Boris Gelfand – Alexander Grischuk
Candidates Final Match – Game 4
Commentary by GM Naiditsch, courtesy of Chessdom and Chessbomb

1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 4. g3 Again the same opening. It seems that not even a 30-minutes delay can bring us something new in the opening part! I guess today will be an interesting game, because after a miracle save in the previous white game Boris should be super motivated to make some pressure with white pieces.

4… g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. d3 The standard way of placing pieces for black now is Nge7,0-0, d6, h6, Be6. And for white: 0-0, Ne1-c2-e3-d5, or trying to play on the queen side with a3 and Rb1 followed by b4 if possible. By the way, in the previous white game Gelfand played 6.a3 and after sharp complications got an almost lost position. Really “slow” day for us. First 30-minutes delay at the beginning of the game, and now on move 6 Sasha thinking for 20 minutes…and we are waiting and waiting…

6… Nge7 Finally the most logical 6…Nge7.

7. a3 7.a3 this time comes one move later. Now black has several ways to answer, 7…a5 is normal reply and also 7…0-0 is possible. I guess all together it would not differ much, because white would anyway play next Rb1 and black probably will have to play a5 to prevent b2-b4. Candidates Matches are brought to you thanks to Chess Evolution, Chess Friends and Lord Of Chess.

7… d6 8. Nd2 8.Nd2! a new idea! But probably with an old plan, knight goes to d5. So next moves of Boris probably are Nf1-e3-d5. The question is of course why was a3 inserted? Very hard to understand…I guess such deepness of the right move order is coming after many many hours of analysis.

8… O-O 9. Rb1 Still 9.Rb1 first. This move order from Gelfand is very difficult to understand, and I think we should not even try. Let’s wait for another 4-5 moves and everything will be clear.

9… h6 Wow! This move I would not guess even after ten attempts. What is Sasha planning on 10.b4? Maybe 10…f5… Or no, probably Sasha wants to play 10…e4! with the idea to catch white’s knight after 11.Nce4 f5! Sasha finds an interesting way to defend from b4! As we can see, Boris is also surprised a bit, he finally started to think. Perhaps now 10.Nf1 makes sense, with the idea to play b4 or Ne3-d5. We can feel that players are very tired. Boris to think more than 30 min about a move is very untypical…and the position now is hard to call “critical”.

10. O-O The opening is hardly critical, the game will be decided later…so it is a bit strange that both players spend so much time for the first 10 moves.

10… a5 Sasha decides, enough is enough, lets block b4 forever. Probably Boris is now going to play 11.Nd5 …because what else to do …the night on d2 is standing “very strange”, at least. With 11.Nd5, and after black’s 11…Nd5 Ne7 13.b4 followed by Nc4, white move Nd2 finally makes some sense.

11. Nd5 Maybe black should play some move like 11…Kh7!? What could white do then? 12.b4 should not work because of 12…ab 13.ab and Nxd5 followed by Nxb4… 12.Ne4 also doesn’t bring any advantage, black can just take on d5 and after play Ne7 with a very comfortable position. A possible line is 11…Kh7 12.Ne7 Qe7 13.Ne4 f5 14.Nc3 Be6 15.Nd5 with maybe small advantage for white…

11… Be6 12.Ne7 Qe7 13.Ne4-c3-d5 is still looking logical to me. The most interesting fact until now is that both players have spent more than two hours for the first 13 moves. Candidates Matches are brought to you thanks to Chess Evolution, Chess Friends and Lord Of Chess.

12. Nxe7+ Qxe7 13. Ne4 Kh8 I can see how much I still have to learn about chess…I would place the black king on h7 automatically…

14. Nc3 Qd7 It looks like Sasha want to put his rook on b8 and play next Bh3. But black’s play is looking somewhat strange to me. Whites has a simple plan, to break through with b4. Now Boris has basically two moves that support that plan – first to play 15.Nd5 Rab8 and then 16. Bd2, or 15.Bd2 immediately. I think both are giving advantage to white.

15. Bd2 What to do now for black? Probably 15…Bh3 is looking logical…what else? White plan is very simple and very strong – Knight to d5 and b4. Lets see if Sasha can find an efficient defense against this.

15… Rab8 Sasha is defending against 16.Nd5, now black will counter with 16…b5. Maybe white could try 16.Qa4!?

16. Qc1 Again a somewhat strange move, what is now happening after 16…Kh7? Maybe 17.f4, but in my opinion white’s play should revolve around pushing b4 and not f4.

16… h5 17. Bh6 Bh3 Now both players exchange the opponents’ bishops. I would evaluate the position with small advantage for white. Stay tuned for a video analysis here.

18. Re1 Thank you all for following the live coverage with GM Arkadij Naiditsch on and! See you again tomorrow 13:00 CET. ½-½

Another draw in less than 20 moves. The score is now at 2-2 with 2 games left to play in classical chess.

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