After New Year’s Eve all players were ready to uncompromising battles again. In the A-group only three matches were decided in classical games. Julia Granda Zuniga defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with 2:0 score, Alexander Moiseenko won against Kamil Miton with 1.5;0,5 score and Etienne Bacrot took an upper hand on his compatriot Sebastian Maze. Three other matches were decided on rapid games: Andrey Volokitin won against Arkadij Naiditsch, Viktor Laznicka defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The closest battle by rating was Dominguez – Fressinet. A very tough match was finished in favor of Cuban player (video will follow soon). In the matches Gashimov – Landa, Ponomariov – Feller opponents exchanged the punches in rapid games and were ready to check who will be stronger in simultaneous blitz. The nervous systems of rating favorites Vugar Gashimov and Ruslan Ponomariov proved to be stronger today and both of them won their blitz matches with 2:0 score. After the fourth round 8 participants of A-group, who succeeded to win today, will keep on playing in quarterfinals.
Only 10 participants left in B-group after the fourth round. All of them will play the last decisive matches on 3rd of January. Players who lost today were redirected to C-group. One of the top-players of B-group Sergey Fedorchuk unexpectedly lost against Alejandro Hoffman, who caught him in the opening, with 2:0 score.
Players continue sharing their thoughts about a new format of the event and their matches.
Julia Granda Zuniga:
“It was a very tough match today because it’s very-very difficult to play simultaneously two games against such a strong player. I didn’t prepare for my games and I received very bad positions in the openings, especially in the game with white pieces. His position was almost winning but my opponent didn’t play precisely, so I kept the position. In the second game I was slightly better but he took some risk and after that I’ve got some edge. At that moment his time advantage was very big – I had only 5 minutes left in both games and he had one hour in each one. He offered draws in both games but I refused to accept it thinking that my only chance to win can be in with normal control because Shakhriyar plays in rapid and blitz even stronger. Tournament goes well for me So far, I didn’t expect such result. The funny thing is when I play tennis I use both hands usually. Here I use one hand to make moves and another one to write in score sheets. I’m satisfied with my result so I hope there will be more tournaments like that in future.”
Loek Van Wely:
“Once I participated in the tournament where we played on six boards at the same time and it was more like simul. Some theoretical battles could even happen on some boards. It was much more important to play quickly there and put time pressure on your opponent. Still it’s also kind of tricky to play on two boards. I believe its better not to play fast here. You should not be destructed by your opponent who makes moves on the other board as well. Although, if there is an obvious move on the other board you can make the move quickly but in general it’s better to keep on thinking about your position. The only situation when it’s possible to switch all the time is when you have time trouble. In any case it’s not so simple somehow to play here. I lost to Sebastian Maze in the previous round. We had two very tough games in normal time control and in rapid it was even worse. It’s possible to play on “autopilot” but in those games it was difficult to calculate all the variations. I was better in one rapid game but I had to play accurately which was not easy to do with that time control. You look to one board then to another one and somehow you don’t see clearly any more. I believe people will like this format and we are going to see more tournaments with Basque system. In my opinion it’s a fairer format. There is a chance to play against the same opponent with both colors. In open tournament you play with black against weaker opponent and he is happy to make a draw with you for example while you have to win. I don’t know why weaker players doing it but many of them just happy to make a draw with stronger opponent and they don’t want to fight. Playing here I don’t care about this problem because I also have my game with white pieces. If my opponent wants to make a draw with white I’ll be happy to make a draw but he is still going to suffer in another game (laughing). I also believe it’s good for chess because your opponent always have to show something if he wants to win.