Giri and Praggnanandhaa beat Carlsen and Liren in Round 4 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023
Round 4 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023 ended with Anish Giri and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu winning No.1 and No.2 in the World – Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren – respectively, while 18-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov achieved his second win in the tournament against Parham Maghsoodloo to join Giri in the lead with a 3/4 score.
Definitely the game of the day was Giri-Carlsen. Magnus initiated the Queen’s Indian with 4.Ba6, and Anish thought that “Magnus was bluffing there” and expected 5. Qa4 because it’s a very drawish line and something he would normally do but White decided otherwise and played 5. Qc2, one of the most dangerous lines for Black. Until move 21 the players were in theory, even though Magnus’ choices were questionable, with 21. Nc2 being a novelty. After a brilliant piece coordination by Anish and the 23...Rxd7? mistake by Magnus, the Dutch GM managed to deactivate Magnus’ pieces and create pins in the center of the board.
“It was clearly going to happen sooner or later because I’m playing very badly against him lately and every time he ups the level of risk and it was clear to me that I kept losing to him but there might be light at the end of the tunnel because he is back to taking enormous risks against me just like back when I was a little baby boy and today I managed to play a good game!” Anish explained after the game that put him back in the World’s top 5 in live rating.
“I was thinking that the odds of me messing that up were higher than usual; I thought it was possible but I couldn’t see how, so I felt kind of relieved [to win]! I didn’t feel the usual Magnus effect because I felt like he was missing stuff and he was making moves that I thought were weaker than the moves I expected and that gave me confidence.” Anish said at his post-game interview.
Before this win, Giri’s most recent classical victory against Carlsen was on the same day, 12 years ago at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2011, with Giri being only 16. “It’s a historic moment! I have beaten him once but everyone knows it was a bit lame; he blundered something and I was so small, a different person back then.”
The next exciting win was Praggnanandhaa’s over World No.2 Ding Liren with the Black pieces! It was once more the last game to finish, with exactly this persistence getting him a point against the 2811 Liren. The Chinese GM initiated the Italian game with the players trading pieces to reach an equal double rook and double knight ending. Pragg won a pawn after a good call to break the center and activate his pieces to grind Liren down for 74 whole moves and finally win the game. With this win Pragg is half a point behind the leaders, sharing 3rd place with Caruana.
“We both made some mistakes during the second time control, we were both down to seconds, and I don’t think my technique was good but ok, it’s not easy to find the right moves in this endgame, because there are so many options and it’s not easy to calculate everything!” Pragg said at his post-game interview.
The last decisive game of the day was Abdusattorov-Maghsoodloo. The Uzbek GM spiced up the Ruy Lopez with some new ideas and put pressure on Maghsoodloo’s king. The Iranian GM built a solid defence but made a bad call not to exchange queens to find his king trapped in the center of a complicated queen and rook endgame. White gained two pawns to ensure that any piece exchange will lead to a win, and in an already losing position Maghsoodloo blundered a mate in one.
The 18-year-old GM won his second game in the tournament and after four rounds he is undefeated with 3 points, co-leading with Anish Giri. Round 5 will find him facing Magnus Carlsen.
Elsewhere, the American matchup, Aronian against So, ended in an uneventful draw. Aronian equalized easily in the opening, and the players agreed to a draw on move 46 in an opposite-color bishop ending.
Caruana on the other hand played aggressively from the opening against Rapport, advancing his kingside pawns, g5, and h5. Even though the game was equal, Rapport played inaccurately in the ending for Caruana to gain a significant advantage but the players agreed to a draw after 36 moves. “We reached an equal endgame, and he offered a draw around move 19 [...] and I was ready to accept the draw because it was completely equal [...] But I realized it wasn’t exactly in the rules that you can draw before move 30. So we asked the arbiter, and the arbiter said we should play a few more moves. But then with every move that he played, he started to get worse and worse. Until soon, his position was extremely dangerous.” Fabiano explained at his post-game interview.
Keymer against Erigaisi was a solid and strategic game. After 45 moves the players have reached an equal endgame and agreed to a draw.
Jorden van Foreest and Gukesh played a – what it seemed – complicated Sicilian with Jorden castling long and Gukesh promoting his kingside pawns with the king in the center. After Gukesh castled by hand to the queenside and exchanged rooks in the center, the players ended in equal queen and minor piece ending to agree to a draw.
Round 5 of the Tata Steel Masters 2023 will be played on Thursday 19/01 in the Ajax Stadium and as Anish Giri mentioned: “Even though it will take the players out of their routine, it’s the same for everybody and it’s great publicity for the sport”.