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Geneva Grand Prix Round 4: Hari maintains his second spot; holds Radjabov to a draw

by Aditya Pai - 10 July 2017

Going into round four of the Geneva Grand Prix, Harikrishna was paired against Teimur Radjabov. Had he won, he would have taken over the lead from the Azeri and become the sole leader. But instead of going crazy, he took the safer route and took a quick draw after just 20 moves. Harikrishna is now on joint second position. Report on the fourth round of the Geneva Grand Prix 2017.

The fourth round of the Geneva Chess Grand Prix pitted the Indian number two Pentala Harikrishna against yet another Azerbaijani Grandmaster. This time it was Teimur Radjabov. Radjabov is currently leading the tournament and this matchup presented the Indian ace an opportunity to snatch tournament lead from the Azeri Grandmaster who was half a point ahead of the Indian. Playing from the black side of the board, the task was indeed a difficult one.

Players getting ready for round 4

Radjabov was happy with a quick draw after three long games in the previous rounds
Hari essayed the classical variation of the Queen’s Gambit declined and had an isolated queen’s pawn out of the opening. Although this did give Radjabov a slight edge, Hari’s position was way too solid to break into. Radjabov briefly tried to build up a blockade on Hari’s only weakness in the position – the isolated queen’s pawn – but pieces were being traded pretty fast. Eventually, the Indian was also able to exchange the blockading knight for his own knight and the pawn structure became almost symmetrical. Both pairs of rooks got traded in the next few moves and the position was too dry for either side to push for anything. Shortly after the first hour of play, the players shook hands having played only 20 moves.
[Event "FIDE Geneva Grand Prix 2017"]
[Site "Geneva"]
[Date "2017.07.09"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Radjabov, Teimour"]
[Black "Harikrishna, Pentala"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D37"]
[WhiteElo "2724"]
[BlackElo "2737"]
[Annotator "Tanmay Srinath"]
[PlyCount "42"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]

{The 4th Round Game between Harikrishna and tournament leader Radjabov was a
very short one. My guess is both players didn't really want to have a blood
bath today} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 {Among top level players, the QGD is
seen as the most solid way to fight 1.d4. The move order Radjabov played in
the game prevents Black from playing the Nimzo, and invites him to try the
Bogo or the Queen's Indian.} 4. Nc3 Be7 {Hari goes for the most principled
option.} ({We have seen a few games now with} 4... Nbd7 {with its most notable
practisioner being our very own Tiger of Madras. This is an interesting line
in itself, its main idea is to take on c4 and try to maintain the pawn. After}
5. Bf4 dxc4 6. e3 b5 7. Nxb5 Bb4+ 8. Nc3 Nd5 9. a3 Nxc3 10. Qd2 {Anand had
unleased the stunning} Bxa3 $1 {and the game later ended in a draw}) 5. Bf4 {
This variation is seen as white's best way to try for an advantage against the
QGD, the other being the Catalan.} ({The exchange variation with} 5. cxd5 exd5
6. Bg5 {is not so good with the night on f3, as black faces lesser problems
than in the Botvinnik setup with f3, Nge2, Bd3 etc.}) 5... O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. a3
{Radjabov goes in for a plan that has seen notable followers at the top level,
recently his Azeri team mate Shak. But generally in these setups, allowing
Black to break with c5 might not be such a good idea.} ({Perhaps the most
testing move here is} 7. c5 {Planning a queenside assault. The famous 3rd Game
of the World Chess Championship continued} c6 8. Bd3 b6 9. b4 a5 10. a3 Ba6 11.
Bxa6 Rxa6 12. b5 cxb5 13. c6 Qc8 14. c7 b4 15. Nb5 $14 {and Anand equalised
the match on the 41st move. Later, Carlsen avoided this line entirely, and
started playing an early c5, thus negating Anand's preparation in the QGD.
This had a huge impact on the match.}) 7... c5 {My knowledge is that although
black doesn't equalise completely after this move, he does have fewer problems
to solve.} 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. dxc5 Nxc5 11. Be5 Bf6 12. Bxf6 Qxf6
13. Qd4 Qxd4 14. Nxd4 {Mass exchanges have occured, and the players reach an
endgame that is minisculely better for white. Hari holds this position without
a problem.} Bd7 15. f3 Rfc8 16. Kd2 Ne6 17. Bd3 Nxd4 18. exd4 Kf8 19. Rhe1 h6
20. Rac1 Rxc1 21. Rxc1 Rc8 {and the players shook hands. A very good game by
Hari, who managed to equalise comfortably and draw against the tournament
leader Radjabov without a problem. As for the Azeri, I am slightly
disappointed he didn't play the most critical lines today, and didn't have a
will to fight.} 1/2-1/2
Svidler felt his game should not have become as complicated as it became towards the end
The game between Peter Svidler and Michael Adams featured almost the same opening as Radjabov-Harikrishna. However, Svidler chose a different line of play on the sixth move. The result of the opening was more or less the same as in the other game. Mickey Adams, like Harikrishna, had an isolated queen’s pawn and the overall pawn structure also had similarities. But Adams just had a bad day at the office, last evening. A couple of inaccuracies on his part gave Svidler the advantage. The seven-time Russian champion complicated the situation for himself a bit but succeeded in winning the game in the end.
Nepo admitted after the game that his 13. h5 was a bluff!
After his loss against Eljanov in the previous round, Ian Nepomniachtchi was looking for revenge. In his round-4 game against Hou Yifan, he avoided a mainline Berlin with 4. d3, a popular antidote against the opening.  In a few moves, he made his intentions clear: he was in for a fight. Before even castling his king into safety, the Russian Grandmaster flung his king-rook pawn down the board in order to strip naked his opponent’s kind of its pawn cover. It seemed the game would feature opposite side castles but Nepo surprised everyone (including his opponent, probably) by castling kingside. Desperate to save her king from the forthcoming onslaught, Yifan marched her king to the other side of the board. It seemed that the women’s world number 1 had succeeded, Nepo opened up a new front and attacked on the queenside. When Yifan tried keeping the queenside closed, he blasted open the centre and was able to win an exchange. Over the next few moves, the Russian was able to get is opponent’s pieces in a bind depriving the Chinese GM of any kind of activity. Down on material and with her pieces tied down, Yifan decided to call it quits on move 49.
Salem Saleh was delighted to have won his first game in the tournament
GM Salem Saleh had his wild mode on in his game against Richard Rapport. Before this round, Rapport and Saleh were sharing the bottom-most position on the leaderboard. The two played a variation of the Sicilian which resembled a Sveshnikov. Rapport offered a pawn early in the middle game with the hope of getting an attack on the queenside. Saleh declined this offer and went for some exchanges in the center. At the end of this sequence, the Emirati Grandmaster emerged with two extra knights. Rapport tried to seek compensation in Saleh’s exposed king but Saleh simply returned one of his extra knights to ensure his king’s safety. Rapport’s attack soon fizzled down and he decided to throw in the towel on move 40.
Grischuk thought his game against Aronian was a perfect game. The two signed peace after 30 moves
Giri drew his round 4 game against and was happy that it rained in Geneva since he wasn't comfortable with 30° C.
Grand Prix leader, Shakh Mamedyarov also drew his game against Pavel Eljanov
Apart from these, the all-Russian encounter between Alexander Riazantsev and Ernesto Inarkiev was also a draw. The former caught his countryman in a sharp variation of the Nimzo-Indian which was apparently home prepared. Blitzing one move after another, Riazantsev was able to amass a big time advantage over his opponent. But Inarkiev defended stubbornly and was able to cling on to a draw. Full pairings and results of round 4 can be found below.
Round 4 pairings with results
After four rounds, Teimur Radjabov is still leading the tournament with 3.0/4. The six-man tie for the second place saw a new addition to it after this round as Peter Svidler won his game. Harikrishna, Eljanov, Mamedyarov, Aronian, Grischuk and Svidler now share the second spot with 2.5/4. For the third place is another six-player tie between Giri, Nepomniachtchi, Adams, Li Chao, Gelfand and Jakovenko all of whom have scored 2.0/4. Inarkiev, Riazantsev and Saleh share the fourth place with a score of 1.5/4, Hou Yifan with a score of 1.0/4 is in the fifth place. After his third loss in a row, Richard Rapport is at 0.5/4.

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