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Decisive results in the majority; Grand Chess Tour Romania 2022 – R4 recap

Day 4 of the Superbet Chess Classic Romania was projected to be another eventful day and it did not fail to disappoint. With three decisive games, and quickly approaching the halfway point of the tournament we can only expect to see more thrilling games in future rounds. After an exciting game to take down one of his co-leaders, Grandmaster Wesley So has taken the sole lead with 3 points out of 4, distancing himself by half a point from his competitors sharing 2nd place. 

Replay the games from Round 4:

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov – Bogdan-Daniel Deac 1/2-1/2 
Alireza Firouzja – Richard Rapport 1/2-1/2
Leinier Dominguez Perez – Levon Aronian 0-1 
Wesley So – Ian Nepomniachtchi 1-0 
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Fabiano Caruana 1-0

Read more: Deac surprises Rapport – R3 recap / Nepo defeats Firouzja – R2 recap / Wesley So in the early lead

Results of Round 4

Standings after Round 4

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov – Bogdan-Daniel Deac

The game between GM’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Bogdan-Daniel Deac was the first game of the round to finish. The players went for the Vienna Variation of QGD (Queen’s Gambit Declined), which is known to be a solid choice and has proven trustworthy at the highest level. Deac employed the variation with confidence and soon the players entered into theory known from correspondence chess. As per his post-game interview,  Mamedyarov mentioned that he forgot his preparation around move 17, but continued an attacking plan on the king side as the position required. It is hard to pinpoint where Mamedyarov went astray, but it never seemed that White had anything tangible, at least not according to the engines. Nevertheless, playing for a draw with accurate play toward the end while having White pieces might be somewhat disappointing for Mamedyarov. With this draw, Deac extends his great performance for another round. The local Romania hero, Bogdan-Daniel Deac is now tied for second with GMs Aronian and MVL. Replay the game here

Ana-Maria Popescu (formerly known as Ana-Maria Brânză ), Romanian Olympic Fencing Champion, making the first symbolic move in the game between GM’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Bogdan-Daniel Deac in Round 4 | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Fabiano Caruana

The game between GM’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana was off to an exciting start, with the two players blitzing through their moves in a  trendy variation of the Open Spanish. It seemed that MVL was the one to be unprepared and may not have made the best choices in the middle game. Particularly the move 18.Ng3 seemed to give Black a good position, which might be the explanation behind Caruana’s unexpected and unnecessary sacrifice on move 20…Rxf3? , where he was left down a piece with unfounded compensation. Instead 20..b4 was pretty strong. After Caruana’s mistake, MVL stayed composed and accurately converted his extra piece to win the game and ultimately moved up in the standings to a tie for second place. Replay the game here

 GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana – looking serious before their Round 4 | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Wesley So – Ian Nepomniachtchi

The game between the tournament co-leaders followed a typical trend of top-players’ games these days.  In a forced line of the Open Catalan the players lashed out the first twenty some moves of theory after which an opposite-color endgame with an extra pawn for White ensued. Thanks to the queens being kept on the board, it was White that had practical chances. GM Wesley So pursued those chances with patience and although GM Ian Nepomniachtchi defended valiantly until move 56, where two consecutive blunders cost him a second pawn and the game. With this win, GM Wesley So takes the sole lead in the event. Replay the game here

GM Wesley So – in action – during his Round 4 game  | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams

Leinier Dominguez – Levon Aronian

The game between GM’s Leinier Dominguez and Levon Aronian was another rousing game of the day. After a balanced position in the Italian, Dominguez seemed to have squandered much of his time around move 20 and soon found himself in severe time pressure. Although his position was fine, it was not easy to make active enough moves under his time pressure. He slipped into a losing position, but made a brilliant comeback after surviving the time control finding a way to gain some compensation for his lost pawn.  However, the blunder on move 44 left him no opportunity to hold the game. Although Dominguez never ceased to find good moves up to the final seconds on his clock, playing in time trouble certainly had a role in his demise of this game. Aronian went on to win this game with his flawless technique. Replay the game here

The final moment and deep respect shown on the faces of both Grandmasters Leinier Dominguez  and Levon Aronian in Round 4 | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Alireza Firouzja – Richard Rapport

The players repeated a line of the Four Knights Sicillian, which they had played against each other twice in 2021. This time GM Firouzja chose the mainline 6.Nxc6, after which the players followed one of the well-known theoretical paths. GM Rapport, who is an expert in this line, seemed in complete control throughout the game. He dodged all of White’s pragmatic problems tactfully and the game ended in peaceful draw after the time control. Replay the game here

  GMs Alireza Firouzja against Richard Rapport  | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

The commentary team, Woman Grandmaster Anastasia Karlovich and Grandmaster Cristian Chirila together with the legendary 13th World Champion Garry Kasparov during his last day in Bucharest  | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes; Interview with Garry Kasparov: “Chess is back to where it belongs” (VIDEO)

Round 5, May 9, 14:00 CEST – LIVE games:

Fabiano Caruana – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Ian Nepomniachtchi – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Levon Aronian – Wesley So
Richard Rapport – Leinier Dominguez Perez
Bogdan-Daniel Deac – Alireza Firouzja

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