If Wei Yi wants to become World Champion he’s going to have to learn to defend passive positions. That was Magnus Carlsen’s message as he outplayed his 17-year-old rival in Round 4 of the Tata Steel Masters. Wesley So eased to victory against Loek van Wely, meaning the top two seeds are ominously poised on 3/4, though Pavel Eljanov squeezed out a win against Adhiban to retain the sole lead. Anish Giri has a familiar four draws in four after letting a gilt-edged opportunity slip against Dmitry Andreikin. All games were decisive in the Challengers, where Markus Ragger reigns on 4/4.
Tata Steel Masters 2017, Round 4
Magnus the Merciless
There was a very familiar storyline to the most anticipated match-up of Round 4. Wei Yi emerged with a healthy position out of the opening against Magnus Carlsen before the World Champion pounced on strategic errors that began with 18…exd4?!, a move Magnus described as “an absolute gift”.
7-time Russian Champion Peter Svidler takes us through the game:
Afterwards Magnus made it very clear where he thinks his opponent is currently lacking:
It’s difficult for him, with the style he has, to dig in and defend.
Watch Magnus’ interview with Anna Rudolf after the game:
As you can see, it’s also bad news for the rest of the field that Magnus says he hasn’t been feeling so well, though he may play the rest-day football: “I might give it a shot, just to beat Loek!”
Wesley at an all-time high
After surviving by the skin of his teeth against Richard Rapport, Wesley So capitalised to follow up with a routine win – with the black pieces – against Loek van Wely. It’s perhaps not for nothing that Loek says the tournament moment he’s looking forward to is “a dive in the North Sea, just to celebrate it’s over!”
In the game Loek pulled off the feat of achieving a worse ending by move 10, and although the evaluation was hovering around zero, Wesley So exploited each of his opponent's inaccuracies.
The final moments saw a neat exchange of exchange sacrifices in the centre of the board: