Tata Steel R4: Wins for Pragg and Shakh

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/19/2022 – Vidit Gujrathi kept the sole lead at the Tata Steel Masters going into the first rest day of the event, as round 4 saw 2 out of 7 games ending decisively. Praggnanandhaa inflicted Nils Grandelius’ third defeat to bounce back to a 50% score, while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov got the better of Jan-Krzysztof Duda with the white pieces. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Vidit sole leader

Going into the first rest day of the Tata Steel tournaments, Vidit Gujrathi is the sole leader of the Masters with a 3 out of 4 score. Five players make up the chasing back standing a half point back. Vidit will have a pair of tough matchups after the rest day, as he is set to face Anish Giri and Jan-Krzysztof Duda on Thursday and Friday.

Among the chasers is 7-time winner Magnus Carlsen, who played an exciting game — which ended in a draw — against defending champion Jorden van Foreest. Carlsen, the perennial favourite, will face tail-ender Nils Grandelius in round 5. Grandelius will try to recover from a disappointing start, as he lost three out of his four games so far in Wijk, with Indian prodigy Praggnanandhaa the last one to take advantage of his bad form.

Pragg was not the only player that collected a full point in the Masters’ fourth round. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who played enterprising chess in his first three games but nonetheless signed three draws, defeated Duda with the white pieces in a hard-fought encounter.

Vidit Gujrathi

Vidit Gujrathi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Carlsen misses a win

The world champion’s third draw of the event was by no means a dull affair. Facing Van Foreest, Carlsen found himself a pawn up when his opponent decided to complicate matters on move 19.

 

19...g4 by the Dutchman was a provocation, as it gives way to 20.Bxe4, when 20..dxe4 is dangerous for Black due to 21.d5, while 20...fxe4 — as played in the game — gives up a pawn on g4. Carlsen accepted his opponent’s sacrifice with 21.Qxg4, but had to contend with Black’s active alternatives after 21..Qe8.

Van Foreest created threats on the kingside, but took a wrong step on move 37. The refutation was difficult to find, though, especially during time trouble.

 

Responding to 37...Qa7, Carlsen played the tempting 38.Qg4, attacking the rook. As the game progressed from that position, White was unable to find shelter for his monarch on the kingside, and in fact the draw was signed due to a perpetual check on that side of the board.

In the diagrammed position, however, White had 38.Ke2, planning to respond to 38...Qa6+ with 39.Kd1, and the king finds shelter in the centre. It was not to be for the world champion, who is still undefeated and a half point behind the leader.

 

Magnus Carlsen, Jorden van Foreest

Seven-time champion Magnus Carlsen facing defending champion Jorden van Foreest | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Shakh turns the tables on Duda

After following 14 moves of theory, Mamedyarov and Duda reached a queenless position with an imbalanced pawn structure. Duda, playing black, eventually had two minor pieces for a rook and a pawn in a slightly better position. The Polish star did not make the most of his chances, though, and eventually lost grip of the position.

 

Black’s passed h-pawn looks really dangerous, but Duda needs to be meticulous to keep the balance against the pair of rooks nonetheless — and 36...h3 was a mistake. There followed 37.Rc3+ Kg4 38.Rcc4 Rf8 39.Rxb7 h2 40.Rh7 Kg3

 

Mamedyarov spent seven minutes calculating his following move, which would turn out to be the final move of the game. The Azerbaijani found the elegant 41.Kb3, and his c-rook is free to give checks from the side while the king is ready to hide on the queenside to prevent any counterplay by the opponent. Duda resigned.

In the other decisive game of the day, Praggnanandhaa skilfully outplayed Grandelius, who has been having trouble finding good form in Wijk. You can go through both decisive games of round 4 in the replayer below.

 

Round 4 results

 

Standings after round 4

 

All games

 

Arjun takes the lead in the Challengers

Both the Masters and the Challengers have a sole leader hailing from India, as Arjun Erigaisi grabbed his third consecutive win by beating Roven Vogel with black on Tuesday — thus, the 18-year-old from Telangana became the only player in either section to collect 3½ points in the first four rounds of the event.

 

Vogel’s exchange sacrifice with 22.Rf5 was overly ambitious. Perhaps what the German had missed is that Arjun can respond with 22...Nb4 first (22...Bxf5 is also better for Black but not winning), and after 23.Nxb4 axb4 24.Ne4 Bxf5 25.Rxf5 Black has all but consolidated his material advantage.

 

White kept trying to create something on the kingside for five more moves. But to no avail — Vogel threw in the towel on move 30.

Zhu Jhiner, who had kicked off the event with three consecutive losses, bounced back by beating Marc’Andria Maurizzi with the black pieces in the only other decisive game of round 4.

Volodar Murzin and Thai Dai Van Nguyen stand a half point behind the Indian sole leader in the standings table.

Zhu Jhiner, Marc’Andria Maurizzi

Zhu Jhiner defeated Marc’Andria Maurizzi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 4 results

 

Standings after round 4

 

All games

 

Links


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.

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