Round 4: Caruana joins Gelfand on top
In the only decisive game of the 4th round of FIDE Grand Prix in Baku, Italian star Fabiano Caruana defeated the local hero Shakhriyar Mamedyarov to catch the former world championship challenger Boris Gelfand on the shared first place.
The remaining five games were drawn. Gelfand and Caruana are on the top of the crosstable with 3 points each. Full standings here.
Caruana - Mamedyarov 1-0
The game started as a relatively quiet Slav Defence, but Mamedyarov didn't wait long to disturb the balance with the enterprising 8...g5.
GM Avrukh dubbed the move as "inferior" in his repertoire book, and it appears rightly so.
Black still had an option to stay solid and try to improve the pieces, but instead he started a premature attack with 14...g4. A cute maneuver Nc3-e2-f4 by white underlined the poor placement of the black pieces.
Mamedyarov went all in with an exchange sacrifice that gave him only temporary counterplay, but this was easily refuted by Caruana who sealed the victory on move 34.
Grischuk - Nakamura 1/2-1/2
Alexander Grischuk answered the King's Indian defence with Gligoric variation 8.Be3 and proceeded with the move "recommended by his friend" - 15.Rc1.
He was unhappy with the outcome of the opening as he ended in terribly passive position with the bishop locked away on h2.
Nakamura tried to increase the pressure but was unable to find anything concrete. Grischuk held the fort and finally achieved a draw after the time control.
Dominguez - Gelfand 1/2-1/2
Gelfand employed the trusted Sveshnikov Sicilian defence, which served him well in the World Championship against Anand in 2012.
Dominguez responded with a rare line that includes long castle - an unusual image in this opening.
Black didn't have any problems whatsoever and was able to push the thematic d5-break. His pieces sprang to activity and he quickly generated pressure against the white king.
Dominguez had to allow perpetual check before his position deteriorated further.
Tomashevsky - Karjakin 1/2-1/2
The two Russian players explored the topical Closed Catalan system where white quickly advances with the a-pawn.
Tomashevsky however spent a lot of time in the opening trying to remember the exact lines, and when the opportunity presented itself he missed the better continuation 21.Bd6.
After the game move 21.Rxa7 there were massive exchanges before the draw was signed on move 31.
Andreikin - Radjabov 1/2-1/2
The game started as King's Indian defence, then Radjabov offered transposition to Benoni, and the pawn structure finally reached the shape of the Accelerated Dragon.
By being allowed to push c4-c5 and open up the central files white achieved a small advantage.
White charged with his e-pawn to weaken the opponent's king shield, but Radjabov defended accurately and was able to trade off most of the pieces.
Andreikin probed the black's setup from all sides but just couldn't break through. After the time control white offered queens' exchange and a draw.
Kasimdzhanov - Svidler 1/2-1/2
The Uzbek Grandmaster revived the Ruy Lopez Exchange variation in the latest attempt to achieve an advantage with 1.e4.
The knight 4-step dance and the open a-file, combined with the central break, bore some fruit to white. Kasimdzhanov won a pawn and strongly pressed on the back rank.
In his turn, Svidler found a nice maneuver to shake off the white rook and slowly improve the pieces. White's advantage started decreasing as black gained counterplay.
With no winning plan in sight, white conceded a draw with moves repetition.