2022 Superbet Chess Classic - Day 7 Recap
By WGM Sabina Foisor
The stakes are heating up for Superbet Chess Classic Romania, as the tournament is quickly coming to an end with only two more rounds left to play. Today’s Round 7 brought once again entertaining games with key dramatic moments as three of the five games were decisive. GM’s Wesley So and Levon Aronian maintain their co-lead in the event, being trailed by half a point by GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who won his game today, taking advantage of a tragic blunder by GM Richard Rapport. GM Mamedyarov and GM Firouzja won their first game in the event, taking down GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and GM Leinier Dominguez.
Results of Round 7
Standings after Round 7
Levon Aronian - Fabiano Caruana
In their recent encounter at The American Cup, last month, GM Fabiano Caruana almost lost to GM Levon Aronian with the Italian, so it is very likely that the latter wanted to avoid the Petroff Defense. In order to ensure another Italian game, Aronian chose 2.Bc4, but it seemed that Caruana was prepared for it playing the solid Nf6 and c6 set up. It never appeared that Aronian had any opportunity to play for the advantage and the players traded all of their pieces to a rook endgame that finished in a three fold repetition in 26 moves.
Mr. Andrei Diaconescu, the CEO of One United Properties, one of the tournament sponsors after making the first move in the game Aronian-Caruana | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Bogdan-Daniel Deac - Wesley So
The game between GM’s Deac and So started with the Classical Line of the QGA (Queen’s Gambit Accepted). However, this time around, So, was on the Black side of the QGA which he faced in his Round 2 game against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Differently from that game, Wesley tried 13…Bxf3 with the idea to bring his rook into play via a7-c7, instead of MVL’s choice of 13…Qd7. However, this game had the same fate as his Round 2 as it finished expectedly in a draw by repetition in just 25 moves.
Adrian Mutu, the famous Romanian soccer player, now soccer manager, after he made the first move in the game Deac-So | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Richard Rapport - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
It is hard to write about this game without having sympathy for Grandmaster Richard Rapport. The Hungarian super-GM has been playing his usual creative style, but in this tournament he has made two blunders which has cost him dearly. The first was in Round 3 against GM Deac and in today’s game against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave . Today’s blunder was unfortunately quite tragic after a QGA (Queen’s Gambit Accepted) which transposed into a well-known variation of the Meran Defense, the players reached a balanced position and it seemed that a draw would be the most likely result. However, on move 28, Rapport hung his undefended rook with 28. Nd5?? after which he immediately resigned. It is not clear whether he missed the fact that his rook was hanging or if he forgot about the existence of Black’s bishop on a5 while he was thinking. In case it was the latter, he probably thought that 28…Bxe5 wasn’t possible because of 29.Nxe7+ Rxe7 30. Rd8+ Kf7 31.Rf8 # , missing of course 30…Bxd8!. This was an important point in the tournament for MVL which came in the most unexpected fashion.
A tough loss by GM Richard Rapport in the most tragic way | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Ian Nepomniachtchi - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
The game between GM’s Ian Nepomniachtchi and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov started as a heavily theoretical line of the Italian Giuoco Piano. Shakh played energetically and it seemed that Nepo had misplayed the opening at some point. Things turned in favor of Nepo when Mamedyarov made the dubious choice of 28…Rd3?! trying to go for the material and allowing Nepo to consolidate his position while focusing on some attacking ideas on the king’s side. With a blunder toward time pressure, 35…h6?? Mamedyarov gave Nepo a clear path to victory with the idea 36. Qf2! - an easy choice for the computer, commentators and spectators, but not as logical considering that White would be taking the queen from the long diagonal. However, should the queen have been on f2, it would have helped to actually infiltrate into Black’s territory and have unstoppable mating ideas. This was most certainly the turning point of the game. Nepo’s miss on move 36, prompted a series of blunders which gave Mamedyarov a winning position. The Azeri super GM did not let go of it this time and scored his victory to move up from the bottom of the standings.
GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on his way to winning his first game in the event | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Alireza Firouzja - Leinier Dominguez
The game between GMs Alireza Firouzja and Leinier Dominguez started with a developing theoretical idea of the Nimzo-Indian Defense, on move 12, Firouzja tried an interesting aggressive scheme with 12. g4!?, after which a strategic and typical battle ensued. Firouzja developed an attack on the kingside, while Dominguez expanded on the queenside. The position seemed to be more comfortable for Black. However, close to the time control and at a critical moment, Domínguez missed the beautiful and typical 36.Rh7! tactic which won material for Firouzja. After which, the youngster converted his advantage after the time control. This win brought Alireza his first win of the event.
A smiling GM Alireza Firouzja at the beginning of Round 7 | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Mr. Henk Paardekooper, CEO of the First Bank or Romania, making the first move in the game Rapport-MVL | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Pairings for Round 8
Please note that Round 9 will take place on Saturday, May 14th at 2:00pm local time, one hour earlier to allow for a potential play-off. The commentary for the final Round 9 will start at 5:50AM CDT.
The 2022 Superbet Chess Classic Round 8 continues tomorrow, Friday, May 13th 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 .