Nepomniachtchi Leads Croatia Grand Chess Tour As Carlsen, Mamedyarov Play Stunner
Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov play out a fascinating draw. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Nepomniachtchi Leads Croatia Grand Chess Tour As Carlsen, Mamedyarov Play Stunner

| 19 | Chess Event Coverage

Day four of the Croatia Grand Chess Tour was exciting despite all six games ending in draws. In an enterprising day of chess, the players entertained one and all in what can be called the round of missed chances. 

Tournament leader Ian Nepomniachtchi drew his first game of the the event rather quickly against compatriot Sergey Karjakin with white. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri drew after both players missed a defensive tactic in a highly risky position for White while the other games also had players missing their chances.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen lit up the stage with some daring play in the opening against Azerbaijani number one Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the game of the day which Carlsen himself claimed to be "an epic struggle." The chess world was quick to show their appreciation of this hard-fought draw.

The start of an epic struggle. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

One of the greatest players of all time, Garry Kasparov, explained the evolution of Carlsen's style and how it is great to see that the world champion is playing such fighting and attacking chess and not aiming for plus two or plus three. He also opined that Carlsen spends the highest time at the board among all players and his new tendency to take risks is against his playing style but is great for the public to see that classical chess is not dead.

Norwegian journalist and author Tarjei Svensen exclaimed on Twitter: "What a crazy, crazy game that was! Carlsen extends his undefeated streak to 72 games by drawing Mamedyarov, the guy who last beat the world champion 333 days ago."

Carlsen channeling his inner Tal at the board. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Carlsen was very generous with his time and his analysis at the post-game interview. He exclaimed: "I was thrilled after the opening." He later admitted that he just missed many things, but it was one epic struggle. Carlsen concluded by saying: "I was in time pressure for 35-40 moves and I just had no time. It was tough, very very tough."

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov deserved a draw today. Photo/Grand Chess Tour.

In his post-game interview, Mamedyarov expressed, "Against Magnus I never think about draw, because when you think about draw, you lose. If you think about win, you can draw. You need to think about more."

Tournament leader Nepomniachtchi had to give up his hopes of a Caruana'esque seven on seven start as he drew Karjakin. Nepomniachtchi's live rating of 2790.1 is his highest rating ever, and he is looking forward to breaking the 2800-rating threshold.

In his post-game interview, he first explained that the game wasn't very exciting for him and in the opening he chose the worst move order.

Nepomniachtchi couldn't pose many problems as White today. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

After the game, Karjakin said: "I didn't know I was much better. Now I'm disappointed."  Nepomniachtchi shared his wisdom and gave us the quote of the day by saying: "It's a game and everybody makes mistakes, this is how it works."

The game between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri went back and forth. Interestingly, both these players are currently joint world number four with a rating of 2779. Both missed a beautiful tactic in an incredibly risky position for White.

Vachier-Lagrave failed to capitalize on Giri's mistake. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.
Chess is tough! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Vachier-Lagrave explained his missed chance by saying: "There is nothing simple about this position."

Giri later defended his opponent by saying: "I attack so rarely that whenever I attack people get really scared." He went one step further and, when asked to comment on Carlsen's game, was his usual best by saying: "He's thinking already after games like against me he can just play h4-h5, Ng5 and Qh7 mate. Not everybody will play like me, yea? Some people will resist."

American star Wesley So and Indian legend Viswanathan Anand played out an interesting draw in the English opening. Anand as Black played the move of the day with 15...g5!?. So found a way to steady the ship and then gave up a rook to wriggle out a draw with a perpetual at the end.

Vishy Anand is still looking for his first win of the event. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Norwegian GM Jonathan Tisdall has noticed an increase in the trend of the flank pawns flying up the board. This continued in today's round as well as seen in all of the above games. 

Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana started off with a queen's pawn opening but transposed into the Exchange variation of the Caro-Kann. Caruana kept up with the move that was played in four of the six games today and went with 13...g5!. He later had a chance to continue the onslaught with 28...g4! but refrained from that risky but potentially rewarding alternative.

Caruana could have gone for a kingside attack but missed it. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Chinese star Ding Liren and current U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura played a rather uneventful draw in a game which saw Nakamura repeating his Queen's Gambit Accepted opening he used to draw Aleksandr Lenderman at the U.S. Chess Championship in March this year.

Ding tried to come up with an improvement. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.
Nakamura trusted his preparation and drew comfortably. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

IO (International Organizer) Lennart Ootes, who is working as the official photographer and operating the DGT boards in Zagreb, beautifully summed up his experience in Croatia saying: "Croatia chess fans are amazing! They stay in the playing hall for hours observing the players, staring at the position on the screens and quietly discussing the game with their neighbors. Awarding the players with a big applause after the end of the last game."

2019 Croatia Grand Chess Tour | Round 4 Standings

Graphic: Spectrum Studios.

The 2019 Croatia Grand Chess Tour takes place June 26 to July 8 at the Novinarski Dom in Zagreb, Croatia. This is one of two classical events of the tour this year. The time control is a new one with 130 minutes for each player with a 30-second delay from move one.

The games start at 4:30 pm local time (CEST), which is 10:30 a.m. Eastern and 7:30 a.m. Pacific. You can follow the games here as part of our live portal with daily commentary by GM Robert Hess.

The round four coverage by GM Robert Hess.

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