Caruana Sole Leader, Back To World #2 After Beating Deac


The fourth round of the Superbet Chess Classic Romania was a good day for GM Fabiano Caruana. The 31-year-old American grandmaster is back to being the number two in the world with a 2800+ rating after beating GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac. GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu defeated GM Anish Giri and joined GM Gukesh Dommaraju in second place.

The games GM Ian Nepomniachtchi vs. GM Wesley So, GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov vs. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and GM Alireza Firouzja vs. Gukesh ended in draws.

Round five starts Sunday, June 30, at 8 a.m. ET / 14:00 CEST / 17:30 p.m. IST.

Superbet Chess Classic Romania Round 4 Results

Superbet Chess Classic Romania Round 4 Results
Image courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club/Grand Chess Tour.

Superbet Chess Classic Romania Standings After Round 4

Superbet Chess Classic Romania Standings After Round 4
Image courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club/Grand Chess Tour.

On this fourth day in Bucharest, the tournament was visited by the 13th world champion and co-founder of the Grand Chess Tour, Garry Kasparov. As always, he was scheduled to play a ceremonial first move, but this time there was a twist: the organizers suddenly told him to pick a board himself.

In an attempt to avoid upsetting one of the players, Kasparov said that because he was the oldest player on the stage (the legend turned 61 in April), he would choose the youngest board: that of Firouzja-Gukesh. He then suggested 1.d4 and joked that Firouzja was already getting old and should choose to keep his pawn protected!

Soon, Kasparov also joined the official broadcast where he argued that classical chess is far from dead and deserves a future: “The preservation of classical chess, I think, is very important for helping players to realize their full potential, to put on display what they can do. Quality is also an issue.”

The preservation of classical chess, I think, is very important for helping players to realize their full potential, to put on display what they can do.
—Garry Kasparov

Caruana 1-0 Deac

It was a somewhat surprising pre-game statistic: Caruana hadn’t managed to beat Deac yet in four earlier encounters, which all ended in draws. “He’s a really stable player,” the winner of the game explained afterward. “He has a good positional feel in general and doesn’t get in huge danger.”

The fifth attempt was successful for Caruana, who was happy with his opening choice: the modern 8.Rb1 line in the Samisch Nimzo-Indian. He revealed that he got crushed by GM Alexander Grischuk playing the black side in a Titled Tuesday tournament and then started looking at it. “It’s a very tricky kind of modern line,” he said.

It’s a very tricky kind of modern line.
—Fabiano Caruana

Deac couldn’t find the right plan and was already clearly worse when the queens were traded. Caruana was happy with his moves 24.f4 and 25.Rc3: “He doesn’t have a way to free himself; there’s pressure forever.”

About the new situation in the live ratings, Caruana said: “The spot that would matter a lot is number one. Number two, number three, it’s not like it’s changing things too much. But the win I’m very happy with because it puts me in a good tournament situation.” 

Here’s the game with GM Dejan Bojkov’s annotations:

Chess.com Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

 

Fabiano Caruana Bucharest 2024
It was a good day for Fabiano Caruana. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Praggnanandhaa 1-0 Giri

Although it was a game that lasted 80 moves in total, the story of Praggnanandhaa vs. Giri is also a story of just one move. In what was a fairly normal-looking middlegame position, it was very surprising that it was possible for a 2700 grandmaster to make a losing move:

Black has just played 18…Rd5? here, and Praggnanandhaa found the tactic that is in the position: 19.b4! Bd6 20.Bxf6 Qxf6 21.Qxf6 gxf6 22.e4 and Black is in big trouble.  

Much more happened in the game obviously and, in fact, Giri was close to a draw at several points (having a fully equal position on move 30!), but in the end he couldn’t save the half-point.

Praggnanandhaa Giri Bucharest 2024
Giri resigns vs. Praggnanandhaa. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Nepomniachtchi ½-½ So

For most top players, it’s very difficult to read on their faces what’s going on in a game. Few would have guessed that Nepomniachtchi at a point during the game felt “disgusted” about his play, but that’s what he said. He wasn’t happy with what he called “a lot of small inaccuracies,” and he was particularly annoyed about missing So’s 24…Be4, a simple attack on his rook on b1 which he had placed there to protect his b-pawn.

One of the qualities of a strong grandmaster is to be able to deal with such setbacks during a game, and that’s what the Russian GM did. He found an excellent reply that dropped his b-pawn but maintained activity, which was enough to stay in the game. Ten moves later he even avoided a move repetition, but then it was So’s turn to respond well to the new situation and avoid mistakes.

Ian Nepomniachtchi disgusted
Ian Nepomniachtchi, “disgusted” about his play. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Abdusattorov ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave

This game was very interesting from an early stage, partly thanks to the fact that Vachier-Lagrave returned to his good old Najdorf repertoire. This author has tried out 6.Qd3 as well (inspired by his compatriot GM Jorden van Foreest) and was quite curious about what Abdusattorov was planning. 8.0-0 and 9.b4 is a new and provocative concept that spiced up the game right away.

Vachier-Lagrave found some good moves with 11…Qc8, 12…h5, and 13…e5, and then Abdusattorov started to play inaccurately and missed a chance to get the better game. With a nice positional queen sacrifice, Vachier-Lagrave then changed the dynamics where he would always have at least a fortress.

Abdusattorov Vachier-Lagrave Bucharest 2024
A highly interesting Najdorf: Abdusattorov vs. Vachier-Lagrave. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Firouzja ½-½ Gukesh

It was somewhat ironic that the board where Kasparov played the first move ended in a draw first. Firouzja and Gukesh played an old line of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted that Kasparov himself had played in a game in 1989.

Gukesh said he didn’t know 14.Nf5 but quickly noticed it wasn’t very dangerous either. He traded some minor pieces, and then his control of the light squares meant that Black was completely fine. 

The 2024 Superbet Chess Classic Romania is the second leg of the 2024 Grand Chess Tour. The event is a 10-player round-robin with classical time control (120 minutes for the entire game, plus a 30-second increment per move). The tournament runs June 26-July 5 and features a $350,000 prize fund.


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