The two wildcards ruled day one of the blitz in Romania. Le Quang Liem struggled to find his form during the rapid portion, but ravaged through the field in blitz with a fantastic score of 7/9. Anton Korobov’s 50% score was enough to keep him on top of the leaderboard, but with a narrower gap. The tournament is still wide open as Levon Aronian, Le Quang Liem and Sergey Karjakin are within striking distance from the current leader, with Anish Giri, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Viswanathan Anand still keeping their hopes alive. Tomorrow, after another exciting 9 rounds of blitz, a champion will be crowned for GCT Superbet Rapid & Bitz.
Combined rapid and day 1 blitz standings. In the rapid, a win is worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point and a loss is 0. In the blitz, a win is 1 point, a draw is .5 points and a loss is 0
Anton Korobov had a shaky start to his day with two losses in the first three games again Le Quang Liem and Viswanathan Anand. His game against Anand was particularly exciting as the position was absolutely wild with both sides attacking and the evaluation changing constantly. Due to his two point advantage at the beginning of the day, he was able to maintain a top position in the standings throughout the day. His results improved in the second half of the day, with back to back wins against Fabiano Caruana and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. In the postgame interview, Korobov declared that he is full of power going into the final day.
Levon Aronian on the other hand, moved up in the standings quietly but surely. The Armenian star only won two games and drew the rest, which was enough to leapfrog over the more volatile competition. His wins came against Vladislav Artemiev and Wesley So. The game against Artemiev was a perfect example of how tricky rook endgames can be when the players get low on time, as Artemiev lost in a theoretically drawn endgame after a careless check. In the game against So, he sacrificed a pawn early in the Najdorf, then went on to unleash an attack using his better placed knight against his opponent’s bad bishop. If he can repeat this result tomorrow, he will be in an optimal position to qualify for the London finals in December.
Le Quang Liem’s performance today was a reminder as to why he is a former World Blitz Champion. After starting the day with a win over Korobov and a draw against Karjakin, he went on a winning streak defeating Anand, Artemiev, So and Giri. The win against So was reminiscent of Caruana vs Karjakin from round 4 of rapid, as both Karjakin and So relaxed too early in a down a pawn endgame thinking it’s an easy draw and lost. His win against Giri was an extremely one-sided affair where he simply blew his opponent off the board. Due to his tame performance in the rapid, this result puts the Vietnamese star in third place, but it’s possible that another result like this tomorrow could possibly mean his win of this tournament.
Le Quang Liem
Another former World Blitz Champion is no stranger to showing strong performances in the Grand Chess Tour, having scored 7.5/9 in previous editions of the blitz. Sergey Karjakin had the third best performance of the day but only scored 5 points, which unfortunately did not improve his standings by much. The Russian player is in a must win situation here as he needs those 13 GCT points to qualify to London. After a tumultuous start, he ended the day with ¾, defeating Anand in a rook endgame and demolishing Mamedyarov in 22 moves with the black pieces.
Anish Giri, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Viswanathan Anand ended the day with 13.5 points, three full points behind the leader. Giri was the long time leader in the rapid but has since sunk in the standings. He did not manage to win any games today, drawing 7 and losing 2. Mamedyarov made a comeback in the last day of the rapid and was having a solid day today, but his back to back losses against Korobov and Karjakin in rounds 7 and 8 respectively hurt his chances. Anand started and ended the day in a tie for fifth place. The former World Champion played some of the wildest games in this event, scoring important victories against Korobov and Mamedyarov today.
Neither American has been able to find his footing in this event. Wesley So was making a comeback scoring 4 points in the first 5 games, but wasn’t able to maintain his form, losing two back to back games against Le Quang Liem and Levon Aronian. Fabiano Caruana started and ended the day in 8th place after many missed opportunities in multiple topsy turvy games. While the other two wildcards are thriving, Vladislav Artemiev is struggling in 9th place. The youngest participant of the tournament had a difficult day today scoring only 3 points with 6 draws and no wins.
The players signing autographs for the eager young fans