21 September 2016

Classical Heritage of Anatoly Karpov

Dmitry Kryakvin continues to analyze the selected games of the Chess Olympiad in Baku, this time covering rounds 3-4.

Hunting the Samurai

Round three of the Baku Olympiad generated a minor incident, which for some reason was never mentioned on chess sites. It happened in the Japan - Turkmenistan match. The country with a lot of respect for the guo game does not have much in the way of chess traditions (although it is not unlikely that one might to recall that Joel Lautier and Hikaru Nakamura have Japanese roots). The Japan board one player is rated 2400, board two - 2300, while the team's decoration is board three with a popular Japanese name and surname Alex Averbukh. (Ilya Averbukh is a well-known Russian ice dancer - translator's note). Board four player is rated 2100. That is, the Turkmen were in principle not expected to have much worries about the outcome of the match.

In practice, however, it happened otherwise: after Averbukh's pulling off a triple axel in the knight ending against Atabayev the junior being down a pawn  and two more games ending in draws, it became clear that the score is still equal - 1.5-1.5. As for the last board, where a 2100-rated Tang Tang was opposed by the experienced grandmaster Handszar Odeev, something unbelievable was underway. Turkmenistan was on the verge of defeat. 

Tang (2108) – Odeev (2401)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d5 6.cxd5 Bc5 7.N5c3 0–0 8.g3 Ng4 9.Ne4 Bb6 10.h3 f5 11.hxg4 fxe4 12.e3 Qf6 13.Rh2! 


13…Qg6 14.Be2 Na6 15.Bd2 Bd7 16.Na3 Rae8 17.Rc1 Nc5 18.Bb4 Rc8 19.Nc4 Rfe8 20.Nxb6 Qxb6 21.Bxc5 Rxc5 22.Rxc5 Qxc5 23.Qd2 Bb5 24.Bxb5 Qxb5 25.d6 Rd8 26.Qc3 Qd5 

27.f4! exf3 28.Rd2 f2+ 29.Kxf2 Rf8+ 30.Kg1 Qf3 31.Kh2 h5 32.d7 h4 33.Qxe5 hxg3+ 34.Qxg3 Qf6 35.g5 Qe7 36.Qd6 Qd8 37.Qd5+ Kh7 38.Kg1 Kg6 39.Qe6+ Kxg5 40.Rg2+ Kh5 41.Qg6+ 

I am not going to claim that Odeev's opponent produced only first line moves. The notion of first line is a relative one. According to my engine, Tang Tang has delivered a superb performance. However, following a lengthy period of showing a great performance, Odeev markedly simplified White's task by his moves 27-28, but it does not necessarily mean that he would have survived even in the case of a more stubborn defense after taking on d6 and transposing into a pawn ending. You are likely to reprove Handszar for not resigning in due time, but the Turkmen grandmaster believed in his lucky star until the very end, and a miracle did happen, which is called in Russia "the salvation of Artur Gabrielian." 

As I was told by a member of the joint FIDE and ACP anti-cheating committee grandmaster Konstantin Landa, the tournament staff employs special anti-cheating arbiters. Their job duties do not include serving match games - they have to be on the alert for cheating suspects. The organizers refused from the services of the joint committee specialists, appointing their own people into the anti-cheating group, but they hired them in such quantities that Konstantin even joked, "According to plan they are bound to catch a cheater every day!" They say, however, that some "electronic inquisitors" are only in the early stages of comprehending the essence of cheating mechanisms, but their willingness to combat the crooks is beyond any questioning!

On day three a group of "special agents" picked up the trail! Tang Tang behaved in a somewhat strange way, and when the soul of Odeev's chess king was ready to depart on a date with Charon, an examination was initiated. The "detention" details have not been disclosed (or else I have missed them), but it is known for sure that Tang Tang had an iPhone and iPad found on him. Tang Tang was forfeited, while Odeev and Turkmenistan did end up winning the match! Tang Tang did not show up for round four and was replaced by Yamada. Was the cheater cast out from the tournament? I have no such information. 

As for key matchups of round three, the Russian men's team was quite confident in dealing with their Moldavian opponents to the extent of scoring 3-1 while having chances to score even bigger along the way. While Alexander Grischuk's victory over Hamitevici was reviewed by Vladimir Barsky, my attention was caught by a duel between Evgeny Tomashevsky and Viorel Iordachescu, which virtually repeated the classical game from the Great Confrontation match.

Tomashevsky (2731) – Iordachescu (2584)

Karpov (2720) – Kasparov (2700)
Moscow 1985 

Save for some minor nuances (the black pawn is on a4, the white on g3), the positions are basically mirror reflections of each other. In this position both Anatoly Yevgenyevich and Evgeny took the bishop Nхе6 fхе6, and then the white bishop landed on g4, with the only difference being that Karpov launched the operation under the code name of "opposite-colored bishops" on move 21, while Tomashevsky did so on move 22. The Karpov - Kasparov game has been analyzed by many masters of analysis, including the world champions themselves, Mark Dvoretsky, Jan Timman, Robert Hübner and others. The overall conclusion was about equality on the board, which has remained unchanged, but from a practical point of view Black's defensive tasks are significantly harder. The "Stockfish" fully confirms these findings, evaluating the position as close to 0.00. Even those positions that arise after the moves which Kasparov and Dvoretsky put the question marks to, it evaluates as 0.00. A "piece of iron" does not care about White's threats. However, after passing the point of no return the "Stockfish" immediately starts evaluating Black's situation as hopeless. 

I'd like to make a small lyrical digression. I have often witnessed how different the "fathers and sons" go about comparing different chess eras. You might have read interviews with the prominent grandmasters of the past, who claimed that young people of today do nothing else but memorize computer-generated theory, otherwise being not particularly impressing with their performance. This said, they also claimed that the USSR championships used to be so cool that almost all games would follow the "first line" moves. On the other hand, I heard opinions of young grandmasters when discussing the classical Smyslov - Tal game (when the g2-bishop was traded for the c6-knight), in that the nowadays candidate masters would never have made those moves, which a chess wizard played to defend his position... and many more like this along those lines. Thus, they claim that in some games against Karpov the leading European grandmasters would perform so weak that even our women players would handle them easily.

However, it is very hard to to run such parallels. Nowadays we know more, we have books and databases, but we no longer have the coveted game adjournment, replaced by an endless time trouble with a Fisher time increment... Could Magnus be so dominant nowadays if his rivals were to call arbiters after move 40 to ask for an envelope to seal their next moves? It is beyond verification. Besides, it is hard to even compare things in terms of ratings since Evgeny's current one is formally higher than those of top numbers of the 1985 classification. 

In the model game Karpov was superb in weaving a mating net around the Kasparov's king (I highly recommend that you study the game!). Tomashevsky also succeeded in shattering Iordachescu's setup and passing the time control, but ...

Now imagine travelling back into 1985 with Evgeny analyzing this favorable position overnight with Kramnik, Karjakin, Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi! As opposed to that, the grandmaster from Saratov faced a difficult choice to make over the board. The monumental analyses of the two "K" battle stressed the importance of following up a pair of rook trades with the mandatory е3-е4! This is exactly the moment to go for it: 44.e4!? d4 45.Ra2 Ra5 46.Rхa5 bха5 47.f4! or 45…Qd7 46.е5!, but I think I can get the hang of the Russian grandmaster's train of thoughts: you have to agree to your opponent's creating a passed pawn, to sacrificing your own one, to initiating complications while playing for the team and the current score being so comfortable at that... 

Instead, Tomashevsky preferred 44.Ra2 Ra5 45.Rxa5 bxa5 46.Qa4 Qd8 47.Qc6, eventually even winning one of the weak pawns, but with the rooks off the board Iordachescu's defensive hardships were easier to cope with from the psychological point of view (although White still had definite winning chances), and in the end he managed to escape by gambling on the exchange of queens. The subject is very instructive: if you are a growing young player, please go over the "opposite-colored bishops" section in the famous manual of Mark Dvoretsky!

A real barnburner fighting was taking place at other top team matchups: The Ukraine defeated Germany through Volokitin's efforts, the Cubans snatched a victory from the Poles, while the Americans and Chinese could face issues, but still took their two points from Argentina and Brazil. A very powerful performance is demonstrated by the host team, which had knocked down Hungary with a confident 3-1 score. An instructive endgame Gledura - Naiditsch was reviewed at ChessPro, but more appealing to me is the vivid play of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who was faced off with Richard Rapport, a no less creative player himself. 

Mamedyarov (2761) – Rapport (2752)

Even though Richard the Lionheart is now again on the rise and has drummed up 2750, the duel against the Azerbaijani tiger saw the roaring of the local favorite a more terrible one.   


Indeed, how nice is Mamedyarov's play!   Doctors should prescribe their patients to watch his games in bad weather!

19…Bb5 20.g5 hxg5 21.Bxg5 Rg8? 

Although Nimzowitsch would have perhaps been satisfied with this mysterious preventive rook move, the path to salvation for Black is a narrow track through a minefield: 21...Qc7! 22.Rxc3 Qxc3 23.Rb1 Ba6 24.Bxf6 (interesting is 24.Qd1!?) 24...Qc2! 25.Re1 gxf6 26.Qxf6 Qh7, piling up on h2 and preparing the trade of queens. As opposed to this, the white rook is free to occupy the g-file now.

22.Kh1 Qc7 23.Rxc3 Qxc3 24.Rg1 Rf8 25.Bxf6 gxf6 26.Qxf6 Bd3 27.h4 

The pawn is on the rush to the queening square so that it is even surprising that the struggle dragged on into the endgame.

27…Be4+ 28.Kh2 Qc7 29.h5 Bf5 30.h6 Qc2 31.Qh4 Qe4 32.Qxe4 

32.Ng4! Bxg4 33.Rxg4 Qh7 34.Rg7 Qh8 35.Qf4 would have immediately finished the struggle, but Shakhriyar's move does not let victory slip away.  

32...Bxe4 33.Rg7

33...f6 34.Ng6 Bxg6 35.Rxg6 Rh8 36.Kg3 Kf7 

36...Rh7 37.Kg4 Kf7 38.Kh5 would have converted even easier.

37.Rg7+ Kf8 38.Rxb7 Rxh6 39.Rxa7 Rh1 40.a4 

With the black king cut off along the penultimate rank, the Tartakower rules are no longer in force. 

40…e5 41.a5 Rg1+ 42.Kh2 Ra1 43.a6 Ra3 44.Kg2 Ke8 

It is time for chess pants, trousers and jeans!

45.dxe5 fxe5 46.f4! d4 47.exd4 exf4 48.d5 Black resigns since after d5-d6 the check from а8 will come as a knockout.

In the women's section the Russians won 3-1 from Uzbekistan, but the formidable China was held to a draw by Vietnam - the Celestial Empire was saved by Hou Yifan defeating Pham Le Thao Nguyen. There were not a few who hastened to call it a sensation, but the coach of Vietnam, the Ukrainian expert Mikhail Vasilyev, informed that his team had defeated China at the Asia Championship already! As for Le Thao, she defeated Hou then. Therefore, Vasilyev believes the result to be nothing special and that round four will confirm the seriousness of the Vietnamese's intentions. 

Round 4
First Upsets 

The first three rounds have brought to the Russian fans little in terms of worries, and it might seem that this trend would persist. However, Sergey Shipov's post on his Facebook page, entered prior to the start of the round, vividly revealed the expert's feelings, "I have a premonition about the Russian teams' performance at the upcoming rounds of the Olympiad. It is just too smooth and trouble-free right from the very start! Our teams have been smashing their opponents in what seems to be one-sided matches for three rounds already. Our direct competitors look more pale in comparison, while in the women's section they lose team points altogether. Yesterday Georgia lost, and today, in round three, the mighty China was unexpectedly held to a draw by Vietnam. This is not a good sign... :) 

They say that years gradually and inevitably transform people from optimists to pessimists. This is perhaps what makes all the difference. The statistics of sudden frustrations on the background of complete serenity has been accumulating. And when things seem to be going well, you again start anticipating troubles coming your way." 

It looks as though Shipov saw it coming in a crystal ball!

I should note that the Olympiad has stirred up a huge amount of interest among the audience to the extent that from time to time the server would fail to handle the influx of all those willing to witness the beauty of grandmaster plans. The programmers are yet to work hard to bring the broadcasting up to the highest standards set by the organizers, who have shown a brilliant preparation for hosting the world players. At some moment during round four I opened the web page showing games of men's and women's teams of Russia to witness the following phantasmagoric picture: certain games stood frozen with clocks showing time forfeits, whereas in Valentina Gunina's encounter both kings were in check altogether. 

Gunina (2520) – Vajda (2372)

In this position, according to broadcasting, Valentina played 28.Kh2!?!?, and a draw was agreed after 28…Bxe7 29.Rf4 Bd6 30.Qc8+ Kh7 31.Qf5+ Kh8 32.Qf8+ Kh7 33.Qf5+ Kh8 34.Qf8+ Kh7 35.Qf5+. A mutual perpetual, as was noted by spectators at one of the websites. Only when the dust settled, it turned out that Gunina first moved her king to h1, placing her monarch on h2 only after Black delivered an "additional" check from f3. On the positive side, the live video stream of the Ukraine - Russia and Hungary - Russia matches would often appear in the frame, making it possible to understand what was going on. 

A flow of the match between Sergey Rublevsky's trainees and the Hungarians was associated with quite some problematic issues: the first player held Goryachkina to a cynical draw, but Pogonina actually did not let Gara out of the opening. However, the opponents' main striking force, the 2013 European Champion Hoang Thanh Trang, was gradually drawing a noose around Kosteniuk's position. At this moment I was struck by the absolute tranquility demonstrated by the senior coach of our girls - Rublevsky even visited the men's match on several occasions. Was Sergey so confident that Alexandra would bail out anyway?

Hoang Thanh Trang (2467) – Kosteniuk (2538)

An elephant is a strong animal and it was necessary to remove it from the race without delay: 54.Nxe6 Kxe6 55.Rc3. Following Hoang's inaccuracy one might recall one of Gufeld's catch phrases: "Those who do not believe that an elephant is stronger than a horse should to go to the zoo!"

54.a4?! Bd5 55.Rc3 Rxc3 56.Kxc3 Ke5 57.a5 Bb7 58.Kc4 

Since White is tied down by the opponent's counterplay against the f3-pawn, worth trying was 58.Kd3 Kf4 59.Ke2 with the idea of putting the king to f2 to edge out the enemy monarch. 

58...Kf4 59.Kc5 Ke3 60.Kb6 Ba8 61.Kc5 

The grandmaster must have counted on 61.Nf5+!? Kxf3 62.Nh6, missing in her advanced calculations that after 62…Kf4 63.a6 f5! 64.gxf5 Ke5 the game ends in a draw. In any case, with the team going down 1-2 and Hoang not even trying an outside chance produced a really strange impression.  

61...Bb7 62.Kc4 Kf4 63.Kd3 Ba6+ 64.Kd2 Bc4 65.Nc6 Bd5 66.Nd4 Bc4 67.Kc3 Ba6 68.Kb4 Ke3 69.Kc5 Draw! The Russian women's team has won her fourth match in a row and is sharing the lead with the Ukrainians, Serbians and Kazakhs, the latter being Russia's opponent with one round to go into the rest day.

Among local surprises happened in the women's section worth noting is the crushing defeat by Hou Yifan from the Minister of Finance of Latvia Dana Reizniece-Ozola, upon which the Chinese women ended up winning their match with a narrow margin only. Frankly speaking, with this game in mind, the chess queen's walkout protest, refusing to take part in  the world championship contest ("I feel desinterested, the rules are weird"), start looking very unconvincing indeed!

A principled rivalry between the Russian and Ukrainian teams turned into the event of the day in the "Open" section. In an effort to hinder the opponents' preparation, Andrey Filatov's headquarters placed Sergey Karjakin on leave, assigning Vladimir Kramnik to return the bullet-proof "white" serve of Pavel Eljanov with his impregnable Queen's Gambit. However, this game saw Vladimir Borisovich going through a hard time, while the rest of the games were haunted by tension and enormous importance of the match resulting in an unstable and not error-free performance. While the Korobov - Nepomniachtchi and Grischuk - Volokitin duels were highlighted in Vladimir Barsky's review, a decisive battle was taking place between Evgeny Tomashevsky and Ruslan Ponomariov. 

Tomashevsky (2731) – Ponomariov (2709)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.0–0 0–0 7.Nc3 Ne4 8.Bd2 Bf6 9.Rc1 Nxd2 10.Qxd2 d6 11.d5 e5 

This is yet another one of Anatoly Karpov's pet positions! During the 1986 match against Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Yevgenyevich converted completely to 1.d4, whereas at the end of the 1980s the main elite openings consisted of a complex of the Nimzowitsch and Queen's Indian Defense setups. As if striving at completion of a "five-year period chess plan", Karpov enriched a seemingly empty, dull and drawish class of positions with new ideas, winning several model games against Valery Salov, Artur Yusupov, Gata Kamsky and Viktor Korchnoi. However, Black's margin of safety is so substantial that Jaan Ehlvest drew twice against the great Champion, and Salov had several successful games against Korchnoi as well. I wish that a good account of this period of Karpov's creative life had been committed to paper... 

By the way, going into elections to the State Duma from the Tyumen region, Khanty-Mansiysk District and Yamal these days is Anatoly Karpov himself, who, in spite of his tense, mapped out to the last minute day schedule, finds time to keep track of the Olympiad events, especially of the games played by Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin. And how not to keep track of them when the name of the twelfth king keeps flashing in almost all reviews of the latest rounds? 

Curiously enough, the move order for the diagram position was introduced into the elite tournament practice by Karpov... as Black, who easily drew against Eugenio Torre in 1987 in Brussels. Soon Salov easily stood his ground here against Garry Kasparov (both Torre and Kasparov essayed  b2-b4), and only in the 1990s Black was upset in the game Epishin - Ehlvest 1991, which ended for the Estonian in a crushing defeat: 12.h4! Nd7 13.Bh3 g6 14.e4 Bg7 15.h5! Nf6 16.hxg6 hxg6 17.Kg2 Qe7 18.Rh1 Rfe8 19.Rh2 Qf8 20.Rch1 Bh6 21.Qe2 Qe7 22.Bd7! Qxd7 23.Rxh6 Kg7 24.Qd2 Rg8 25.Qg5 Qe7 26.Nb5!, and White won in a nice style.

As many as 15 years have passed until the moment when the Ehlvest move order was honed to perfection by two friends Denis Khismatullin and Anton Korobov. It turns out that Black should first go for a7-a5, then mount the knight to c5, trade bishops on c8 and only then set up a defensive pawn bastion g6-h5. Denis drew with Shimanov, whereas Anton even ended up upsetting Riazantsev who was performing in a not overly successful manner. As for this encounter, Ponomarev apparently went out for it relying on Korobov's preparations. I think that up to move 33 Evgeny's performance was in keeping with the best Karpov's traditions: he secured some space advantage on the kingside, regrouped his pieces and redirected his king away to the queenside. However, the followup was a tragedy...

12.e4 Nd7 13.h4 a5 14.Bh3 Nc5 15.Kg2 Bc8 16.Bxc8 Qxc8 17.Qe2 Be7 18.Nd2 Nd7 19.Rh1 Nf6 20.Nf1! h5 21.Ne3 g6 22.Rcg1 Kg7 23.Kf1! Rh8 24.Ke1 Qd7 25.Kd1 Kg8 26.f3 Bf8 27.g4 Rh7 28.Kc2 Be7 29.Rg2 Qd8 30.Kb1 Kh8 31.Nf1 Nd7 32.Rgh2 Kg7 

Black is forced to defend passively, and in the case of the strongest 33.Ng3!, intending to meet  33...hxg4? by 34.h5!, he would have to put up with 33... Nf6, setting aside all ambitious plans related to counterplay against the h4-pawn. Alas, all that is left for us to do is speculate on how the game would have shaped in this case (I wonder if Ruslan would be capable of resisting the eighties - early nineties version of Karpov's performance?). However, at this tense moment our grandmaster blundered a pawn. 

33.Rh3?! hxg4 34.fxg4 Rxh4

The matter was far from hopeless yet, and White had decent opportunities to continue the dialogue on equal terms, but... the Ukraine wound up winning the match with a minimum score.

However, with only four rounds behind the shoulders, the best part of the tournament is yet to come. I think it is very important that together with Andrey Filatov and coaches the Russian teams' headquarters also carries a "joker" Boris Postovsky, who led the Russians to Olympic victories as many as four times during the years 1994-2000. Have you ever read tournament reports by Boris Naumovich? An outstanding journalist Ilya Odessky tagged them as "mantras." Indeed, I can confirm that Postovsky's texts are rather mystical ones. 

Everything is bad. Everything is very bad. Kramnik has fallen ill. Dreev has fallen ill too. Kasparov is out of shape. Kasparov is distracted by the FIDE presidential elections. The team cannot win. The team loses points. Zvjaginsev, Sakaev and Grischuk are not without problems of their own either. Up to now, we have won one match almost by accident, during which Postovsky was an inch away from suffering a heart attack when seeing one of the players committing a blunder. Then we scored second victory, but the match with our main competitors is in immediate store for us. As for now, everything looks grim once again, but the team rallies together, has a tea party in the evening, and here it is, the first place!

Thus, there is a lot that went so-so for us in round four, but Postovsky is here and neither headquarters nor players are going to sink into despair, and Russia will yet show its mettle in the rounds to come!

Other leaders' matches were India - Cuba, USA - Czech Republic, Romania - Azerbaijan, China - Italy, Belarus - Latvia, England - Netherlands. The Americans losing points by making four draws with David Navara's team also came as a small surprise. By the way, in a group of teams sharing 5 points the French were unable to overpower our long-standing Greek friends. The happiest team in terms of pairing were the Chinese, the Olympic champions, who have not missed their chance to get the better of the "Caruana-less" Italians - 3-1. 

Wang Yue (2737) – Dvirnyy (2543)

As Dvirnyy lacks one tempo to bring his knight into the game, Wang Yue carries out a breakthrough in the style of Tang Tang. However, the Chinese team leader, being such a technical player as he is, needs no iPhones to find similar ideas.

23.f4! exf3 24.Rf1 Ne6 25.Rxf3 Kc7 26.Rf5 Kc6 27.Rc1+ Kb6 28.Ke2 Rg6 29.Rcf1 Rh6 30.R1f3 

With the f7-pawn being in mortal danger Danyyil preferred parting ways with the g5-pawn, but it did not help him last long anyway. 

30…Kc6 31.Bxg5 Nxg5 32.Rxg5 d4 33.e4 d3+ 34.Kd2 Re6 35.e5 Rd5 36.Rxf7 Black resigns.

Laying in wait for the strong Englishmen was a downright 0,5:3,5 defeat from the Netherlands The report posted on the Chessbase site shows a bench player Nigel Short talking to Genna Sosonko. The picture shows the 1993-challenger looking as though one of Herbert Wells's prediction about the Martian flying saucers landing in the Foggy Albion had come true! Let us see what Nigel was so shocked about.

Bok (2592) – Jones (2635)

Even though Black is worse, he should have at least given a try to 27…b5. 

27… Re8? 28.Nd5! Qf5 29.Nxe7! Rxe7 30.Qxd6 Nc6 31.Qxc5, and Black is down many pawns.

McShane (2671) – Van Wely (2674)

56.Rd3+ Ke4 57.Re3+ Kf5 58.Rd3 would have been an easy way to hold the position together, but Luke the junior got carried away with some ideas of his own…

56.Rc7? Rf6 57.Kc3 Ke4 58.Kb4 Rf3 – and the g4-pawn made it all the way to the queening square.

L'Ami (2611) – Howell (2665)


The pawn defense problem was best solved by 27...Rfd8! with the idea of 28.Nfxd5 Rxc1+ 29.Rxc1 Ne8. 

28.Nfxd5!, and Erwin demonstrated accuracy in converting his advantage. 

Vidit was on target as the Indians got the better of the Cubans. Belarus defeated Latvia with Sergei Zhigalko outplaying Alexei Shirov. Also on the winning streak was the Azerbaijani squad by outperforming the Romanians. A young prodigy Bogdan-Daniel Deac, playing board two, stood his ground against Radjabov while a seasoned Mihail Marin was even posing problems for Rauf Mamedov, but the rest of the boards saw higher class taking its toll with Arkadij Naiditsch dealing with Vlad Jaan and Shakhriyar outfoxing Constantin Lupulescu, whose Olympiad record includes a draw with Magnus Carlsen. I note that the World Champion has so far failed to act up to his promise to star at least once at the Olympiad by making yet another draw, this time against a 2500-rated opponent. Does Lada's appearance have so much in the way of knocking him off course? 

Shakhriyar, however, performs very confidently, without fail. 

Lupulescu (2618) – Mamedyarov (2761)

Is White better? The answer is no since under the Azeri grandmaster's belt is a cute trick prepared well in advance.

20...Nd7! 21.Qe4 Nxe5 22.f4 Nf3+! being up a pawn and with initiative in the opposite-colored bishops ending. 

Naiditsch (2696) – Jianu (2554)

Is the passed pawn reliably blockaded? All Naiditsch needed to do to shatter Black's setup was exchange a powerful f6-defender. 

38.Bg5! Nb6 39.Rg4 Bxg5 40.Nxg5 f5

This weakening is forced and all it takes for Arkadij to achieve the goal is combine threats against h4 and e6 pawns with his rook's landing on d8. 

41.Rd4 Qe7 42.f4 Rd5 43.Qf2 Qa3 44.Rdd1 Nd7 45.Qe1 Nf8 46.Nxe6! Rxd1 47.Rxd1 Qe7 48.Rd8 Black resigns.

Round five will meet us with the following exciting matches: Azerbaijan - India, Ukraine - China, while the Byelorussians will try to take the fight to the Dutch. As for Russia, she will have to sort things out with the Bedouins first.