Round 4 of the Geneva Chess Grand Prix pitted P Harikrishna against yet another Azerbaijani grandmaster, with the Indian number two facing off against Teimur Radjabov.
Radjabov is currently leading the tournament, and this match-up presented the Indian ace an opportunity to snatch the tournament lead from the Azeri grandmaster, who was half a point ahead of the Indian. Playing from the black side of the board, the task was indeed a difficult one.
Harikrishna essayed the classical variation of the Queen’s Gambit declined and had an isolated queen’s pawn out of the opening. Although this did give Radjabov a slight edge, Harikrishna’s position was way too solid to break into. Radjabov briefly tried to build up a blockade on Harikrishna’s only weakness in the position – the isolated queen’s pawn – but pieces were being traded pretty fast. Eventually, the Indian was also able to exchange the blockading knight for his own, and the pawn structure became almost symmetrical. Both pairs of rooks got traded in the next few moves and the position was too dry for either side to push for anything. Shortly after the first hour of play, the players shook hands, having played only 20 moves.
The game between Peter Svidler and Michael Adams featured almost the same opening as Radjabov-Harikrishna. However, Svidler chose a different line of play on the sixth move. The result of the opening was more or less the same as in the other game. Adams, like Harikrishna, had an isolated queen’s pawn and the overall pawn structure also had similarities. But Adams just had a bad day at the office, last evening. A couple of inaccuracies on his part gave Svidler the advantage and the seven-time Russian champion made no mistake converting it into a full point.
After his loss to Eljanov in the previous round, Ian Nepomniachtchi was looking for revenge. In his Round 4 game against Hou Yifan, he avoided a mainline Berlin with 4.d3, a popular anti-dote against the opening. In a few moves, he made his intentions clear: he was in for a fight. Before he could even castle his king into safety, the Russian grandmaster flung his king-rook pawn down the board in order to strip naked his opponent’s kind of its pawn cover. It seemed, the game would feature opposite side castles, but Nepomniachtchi surprised everyone (probably even his opponent) by castling kingside. Desperate to save her king from the forthcoming onslaught, Yifan marched her king to the other side of the board. It seemed that the women’s world No 1 had succeeded, Nepomniachtchi opened up a new front to attack on the queenside. When Yifan tried keeping the queenside closed, he blasted open the centre, and was able to win an exchange. Over the next few moves, the Russian was able to get his opponent’s pieces in a bind, depriving the Chinese grandmaster of any kind of activity. Down on material and with her pieces tied down, Yifan decided to call it quits on move 49.
Grandmaster Salem Saleh had his wild mode on in his game against Richard Rapport. Before this round, Rapport and Saleh were sharing the bottom-most position on the leaderboard. The two played a variation of the Sicilian which resembled a Sveshnikov. Rapport offered a pawn early in the middle game with the hope of getting an attack on the queenside. Saleh declined this offer and went for some exchanges in the centre. At the end of this sequence, the Emirati grandmaster emerged with two extra knights. Rapport tried to seek compensation in Saleh’s exposed king, but Saleh simply returned one of his extra knights to ensure his king’s safety. Rapport’s attack soon fizzled down and he decided to throw in the towel on move 40.
All of the other games were drawn. On the second board, Levon Aronian drew Alexander Grischuk in an anti-Marshall which the Armenian essayed. Riazantsev caught Ernesto Inarkiev in a sharp variation of the Nimzo-Indian, which was apparently home prepared. Blitzing one move after another, Riazantsev had a big time advantage over his opponent. But Inarkiev defended stubbornly and was able to cling on to a draw. Full results of Round 4 can be found below.
After four rounds, Radjabov is still leading the tournament with 3.0/4. The six man tie for the second place saw a new addition to it after this round as Peter Svidler won his game. Harikrishna, Eljanov, Mamedyarov, Aronian, Grischuk and Svidler now share the second spot with 2.5/4. For the third place is another six player tie between Giri, Nepomniachtchi, Adams, Li Chao, Gelfand and Jakovenko all of whom have scored 2.0/4. Inarkiev, Riazantsev and Saleh share the fourth place with a score of 1.5/4, Hou Yifan with a score of 1.0/4 is in the fifth place.
After his third loss in a row, Richard Rapport is at 0.5/4.
Aditya Pai is an Editor at ChessBase India
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Updated Date: Jul 10, 2017 22:44:18 IST