Though there were no decisive results in Round 5 of the Shenzhen Masters, there were several close calls.

There was another round of draws in Round 5 of the Shenzhen Masters in China. But unlike in Round 4, the draws were the result of mistakes and missed opportunities rather than relatively error-free games.

The results left the leaderboard unchanged at the half-way point. Anish Giri of the Netherlands and Ding Liren of China remained tied for first, trailed by a half point by Yu Yangyi of China and Pentala Harikrishna of India, and then Peter Svidler of Russia and Michael Adams of England, who are another half point back.

In each of the three games on Monday, one player held a serious advantage. But in each case the player with the upper hand faltered and let his opponent escape.

The most obvious example was in the game between Giri and Svidler. Giri is probably kicking himself for letting a win slip away.

Giri, Anish vs. Svidler, Peter
Shenzhen Masters | China | Round 5 | 27 Mar 2017 | 1/2-1/2
34. Rf1 Black is losing - he is down a pawn and White's pieces are better positioned. But Svidler finds the best practical chance.
34... g5! Black should still lose, but White must now play precisely. Giri's was running low on time and he went astray.
35. h3? Giri errs and allows Svidler to climb back into the game.
35. Nc6! This was the only way. The threat of 36. Ne7+ would be decisive.
35... Nxf4 36. Ne7+ Kh8 37. e6+! f6 38. Rxf4! And White would be winning.
...  gxf4 39. Nf7+ Kg7 40. Qxd7  )
35... Nxf4! An excellent tactical resource. Black equalizes material and is able to bring the knight on h5 back to the center.
36. hxg4 Ne2+ 37. Kf2?!
37. Kh2 This move would have allowed White to maintain a small edge, though I think Black should hold after:
37... Nxd4 38. Rd1 Ne6 39. Ndc4 Nb8 40. Rd6 Rc8  )
37... Nxd4 38. Rd1 f6! Another nice tactical resource -- the knight on d4 is immune. Giri made the reasonable decision to offer a draw.
39. e6
39. Rxd4? fxe5+  )

Adams was also winning against Ding, only to mess it up as the first time control approached:

Adams, Michael vs. Ding Liren
Shenzhen Masters | China | Round 5 | 27 Mar 2017 | 1/2-1/2
Kg8 Thus far, Adams had played a fine game and reached a technically won position. But with just a couple moves left before time control, he erred.
39. b3?!
39. Ra6! This move should have led to victory. The pawn on c6 is hard to defend.
39... c5 40. b3! Now this move is good because the defense that Black used in the game would no longer work:
40... Rh3 41. Rf5! And Black cannot play f6 (as he did in the game) because of Rxe6.  )
39... Rh3 40. Rf5? Another bad move.
40... f6! Now Black has serious counterplay. He can play Ng5 to remove the defender of the pawn on g3.
41. Ra8+ White forces a draw. He could have continued but he has lost almost all of his advantage and it would be risky.
41. Kg2 Rhxg3+ 42. Nxg3 h4 White is probably still a bit better, but Black has a lot of counterplay. His knight will be very strong and the h-pawn will be dangerous.
43. Kh3 Rxg3+ 44. Kxh4 Rg2  )
41... Kf7 42. Ra7+ Kg8 43. Ra8+ Kf7 44. Ra7+

In the other game, Yu got a very nice position against Harikrishna, with excellent winning chances, but he was a bit too eager to trade pieces.

Harikrishna, Pentala vs. Yu Yangyi
Shenzhen Masters | China | Round 5 | 27 Mar 2017 | 1/2-1/2
27. Nf1 Bxf1?! This decision feels a bit rushed to me. The bishop was very strong on c4.
27... Rd7! Simply maintaining the tension was better. Black would prevent Bb7 and then could play f5 next.  )
28. Kxf1 Nc4 29. Bf2 Rd2?! Another dubious move. Now White can scoop up the queenside pawns.
29... Rd7! Again, preventing Bb7 was necessary. If he had, Black would have had decent winning chances.  )
30. Bb7! White is now able to force a bunch of exchanges.
30... Ra2 31. Bxa6 Rxa3 32. Bxb5 Nxe3+ 33. Bxe3 Rxe3 34. Be2 Bxb4 Black has won a pawn, but has almost no chance to win the game because of the opposite-colored bishops.
35. Kf2 Ra3 36. Rg1+ Kh7 37. Rg5 Kh6 38. f4 Be7 39. Rxh5+ Kg7 40. Rb5 Bxh4+ With just two pawns vs one pawn left on the board, White was able to trade down to a rook and bishop vs. rook endgame. He then showed he knew the technique to force a draw.
41. Kg2 Rg3+ 42. Kf1 Re3 43. Re5 Rh3 44. Bg4 Rg3 45. Bxe6 Bf6 46. Re4 fxe6 47. Rxe6 Kg6 48. Ke2 Kf5 49. Re3 Rg4 50. Rd3 Ke4 51. Re3+ Kxf4 52. Rf3+ Ke5 53. Re3+ Kd5 54. Kf3 Rg8 55. Re4 Be5 56. Rg4 Rh8 57. Rg2 Rf8+ 58. Ke2 Ke4 59. Rg4+ Bf4 60. Rg7 Rh8 61. Re7+ Be5 62. Ke1 Rh2 63. Re8 Kd4 64. Kf1 Bf4 65. Re2 Rh8 66. Kf2 Rf8 67. Ra2 Be3+ 68. Kg3 Ke4 69. Ra4+ Bd4 70. Kg4 Rg8+ 71. Kh4 Ke3 72. Kh5 Be5 73. Rg4 Rf8 74. Ra4 Kf3 75. Kg6 Bf4 76. Kg7 Rf5 77. Kg6 Kg4 78. Ra1 Rg5+ 79. Kf7 Kf5 80. Rd1 Rh5 81. Rd5+ Be5 82. Rd7 Rh6 83. Ke7 Rc6 84. Rd5 Rc8 85. Rd7 Rh8 86. Kf7 Rh1 87. Ke7 Rh6 88. Kf7 Bd6 89. Kg7 Kg5 90. Kg8 Kf5 91. Kg7 Rg6+ 92. Kf7 Rf6+ 93. Kg7 Bf8+ 94. Kg8 Ke6 95. Ra7 Bd6 96. Kg7 Rf1 97. Ra6 Rf7+ 98. Kg6 Rf8 99. Kg7 Rd8 100. Kg6 Rg8+ 101. Kh6 Rg1 102. Rb6 Ke5

Tuesday is a rest day and then the second half of the round-robin will begin on Wednesday.


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.