WR Masters: Five draws, Aronian leads

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/19/2023 – Levon Aronian continues to lead the standings at the WR Chess Masters, as all five games ended drawn in Sunday’s fourth round. A few of the encounters featured double-edged openings, but accurate defensive responses prevented any of them from finishing decisively. Monday is a rest day in Düsseldorf. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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“The tournament is great, my play is not”

Less than two months from now, the World Championship match facing Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi will kick off in Astana. Wadim Rosentsein, the main sponsor of the WR Chess Masters and a supporter of Nepo, decided to use the same time control in the German event as in the coming match. Rosenstein told Sagar Shah:

This time control should add to Ian Nepomniachtchi’s practical preparation before the most important match of his life while not hurting any of the other participants, as I’m sure some of them will play in the world championships in the nearest future.

This factor will surely serve Nepo well, although he is also dealing with the usual restriction of not being able to show his opening preparation in full before the match. For now, Nepo has drawn all four of his games in Düsseldorf. After splitting the point with Wesley So from the black side of a Catalan, the Russian quipped:

The tournament is great, my play is not.

After the rest day, Nepo will get two whites in a row — against Gukesh and Andrey Esipenko — before meeting current sole leader Levon Aronian in round 7. To reach the top of the standings, Aronian won twice with white and drew twice with black on the first four days of action. The 40-year-old is set to face an in-form Anish Giri on Tuesday.

As for round 4, all games finished drawn for the first time in the event. A couple of hours into the day, this outcome did not seem all that likely, though, as Gukesh and Vincent Keymer had a double-edged position on the board, while Giri had obtained a long-term advantage against Esipenko out of the opening.

Frederic Friedel, ChessBase

Frederic Friedel has been keeping an eye on prodigious players for years now (find here the latest update) | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Gukesh ½ - ½ Keymer


Jan Gustafsson, Dommaraju Gukesh

Jan Gustafsson, Anish Giri’s second, looks on as Gukesh analyses | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Giri ½ - ½ Esipenko


Andrey Esipenko, Anish Giri

Two stylish grandmasters — Andrey Esipenko and Anish Giri | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Results - Round 4


Standings - Round 4


All games



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.