All five games were drawn today as the 2021 Grand Chess Tour kicked off with its first event of the year, the 2021 Superbet Chess Classic, a 10-player classical round-robin taking place in Bucharest, Romania. While three of the games were drawn after just an hour of play, all eyes were on local favorite GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac, who missed a serious chance to upset one of the tournament favorites, GM Anish Giri.
13th World Champion Garry Kasparov makes the first move of the game Radjabov - Caruana | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Standings after Round 1
Grischuk - Vachier-Lagrave
A theoretical Grunfeld in which MVL was able to rely on his home preparation to equalize comfortably and draw the game without any particular issues. After the game Grischuk admitted, “there is nothing to analyze, it’s just a draw”.
Grischuk could not come up with anything too challenging for MVL’s Grunfeld | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Lupulescu - Aronian
Making his Grand Chess Tour debut, the Romanian No. 1 GM Constantin Lupulescu essayed a solid line (4.Qc2) against Aronian’s Nimzo Indian defense. Despite facing a somewhat rare move in 18.Qe3, Aronian was able to neutralize White’s pressure and the game soon ended in a repetition.
The Romanian No. 1 GM Lupulescu held his own with White in his GCT debut. | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Radjabov - Caruana
Another relatively quick draw took place in this match-up, as Radjabov, possibly surprised by Caruana’s use of the Ragozin Defense, opted for an ultra-drawish line, resulting in another repetition to end the game peacefully.
World No. 2 Fabiano Caruana had a quick day at the office today. | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Mamedyarov - So
World No. 8 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov chose the solid but testing Exchange Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, opting for a queenless middlegame against Wesley So. Despite attempts from both sides, neither player was able to pose any particular problems for the opponent, and the game was drawn shortly after the time control.
The US No. 2 and World No. 9, GM Wesley So | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Deac - Giri
In what was undoubtedly the game of the day, local hero GM Deac (who replaced Richard Rapport at the last moment) chose the sharp 5.Bg5 variation against Anish Giri’s Semi-Slav Defense, from where the players quickly reached a complex position with opposite sides castling.
After a promising exchange sacrifice, Giri almost immediately faltered, allowing his opponent’s rooks to dominate the center. But at the critical moment Deac slipped, missing a powerful continuation (29.Re5) and instead allowed his opponent to escape into a drawish endgame. The game was then drawn soon thereafter.
29.Re5! would have secured Deac a winning advantage, with idea 29...Qxg3 30.Rh5! | A “moment of truth”, according to Kasparov
GM Deac stepped in at the last moment and nearly delivered a shock in Round 1 | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Pairings for Round 2
Our coverage of the 2021 Superbet Chess Classic continues tomorrow, June 6, at 7:00 AM CDT with live coverage from GMs Alejandro Ramirez, Yasser Seirawan, and Maurice Ashley on grandchesstour.org/live.