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Tata Turmoil: Giri Beats Mamedyarov, Carlsen Blunders But Wins

In a tumultuous eighth round in Wijk aan Zee, both Anish Giri and Magnus Carlsen caught Shakhryiar Mamedyarov in first place. It was Giri who brought down the tournament leader, whereas Carlsen blundered a full piece but won anyway.

The fight for first place at the 80th Tata Steel Chess Tournament suddenly got very tense as we have three leaders at 5.5 points, with five rounds to go. A revitalized Mamedyarov seemed to be running away with the tournament but found his Waterloo today in the local hero.

Yesterday Giri had mentioned that Mamedyarov's openings aren't bulletproof, and although he didn't intend to criticize the Azeri's repertoire too much, some of it might be true. Today Giri got an advantage straight out of the opening, and on move 32, completely outplayed, Mamedyarov threw in the towel.

Giri, who joined his opponent in first place, is playing his best tournament in a long time. "I didn't really keep the count but I assumed winning is good today," he noted matter-of-factly.

The third leader after today is Magnus Carlsen, who won a bizarre game against Gawain Jones. Just out of the opening, the world champion blundered a full piece.

Anish Giri, on scoring a 'massive' victory today: "Every victory for me is massive!" | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
"It's a little embarrassing obviously, more than a little embarrassing," Carlsen readily admitted.

Because it was the world champion, and because he quickly got an initiative after it happened, some fans weren't even sure if it actually was a blunder but Carlsen himself ended the debate right away in his post-game interview.

"That was obviously a crude blunder. I guess I was kind of lucky to get any play at all after that."

Carlsen was referring to move 22, where Jones missed the obvious chance to close off the kingside after the win should have been trivial even against this particular opponent.

"After this, I had nothing to lose," said Carlsen. "It felt kind of absurd; I felt like the game is over already but on the other hand, I thought: let's play a few moves and see what happens."

What happened was Jones losing the thread completely, and going from won to better to worse to lost. The English GM might have a hard time sleeping tonight.

Giri, in his typical half-serious tone, said: "It will be interesting to see whether Magnus is a full piece stronger than the rest of the players here. I didn't think so but now I start doubting."

Meanwhile, on the other end of the standings, Hou Yifan is having a horrible tournament. Today she had an excellent chance to do something about that as she was a very healthy pawn up (as in: two, if she had taken another one!) vs Fabiano Caruana. But, like Jones, at some point, she just collapsed and even lost.

Author: PeterDoggers, Chess.com

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