The fourth round of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament failed to produce any decisive results, meaning that the five-way logjam at the top of the standings remains intact heading into the first rest day.

Tata Steel odds chess
Alireza Firouzja got what he was looking for against Aryan Tari out of the opening, but ultimately, settled for a draw in their Round 4 matchup at the Tata Steel Masters. (Image: Jurriaan Hoefsmit/Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021)

Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Nils Grandelius, and Pentala Harikrishna each sit on 2.5 points to share the early lead in the town of Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands.

Carlsen Regrets Missing Opportunity for Torture

Even the weakest competitors in the Tata Steel Masters are strong grandmasters, and that strength showed on Tuesday. Nobody was able to break through, despite several players building opportunities to win before stiff defense and miscalculations led to draws.

That’s not to say that the players weren’t fighting for wins. Grandelius nearly picked up his third win – and avoided his first draw of the tournament – with Black against Andrey Esipenko. The Swedish grandmaster played the Najdorf Sicilian and gained a winning initiative, but lost his advantage during the time scramble around the 40th move, just before he gained an extra 50 minutes of thinking time.

Carlsen never got that close to a win, but missed out on an opportunity to enjoy one of his favorite pastimes: torturing an opponent. After holding on to a slight advantage in the endgame, one inaccuracy from the World Champion allowed Jorden Van Foreest to simplify the position into a clear draw.

“If I don’t blunder, I probably don’t win the game, but I at least get to torture him for a long time, which is at least something,” Carlsen said afterwards. “Jorden played very solidly today. He didn’t really leave any doubt as to what his intentions were and, fair game, that’s his choice.”

Carlsen has now drawn three straight games after winning his opener against Alireza Firouzja.

“It’s a little bit frustrating,” Carlsen said of the draws. “I think the annoying thing for me is, I feel like I made some crucial little mistakes in each of the three games right at the end. I’ve not been able to put maximum pressure right at the end in any of the games.”

Draws Pile Up at Tata Steel Masters

Firouzja also pressed for a win in his game against Aryan Tari. The Norwegian gave Firouzja exactly what he wanted out of the opening – a sharp, dynamic, tactical position out of what could have been a solid Caro-Kann.

“It’s the most stupid thing to do against Firouzja, to get a crazy, tactical position,” Tari admitted afterward. “That’s what he eats for breakfast.”

Tata Steel Masters Odds – Round 5 (via Unibet)
David Anton Guijarro: +200 Draw: -167 Aryan Tari: +800
Magnus Carlsen: -286 Draw: +275 Alexander Donchenko: +1500
Fabiano Caruana: -200 Draw: +190 Andrey Esipenko: +1500
Alireza Firouzja: +150 Draw: -143  Jorden van Foreest: +1100
Anish Giri: +375 Draw: -335 Pendyala Harikrishna: +1000
Nils Grandelius: +700 Draw: -250 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: +325
Radoslaw Wojtaszek: +350 Draw: -250   Jan-Krzysztof Duda: +650

During time trouble, the two agreed to a draw. Tari offered the half-point to Firouzja in a difficult, complex position.

“Maybe I should have played on, but I thought it could really go both ways,” Tari said. “I was not sure what was going on. The main reason was that I thought I was just lost three moves before, so I was just so happy to get half a point.”

In the end, the seven draws meant the standings were unchanged from before the round.

With nine rounds left to play, Carlsen remains a -143 favorite to win the Tata Steel Masters, ahead of Caruana (+300). Carlsen takes White as a -286 favorite in his Thursday game against Alexander Donchenko (+1500), while Caruana (-200) battles Andrey Esipenko (+1500).

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