2016

London Chess Classic – Round 4

Just like in round 3 of London Chess Classic, Hikaru Nakamura was the only player to deliver a decisive result. After playing a novelty in the opening, Nakamura went on to win a very topsy turvy game. He has now recovered from his tough round 1 loss to Wesley So and still maintains chances to surpass his fellow American to win the tournament and the tour.

The only other dramatic game of the round was between the tournament leader, Wesley So, and Anish Giri. So had the advantage throughout the game but felt as though it was not enough to win the game. He praised his opponent’s defensive skills. The rest of the games were uneventful draws.

Caruana, Fabiano vs Aronian, Levon ½

Early on, we saw a new position appear on the board as Caruana tried to save time by maneuvering his knight to the kingside before castling. Even so, Black had no problems equalizing the position. There was only one moment in the game that could have made the position double-edged, but the U.S. Champion chose the simpler path, as he felt the he would be risking too much by entering the complications. The game ended in a quiet draw with a perpetual in 31 moves.

Anand, Viswanathan vs Adams, Michael ½

In a quiet Italian position, Black made the dubious decision of giving up a central pawn. White always had the advantage, but at the critical moment, Anand didn’t play down a forcing line; he missed a quiet move at the end of the line which would have given the advantage. Instead, he opted out for less incisive continuation in which Adams kept finding compensation. The game ended in a draw when the Englishman found a very cute tactic, winning back the pawn and simplifying the position into a drawn endgame.

Giri, Anish vs So, Wesley ½

Giri chose the quiet London system, perhaps looking for a long battle. So seemed to be well prepared and found himself in a good position, after making unorthodox moves that broke the opening principles and by receiving a little help from his opponent, who played a tad carelessly. Instead of entering a more complex but better middlegame, the American chose to play a slightly better endgame. His advantage grew as the game progressed, but he didn’t feel that he had missed any wins and gave all the credit to his opponent for putting up a great defense. This time, Giri found himself on the defending side of the pawn down rook endgame, but had no trouble sealing the deal.

Topalov, Veselin vs Nakamura, Hikaru 0-1

This was the most thrilling game of the round. Nakamura surprised his opponent in the opening with the Caro-Kann, an opening he uses rarely, and then unleashed a novelty on move 9. The strategy seemed to have paid off, as just like in game 3, Nakamura once again found himself with an extra queen for a rook and a minor piece. However, with both sides making countless mistakes, the result of the game was never obvious. Unfortunately, Topalov is still struggling to find his form in the tournament and made the final mistake of the game, giving up any hope of survival. The queen proved to be too powerful in the open position, helping the 4-time U.S. Champion deliver the winning blow.

Kramnik, Vladimir vs Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime ½

Once again, the Frenchman was out-prepared in the opening. Kramnik found a tactical line to win a pawn but there was never anything concrete to increase his advantage. Vachier-Lagrave won the pawn back several moves later and found himself in a knight against bishop endgame. Typically, bishops are stronger than knights but because of not enough pawns on the board, Kramnik’s efforts were not fruitful.

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