Shenzhen Masters 2017
The double-round robin in China is a rare event where the ratings do not show favourites and outsiders. The highest rated Giri with 2769 and the lowest rated Svidler with 2741 can easily both win the tournament and that applies for all the other players in between.
It has been a slow affair in the first 4 rounds with only 3 decisive games, but surprisingly enough, 2 of these 3 games were won by black.
Another common feature of 2 out of the 3 decisive games was the demonstration of superiority of the bishop pair in the endgame. Both games were played in Round 3.
The other game was somewhat of a revelation to me – I always thought that the knights were better than bishops when the pawns were only on one wing.
Black’s major problem here was the absence of good squares for one knight – the other knight was OK on f6. Add to that the activity of the white rook and the potential weakness on f7 and it becomes understandable why Black suffered. Quite an instructive endgame!
After 4 rounds it is Giri and Ding Liren in the lead with 2.5/4, only 1 point ahead of tail-enders Svidler and Adams on 1.5. I expect a close tournament with a lot of draws until the end, but with games like the above ones I wouldn’t mind!