Prague: Deac tears down Robson’s Berlin wall

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/25/2023 – Bogdan-Daniel Deac scored a crucial win over former co-leader Ray Robson in round 4 of the Prague Masters to join Vincent Keymer in the lead of the standings. Keymer held David Navara to a draw in a 100-move game, while Wang Hao returned to a fifty-percent score by beating Haik Martirosyan. In the Challengers, three games ended decisively, with Benjamin Gledura winning to join Mateusz Bartel in the lead. | Photo: Anežka Kružíková

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Not dull at all

The Berlin Defence does not necessarily lead to boring draws. If ambitious players face off in the opening popularized by Vladimir Kramnik in the 2000 World Championship match, there is a good chance that an interesting struggle will ensue. Two such contenders entered the famed setup in round 4 of the Prague Masters, and the (decisive) result of the game crucially impacted the standings.

Bogdan-Daniel Deac tore down Ray Robson’s Berlin wall to join Vincent Keymer in the lead of the standings. Both Deac and Robson belong to the select group of players rated 2700 or above, albeit they have not managed to join the elite of the sport.

Out of a theoretical variation, the players began to spend a considerable amount of time on each decision starting on move 13, but the novelty of the game was only seen five moves later, when Deac decided to push his g-pawn to the fourth rank.

18.g4 prompted Robson to think for a bit under 20 minutes before replying by 18...Bg6.

Since White is slightly better developed and has gained control over the e-file, going for 18...Bxf4, releasing the tension, would have been the safer route for Black (and what the engines suggest). Robson, however, apparently felt that he could eventually take advantage of White’s weakened structure on the kingside.

The American’s plan backfired, as Deac went on to make the most of his initiative. The Romanian GM upped the pressure until prompting his opponent to falter decisively.

It is already tough to suggest something for Black, whose light-squared complex on the kingside is gravely exposed. Robson’s 25...Rc8, however, turned out to be a rather big mistake.

Deac played 26.Qf5, 27.Qe6+ and 28.Ng6 on his next three moves, forcing Black to lose a key tempo with 28...Rb8 as he had to deal with the threat of Ng6-e7, with a fork.

White went on to invade Black’s position, until Robson had to give up trying in a completely miserable position.

Black’s best chance here is to give up the queen for the white rook and knight, but winning the ensuing position with the active queen and the dangerous kingside pawns would have been trivial for a player of Deac’s level. Robson resigned.

Deac is now sharing first place with Vincent Keymer, who drew three games in a row after beating Wang Hao in the first round. Wang, on his part, beat Haik Martirosyan on Saturday to join the 6-player group standing a half point behind the leaders on 2/4.

Wang Hao

Wang Hao about to play 2.c4 in round 4 | Photo: Petr Vrabec

Results - Round 4

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Challengers: Gledura in the shared lead

For a second consecutive day, three games finished decisively in the Challengers section. The most relevant result for the top of the standings was Benjamin Gledura’s victory over Jan Vykouv. Gledura, the tournament’s top seed, is now sharing the lead with Mateusz Bartel, who drew Jergus Pechac with white in a 55-move encounter.

Gledura outplayed Vykouk from the following technical position.

Engines evaluate this position as almost completely balanced, but from a human point of view it is clear that a single mistake might be crucial, given the apparent asymmetries.

White’s d-pawn is dangerous, while having the bishop (against the knight) might also be favourable in a setup with play on both sides. However, Black’s a-pawn looks menacing in the long run, and dealing with the knight might turn out to be tricky for White.

Extreme precision was needed, and active moves like 39...Nf5 or 39...Rb2 were called for here. Instead, Vykouk’s 39...Ra4, allowing Gledura to grab the c-pawn the very next move, was too much of a concession.

A second consecutive error with 40...Nf5 (it is too late now) led to a quick collapse of the black position. Vykouk resigned five moves later.

Game over.

Both co-leaders, Gledura and Bartel, are set to play with black in Sunday’s fifth round. Monday will be a rest day in the capital of Czechia.

Benjamin Gledura

Benjamin Gledura | Photo: Petr Vrabec

Results - Round 4

Standings - Round 4

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.