Lots of Action at Tata Steel and Caruana Retains Lead
ByParimarjan NegiJan 20 — 1:07 AM
Image by Tata Steel Chess
Caruana failed to win a marathon game against Giri in Round 4, but there were many other decisive results in both sections.
Round 4 of the Tata Steel tournament in windy Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands, was interesting and exciting and a few players managed to move up a bit in the standings. Over all, there were plenty of nice blows executed in both sections.
The player at the top of the elite section, Fabiano Caruana of the United States kept his lead and almost added to it. But his opponent in Round 4, Anish Giri, a representative of the host country, made an almost miraculous - and definitely very skillful - save to deny Caruana another win.
The clash between Caruana and Giri was interesting for many reasons. For one thing, they are soon to face each other in the biggest event of their careers - their first Candidates tournament, and a victory here would easily translate into a psychological edge as both the players have been very evenly matched in the past.
Round 4 was no different. For a long time, it was hard to say who was playing for the advantage – Giri, who had White, seemed to be dominating until the Caruana made some unexpected, but interesting advances on the kingside:
The endgame wasn’t fun to play for White at all, but as usual, it is never an easy job to win rook endgames. Around the following position, the Dutch star took advantage of his counterplay chances, and pushed his a-pawn up the board to create the perfect defensive setup:
In a much shorter game, the top-ranked woman player in the world, Hou Yifan of China, steamrolled the top Czech player, David Navar in a flashy game. Navara played the Caro-Kann, a recent addition to his repertoire, but he was impressively out-prepared by the Chinese star. Notice the subtle sequence of moves starting with Bd2:
Sergey Karjakin also gained a very convincing win against his Russian compatriot, Evgeny Tomashevsky. It was interesting that Karjakin didn’t go for the usual Spanish lines (Karjakin is also in the Candidates, so perhaps he was saving his preparation for that tournament) but instead played the solid, but not so heavily explored lines of the Italian. Tomashevsky is usually very solid in those type of positions, but starting with his excellent maneuver of switching his bishop to b5, Karjakin completely took control of the game:
Pavel Eljanov played an interesting opening to keep the other Dutch player, Loek Van Wely on his toes. The following tactic was particularly fun:
In the end, just like with his win in Round 3 against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, Eljanov needed some help from his opponent to snatch the full point:
Mamedyarov, who had made one of the worst top-level blunders in recent history, recovered quite well facing Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the World Champion. Carlsen, who had White, tried to get his usual, long lasting slight edge - but Mamedyarov never gave him much leeway, and confidently kept things under control in a symmetrical Slav structure.
Similarly, Wei Yi of China faced no problems at all in holding an extremely drawish endgame against Michael Adams of England. Adams, who had White, tried to show some technical wizardry after forcing an exchange of queens in the opening, but he never got an edge and had to be careful to be able to hold a draw in the end.
The Challengers section was full of decisive games - although nothing changed at the top. The higher ranked players relied on their better understanding of the game to clinch a few nice technical wins.
Alexey Dreev of Russia continued to go through the opposition and in Round 4 his victim was his youthful compatriot, Mikhail Antipov. The older Russian’s experience was clearly handy, as, with Black, he smoothly outplayed White despite the opposite-colored bishops on the board.
One of India’s young stars, Baskaran Adhiban, also slowly outplayed Ju Wenjun of China in a drawish looking endgame.
Erwin L’Ami, one of the Dutch grandmasters, took longer than the others, but he was always in control in his game against Dutch woman champion, Anne Haast.
In the match between young stars, the unorthodox opening of Samuel Sevian of the United States got him into big trouble against another Dutch player, Jorden van Foreest. The American lost his queen just out of the opening in a picturesque fashion:
In the other game with an evenly matched opposition, Azerbaijan’s Eltaj Safarli, struggled for a long time with a slightly worse structure in an opposite-colored bishop and rooks endgame. His opponent, Benjamin Bok, another Dutch grandmaster, played quite a nice technical game. In the key moment, Bok decided to become enterprising and sacrifice an exchange. But just before the time control, the young Dutch GM went astray to turn his winning position into a lost one in a single move:
Wednesday is a rest day. When the tournament resumes on Thursday, Carlsen will no doubt be looking for a win playing van Wely, the lowest-ranked player in the top section. The break will give Caruana some time to recover from the marathon game in Round 4. He will take on Hou in Round 5 as he tries to keep his momentum going.
Parimarjan Negi is an Indian grandmaster who is the second-youngest ever to earn the title (at 13 years 4 months and 22 days). Ranked No. 83 in the world, he is currently a sophmore at Stanford University.
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