2022 Superbet Rapid & Blitz - Day 2 Recap
By GM Elshan Moradiabadi
The second day of Superbet Rapid and Blitz Poland did not disappoint the tournament fans as day 2 was filled with exciting games and rapid action. The day came to an end with GM Vishy Anand continuing to maintain his two-point lead going to the last day of the rapid portion. The player of the day was undoubtedly GM Richard Rapport, who won all of his games today which allowed him to secure the sole second place on the leaderboard.
Standings After Round 6: GM Vishy Anand maintained his lead, and Richard Rapport moved to second place.
Fans were curious to see what GM Viswanathan (“Vishy”) Anand’s form would entail on day 2. After all, Rapid and Blitz chess play is known for its unpredictable dynamic, where the players have a hard time maintaining consistent form throughout an event. That, at least for now, is not the case for Vishy. The five-time World Champion opened the day with a win over young Ukrainian GM Kirill Shevchenko. After Shevchenko went astray in his opening play of Sveshnikov-Pelican, Anand demonstrated impeccable technical accuracy and won the game with ease.
“I have it under control!” - Five-time World Champion and the leader of the event, GM Vishy Anand | Photo Courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
GM Richard Rapport played an off-beat setup of King’s Indian Attack against GM David Gavrilescu where the latter played the middlegame accurately and ended up with poorly placed minor pieces. This enabled Rapport to gradually build a kingside attack against which Gavrilescu did not find a proper response given the time pressure. The game ended with a typical king hunt in Rapport’s favor.
The Polish Derby between GM Radek Wojtaszek and GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda was a tense one. Duda employed the Hippopotamus setup but the game transposed to some form of Spanish Game. A close tense battle ensued and when it seemed that the game might end in a draw, Wojtaszek made a final blunder in time pressure and the game swiftly ended in favor of Duda. With this win, Duda moved in sole second behind Anand.
Friends and compatriots. GM Radek Wojtaszek (left) against GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda (right)
| Photo Courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
The two fellow citizens are in a hot battle for the win! | Photo Courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
GM Anton Korobov did not gain anything out of his English Opening against GM Fabiano Caruana. The players tried a few plans here and there but a draw was in the cards for the most part of the game and the game ended in a draw with a perpetual check.
GM Wesley So and GM Levon Aronian played a well-known line in Catalan Opening where the game simplifies into a balanced ending. Wesley So created some interesting imbalance by sacrificing an exchange and later balanced the material by winning two pawns. While it seemed that So was outplaying his experienced opponent, Aronian fought hard and took advantage of So’s last-minute miss to save another game to a draw.
GM Wesley So, seconds before his game against GM Levon Aronian | Photo Courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
All eyes were on the game between GM Levon Aronian and GM Vishy Anand for Round 5. Aronian chose 1.e4, something he has begun employing more often these days. A promise of a fighting game was hinted at when Anand refrained from the typical recapture 15…dxe5 for a more dynamic 15…Rxe5. However, Aronian blundered away the next move with 16.Nc4??. Anand is still in too good of a form to miss tactical shots like 16…Nxe4! ,17..Nxf2 and he subsequently went on to win the game against Aronian in only 24 moves!
Houdini was not in the office this round and unfortunately, the blunder was too big to be remedied for GM Levon Aronian | Photo Courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams
GM Duda has been in a good shape so far but he mysteriously erred from a White side of an Italian Game, where an abundance of theoretical knowledge already exists. GM Wesley So seized the initiative and while Duda’s responses were fine at times, he began making mistakes due to the difficult nature of the moves he had to make. Wesley So demonstrated a pleasant technical play at the end and eventually won the game.
The Ukrainian Derby saw young GM Kirill Shevchenko in the driving seat right out of the Opening. GM Korbov’s responses did not appear to suffice but in a severe time pressure Shevchenko found it too difficult to deal with the position’s complex nature and bailed out into a slightly better ending with marginal winning chances, after which the game dully ended in a draw.
The cheerful GM Kirill Shevchenko is making the most of this unique experience at the Grand Chess Tour by playing the sharpest chess! | Photo Courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
The game between GM David Gavrilescu and GM Radek Wojtaszek was somewhat uneventful. The players seemed cautious after their start at the event and the game was a draw in a Knight endgame without any incident. This secured the first point for the young Gavrilescu at this event.
The last game of the round was GM Richard Rapport’s win over GM Fabiano Caruana. In an off-beat line of French-Winawer where White is objectively better, Caruana spent too much time in search of a decisive advantage and ended up playing a good part of the game with less than a minute on the clock. The American also stubbornly did not make a draw by repetition in a couple of moments of the game and once he missed a few resources of Black’s position, he was too short on time to save the game and Rapport converted his advantage with relative ease. This victory moved Rapport into second place and only three points behind the tournament leader, GM Vishy Anand.
“Cool shirts and cool play” - GM Richard Rapport entertains the audience and spectators on and off the board | Photo Courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams
In the last round of the day, the leader, GM Vishy Anand, saw himself facing the French defense against the host’s favorite, GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The Indian legend went for the same Advanced Variation that he chose while playing against GM Anton Korobov yesterday. This time a more complex system appeared on the board and the players entered a forced line where White sacrifices an exchange to freeze Black’s pieces in the back rank. While Anand was pressing the entire time, it never seemed that White was winning at any point except on move 41, after Black played 40…Rfc7? The draw ensued after Anand did not find the strong 41.Rf8!! This result still maintained Anand’s lead, although the gap shrunk from three points to two after GM Richard Rapport got the better of GM Anton Korobov on the Black side of a King’s Indian. The Hungarian scored his third consecutive victory and now is two points shy of Vishy Anand.
GM David Gavrilescu defended well against GM Wesley So and even played ambitiously for a win when his opponent over-pressed. However, under severe time pressure, the young Romanian simplified the game and had to accept a draw despite an extra pawn due to Wesley So’s fortress.
GM Shevchenko and GM Aronian had a slow start and by move 21 they had not exchanged a single pair of pawns. But things escalated in no time and the player found themselves in a position where White had to force the draw by perpetual check in order to avoid material loss.
GM Caruana obtained a promising position against GM Wojtaszek but the latter began to outplay his strong opponent in the middlegame and achieved a very promising endgame. While it is not clear if White had a clear-cut win or not, Wojtaszek made his opponent’s task easy by letting him give perpetual checks.
Young GM David Gavrilescu, scored two draws after starting with four losses | Photo Courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Our coverage of the 2022 Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland Day 3 continues on Saturday, May 21st at 6:50 AM 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 .