23 January 2012, Kuala Lumpur – The official website of the Tata Steel Chess 2012 tournament reported that a flurry of draws and just one decision in eighth-round action brought little change to the standings in Grandmaster Group A at the 74th annual Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk-aan-Zee on Sunday. Levon Aronian of Armenia settled for a relatively quick draw, while the other tournament leader, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, rejected an early peace offer only to reach the same result by a repetition of moves after trying in vain for most of the afternoon.
“I think it was a drawish line, more or less,” said Aronian about his Queen’s Gambit with black against Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov. “I don’t know too much about it but it felt very natural the way I played it.” When asked about his preparation, Aronian indicated he hadn’t studied all that hard, as he’d spent the night before Sunday’s round at the BIM-House, a jazz music hall in nearby Amsterdam. Even so, at one point he felt that black was better “but then, I committed a couple of inaccuracies, because I thought the game was already finished. Fortunately, I collected myself and played correctly and it was a draw.”
Carlsen, meanwhile, played black in a Gruenfeld against Azerbaijan’s Teymour Radjabov (see picture), an inventive player with a reputation as a tough defender, who sprung an early proposal to split the point on his formidable opponent. The top-rated Norwegian refused, of course. “You should expect to have to fight to the end for every half point,” he told reporters afterwards. “But, okay, I think the position never strayed beyond the bounds of a draw, although I believe I was better to begin with and then, he might have tried for a win, because I over-pressed.” The game ended when a repetition of moves became unavoidable, which deprived Carlsen of the privilege to play on until just two kings were left on the board – as he did twice in earlier rounds.
Here is the winning game of round 8 for Gashimov against Anish Giri.
(Photos by Fred Lucas)