Four rounds have passed at the Red October building in Moscow. Hikaru Nakamura is the first sole leader of the event. He got his third straight victory today over Fabiano Caruana to consolidate his position at the top of the standings. The rest of the games in the fourth round finished in draws. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Boris Gelfand share second place half a point behind the American. The Russian representatives are not having a very good run at this event.
The only decisive game of the round saw Nakamura use the black pieces to put down Fabiano Caruana in 39 moves. Precisely these two young players have been showing steady progress in the last couple of years. The Italian is now fourth on the live ratings list, while Nakamura is right behind him on the fifth spot. Coincidentally, both of them played in the last two legs of the Grand Prix, drawing in both occasions.
The game was a Najdorf where white’s play did not give him any advantage out of the opening. In a dynamically balanced position, Caruana started to look for some edge on the kingside, however, his knight remained out of play on a5. Nakamura concentrated his forces on the side that had more action going and ended up creating enough mating threats with his heavy pieces to push the Italian towards resignation.
Both players have been showing great fighting spirit; both had four decisive results until now. Let us not forget that Caruana defeated favorite Magnus Carlsen in the third round.
Another interesting Sicilian was seen in the game that faced veterans Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand. The players must have taken a lot of time reviewing their preparation for their World Championship match, and the Israeli proved yet again that he had a very reliable repertoire to neutralize his rival with black.
A very positional struggle took place over the board. Gelfand was not afraid to put his light squared bishop on the not-very-attractive e8 square in order to equalize the position. The world champion tried to create some pressure in a very slightly superior rook endgame, but soon enough it was clear that there were not enough resources to create something threatening. The players signed the peace treaty right after passing the time control.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov showed very deep preparation with black in his game against Sergey Karjakin. He used the rarely seen Pirc Defense and sacrificed two pawns for activity. At some point, it seemed like the young Russian was going to get enough chances to look for a win in a rook endgame with a far away passed pawn, but the Azerbaijani defended stubbornly and got his half point on move 42.
Russians Alexander Morozevich and Vladimir Kramnik played very creatively in a Berlin Defense. The ex-world champion got an inferior position but managed to get enough counterplay to save the draw. Dmitry Andreikin and Magnus Carlsen also split the point after closing the position completely in 34 moves.
The leader Nakamura will play with white against Andreikin tomorrow, while the very expected duel between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand takes place in the next board.
Photos by Eteri Kublashvili
Standings after 4 rounds: