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HomeChessLondon Chess Classic Round 4: Niemann Scores 1st Win, Gukesh Suffers Blow

London Chess Classic Round 4: Niemann Scores 1st Win, Gukesh Suffers Blow

GM Hans Niemann sacrificed a knight and two rooks to beat IM Shreyas Royal in round four of the 2023 London Chess Classic before commenting, “the sound of chess speaking overpowers jealousy.” The day’s other headline news was GM Gukesh Dommaraju blundering in a winning position and allowing GM Jules Moussard to win a second game in a row in spectacular style. That meant GM Michael Adams took the sole lead with the day’s only draw. 

The London Chess Classic continues with round four on Tuesday, December 5, at 9:15 a.m. ET/15:15 CET/7:45 p.m. IST.

London Chess Classic Round 4 Results


Title Player Result Title Player

1 2659 GM Andrei Volokitin 0 – 1 GM Amin Tabatabaei 2692
2 2667 GM Hans Niemann 1 – 0 IM Shreyas Royal 2438
3 2659 GM Mateusz Bartel 1 – 0 GM Luke McShane 2631
4 2704 GM Nikita Vitiugov ½ – ½ GM Michael Adams 2661
5 2720 IM Gukesh D 0 – 1 GM Jules Moussard 2635

For a second day in a row four games were decisive in the London Chess Classic, with dramatic twists everywhere you looked.

Niemann 1 – 0 Royal

Niemann came into this game after making three relatively uneventful draws, while 14-year-old Royal was riding the wave of scoring a career-best win in the previous round. It felt the clash could have gone either way, since, despite Niemann winning the opening battle, Royal got right back into the game and threatened to take over. It was easier said than done, however, and it was the U.S. star who triumphed by first sacrificing a knight, then a rook, and then another rook.

There was no coming back from that blow, and Niemann went on to win what is our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao below.

That win catapulted Niemann into contention for first place, and he responded with an Eric-Cantona-style quote. Is GM Anish Giri one of those “jealous” colleagues? 

Giri had another focus, however, since, as people keep reminding him, his Candidates qualification fate may depend on whether Gukesh can win outright first place in London.

Gukesh 0 – 1 Moussard 

17-year-old Gukesh came into this game after winning two crushing games with the white pieces, and everything indicated he was going to make it three in a row. The Petroff proved nothing like its drawish reputation as the Indian’s 15.Rg1!? offered up the pawn on h3.

It felt as though Gukesh had correctly judged his man, since Moussard couldn’t resist grabbing the bait. What followed was masterful, as Gukesh used the threat of a direct attack on the black king as a feint to win material on the queenside instead.

The win for White looked so certain that even GM Wesley So joined in the trolling of Giri.

26.Qd4! might have induced thoughts of resignation, but 26.Rd2? turned out to be a terrible blunder. Moussard snatched at the chance to play 26…Bxa3! and never looked back.

French fans, and Giri, could celebrate.

That meant Gukesh had been caught by both Moussard and Niemann, but could Adams take the sole lead?

Vitiugov ½ – ½ Adams

Adams remains the leader of English chess, even if his rating has dipped in his sixth decade. Photo: Chess in Schools & Communities.

He could, though only by half a point, after a tense 51-move draw against the new English number-one, GM Nikita Vitiugov. The game was perhaps most notable for Vitiugov thinking over 50 minutes after Adams went for 28…h4.

29.g4! was the correct response, with no hostilities breaking out before a draw was agreed 22 moves later. 

Adams’ clearly excellent form is another reason why Gukesh may struggle to get the clear first place he needs to overtake Giri in the Candidates race.

The remaining two games saw bounce-back wins where time played a huge factor.

Volokitin 0-1 Tabatabaei

White had won nine games to Black’s zero so far in London, until GM Andrei Volokitin found himself in a position that was just too complicated to play with the time he had remaining against GM Amin Tabatabaei. Essentially the losing mistake, 29.Bc4?, was played with four seconds to spare.

GM Luke McShane suffered a similar fate when he found himself with no time in a fiendishly complex position.

Bartel 1 – 0 McShane 

A group photo of the London Chess Classic players. Photo: Chess in Schools & Communities.

Polish GM Mateusz Bartel had suffered a tough loss to Adams the day before, but for the second time in the event he hit straight back. 27.Nd5 posed problems to McShane at just the right moment.

That leaves the standings as follows going into round five, the last before a well-earned rest day. Adams vs. Gukesh is potentially huge for the outcome of the event.

Standings After Round 4

How to watch the 2023 London Chess Classic

You can keep up with all the games and results of the tournament on our live events platform by following this link.

The 2023 London Chess Classic is a 10-player classical all-play-all tournament taking place in London during December 1-10. The players compete for a £15,000 (~$19,000) top prize, with games starting at 9:15 a.m. ET/15:15 CET/7:45 p.m. IST.

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