SportsCarlsen fails to get unstuck

Carlsen fails to get unstuck

Magnus Carlsen needs a tremendous tournament finish for his umpteenth performance at Tata Steel in Wijk aan Zee (The Netherlands) to be a success. Today he could only draw, with the black pieces, against the American Sam Shankland, which allows the Azerbaijani Shajriyar Mamediárov to catch up with him in the lead after beating the 16-year-old Indian Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. Both will meet on Tuesday, after Monday’s break.

The day started with good news. Russian Danil Dubov’s PCR was negative, as was the antigen test that all fourteen players pass daily (as well as the fourteen from tournament B, referees and organizers). So Dúbov, who lost yesterday by default to the Dutchman Anish Giri because he refused to play with a mask, was able to do so without it against the Pole Jan Duda.

Another hopeful development is that Tata Steel, the multinational steel company that sponsors the traditional chess festival every January, has come forward with a positive attitude in the face of the severe criticism it is receiving for the news that appears in the press about how much that pollutes Its spokesman, Robert Moens, explained it to EL PAÍS in this way: “Each scientific study that is published on our level of contamination is, in reality, a confirmation of the previous one. We are aware of the problem and we are going to take advantage of new technologies to manufacture a much more ecological steel. Tata Steel has no intention of leaving Wijk aan Zee. And, therefore, the sponsorship of the tournament is not in danger”.

Carlsen built such a small lead against Shankland that when the American offered him a draw he accepted it because it was a draw. Perhaps because of the enormous energy that he invested in 2021 to prepare for the Dubai World Cup and beat Ian Niepómniashi, the Norwegian is not at his best level. On the contrary, everything indicates that Mamediárov, Giri and the Indian Santosh Vidit are in top form. But Carlsen is very stimulated by big challenges. Now he needs 3.5 points out of a possible five to stay as he is on the world list, which for him would be almost a failure. But achieving more almost means beating Mamediárov on Tuesday with White.

Results 8th round: Shankland–Carlsen, tables; Mamediarov 1 – Praggnanandhaa 0; Kariakin – Rapport, tables; Vidit 1 – Grandelius 0; Caruana–Van Foreest, boards; Dúbov – Doubt, draw; Yesipenko 0 – Giri 1.

Classification (after eight rounds): 1st-2nd Carlsen and Mamediárov 5.5 points; 3rd-4th Giri and Vidit 5; 5th Report 4.5; 6th-9th Yesipenko, Kariakin, Caruana and Van Foreest 4; 10-11º Duda and Shankland 3.5; 12 Dubov 3; 13th Praggnanandhaa 2.5; 14th Grandius 2.

Round 9 (Tuesday): Giri–Shankland; Doubt – Yesipenko; Van Foreest–Dubov; Grandelius–Caruana; Rapport–Vidit; Praggnanandhaa-Kariakin; Carlsen-Mamediárov.

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