Day 2 of the Superbet Chess Classic saw Ian Nepomniachtchi and Richard Rapport join Wesley So in the lead, with Nepomniachtchi defeating Deac with Black while Rapport ground down Duda in an opposite colored bishop endgame.
Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by an additional 30 minutes, with a 30 second increment starting from move 1.
DING - VACHIER-LAGRAVE | ½-½, 34 moves
In his first game as the new World Champion, Ding encountered the Queen’s Gambit Accepted from Vachier-Lagrave. He opted for the solid 7.b3 line, but failed to get much pressure. MVL was well-prepared and successfully liquidated all the material to force a drawn endgame.
Two whites and two draws for the World Champion. | Photo Courtesy Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
VACHIER-LAGRAVE - SO | ½-½, 22 moves
In a bit of a surprise Vachier-Lagrave went for the London System, but failed to achieve any edge against So, who played accurately out of the opening. The players traded queens soon after and if anyone stood better in the endgame it was Wesley with the slightly healthier structure. But it wasn’t enough of an advantage to really press, as the game quickly ended in a three-time repetition.
So perhaps could have pushed for more, but decided not to risk it. | Photo Courtesy Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
GIRI - FIROUZJA | ½-½, 36 moves
Despite playing the solid Exchange Slav, Giri fell under a bit of pressure as he got a slightly worse position in the middlegame. Firouzja tried to increase his advantage by piling up on the c-pawn, but didn’t have quite enough to generate real winning chances. From there the pieces were soon liquidated and the players entered a dead-drawn endgame.
Firouzja was somewhat better against Giri but couldn’t make much out of it. | Photo Courtesy Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
DEAC - NEPOMNIACHTCHI | 0-1, moves
A sharp variation in the Queen’s Gambit Declined saw Deac sacrifice an exchange out of the opening, getting a lot of compensation in the form of the two bishops. The ensuing middlegame was quite tricky to play, as Nepomniachtchi slowly activated his rooks and managed to outplay Deac. From there Deac did not manage to find the best way to defend as Nepo traded into a completely won endgame to pick up his first point.
Nepo’s 33…h5 left White without any good options, as the threat of 33…h4 is highly unpleasant.
A clean win as Black from Nepo, as he joins the lead. | Photo Courtesy Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
RAPPORT - DUDA | 1-0, 52 moves
While Rapport did not achieve much out of the opening, with the players reaching an endgame with opposite colored bishops, a dubious decision by Duda (21…b5) suddenly allowed White some play. Despite trading all the rooks off to enter a pure opposite colored bishop endgame, Rapport was able to win a pawn and generate serious winning chances thanks to his much healthier structure. The position could have still been held with perfect play, but Duda ultimately failed as Rapport was eventually able to break through and win.
Here Rapport played 24.Bxd1!, with idea to meet 24…cxb5 with 25.b4!, fixing Black’s weakness on a light-square and guaranteeing White a long-term advantage.
An excellent endgame win for Rapport, who squeezed water from a stone. | Photo Courtesy Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
The 2023 Superbet Chess Classic continues Monday, May 8, with tournament action live starting at 6:50 AM CT with Grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Var Akobian, Cristian Chirila and International Master Nazi Paikidze on grandchesstour.org and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.