Giri and Ding continue to lead after all the games were drawn in Round 4.

All games were drawn in Round 4 of the Shenzhen Masters in China. That left the leaderboard unchanged. Anish Giri of the Netherlands and Ding Liren stood at 2.5 points, followed by Yu Yangyi of China and Pentala Harikrishna of India, each with 2 points, and then Peter Svidler of Russia and Michael Adams of England, who have 1.5 points apiece.

In each game, the players with Black found ways to force exchanges and bring about equality.

The first player with Black to pull this off was Adams, who faced Svidler.

Svidler, Peter vs. Adams, Michael
Shenzhen Masters | China | Round 4 | 26 Mar 2017 | 1/2-1/2
19. Nc4 White has a little pressure because he will take one of Black's bishops, but Adams was ready for it:
19... Bxc4! 20. Bxc4 b5! Forcing exchanges.
21. axb5
21. Bb3? White cannot keep the pawns on the board:
21... bxa4 22. Bxa4 Bxc3! And Black would be much better.  )
21... cxb5 22. Bxb5 Qxc3! 23. Qxc3 Bxc3 24. Bxe8 Bxe1 25. Bc6 Rc8 26. Bb7 Rc2 The series of forced moves is over and Black is fine. He will soon eliminate White's bishop pair and the symmetrical pawn structure guarantees a fast draw.
27. Be3 Bd2 28. Bxd2 Rxd2 29. Rb5

Harikrishna also had few problems against Ding:

Ding Liren vs. Harikrishna, Pentala
Shenzhen Masters | China | Round 4 | 26 Mar 2017 | 1/2-1/2
11. Rxc3 Black faces some strategic problems because his knight on c6 is misplaced, but he is able to use his lead in development to liquidate the center before White can consolidate.
11... e5! Well calculated
11... Bd7 12. Qc2 And Black would have the worse position.  )
12. cxd5 exd4! Another strong move. Black does not fear what might happen to his knight on c6.
13. Rc5! Now it looks dangerous for Black since his knight is attacked, but Harikrishna does not retreat.
13. Nxd4 Nxd4 14. Qxd4 Qxd4 15. exd4 Rxd5 16. Rxc7 Rxd4 And chances would be equal.  )
13. dxc6? dxc3  )
13... Bg4!
13... Ne7 14. Qxd4 And Black would have some problems to solve.  )
14. Nxd4
14. dxc6? Grabbing the piece fails:
14... Bxf3 15. gxf3 Qxf3 16. Rg1 dxe3 And White will be checkmated.  )
14... Nxd4 15. Qxd4 Qxd4 16. exd4 b6! 17. Rxc7 Rxd5 At long last, White ends up with an extra pawn, but he cannot keep it.
18. Bc4 Re8+! An important intermediate move.
18... Rxd4? 19. Bxf7+ Kf8 20. O-O And White is able to keep his extra pawn.  )
19. Kd2
19. Kf1? Rxd4! The threat of Rd1, mate, would be decisive.  )
19... Rxd4+ 20. Kc3 Rd7 The fireworks are over and the position is dead equal.
21. Rxd7 Bxd7 22. Rd1 Bc6 23. Bd5 Ba4 24. b3 Rc8+ 25. Kb2 Be8 26. Bb7 Rc7 27. Bf3 Bd7 28. Rd3 Kf8 29. Rc3 Rxc3 30. Kxc3 Ke7

The only game that really had any life was Yu vs. Giri, but Black was always fine with his bishop pair compensating for his one weak pawn.

Yu Yangyi vs. Giri, Anish
Shenzhen Masters | China | Round 4 | 26 Mar 2017 | 1/2-1/2
23. Nd3 Black has only one weakness, the pawn on c6, and if he trades off enough pieces there will be no way for White to attack it. I quite like the move that Giri plays now:
23... Ra1! Starting to exchange pieces.
24. Qd1 Rxc1 25. Rxc1 h5 26. Ra1 This was hardly forced, but what else? The a-file is the best spot for a rook and White cannot let Black occupy it permanently.
26. Nc5 This would have been my choice, though I have no doubt that it would not have changed the result.
26... Be8  )
26... Rxa1 27. Qxa1 Qb8 28. Nc5 Be8 29. g3 Bf8 30. Qc1 Bd6 Black's active bishops give him enough counterplay, so White decided to offer a draw.
31. Kg2

Monday will be the last game in the first half of this double round-robin event.


Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter, has his own site, and is also on Facebook.