2022 FIDE Grand Prix Berlin R4: Aronian, So Emerge Front-runners
Nakamura and Bacrot were involved in an electrifying fight. Photo: WorldChess.

2022 FIDE Grand Prix Berlin R4: Aronian, So Emerge Front-runners

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Levon Aronian consolidated his position while GM Wesley So defeated GM Leinier Dominguez in a crucial game, as both opened a full point lead on 3/4 in Group C and Group D respectively at the end of the fourth round of the 2022 FIDE Grand Prix at Berlin.

GM Hikaru Nakamura maintained his half-point lead in Group A with 2.5/4 after a sharp and short draw against GM Etienne Bacrot. The race for the top place really heated up in Group B when GM Vladimir Fedoseev defeated GM Grigoriy Oparin with the black pieces to join GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek in the lead on 2.5/4.

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FIDE Grand Prix Berlin

Group A

The fourth round started in an electrifying way when Bacrot employed the French Defense as Black, an opening which he had employed just in the previous game and also other times in the recent past. But in comparison with the previous round, he came to the board with a sharp, prepared line ready for Nakamura, an invention of the World Championship Challenger GM Ian Nepomniachtchi. When queried about his opening choice during the post-game interview, Bacrot termed 10...g5 as "a little dubious," but quipped, "I sometimes play the French because I am French!" 

For someone who has claimed that playing classical chess seems boring because he hasn't played the format for so long, Nakamura was forced to settle down to play a good long game. At one point, he even looked as if under pressure, spending more time than Bacrot, and had to decide on repeating a position thrice to accept a draw by the 25th move:

I sometimes play the French becuase I am French!
— GM Etienne Bacrot

Even though GM Alexander Grischuk seemed to enjoy a slight edge in his game against GM Andrey Esipenko, White could never make any serious progress. The game ended in a draw just after the first time control.

Nevertheless, the obligatory Grischuk quip did come in the press conference:

Group B

Fedoseev scored a surprisingly facile victory when his opponent, Oparin, suffered a rare case of "blackout" on the board, as he admitted later that he did not see Fedoseev's 19...Qg4 until it was actually played in the game. game of the day

This allowed Fedoseev to reach 2.5/4, tying for the lead with GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek, who put up a long and hard defense to draw against GM Richard Rapport.

Group C

Young GM Vincent Keymer, undeterred by the strength of his opponents here at Berlin, doesn't shy away from long theoretical discussions in the openings. But the fourth round proved to be his waterloo, as he faltered in a variation where his opponent Dubov had come well-prepared:

"It is pretty much an opening win," opined Dubov after the game. 

Dubov-Keymer, "an opening win." Photo: WorldChess.

GM Vidit Gujrathi's game against Aronian ended in a draw much earlier. Aronian was quite happy with an important moment of the game:

An illuminating detail came out in the post-game interview when Vidit admitted: "I could not recall all my [opening] analysis. I told myself, let me think and find moves like the old style." Except for those at the very top of the chess Olympus, this should be a revealing point: Thinking on the board and finding moves is "old style"! Sure...

Group D

So had a smooth win over GM Leinier Dominguez Perez when the latter made an uncharacteristic blunder:

In the longest game of the day, GM Pentala Harikrishna pressed a slight advantage against GM Alexei Shirov for a long time, who put up a dogged defense to hold the draw.

Harikrishna-Shirov, when a hard-nosed eyeball-to-eyeball fight ended with just kings on the board. Photo: WorldChess.



All Games Round 4

FIDE Grand Prix Berlin is the first of three legs of the event. The Berlin tournament takes place February 4-17. Tune in at 6 a.m. Pacific/ 15:00 CET each day for our broadcast. Tuesday the 8th of February is a rest day.

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