Baku GP 2014 – Round 4

You never know what to think when Grischuk says things like that. Unless you know the guy personally, which I don’t. “A friend” recommended the line to him, the forgotten 8 Be3 against Nakamura’s Mar del Plata. That “friend” also recommended the “killer-novelty” 15 Rc1, but 3 moves later Grischuk spent almost one hour (!) on one move, realising he was not where he wanted to be. Great players are great because even when they abhor their positions, they still continue to find the best moves under the circumstances and fight until the end. This game is a good example.

Dominguez lost with white a Sveshnikov Sicilian to Grischuk at the recently finished European Club Cup, a game where black improved on an earlier Dominguez game. So Gelfand also went for a Sveshnikov Sicilian today against the Cuban, instead of the Najdorf, which is the Cuban’s main weapon against 1 e4. There you have practical chess psychology in action. Dominguez was of course prepared and deviated from the Grischuk game on move 14, but Gelfand was even better prepared! White seemed to be surprised by black’s 17…Bb7 since he spent 46 minutes on his next move. In fact they were following a correspondence game until move 26.

26 g3, draw, correspondence game. 26 R5d3, Dominguez-Gelfand

Black’s pressure provoked some inaccuracies by white, but Gelfand couldn’t find a way to increase it and held a perpetual. There was a way, a quiet move, 30…Kg7 – not what you usually look for when trying to cash in.

Kasimdzhanov successfully implemented the principle of the worst piece in the opening of his game against Svidler, an Exchange Spanish.

8 Nb1!

His comments that he wasn’t expecting the Spanish from Svidler sound ridiculous, but may in fact be true – very often you have a hunch what your opponent will play, and today his hunch was whispering “a Sicilian”. However, sometimes this hunch can be wrong. But in spite of this he was a clear pawn up by move 20. The critical position in the endgame was on move 38.

White must try to break through with g5

He went 38 h5 instead and black drew. Quite a typical endgame in fact, I remember some classical games like Tal-Vasiukov, 1964, Korchnoi-Diez del Corral, 1979 and Fischer-Forintos, 1967, where white successfully exploted the extra pawn in similar positions.

Tomashevsky and Karjakin drew rather uneventfully. I’d be curious to know what Tomashevsky’s ambitions are in these tournaments as he’s playing solid chess, but that won’t get him anywhere.

Andreikin got a Maroczy Bind against Radjabov’s KID with the extra move h3, which is usually avoided in the normal Bind as it weakens the black squares. The quick 15 c5 eliminated the importance of the black squares and white kept the pressure. But the advantage was not very big and extremely precise play was required to increase it, something Andreikin didn’t produce; hence a draw.

Caruana beat Mamedyarov after the latter went back to the style that made him popular back in the day. Today he learned that he cannot do the same anymore, sacrificing pieces left and right, at least not against the best calculators in the world. A rather weak game by the Azeri, burdened by the extra pressure of playing at home turf.

Tomorrow’s is a free day and the tournament is led by the oldest and the youngest player, Gelfand and Caruana. I wonder whether by the next free day we’ll have the same situation. I’d bet not.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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