Fabiano Caruana retained his half-point lead after Round 5 of 2023 Superbet Chess Classic, as Alireza Firouzja delivered the first loss to World Champion Ding Liren while Maxime Vachier-Lagrave scored a victory over Ian Nepommniachtchi. Going into the rest day, Caruana remains in first with 3.5/5 while Firouzja, So, and Rapport are tied for second with 3.0/5.
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.
DUDA - CARUANA | 1/2-1/2, 31 moves
A well-prepared Caruana had few issues equalizing in the Arkhangelsk Ruy Lopez, as he forced a series of trades in the center before sacrificing a knight on the kingside to secure a perpetual.
23...Nxh3+! forced a draw after 24.gxh3 Qg5+ 25.Kh1 Rxe5 26.f4 Qf5 27.Rxe5 Qxh3+=, with a perpetual.
Caruana showed great preparation today. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams
FIROUZJA - DING | 1-0, 52 moves
In a double-edged middlegame arising from a 4.d3 Berlin, Firouzja suddenly took on a lot of risk, sacrificing the e4-pawn in order to create pressure on the kingside. Things looked good for Black but at the critical moment Ding blundered, allowing Firouzja a combination to win a queen in exchange for a rook and bishop. The resulting endgame wasn't immediately lost but quite difficult, as Ding quickly went wrong and the French No. 1 converted the full point.
Here 30...Nde4 would have kept a large advantage for Black. Instead 30...Nfe4? was played, allowing Firouzja to win material with 31.Bxd6 Nxd6 32.Bxf7
The World No. 2 was the first to defeat the new world champion. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
NEPOMNIACHTCHI - VACHIER-LAGRAVE | 0-1, 58 moves
After surprising MVL with the 2.c3 Sicilian, Nepomniachtchi managed to get a slightly better position as the players exchanged queens early on. Nepo's advantage was starting to grow while Black looked for counterplay along the h-file. After a few nonchalant moves Nepo was suddenly in serious trouble, and then simply lost as MVL's rooks and knight became decisively active.
After 58...a3, Black was winning in view of 59.Rxb3 Rh3+
MVL was worse out of the opening, but managed to fully turn things around. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
GIRI - RAPPORT | 1/2-1/2, 49 moves
Once again Rapport opted for the French Defense, but didn't seem to face difficulties out of the opening in the 3.Nd2 Tarrasch Variation. Giri tried to create some initiative on the kingside in a roughly equal middlegame, but misplayed the position, soon giving Black a clear advantage in the endgame. At the key moment, Rapport missed his chance break through, allowing Giri just enough counterplay to survive.
A solid 3.0/5 for Rapport so far, who's tied for second. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
SO - DEAC | 1/2-1/2, 62 moves
Coming out of an Italian Game, So was able to gradually build up a space advantage in the center of the board as Deac's position became quite passive. However in the endgame Wesley slipped, allowing Black counterplay with the f5 pawn-break, which ended up saving Deac the game.
Wesley So had some chances against Deac, but couldn't fully capitalize. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams
Pairings for Round 6
The 2023 Superbet Chess Classic continues Friday, May 12, with tournament action live starting at 7:20 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