4 April 2019

Another Peaceful Day

Eteri Kublashvili reporting about Round 4 of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial

Following in the footsteps of round one, all games were drawn. 

Karjakin - Grischuk and Topalov - Carlsen ended almost simultaneously. This said, the final positions were almost identical as well. During the press conference Magnus Carlsen lamented about failing to repeat the position happened in the game of his colleagues.

Sergey Karjakin and Alexander Grischuk opened with the Grünfeld Defense 3.g3. 

Sergey admitted being surprised by Black’s move one as Alexander met 1.Nf3 with 1…d5, a move rather untypical of him who is known to opt for 1…Nf6 almost exclusively. 

Alexander Grischuk, “I was a bit lucky since I had this line gone over going into the game with Ding Liren. The line is considered drawish, and I have never studied it deeply, believing White to resort to it when not minding a draw. When preparing for Ding I noted that Black may run into positional issues after 14. Qb4. Therefore, I think I managed to find the most precise way to equality as otherwise Black is just worse.”

Veselin Topalov and Magnus Carlsen opened with the Ragozin Defense. Being uneventful, a draw became the game's most logical outcome. The world champion characterized it as not much to write home about. He believes 15…Re8 to be important as leading to a dead draw. 

Queen’s Gambit was seen in as many as two encounters: Ding Liren – Anand and Giri – Radjabov.

White launched a kingside offensive without castling in Ding Liren – Anand. Well-versed in similar type of positions, Anand reacted precisely by mounting his knight on e4 and pushing his queenside pawns. Having traded the light-squared bishop for his knight, the Indian grandmaster seized control over the light squares. The resulting double-edged position favored Black in terms of achieving a decisive edge, but his edge started dissipating after the trade of queens. Anand admitted his lack of understanding as to how to improve further, agreeing to the move repetition for that reason. The game was drawn by repetition on move 34.

Developing in an absolutely different fashion was Giri – Radjabov. Black opened up the a-file in a closed type of position. Anish noted at the press conference that he knew to neutralize Black’s threats in this type of pawn structure, and that his next step would be to find breakthroughs for White. It never came to a melee, and the game ended in a perpet after the trade of all pieces but queens. 

Following a bitter defeat in round three, luck was again on Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's side, who was playing White against David Navara. Up to move eleven the opponents borrowed a page from Mamedyarov – Vidit of 2019 in the Ragozin Defense. White got a promising position, but blundered a pawn after Black's stab 23...g5. The middlegame gradually transposed into a rook ending, in which Shakhriyar was putting up a tenacious defense while down material. When White’s precise performance seemed to bring him into the realms of a draw, the Azeri GM made a mistake that nearly cost him the game. However, the endgame being a very delicate matter, David returned the favor by misplacing his rook.  

Mamedyarov – Navara

After 70.Kg1-h1? winning was 70... Rg8! 71. Kh2 f2 72. Rf6 Ke2 73. Kh3 f1Q+ 74. Rxf1 Kxf1 75. h5 Kf2 76. Kh4 Kf3 77. h6 Kf4 78. h7 Re8. 

However, Black opted for 70…Rg7, which is only a draw: 71. Kh2 f2 72. Rf6 Ke2 73. Kh3 f1=R 74. Rxf1 Kxf1 75. h5 Kf2 76. Kh4 Kf3 77. h6 Rg1 78. Kh5 Kf4 79. h7 etc. The opponents battled until lone kings, signing peace after Black’s move 85.

Tournament standings after round 4:

1. Magnus Carlsen - 3; 2-3. Sergey Karjakin, Ding Liren - 2.5; 4-6. Viswanathan Anand, Teimour Radjabov, Veselin Topalov - 2; 7-10. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, David Navara, Anish Giri, Alexander Grischuk - 1.5. 

Pairings of round five:

Grischuk - Topalov, Radjabov - Karjakin, Anand - Giri, Navara - Ding Liren, Carlsen - Mamedyarov