Reykjavik Open 2018: Nihal Sarin shocks Ahmed Adly, R Praggnanandhaa suffers bitter defeat in Round 4
A huge upset was seen on board five where Nihal Sarin defeated Egyptian Grand Master Ahmed Adly from the white side of the Queen's Gambit Declined.
At the conclusion of the fourth round of the Reykjavik Open 2018, the tournament finally saw its first sole leader. Going into Round 4, three players – Vaibhav Suri, Mustafa Yilmaz and Elshan Moradiabadi – were leading the tournament. In Round 4, Moradiabadi drew against Richard Rapport on board two while Yilmaz defeated Suri on the top board to take the sole lead.
Yilmaz, who had the black pieces, went for the Najdorf variation of the Sicilian and was able to equalise comfortably out of the opening. Suri tried to keep some initiative by a pawn expansion on the queenside. However, he soon faltered and lost a pawn. In the next few moves, Suri lost more material and tried resorting to tactical complications to save the game. But Yilmaz had an overwhelming position by this point and it was hard to believe Suri might really be able to turn the tables. On his 39th move, Suri blundered and lost a knight which led to immediate resignation.
While the top board game gave the tournament a sole leader, the bout on board three grabbed all eyeballs. Here, the second seed of the tournament, Grand Master Pavel Eljanov was pitted against veteran Icelandic Grand Master Johann Hjartarson. Hjartarson was rated 200 points below Eljanov but had dominated his opponent from the black side of the King's Indian Defence after Eljanov had fallen into his opening move. In the final position, Hjartarson was two pawns ahead and was about to win another exchange. Eljanov resigned after black's 36th move.
Another huge upset was seen on board five where 13-year-old Nihal Sarin defeated Egyptian Grand Master Ahmed Adly from the white side of the Queen's Gambit Declined. The Indian prodigy has been in his element throughout the event and Round 4 was no exception. Nihal was able get the initiative right out of the opening. In the position, the pawn structure looked almost symmetrical and the material count was also equal but Nihal's superior piece activity soon netted him a pawn. Reaching the first time control, the players had entered an endgame where both sides had a knight and a rook. The difference was in the pawn count: Nihal had four against Adly's three. But since all pawns were on the same side of the board, finding a path to victory was not an easy task.
In the next few moves, Nihal managed to swap rooks. On his 52nd turn, Adly erred again and allowed his opponent to win another pawn. After this, it was merely a technical task for Nihal to finish off, which he did successfully.
But while Nihal won in style, his peer, R Praggnanandhaa suffered a bitter defeat. With the black pieces, Praggnanandhaa essayed the Open Catalan against American Grand Master Alexander Lendermann. Praggnanandhaa was able to equalise out of the opening fairly easily and had even maintained this equilibrium well into the endgame. But on his 50th move, he slipped and allowed his opponent a strong initiative and eventually lost a pawn. Praggnanandhaa fought valiantly in order to hold on to a draw after this but the position was a difficult one to defend. On his 75th turn, he erred again and lost another pawn. With two extra pawns, it didn't take much of an effort for Lendermann to finish off the game. By the 89th move, Praggnanandhaa's king was trapped in a corner while white's pawns advanced freely towards the queening squares. He decided to throw in the towel at this point.
B Adhiban, on the other hand, scored his second win of the tournament in Round 4, after two draws in his first three rounds. Playing against Norwegian FIDE Master Eiving Olav Risting, Adhiban did not have much difficulty bringing home the full point. Play began with a Queen's Gambit Declined. With the black pieces, Risting blundered on his 19th turn and allowed his opponent implement a deadly tactic that lost him a pawn and the exchange. The game didn't last long after this. Risting resigned on move 27.
After four rounds, Turkish Grand Master Yilmaz is the only player to have maintained a perfect score of 4.0/4. He is half-a-point ahead of his nearest rival. There is a seven-way tie for the second spot wherein all players are tied at 3.5/9. International Master Nihal Sarin is the only Indian in this tie. However, Adhiban, Suri and FIDE Master Fenil Shah are not too far behind. They, along with 23 other players are tied for the third place with a score of 3.0/4. Friday is a rest day in the tournament. Play will resume on 10 March at 1pm local time (6.30pm IST).
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