Reaching the halfway mark at the 9th Hainan Danzhou Super Grandmaster Tournament India’s youngest 2700 rated player, GM Vidit Gujrathi fell back to the bottom of the leaderboad. Playing against the top seed of the tournament, GM Yu Yangyi, Vidit faltered in an equal-looking endgame and lost after the Chinese GM came up with some accurate moves.
Of the four games of the round, two were drawn while two finished decisively. Both the decisive games were won by the players with the white pieces. Another interesting similarity in both the decisive games was that it was the move b5 that led to the downfall of both black players.
The top seed of the tournament, Yu Yangyi, might not have gotten off to the best start imaginable but has slowly made it to the top of the leaderboard by the halfway stage. In round four, he scored his second straight win against Vidit Gujrathi to take sole second place.
Vidit had a decent position in the middle game that arose out of an Exchange Gruenfeld. Vidit even breezed through the middle game with ease but in the endgame, there came this point where he played the ominous b5.
Vidit was a pawn up at this point. And even though his far advanced passer on d2 is about to be hacked off, his position didn’t look that bad. The computer also didn’t think black had anything to fear in that position. But when Vidit played his pawn to b5, the computer changed its mind and began to give Yu Yangyi an edge. To the human eye, it still about looked equal; white had only one pawn island in comparison to black’s three but black’s outside passer should have provided enough counter play.
Vidit never got a chance to get his a pawn rolling, however. Queens were exchanged a few moves later and once the white king got active, he was unable to hold his scattered pawns.
In round three, we had seen Wei Yi go down surprisingly fast in an equal endgame against Yu Yangyi. This time something similar happened in the case of Jan Kryzsztof Duda in his game against Samuel Shankland. And yet again, it was that dreadful b5 move that began black’s downfall.
Shankland, who had lost to Vidit in the previous round, was clearly looking to remain solid in this game. In a Sicilian Scheveningen, he had chosen to go for a line full of exchanges. Before the 20th move all pieces but rooks were exchanged off. Both sides had six pawns apiece in the resulting double rook endgame and there was no reason to believe that this game would drift in any other direction than in that of a draw. But just then, Duda laid an egg. He played the move b5 on his 26th turn. This gave his opponent a strong passed pawn after some pawn trades and within the next eight moves, it was curtains.
Meanwhile, tournament leader, Bu Xiangzhi chose to test his young compatriot, GM Wei Yi, in a sharp line of the Ragozin variation of the Queen’s Gambit. On his 14th, Bu offered a full piece with 14.Nxe6.
If black had accepted the offered piece, white could have recaptured with the queen and harvested three black pawns while also keeping the initiative. Wei Yi, however, declined the sacrifice and took white’s c3 pawn instead. And as it happens with so many razor sharp opening lines, the game fizzled out into a draw by the 22nd move.
While Bu Xiangzhi and Wei Yi finished quickly with a quick tactical adventure, Le Quang Liem and Vladimir Fedoseev showed their love for a silent life. A placid position arose in their game out of a Scotch Opening which the players were happy to sign peace in after 36 moves of play.
After the dust of the battles of round four had settled, Bu Xiangzhi, the lowest seed in the tournament, had managed to keep his half point lead over the rest of the field. Yu Yangyi climbed up to the sole second spot after his win against Vidit. Shankland, Duda and Fedoseev share the third place with a score of 2/4 while Vidit along with Le Quang and Wei Yi remains at the bottom of the table with 1.5/4.
Tuesday will be a rest day in Danzhou. Play will resume on Wednesday, 1 August, 2018 at 2.30 PM local time (GMT+8).
Aditya Pai is an editor at ChessBase India
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Updated Date: Oct 08, 2018 17:01:10 IST