Tata Steel Chess R4: Giri beats Carlsen, Pragg stuns Ding

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/18/2023 – Round 4 of the Tata Steel Masters saw the two highest-rated players in the world losing on adjacent boards, as Anish Giri and Praggnanandhaa defeated Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren respectively. Giri is now sharing the lead with Nodirbek Abdusattorov, who got the better of Parham Maghsoodloo. In the Challengers, four decisive results left three players sharing the lead on 3/4 points. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

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Twelve years later, to the day

On Monday, 17 January 2011, a 16-year-old Anish Giri obtained what would turn out to be his only win in classical chess over Magnus Carlsen — until today. Naturally, the game took place in Wijk aan Zee, the very first time the traditional tournament was dubbed “Tata Steel Chess” (from 2000 to 2010, “Corus” had been the official name). Carlsen, aged 20, had already won the tournament twice, and would go on to get third place in that edition, a full point behind champion Hikaru Nakamura.

Exactly twelve years later, Giri did it again. By beating the perennial favourite, the Dutchman climbed to fifth place in the live ratings list. More importantly, he continues to share the lead in the standings, now only with Nodirbek Abdusattorov, who also scored a full point in the fourth round. Despite often showing strong performances in ‘Wijk’, Giri has never won the tournament. Notably, he twice tied for first and failed to get the title in rapid playoffs, first in 2018 and then in 2021.

Remarkably, this was not the only major surprise of the round. Not only the number one in the world lost with black, as Ding Liren (the only player in the world other than Carlsen with a 2800+ rating) was defeated by 17-year-old Praggnanandhaa on an adjacent board. Thanks to the outstanding win, Pragg grabbed 6.7 rating points and climbed to shared third place. He and Fabiano Caruana stand a half point behind the co-leaders going into the first rest day for the Masters’ participants.

As mentioned above, Abdusattorov also scored a full point on Tuesday. Another formidable prodigy, the 18-year-old beat Parham Maghsoodloo with the white pieces. A tough pairing now awaits the Uzbek star, who will face Carlsen — with black — in Thursday’s fourth round.

Anish Giri

Anish Giri | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Giri deviates from Carlsen’s game on move 18

In his second classical-chess victory over Carlsen, Giri followed in the footsteps of the Norwegian himself, as he repeated 18 moves of a game between Carlsen and Yannick Pelletier from 2008. The world champion had won that game with white, and saw the line once again working wonders, albeit not in his favour.

Giri’s new move in the position was not the culprit, though, as things only started to go awry for Black a bit later in the game.

 

Anish Giri

It was one to remember — Anish Giri | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Young yet mature: Pragg and Abdusattorov show good technique

The two remaining decisive games of the round featured a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old grinding out wins from slightly superior, technical positions.

When the first time control was reached, Pragg had a better pawn structure and a more active king in a materially balanced endgame against Ding.

 

Engines give close to a full pawn advantage for Black at this point, but beating a player as strong as Ding is never easy, especially in such technical setups. Notwithstanding, Pragg showed his usual tenacity to convert his advantage into a 73-move victory.

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Abdusattorov, on his part, also had a structural edge in an endgame. Except that in this game — Parham Maghsoodloo had the black pieces — the queens never left the board.

 

Having the safer king was the crucial factor for White in this ending. Abdusattorov kept creating problems for his opponent, who eventually faltered and ended up allowing a checkmate to appear on the board.

Nodirbek Abdusattorov

Parham Maghsoodloo playing black against Nodirbek Abdusattorov | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Standings after round 4 - Masters

 

All games - Masters

 
 

Ivic, Donchenko and Yilmaz co-leaders in the Challengers

Six players had entered round 4 sharing the lead in the Challengers tournament. Three of them won, two drew and one suffered a loss, leaving Velimir Ivic, Mustafa Yilmaz and Alexander Donchenko sharing the lead with 3 points each. Unlike in the Masters, the players from the ‘B group’ will only get a rest day on Thursday, after round 5. 

Not only the co-leaders scored wins on the fourth day of action, though, as Erwin l’Ami bounced back from two consecutive losses by beating 13-year-old Abhimanyu Mishra with the black pieces. The experienced Dutch grandmaster will be looking to continue his comeback on Wednesday, when he will play white against co-leader Ivic.

Vaishali Rameshbabu

Praggnanandhaa and Velimir Ivic figuring out the position on the board as Vaishali, Pragg’s sister, decides on how to continue | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

In an entertaining game, Donchenko and Jergus Pechac discussed a double-edged line of the Sicilian Alapin. Pechac, playing white, had a fine position in the middlegame, but a couple of errors allowed his opponent to find optimal coordination with his queens and bishops. A couple of strong tactics later, Donchenko managed to get a valuable 36-move victory.

 

Alexander Donchenko

Alexander Donchenko | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Standings after round 4 - Challengers

 

All games - Challengers

 
 

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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.
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