his game against van Wely. I have always thought that the early 6 d5 (instead of the usual 6 dc5) gave black an easy play, but apparently things aren’t that simple.

6 d5!? gave white some initiative

It seems Radjabov missed some chances later on in the game and the eternal Dutchman in Wijk managed to draw.

The triple-named Frenchman (Maxime Vachier Lagrave) beat Hou Yifan in a game that was highly tactical and I got the impression that he was always controlling the situation better.

Ding Liren and Caruana played an interesting Grunfeld that was balanced until the Chinese went one step too far with preparatory measures.

Saric played calmly and drew with Aronian and he must be glad to start the tournament with a draw with one of the favourites.

So and Wojtaszek, both highly theoretical players, the latter being Anand’s second for many years now, drew a highly theoretical game in the Najdorf. I’m curious to see how So will do in this tournament, after rising to number 10 in the world – is he there to stay or just an accidental tourist? I tend to incline towards the former, but let’s see.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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