Wesley So

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament has two main tournaments. They are played according to the ’round robin’ system, whereby each competitor plays in turn against every other during the tournament. The Tata Steel Masters has 14 participants and the Tata Steel Challengers has 14 participants. Both groups start on January 10th 2015 and the last round is on January 25th. All rounds in Wijk aan Zee begin at 13.30 hours, except for the last round on January 25th, which begins at 12.00 hours. The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds cumulative increment for each move starting from the first move.

Wesley So has shredded any doubt that anyone could possibly have about his strength. After having a meteoric ascent, including his victory in the Millionaire Open, many still claimed that he hadn’t had a real challenge with the “big boys”. Well, here he is, with a fantastic 8.5/13 and cementing his position in the top-10 live rating list.

Here, I covered and followed Wesley’s game from start to finish.  I consolidate all Tata Steel 2015 game accounts related to his spectacular games between elite GMs which proved that Wesley can play to that high level.

Participants of Tata Steel 2015

Average rating: 2746
Category: 20
FIDE-ratings of January 2015

Final Standings


Final standings after 13 rounds at Wijk aan Zee


Round 13

So, Wesley 1-0 Van Wely, Loek

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.25
Round : 13.3
White : So, Wesley (2762)
Black : Van Wely, Loek (2667)
Result: 1-0
ECO : A61 – Benoni Defense

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 d6 5. Nc3 exd5 6. cxd5 g6 7. Bf4 a6 8. a4 Bg7 9. h3 O-O 10. e3 Nh5 11. Bh2 f5 12. Be2 f4 13. Qd2 Bh6 14. e4 Bg7 15. O-O Nd7 16. Ne1 Ndf6 17. Nd3 Qe8 18. Rfe1 g5 19. e5 dxe5 20. d6 Kh8 21. Bd1 g4 22. Rxe5 Qg6 23. Nxf4 Nxf4 24. Bxf4 gxh3 25. Rg5 Qf7 26. Be5 Bd7 27. Bb3 Be6 28. Bxe6 Qxe6 29. Re1 Qf7 30. Nd5 Nh5 31. Bxg7+ Nxg7 32. Re7 1-0


Round 12

Giri, Anish 1-0 So, Wesley

The longest battle of the day took 111 moves and seven and a quarter hours. It ended Wesley So’s undefeated run going back to April 2014 which was also more than 50 games. So’s problems went back to opening he was already under a lot of pressure after the nice 18.Rb5. They entered a Queen and Pawn ending where Giri had an extra a-pawn on move 36. Giri could have finished things much faster but he probably wanted to make sure and So stayed tough. In the end So couldn’t escape his fate. This results means that it is Giri who is half a point off the leader Carlsen rather than So going into the final round.

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.24
Round : 12.5
White : Giri, Anish (2784)
Black : So, Wesley (2762)
Result: 1-0
ECO : A13 – English Opening

with LIVE commentary by GM Alexander Delchev through

1. c4 Today’s game is an opportunity for Giri to catch up with the leaders – Carlsen on +5 and So on +4. So is having an almost perfect tournament so far, and I hope for a big clash today. Giri’s first move 1. c4 is an invitation to English opening
1… e6 which So refused. The same he did against Carlsen in round 1 when the game later transposed to Nimzo-Indian defence
2. g3 (2. Nc3 Nf6 3. d4 Bb4 Carslen-So -First round)
2… d5 3. Bg2 Catalan without d4 – white wishes to avoid the sharp lines of Catalan with an early dc4. Giri is a world leading expert in those fiancheto systems
3… Nf6 4. Nf3 d4 Rare line – black wants to play Benoni with colours reversed. Normally, black prefers either (4… dxc4) (or 4… Be7)
5. O-O c5 (5… Nc6 is weaker 6. d3 e5 and black is clearly a tempo down)
6. e3 Nc6 7. exd4 cxd4 8. d3 Bd6 this is the most solid setup for black – Black bishop is more active on d6. Black can more easily achieve e6-e5 now. The downside is that white can exchange his bishop for the knight f6, which however is a double edged operation (8… Be7 9. Re1 O-O is the classical approach. Black will need to lose time for Nf6-d7 or Ne8, to be able to play f6 and e5 and to get the normal Benoni positions)
9. Na3 (The ideal setup for white was demonstrated by Aronian in the following game9. Re1 O-O (9… h6 10. Na3) 10. a3 a5 11. Bg5 h6 (11… e5 12. Nbd2) 12. Bxf6 Qxf6 13. Nbd2 Qd8 (13… Qe7 Ftacnik 14. Nb3) 14. Rc1 Re8 (14… b6 15. Nxd4 Nxd4 16. Bxa8) (14… Qb6 15. Ne4) 15. c5 Bc7 16. Nc4 Bd7 17. Nfd2 Rb8 18. Nd6 with white dominating in Aronian,L -Filippov,V /Istanbul 2003/)
9… e5 what is the advantage of this move compared to more natural (9… O-O 10. Nc2 e5 I think So is avoiding this line because of white option 11. b4 and white can start immediately the typical for Benoni queenside counterplay)
10. c5 White has development advantage so it is the right time for taking the initiative
10… Bxc5 (black is accepting the temporary sacrifice,White has unpleasant pressure in case of 10… Bc7 11. Nc4 O-O 12. Re1 Re8 13. b4 a614. a4)
11. Nc4 Nd7 (11… Bg4 12. Qa4 Bd7 13. Qb3and white is getting back the sacrificed pawn)
12. Re1 O-O (12… f6 was possible but too risky13. Nh4 g6 14. Bh6 (or 14. f4) 14… Bf815. Qc1 keeping the black king in the centre for a long time)
13. Nfxe5 Ncxe5 14. Nxe5 Nxe5 15. Rxe5 White has a slight but enduring advantage,His Catalan bishop is exerting pressure over the long diagonal
15… Qb6 seems black need only one more move Be6 and everything is under control, but
16. a4 Giri is in his best. He creates new problems for black, thus slowing down his development. Now a4-a5 is really unpleasant, black should move again his queen
16… a5 Good defence but now b5 is another hole and pawn a5 becomes second weakness(16… Be6 17. b4 Bd6 18. Rb5 was the idea)
17. Qc2 Bb4 18. Rb5 Qe6 19. Bf4 White bishops are separating the board in two parts. Black’s only chance for completing development is to give away b7 pawn
19… Bd7 20. Bd5 Qf6 21. Rxb7 Rac822. Qd1 Be6 (22… Bc6 23. Rb6 Bxa424. Rxf6 Bxd1 25. Rxf7 Rxf7 26. Rxd1 is winning)
23. Rb6 Rfe8 24. Bxe6 Rxe6 25. Rc1 very strong intermediate move. It seems that white is just a pawn up for nothing
25… Rce8 26. Rxe6 Qxe6 27. Bd2 Bxd2 28. Qxd2 Qf5 29. Rc4 Qd5 30. b4 axb4 realisation of advantage. White should avoid various possible theoretical drawn positions in a rook endgame, (30… h5 31. b5 h4 was a good chance to muddy the waters)
31. Qxb4 h5 32. Rxd4 second pawn and there is no hope for So
32… Qf3 33. Re4 Rd8 34. Re3 (34. Qb1 Qxd335. Qxd3 Rxd3 is well known draw,and Giri prefers to exchange rooks not the queens)
34… Qd1+ 35. Kg2 Rxd3 36. Rxd3(36. Re8+ Kh7 37. Qe4+ g6 38. a5 should be a more easy way for him)
36… Qxd3 37. h4 position should be a technical win for white (off course not 37. Qb7 h438. a5 h3+ 39. Kxh3 Qf5+ 40. Kg2 Qxa5)
37… g5 black only chance for a draw is perpetual check so he needs to open white king position
38. Qb8+ (or 38. hxg5 Qd5+ 39. Kg1 Qxg540. Qb5)
38… Kg7 39. Qe5+ f6 40. Qe3 (40. Qe7+ Kg641. Qe8+ Kg7)
40… Qc4 41. hxg5 Qd5+ 42. Qf3 Qxg543. Qb7+ Kh6 44. Qa8 Kg7 45. Qa7+ (45. a5 h4 46. Qb7+ Kh6 47. a6 hxg348. a7 gxf2+ is what white should avoid)
45… Kg6 46. Qa8 Qf5 47. Qf3 Qe548. Kh2 Kf7 49. Qb3+ Kg7 50. Qb4 Giri blocks tha counterplay with h4, but how to support the pawn
50… Qc7 51. Qe4 Giri has to overcome some difficulties, because the direct (51. a5 h4 52. a6 hxg3+ 53. fxg3 Qc2+ 54. Kh3 Qh7+ 55. Qh4 Qd3 56. Qa4 Qf1+ gives hime only a draw.)
51… Qc5 52. Kg2 Qg5 53. Qe7+ Kg6 54. Qe8+ Kg7 55. Qd7+ Kh6 56. Qd6 Kg6 57. Qd3+ Kg7 58. Qe4 Qc5 59. Qb7+ Kg6 60. Qb1+ Kg7 61. Qe4 Qg5 62. Qe7+ Kg6 63. Qe8+ Kg7 64. Qb5 Qg4 65. Qb7+ Kg6 66. Qb1+ Kg7 67. a5 h4 68. Qd3 Qc8 69. a6 Qc6+ 70. Kh2 Qb6 71. Kg2 h3+ 72. Kxh3 Qxf2 73. Qc4 Kg6 74. Qf4 Qg1 75. Qe4+ f5 76. Qg2 Qa1 77. Qc6+ Kg5 78. Kg2 Qa2+ 79. Kf3 Qa3+ 80. Ke2 Qa2+ 81. Kd3 Qb3+ 82. Qc3 Qd5+ 83. Qd4 Qb5+ 84. Qc4 Qb1+ 85. Kd2 Qb2+ 86. Ke3 Qa3+ 87. Kf2 Qa5 88. Qf4+ Kg6 89. Qd6+ Kh5 90. Ke3 Qa4 91. Kd2 Qb3 92. Qd3 Qa2+ 93. Ke3 Kg5 94. Kf3 Qa1 95. Qd8+ Kh5 96. Qe8+ Kg5 97. Qe7+ Kg6 98. Qe6+ Kg5 99. Qe3+ Kf6 100. a7 Qf1+ 101. Qf2 Qh1+ 102. Ke2 Qe4+ 103. Qe3 Qc4+ 104. Ke1 Qb4 + 105. Kf1 Qb1+ 106. Kg2 Qb7+ 107. Kh2 Kf7 108. Qa3 Qa8 109. Qb3+ Kg7 110. Qb8 Qf3 111. a8=Q 1-0


Round 11

So, Wesley 1-0 Saric, Ivan

Things were heating up until Saric made a crucial couple of mistakes

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.23
Round : 11.3
White : So, Wesley (2762)
Black : Saric, Ivan (2666)
Result: 1-0
ECO : C92 – Ruy Lopez, closed, 9.h3

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Re8 10. d4 Bb7 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. a4 exd4 13. cxd4 Qd7 14. axb5 axb5 15. Rxa8 Bxa8 16. Ng5 Nd8 17. e5 Nd5 18. Ndf3 h6 19. Ne4 Nb4 20. Qd2 dxe5 21. Nxe5 Qf5 22. Nc5 Bxc5 23. dxc5 Bd5 24. g4 Qf6 25. Bxd5 Nxd5 26. Qxd5 Nc6 27. Nf3 Rd8 28. Qe4 1-0


Round 10

Ding Liren 1/2-1/2 So, Wesley

This was seemingly a very exciting game, but it was all prep. The players followed the old game Anatoli Vaisser – Efim Geller from the Sochi Chigorin Memorial back in 1982. Actually this game in Wijk aan Zee even finished a couple of moves before the Vaisser-Geller one.

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.21
Round : 10.2
White : Ding, Liren (2732)
Black : So, Wesley (2762)
Result: 1/2-1/2
ECO : D31 – QGD, Charousek (Petrosian) variation

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 c6 6. e3 Bf5 7. g4 Be6 8. h4 Bxh4 9. Qb3 g5 10. Be5 f6 11. Bh2 Bxg4 12. Qxb7 Qe7 13. Qxa8 Qxe3+ 14. Be2 Bxf2+ 15. Kf1 Bh4 16. Qxb8+ Kf7 17. Nd1 Bxe2+ 18. Nxe2 Qf3+ 19. Kg1 Qxe2 20. Bg3 Qg4 21. Kg2 Qe4+ 22. Kg1 Qg4 23. Kg2 Qe4+ 24. Kg1 Qg4 1/2-1/2


Round 9

So, Wesley 1/2-1/2 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime

A pawn sacrifice in a Grunfeld (does Black always sacrifice a pawn in the Grunfeld? It increasingly looks like it) left MVL down a pawn but with plenty of compensation. So blundered with the move 28.Re7, missing his opponent’s reply. However in time pressure MVL was not able to use his passed a-pawn and powerful bishop, and the game fizzled into a draw.

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.20
Round : 9.5
White : So, Wesley (2762)
Black : Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime (2757)
Result: 1/2-1/2
ECO : D86 – Gruenfeld, Exchange, Classical variation

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8. Ne2 Nc6 9. Be3 O-O 10. O-O b6 11. dxc5 Qc7 12. Nd4 Ne5 13. Nb5 Qb8 14. Be2 bxc5 15. f4 Ng4 16. Bxc5 a6 17. Na3 Qc7 18. Bd4 e5 19. fxe5 Nxe5 20. Qc1 Bg4 21. Bxg4 Nxg4 22. Qf4 Qxf4 23. Rxf4 Ne5 24. Rb1 Rac8 25. h3 Rfd8 26. Rff1 Nd3 27. Rb7 Nc5 28. Re7 Bf8 29. Bxc5 Rxc5 30. Rexf7 Rxc3 31. Nb1 Rc2 32. Kh1 Bg7 33. Na3 Rxa2 34. Nc4 Rf8 35. Rxf8+ Bxf8 36. e5 Bc5 37. g4 Rc2 38. Nd6 Re2 39. Ra1 Rxe5 40. Nb7 Be7 41. Rxa6 Kg7 42. Nd6 Bxd6 43. Rxd6 1/2-1/2


Round 8

Ivanchuk, Vassily 0-1 So, Wesley

Ivanchuk fell for some nasty opening preparation.

So  unleashed  the  super-sharp Marshall  Attack of the Ruy Lopez against  the   white-playing Ivanchuk  (ELO 2715),  sacrificing  a  knight on  the  g2-square  to open  up white’s kingside and overwhelming  the  Ukrainian   with a  brilliant  attack.

It’s an example that  a  pawn can be stronger than a knight, ~ Wesley So in  an  interview after the game.


Vassily Ivanchuk vs. Wesley So © photo courtesy of

The game of the  day  in Wijk aan Zee  was for  me  Ivanchuk – So where black in  this position sacrificed his knight  with 14…Ng2 and after 15.Kg2 a5.   An amazing play on the whole board with the plan  Ra6-g6. I  was surprised that this idea  was  played  last summer during my birthday  in  the  Andorra open by Gozzoli ~ wrote  Susan Polgar

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.18
Round : 8.3
White : Ivanchuk, Vassily (2715)
Black : So, Wesley (2762)
Result: 0-1
ECO : C88 – Ruy Lopez, closed, 7…O-O

This is a post analysis from

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 0-0 8. h3 Bb7 9. d3 d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nbd2 Qd7 12. Nxe5 Nxe5 13. Rxe5 Nf4 14. Nf3 Nxg2 As spectacular as this move is, along with the idea that follows it, it was already known. Gustafsson had employed two months ago against Guliyev. Before that, there was also a game Jolly-Gozzoli in July.
15. Kxg2 a5 This is the point of the position. Black wants to swing over the rook via a6 to g6, but he is also threatening a4 trapping the White bishop. This is very uncomfortable to meet over the board.
16. Rxe7 [16.a4 Ra6 17. Qe2 Rg6+ 18. Kh2 Bd6 19. Nh4 Bxe5+ 20. Qxe5 Re8 21. Qf4 Rf6 22. Qg3 Re1 23. Bh6 Rxf2+! 24. Qxf2 Rxa1 25. Nf5 Rh1+ 26. Kg3 Bc8 27. Qg2 Qxf5 28. Qxh1 Qg6+ 29. Kf2 and here Black, for some reason, had to first place the strong intermezzo 29…bxa4 before taking on h6 to keep his advantage. Gulyiev-Gustafsson, 2014.]
16…Qxe7 17. c3 Ra6 White isn’t up much material. Black’s game kind of plays itself, bring the pieces over to the kingside, while White has no development. Ivanchuk is already lost at this point.
18. d4 Rf6 19. d5 a4 20. Bc2 Rd8 21. Qe1 Qd7 22. Ng5 h6 23. Ne4 Rg6+ 24. Kh2 f5 25. Ng3 Qxd5 26. Qg1 Qf3


Ivanchuk vs So final board position after 26...Qf3

[26…Qf3 Black is threatening to take on g3 and, if White recaptures with the f2 pawn, to play Qe2 followed by mate. 27. Be3 Qxe3! fails just the same. 28.fxe3 Rd2+ ] 0-1


Round 7

So, Wesley 1/2-1/2 Radjabov, Teimour

Wesley So missed a nice chance to increase the pressure, but it was not a blunder as appaling as what we have seen in the previous examples. Instead of putting up more pressure the liquidation led to a draw.

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.17
Round : 7.6
White : So, Wesley (2762)
Black : Radjabov, Teimour (2734)
Result: 1/2-1/2
ECO : D37 – QGD, classical variation (5.Bf4)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Be2 dxc4 8. O-O c5 9. dxc5 Nxc5 10. Bxc4 Qxd1 11. Rfxd1 b6 12. Bd6 Bxd6 13. Rxd6 Bb7 14. Rad1 Bxf3 15. gxf3 Rfc8 16. Bf1 g6 17. Bg2 Rab8 18. f4 b5 19. Ne2 Nce4 20. R6d4 Nc5 21. Bf3 Kf8 22. Kg2 h6 23. b3 a6 24. h3 Ke7 25. e4 Kf8 26. Ng3 Ng8 27. Rd6 a5 28. f5 gxf5 29. exf5 Ne7 30. Bg4 Nd5 31. fxe6 Nf4+ 32. Kf3 Ncxe6 33. Ne4 a4 34. Rd7 Rb6 35. Bxe6 Nxe6 36. h4 axb3 37. axb3 Nc5 38. Rc1 Rbc6 39. Nxc5 Rxc5 40. Rxc5 Rxc5 1/2-1/2


Round 6

Jobava, Baadur 0-1 So, Wesley

A tough blow for Jobava, who loses his fourth game in a row.

GM  Wesley So   achieved   another milestone  when   he  defeated  GM Baadur  Jobava  of   Georgia   in  the  sixth round  of the  77th Tata Steel chess championships in  Rotterdam.
In beating the 10th-seeded Jobava (ELO 2727) in only 39 moves of   the  old  Italian  opening of  Guioco Piano,  So gained additional 4.5 rating points and  reached  a personal  high  of   2781.4 in the live rating list.
Rating-wise, So is  only 8.3 points  behind   the  late  American world champion Bobby Fischer, who   reached  his highest rating of  2789.7  on  Aug. 4, 1972 during his world championship match with Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland. 

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.16
Round : 6.2
White : Jobava, Baadur (2727)
Black : So, Wesley (2762)
Result: 0-1
ECO : C53 – Giuoco Piano

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 a6 6. O-O Ba7 7. Bd5 Nxd5 8. exd5 Ne7 9. Nxe5 d6 10. Nf3 Nxd5 11. Bg5 f6 12. Re1+ Kf7 13. Qb3 Be6 14. c4 fxg5 15. cxd5 Bd7 16. Nc3 g4 17. Nd2 Rf8 18. Nce4 Kg8 19. Rac1 b5 20. Qc3 Bb6 21. a4 bxa4 22. Nc4 Ba7 23. Na5 Qh4 24. Rc2 Rf7 25. Qxc7 Bb5 26. Qxd6 Bxd3 27. g3 Qh5 28. Rc7 Re8 29. Rxa7 Rxa7 30. Nc6 Rf7 31. Qb4 Ref8 32. Ne7+ Kh8 33. f4 gxf3 34. Nf2 Be2 35. d6 Qb5 36. Qd4 Qd7 37. Rc1 Rf6 38. Rc6 Bb5 39. Rb6 Qe6 0-1

Round 5

So, Wesley 1/2-1/2 Hou Yifan

A somewhat strange game. A Ragozin turned into a strange structure where Hou Yifan’s attack on the kingside (which came out of nowhere) netted her an extra pawn, but with a dubious pawn structure. So did not respond in the best way and Black’s bishop and potential passed queenside pawn promised her good chances in the endgame. After a mistake in time pressure, it was Hou Yifan who was against the ropes as she underestimated the danger against her exposed king. After a seemingly inexplicable decision on move 47 by Black to exchange rooks and go into a much worse endgame, it seemed like So might have good winning chances. However, the World Women’s Champion showed she had everything under control: her activity with the passed pawn created by the exchange was just sufficient to net the draw.

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.15
Round : 5.4
White : So, Wesley (2762)
Black : Hou, Yifan (2673)
Result: 1/2-1/2
ECO : D38 – QGD, Ragozin variation

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. e3 O-O 8. Rc1 dxc4 9. Bxc4 c5 10. O-O cxd4 11. Nxd4 Bd7 12. Ne4 Qe7 13. Qh5 Nc6 14. Nb3 Be8 15. a3 f5 16. Qe2 Bxa3 17. bxa3 fxe4 18. Nc5 Ne5 19. Ba2 Nf3+ 20. Kh1 Qh4 21. gxf3 Bh5 22. Bxe6+ Kh8 23. Bg4 exf3 24. Qb2 Bxg4 25. Rg1 Rf7 26. Qd4 h5 27. Nd3 Rd8 28. Qe4 Qe7 29. Qxe7 Rxe7 30. Nf4 Kh7 31. Rc5 g6 32. h3 Bf5 33. Nxh5 Bxh3 34. Kh2 Bf5 35. Nf6+ Kh6 36. e4 Rf8 37. e5 b6 38. Rd5 Kg7 39. Kg3 Be6 40. Rh1 Bg8 41. Kf4 Rc8 42. Rd4 b5 43. Re1 a5 44. Kxf3 Rc3+ 45. Kf4 Rxa3 46. Nxg8 Kxg8 47. e6 Ra4 48. Rxa4 bxa4 49. Ke5 Kg7 50. Kd6 Kf8 51. Rc1 Re8 52. Ke5 a3 53. Kf6 a2 54. Ra1 Rb8 55. f4 Rb4 56. f5 gxf5 57. Rxa2 Rh4 58. Rd2 Rh6+ 59. Ke5 Rh1 60. Kd6 Ke8 61. Rg2 Rd1+ 62. Ke5 Rh1 63. Rg6 Ke7 64. Rg7+ Ke8 65. Kf6 Rh6+ 66. Ke5 Rh1 1/2-1/2


Round 4
Caruana, Fabiano 1/2-1/2 So, Wesley

First against Carlsen, and now against Caruana, So has shown an extremely solid repertoire which has allowed him to equalize without problems, neutralizing any initiative that White might come up with. Today the Spanish served him well as Caruana obtained nothing from the opening and after reaching a completely equal middle game the players agreed to a draw.

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.13
Round : 4.5
White : Caruana, Fabiano(2820)
Black : So, Wesley (2762)
Result: 1/2-1/2
ECO : C84 – Ruy Lopez, Closed defence

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. Nc3 d6 9. a3 Nb8 10. a4 b4 11. Nd5 Nxd5 12. Bxd5 c6 13. Bb3 Nd7 14. d4 a5 15. dxe5 dxe5 16. Qe2 Qc7 17. Be3 c5 18. Bc4 Nb6 19. Bb5 f5 20. exf5 Bxf5 21. c3 bxc3 22. bxc3 Kh8 23. Nd2 Nd5 24. Rac1 Rad8 25. Nc4 Bf6 26. f3 Nf4 27. Bxf4 exf4 28. Nd2 c4 29. Ne4 Rd3 30. Nxf6 Qb6+ 31. Qf2 1/2-1/2


Round 3

So, Wesley 1-0 Aronian, Levon

A huge blunder by Aronian straight out of the complex opening

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.12
Round : 3.6
White : So, Wesley (2762)
Black : Aronian, Levon(2797)
Result: 1-0
ECO : C45 – Scotch, Mieses variation

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. e5 Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 8. Nd2 Rb8 9. c4 Nf4 10. Qe3 Ng6 11. f4 f6 12. Qxa7 Rb7 13. Qf2 fxe5 14. f5 Nf4 15. Qf3 Qf7 16. g3 Nh5 17. Be2 Nf6 18. g4 d5 19. g5 e4 20. Qh3 Ng8 21. Bh5 g6 22. fxg6 Bxh3 23. gxf7+ Kd7 24. fxg8=Q Rxg8 25. Rg1 Bd6 26. cxd5 cxd5 27. Bf7 Rf8 28. Bxd5 Rb4 29. g6 hxg6 30. Rxg6 Rd4 31. Bxe4 Re8 32. Kf2 Rf8+ 33. Ke2 Re8 34. Kf2 Rf8+ 35. Ke3 c5 36. Rg7+ Kd8 37. Ke2 Bc8 38. Bf3 Ba6+ 39. Kf2 Rh4 40. Nf1 Kc8 41. Be3 Rh3 42. Nd2 Rxh2+ 43. Kg1 Rxd2 44. Bg4+ Kb8 45. Bxd2 Be5 46. Re7 Bd4+ 47. Be3 Rg8 48. Bxd4 Rxg4+49. Kf2 Rxd4 50. Rh1 Bb7 51. Rh8+ Ka7 52. Ke3 Rb4 53. b3 c4 54. Rh4 1-0


Round 2
Carlsen, Magnus 1/2-1/2 So, Wesley

Wesley So equalized without problems from the opening and never let Carlsen have even a hint of an advantage. Carlsen took his time before agreeing to the repetition, probably trying to find something better, but there was simply no rope to pull from.


Wesley So vs. Magnus Carlsen © photo courtesy of

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date : 2015.01.11
Round : 2.4
White : Carlsen, Magnus(2862)
Black : So, Wesley (2762)
Result: 1/2-1/2
ECO : E46 – Nimzo-Indian, Reshevsky variation

with LIVE commentary by GM Alexander Delchev through

Today I chose this game where Carlsen will face another young star – the winner of the First Millionaire tournament, who recently entered TOP 10 – Wesley So, originally from Philippines. In the first round game of So against Wojtaszek, on the 57 move in a very sharp position both players blundered and So missed his chance to win. Actually, this is the first game between So and Carlsen, so lets see what approach Magnus will choose.

1. c4 English opening – most probably the idea of the first move is to avoid the Gruenfeld defence or Slav as against 1…c6 white has 2 e4!? offering the Caro Kann Panov attack
1… Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. d4 (3. e4 is in the spirit of the English opening, when black has a choice 3… d5 (3… c5 more risky approach 4. e5 Ng8 5. d4 Nc6 6. Nf3 cxd4 7. Nxd4 Nxe5 8. Ndb5 a6 9. Nd6+ Bxd6 10. Qxd6 f6 11. Be3 Nf7 when white has good compensation for a pawn, but black should be fine) 4. e5 d4 5. exf6 dxc3 6. bxc3 Qxf6 7. Nf3 with complicated struggle, for example 7…e5 8. d4 exd4 9. Bg5 Qe6+ 10. Be2 Be7 11. cxd4 (11. Bxe7 d3) 11… Bxg5 12. Nxg5 was in Aronian,L -Kramnik, V/Moscow 2011/)
3… Bb4 After some move order tricks, the game entered into Nimco Indian defence – the most popular amongst the closed openings
4. e3 Simple chess by Carlsen, Rubinstein variation is one of the most solid white reactions. Here the battle is on a strategical basis, many different pawn structures could arise
4… O-O 5. Ne2 d5 (5… c6 has been popular recently and is a very exciting line – black’s idea is to secure the square c7 for the bishop’s return, from where it will be more active, then on e7, for example 6. a3 Ba5 7. Ng3 (7. b4 Bc7 8. e4 d59. e5 Ne8 is very sharp as black will soon open files with f6, while white is behind in development)7… d5 8. Bd3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 c5 10. O-O cxd4 11. exd4 Nc6 12. Be3 Bb6 and black was already slightly better Sowray,P-Delchev, A/London 2013/)
6. a3 Be7 This is considered as one of the main black continuations after 5.Nge2. The arising positions are quite complicated with chances for both sides.
7. cxd5 exd5 this move leads to more dynamic struggle, then the other continuation (7… Nxd5 Carlsen already played this position in 2013 against Anand. The game followed 8. Bd2 Nd7 9. g3 b6 10. Nxd5 (10. Bg2 Bb7 11. Nxd5 Bxd5 12. Bxd5 exd5 13. O-O Nf6)10… exd5 11. Bg2 Bb7 when Magnus showed up the novelty 12. Bb4 and went on to win Carlsen,M -Anand,V Moscow 2013)
8. g3 this one has been the most popular recently amongst white’s options. White’s plan is after completing the development to achieve the e3-e4 break, but the things are not that simple. A downside of bishop fiancheto is that now in case of white’s typical minority attack with b4, white queenside will be left with light square weaknesses – c4, b5, a4 as the bishop is missing there. On the other side, e3-e4 is hard to achieve, as black will develop his bishop to f5, rook to e8(8. Ng3 is harmless after black’s typical reaction8… c5 with good chances to take over the initiative, for example 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Bd3 Nc6 11. O-O d4) (8. Nf4 is the old main line 8… c6 9. Bd3 Re8 (9… a5)10. O-O Nbd7 (10… Bd6) 11. f3 Nf8 12. b4 Ne6 13. Nfe2 b6 14. Rb1 a5 15. bxa5 Rxa5 16. a4 Bd6 17. Kh1 c5 with about equal chances) (8. b4 was the move which Aronian preferred a couple of times 8… Bf5 9.f3 h6 10. Ng3 Bg6 11. Bd3 Bd6 12. Nf5 Nc6 13. Qc2 Bxf5 14. Bxf5 a5 15. b5 Ne7 Aronian,L -Adams,M/Wijk aan Zee 16. Bh3 Nh7 17. g3 c5 18. bxc6 bxc6 19. O-O c5 20. dxc5 Bxc5 21. Kh1 Ng5 22. Bg2 Rc8 23. f4 Ne4 24. Bxe4 dxe4 25. Rd1 Qe8 26. Qxe4 Rc6 27. Qf3 Qa8 28. Rd3 Rd8 29. Rxd8+ Qxd8 30. Rb1 Bxa3 31. Bxa3 Rxc3 32. Rd1 Qe8 33. Bxe7 Qxe7 34. Qa8+ Kh7 35. e4 Re3 36. e5 Qb4 37. Qd5 a4 38. f5 Re1+ 39. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 40. Kg2 Qe2+ 41. Kg1 Qe1+ 42. Kg2 Qe2+ 43. Kg1 a3 44. Qxf7 Qe1+ 45. Kg2 Qxe5 46. Qa7 Qb2+ 47. Kh3 Kg8 48. Qe3 Kf8 49. Qc5+ Ke8 50. Qc8+ Ke7 51. Qc7+ Kf6 52. Qd6+ Kxf5 53. Qd5+ Kf6 54. Qd6+ Kf7 55. Qd7+ Kg6 56. Qd3+ Kf7 57. Qd7+ Kf6 1/2 Aronian,L (2752)-Adams,M (2707)/Wijk aan Zee 2006/CBM 111) (8. h3 has been tried by one of the experts of this line – Ivan Sokolov in Tata Steel two years ago but without success 8… Nbd7 9. g4 Nb6 10. Bg2 c6 11. b3 Ne8 12. O-O Nc7 13. Ra2 Re8 14. Nf4 Sokolov-Van Wely 2013 Tata Steel)
8… Nbd7 (8… c6 9. Bg2 Na6 10. Bd2 Nc7 11. Qc2 g6 12. f3 Ne6 13. Na4 Re8 14. O-O a5 15. Kh1 b5) (8… a5 9. Bg2 c6 10. O-O Na6 11. b3 Re8 12. Kh1 Bf8 13. Nf4 Bf5 14. f3 h6 15. Ra2 b5 both lead to a very sharp position, where white e3-e4 is not easy to achieve)
9. Bg2 Nb6 10. O-O Re8 (10… a5 this move is not immediately forced, as white is not threatening b4, the idea is sometimes to have a5-a4 to block the queen side 11. h3 more principled is (11. f3) 11… Re8 12. g4 h6 13. Ng3 c6 14. f4 Nh7 15. b3 Bh4 16. Kh2 Bxg3+ 17. Kxg3 f5 and white’s plan proved to be entirely wrong in Ponomariov,R -Eljanov,P Kharkov 2009)
11. b3 seems to me as a novelty, b3 is a part of white’s plan – to transfer the rook to d2 without losing time moving the bishop c1, so it is a good idea to start with it (11. Nf4 Bf8 12. b3 a5 13. Ra2 c6 14. Rd2 (14. f3) 14… a4 15. b4 Nc4 is good for black coming with tempo to the weak c4 square) (11. Qc2 Bd7 12. b4 this move leads to irreparable weaknesses in white queen side 12… a5 13. b5 c6 14. bxc6 bxc6 15. Nf4 Bd6 16. e4 with sharp consequences in Bluvshtein,M -Swiercz,D /Wijk aan Zee 2011/)
11… h6 (why not 11… Bf5 12. Nf4 c6)
12. Qc2 Magnus changes the plan and is taking the chance – avoiding black bishop to appear on f5. In my opinion the position is a bit too strategically complicated for the taste of So, whose lack of experience can be used as a good base for Carlsen to squeeze the advantage
12… Bd7 13. a4 Precise move – the idea is to drag the black pawn to a5, so later on black’s only possible counterbreak in the center c7-c5 will lead to weakness of the b5 square. Magnus thinks that weakening of b4 is not that important as arrival of black knight on that square is too difficult to achieve
13… a5 (13… Qc8 is just impossible because of14. a5 Bf5 15. e4 winning a piece)
14. Nf4 c6 15. Bb2 Both sides completed development, the opening stage is over. What are the plans for both sides here? Black needs to improve the knight on b6 – Nc8-d6 is possible treatment, to support Bf5. White’s plan is simple – he will put the rooks to e1 and d1, hoping to achieve f3 – e4
15… Bb4 after 20 minutes of consideration, So’s move is not changing much, he activates his bishop to b4 to get control on the e4 square and to impede f3 move for a while, I think he is planning Rc8 and c5 and in that direction he wants to build pressure on the c3 knight
16. Nd3 asking the bishop to return or to be exchanged for the knight – this operation is clearly in white favour, so there is no other choice but to retreat, or maybe first include Bf5 (16. Rfe1 Rc8 17. Nd3 (17. f3 c5 is in black hands) 17… Bf5 18. Qd1 Bf8 19. f3 Bh7 20. Rc1 Nbd7 with balanced position, where both sides must be very carefully planning their operations.)
16… Bf5 For the second time in the game So is refusing to place his bishop on more active location, getting control over the important e4 square. Now white can try Nc5 with intentions to exchange one of black bishops, or if Bc8 Rfe1 preparing e3-e4 and I don’t see any counterplay for black (17. Nc5 Bc8 18. Rfe1)
17. Qd1 Bd6 18. Re1 Nbd7 19. Ba3 The same motif as in the game against Anand – exchange of the dark squared bishops is favourable for white as his bishop on b2 is biting the dust. On the other side, now the plan with e3-e4 will be senseless, as d4 pawn will become a long-term weakness
19… Bxa3 20. Rxa3 Nb8 excellent idea – knight is coming to b4 via a6, while white’s future plan is not entirely clear
21. Ra2 Na6 22. Rae2 white achieved the aim to transfer his rook to the centre, now e3-e4 break is the only available chance for white to open files for the rooks
22… Re7 Black’s position is not easy to handle. Where to attack? How to make use of the b4 square and immobility of white pawn on b3? Should black open with c6-c5, then his d5 pawn will become weak, so the position is standstill, or maybe black can try (22… Bxd3 23. Qxd3 Nb4 24. Qd2 Ne4 to clear the situation a bit, but So doesn’t care much about choosing the concrete plan, unless his position is solid enough and no need to take actions)
23. Ne5 Nb4 24. e4 Carlsen agrees to this move, which for some period will give him the initiative, but I believe black has enough resources to handle it, and it may turn the way around as now d4 pawn is isolated. But why did Magnus refuse the plan with f3 and e4? There is no time as if (24. f3 Nd7)
24… dxe4 25. Nxe4 Bxe4 26. Bxe4 Nxe4 27. Rxe4 Qd5 black is at least equal
28. R4e3 b5 29. Ng4 Rxe3 30. Nxe3 I agree chances are levelled, still black is on the more pleasant side
30… Qe4 31. Ng4 Qc2 32. Ne3 Qe433. Ng4 Qc2 34. Ne3 Qe4 Repetition of moves comes as a good way to put an end to that totally correct but absolutely eventless game. I like Magnus’ opening choice to invite So in Rubinstein variation in Nimzo-Indian. He already had experience here and I expected a bit more aggression from him. He didn’t find a good plan. Maybe that f3&e4 which is the only active possibility for white, probably was considered as a risky approach and he preferred to stay and wait for his opponent’s mistakes. But So was just perfect today and he deserved the draw with black pieces against the twice World champion. Congratulation to So and good luck until the end of the tournament! 1/2 – 1/2

He played the   middle  game  better  than   me. I overlooked  things. Then I  saw the  chance  to  exchange pieces  and  draw. ~ Magnus Carlsen on Wesley on their 2nd round match up


Round 1

So, Wesley 1/2-1/2 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw

A very topsy-turvy game. Wojtaszek’s king was always prancing around the middle of the board, but White’s rooks and knight just couldn’t coordinate to deliver a fatal blow. Slowly Black’s pawns crept down the middle of the board and in severe mutual time pressure Wojtaszek missed the tactic.

Event : 77th Tata Steel GpA
Site  : Wijk aan Zee NED
Date  : 2015.01.10
Round : 1.7
White : So, Wesley (2762)
Black : Wojtaszek, Radoslaw (2744)
Result: 1/2-1/2
ECO   : B90 – Sicilian Najdorf, Byrne (English) Attack

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 h5 9. Nd5 Bxd5 10. exd5 Nbd7 11. Be2 g6 12. Qd2 Bg7 13. O-O b6 14. Rae1 O-O 15. c4 Rc8 16. h3 Nh7 17. Na1 a5 18. Nc2 Bf6 19. Na3 Bh4 20. Rb1 f5 21. Nb5 f4 22. Bf2 Bxf2+ 23. Rxf2 Nc5 24. Qc2 Qf6 25. b3 Ng5 26. Bd3 Kg7 27. a3 Nf7 28. b4 Nxd3 29. Qxd3 Qf5 30. Qxf5 gxf5 31. Rc2 Kf6 32. bxa5 bxa5 33. Na7 Rb8 34. Rb5 a4 35. Nc6 Rbc8 36. c5 dxc5 37. Rb6 Nd6 38. Na5 Ke7 39. Nc6+ Kf6 40. Na7 Rcd8 41. Rxc5 e4 42. Ra5 Rd7 43. Raa6 Ke5 44. Nc6+ Kxd5 45. Ra5+ Ke6 46. fxe4 fxe4 47. Rxh5 Rf6 48. Nd4+ Ke7 49. Nc6+ Ke6 50. Nd4+ Ke7 51. Re5+ Kf7 52. Rd5 Ke8 53. Rb8+ Kf7 54. Nb5 Ke6 55. Nc3 f3 56. Rb6 Rg6 57. g4 Rh6 58. Kh2 f2 59. Rf5 e3 60. Kg2 Rc7 61. Nd5 Kd7 62. Re5 Rc5 63. Rb1 Nc4 64. Rf5 Kd6 65. Rb8 Re6 66. Rd8+ Kc6 67. Rc8+ Kd6 68. Rd8+ Kc6 69. Rc8+ Kd6 70. Rd8+ 1/2-1/2


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