2022 Superbet Chess Classic - Day 3 Recap
By WGM Sabina Foisor
Day 3 of the Superbet Chess Classic in Bucharest did not fail to entertain the audience. It has been the most exciting day by far, but at the same time heartbreaking for some of the players, commentators, and fans. While we have been used to only seeing one decisive result per round, today could have been completely different. The most unexpected results of today happened in the game of Aronian-Firouzja, which could have finished in favor of the French-Iranian Grandmaster, instead it ended in a draw. The other unpredictable result happened in the game of Rapport-Deac, where the Hungarian GM blundered on move 40, allowing his opponent to avoid the repetition and win in the endgame. With today's win, GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac has joined GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Wesley So as the co-leaders of the Superbet Chess Classic Romania.
Results of Round 3
Standings after Round 3
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
The game between GMs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was the first game of the round to finish. Shakhriyar played the Caro-Kann Defense, which is one of his two main responses against 1.e4, and was met with the Two Knights Attack by the French GM MVL. White did not achieve anything out of the opening and Mamedyarov forced a draw by repetition as early as move 20.
Daniel Jinca, the Director of Romanian Opera greeting GMs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Maxime Vachier - Lagrave right before making the symbolic first move of their Round 3 | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Ian Nepomniachtchi - Leinier Dominguez
This game kept the commentators intrigued as the players blitzed through their first 22 moves of theory in the Petroff and the game seemed very even throughout despite White’s extra pawn. GM Leinier Dominguez, however, was taken aback by 22.a4 followed by Qg4 by GM Nepomniachtchi. Considering that Nepo finished the game with more time on his clock than the time he started with, we can only assume this line was part of his preparation in his World Championship Match against World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Nevertheless, despite choosing a hard path, it was secure enough for Dominguez to ensure a draw in a rook ending with a pawn down.
GM Ian Nepomniachtchi looking calm cruising through his opening preparation in Round 3 | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Fabiano Caruana - Wesley So
The game between the two American Grandmasters followed a very well-known line in the Catalan where GM Fabiano Caruana went for a thematic pawn sacrifice. Along the way, he traded too many pieces and despite landing a passed pawn on d6, it was more of a weakness than a strength. White’s pieces were more tied down to defend the pawn rather than the d6-pawn tying up Black’s pieces. In fact, Black seemed to be the one pressing, but the decisive blow never seemed to come. As soon as Caruana managed to control Black’s majority on the queenside, the players decided to call it a day and agreed on a draw by repetition.
GM Fabiano Caruana - thoughtful during his game from Round 3 against compatriot GM Wesley So | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Levon Aronian - Alireza Firouzja
After a day off at the office, GM Alireza Firoujza started the game with energetic play, surprising his opponent with the Czech Variation of the Slav Defense. GM Levon Aronian did not seem comfortable in this game, stumbling into a losing position after forgetting to play 19.Nc3 instead of his 19.Ke2?. Firouzja showed praise-worthy technique, and by move 37 had a completely winning Bishop vs Knight endgame with an extra pawn. By move 41, Aronian had an extra pawn, But Firouzja’s pawns were close to promotion and all he needed to do was to bring his king to support them. Alas, that did not happen in time as 41…c5?? threw away the win allowing Aronian the life saving continuation 42.Nc3! . In the ensuing queen and pawn ending, Firouzja’s king couldn’t find a shelter to hide and the game ended in a draw shortly after.
GM Levon Aronian maybe predicting the calm before the storm at the beginning of his Round 3 against GM Alireza Firouzja | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Richard Rapport- Bogdan-Daniel Deac
This game was a true heartbreak for the candidate participant GM Richard Rapport. The Hungarian exerted a lot of pressure on the host country’s #1 player, GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac. Rapport, known for his flamboyant style, made a number of creative moves. After Deac faltered with 21….Qh6?, it looked as if Rapport was going to win this game in style. However, to the Romanian Grandmaster’s credit, he started showing a great deal of resistance in a close to losing position. While being in tremendous time-trouble, Deac found some resourceful, creative and pragmatic counter-play ideas. That led to Rapport blundering away his advantage a couple of moves after he had obtained it. Followed by a number of accurate moves by Deac in time pressure, it seemed that a draw by repetition would be the most probable outcome. Yet, the end was tragic for Rapport as he blundered on move 40. Ng5??, which led to an endgame being down an exchange. After Deac slowly converted his advantage into a win, the local hero is now tied for first place!
A happy GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac during his post win interview | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Pairings for Round 4
Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here, and all the games here.
The 2022 Superbet Chess Classic Round 4 continues tomorrow, Sunday, May 8th at 6:50AM CDT with live studio coverage from Grandmasters Yasser Seirawan, Peter Svidler, and Alejandro Ramirez, and on location coverage with Grandmaster Cristian Chirila and Woman Grandmaster Anastasia Karlovich. Follow the action live at grandchesstour.org/2022-grand-chess-tour-watch/live .