In round 4 we saw five decisive games on the first six boards and we now have two tournament leaders: IM Jose Rafael Gascon and GM Sipke Ernst. The young man from Venezuela keeps impressing with confident and strong play. Judging from his games he must have been working hard on his chess lately and this is clearly starting to pay off. In Gascon-Pecorelli Black didn't seem to be aware of the stem game Vallejo Pons-Kramnik, Linares 2004 and quickly got into trouble. The star move was the positional pawn sacrifice 15.e5! after which Gascon went on to produce another model game.

DSC01012w DSC01036w

 The other tournament leader from the Netherlands has to work much harder for his points and so far is always the last one to finish his game. Ernst-Vilela was a fantastic battle that went all the way to an exciting finish in time trouble. The game was more or less balanced all the time, but it was Black who had to be most careful. Just before reaching the draw, the Cuban IM collapsed.

The ladies on board two, Sukandar versus Nemcova, played a long theoretical line in the Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez, which ended in a perpetual. Ryan Harper is now the best performer from the Caribbean (tpr 2470) after beating Edwin van Haastert in a tough struggle. The Dutchman had good play after the opening, but made a positional mistake by exchanging his knight for the wrong bishop. The bishop on d3 nicely kept White's position together and facilitated the attack on the kingside. The Surinamese players mainly played eachother this round (two draws) and all six of them are now on 1.5 out of 4.

DSC01013w DSC01027w