Wijk aan Zee 2010 was one of the most exciting chess tournaments of recent times. There were generally very few short draws if any and almost games were hard fought.
I was very keen to see how Magnus Carlsen would play given his new status as the world number 1. I was particularly keen to see whether Magnus would stay true to his attacking and uncompromising style or would he choose to be cautious to avoid losing and thus putting valuable rating points on the line. After a wobble at the end, Carlsen was the outright winner. His partnership with Garry Kasparov is clearly paying dividends. Considering that Carlsen may not even be near his peak as a chess player, it will be interesting to see how long he hangs on to the top spots.
Right up to the last round, it was not clear who would win the tournament. The tournament confirmed that Vladimir Kramnik losing his title to Anand was one of the great things to happen to chess. Since he lost his title Kramnik has a point to prove and is winning more games. When he was World Champion he played very little and when he did, he drew most of his games. In fact in one year Kramnik did not appear on the rating list at some stage because he had not played enough rated games.
Hikaru Nakamura showed why he is one of the most exciting players. Like the great Bobby Fischer, Nakamura always plays to win. Sergey Karjakin seemed to have a quiet tournament. He was not feeling well at the start of the tournament and never quite got into gear. He recently switched allegiance. He now plays for Russia having moved from Ukraine. He is also being coached by Garry Kasparov’s former second Yuri Dokhojan.
Nigel Short found the going tough in this tournament against the young guns. He lost 3 games and drew the rest. During the tournament I am sure I saw Nigel playing chess on the playchess server. His games are always very entertaining.
It was surprising to see Anand drawing so many games. He won 2 games and drew 11. I suspect that with his match wth Veselin Topalov just a few months away he did not want to give too much of his preparation away. It makes sense for Anand to save the best and the surprises for the World Championship Match, just as he did against Kramnik.
Magnus Carlsen did not disappoint and neither did the rest of the group. It was great to see Alexey Shirov in top form. At one point it seem Shirov would be the outright winner of this tournament. He was playing enterprising and attacking chess, not holding back. Fire on the board indeed. This is the Shirov we come to love and admire. While Magnus is now the top player his game is still prone to error. In the final round Magnus almost lost to Fabiano Caruana, the fast rising Italian teenager who is surely going to be a thorn to Magnus for years to come.
Wijk aan Zee 2010 will be very difficult to match but the year is still young. Let’s see how it goes. BTM