Ganguly's Catalan masterclass, Nihal's robust endgame play
Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Nihal Sarin, the two Indian Challengers at the ongoing Tata Steel Chess 2020 in Wijk Aan Zee, both registered impressive victories with black pieces yesterday. While the former showed his deep knowledge of opening and calculation prowess to beat Dinara Saduakassova, the latter edged out Max Warmerdam in a rook ending. Thus, after four rounds, Ganguly has emerged as the sole leader with 3.0/4 points and Nihal has climbed up to the joint second place on the leaderboard. In the Masters event Alireza Firouzja suffered his first loss in the hands of Wesley So, and Magnus Carlsen drew Jorden Van Foreest to surpass Sergei Tiviakov's record streak of 110 classical games.
Surya Shekhar Ganguly has taken sole lead after beating Dinara Saduakassova in the fourth round of the ongoing Tata Steel Challengers yesterday. Nihal Sarin too defeated the Dutchman Max Warmerdam and registered his first victory of the tournament to climb up the leaderboard. Thus, with a score of 3.0/4 points, Surya has pulled ahead of the rest of the field by half a point; while Nihal is on 2.5/4 along with Rauf Mamedov, Pavel Eljanov, David Anton Guijarro, and Erwin L'Ami.
One of Surya's greatest forte is his ability to outcalculate his opponents in very complex positions. Yesterday once again it was his superior calculative prowess and as well as his deep opening preparation that helped him get the better of his Kazakhstani opponent. Although Dinara had the white pieces and found a comfortable position out of an Open Catalan but was soon driven into tricky waters.
Dinara Saduakassova - Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Round 4
In the above position Black could have just played it "safe" by castling kingside but then White can simply go Bb2 and in the long run exploit the a1-h8 diagonal. Surya therefore came up with the ambitious move 13...h5 instead, preparing to generate counterplay and possibly put his bishop pair to better use. However, this also meant risking the safety of the black king on e8.
The idea is obviously to blast open the h-file. Note that Nxg5 doesn't work here because Black has Qxg5 hxg5 Rh2+, also something like hxg5 Qd7 Nh4 Bd5+ is very pleasant for Black. The most testing move here would have been 19. Rd1! (see annotations) but Dinara missed this and erroneously went 19.e3-e4.
Of course, the blow was 20...Rxh4! and after 21.gxh4 Qxh4 22.Rh1 in came 22...Nh2! - another brilliancy, in fact the only move to finish White off!
Finally, 23.Be3 Qh3+ 24.Kg1 Bxc4 25.Rxh2 Qxe3+ 26.Kh1 Bd3 were the last moves that came before resignation. The full game with detailed annotation is presented below:
Nihal Sarin, the other Indian in the Challengers group, also clinched a nice victory against the Dutch chess player Max Warmerdam. The 15-year-old, who adopted the Caro-Kann with black pieces, said after the game that he got caught in the opening a bit but successfully managed to create chances afterwards.
Max conceded some weaknesses in terms of his pawn structure which later, when the position simplified into a rook ending, proved hard to defend. Nihal showed good technique and managed to force a clean victory in just 38 moves.
Speaking of the Masters now, Alireza Firouzja's run was halted yesterday by Wesley So, who has now wrested the sole lead from the 16-year-old with 3.0/4 points. The other decisive result of the day came from Vladislav Artemiev versus Vladislav Kovalev where the former registered a fine victory and bounced back from his last round's defeat.
Wesley So - Alireza Firouzja, Round 4
Alireza chose the Queen's Gambit Accepted as his opening with Black and found himself in an unpleasant minor pieces ending where Wesley enjoyed the bishop pair. The position above is perhaps objectively only slightly better for White but in practical terms not at all easy for Black to defend. A move like 30...Bf6 or 30...f6 could have been played here but Alireza erred with 30...e4
Vladislav Artemiev - Vladislav Kovalev, Round 4
Round 5 pairings - Masters
Carlsen, Magnus - Dubov, Daniil
Caruana, Fabiano - Van Foreest, Jorden
Anand, Viswanathan - Xiong, Jeffery
Vitiugov, Nikita - Yu, Yangyi
Firouzja, Alireza - Giri, Anish
Kovalev, Vladislav - So, Wesley
Duda, Jan-Krzysztof - Artemiev, Vladislav
Round 5 pairings - Challengers
Smeets, Jan - Mamedov, Rauf
Ganguly, Surya Shekhar - Anton Guijarro, David
L'Ami, Erwin - Saduakassova, Dinara
Keymer, Vincent - Abdusattorov, Nodirbek
Nihal Sarin - Van Foreest, Lucas
Grandelius, Nils - Warmerdam, Max
Eljanov, Pavel - Smirnov, Anton