All five games were drawn in Round 6 as Fabiano Caruana let Alireza Firouzja off the hook, missing a chance to increase his lead, while Wesley So stunningly repeated moves against Ding Liren in a nearly winning position. With three rounds left to play Caruana remains in clear first with 4.0/6, while Firouzja, So, and Rapport are all tied for second with 3.5.
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.
DEAC - GIRI | ½-½, 34 moves
A positional line of the Najdorf saw Giri tank for more than 30 minutes out of the opening before uncorking the surprising novelty 11…a5. Deac responded naturally with 12.a4 and stood a bit better for most of the game, but without a clear way to play on he decided to repeat moves shortly before the first time control.
Giri needed some serious time in the opening, but eventually found his footing. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
VACHIER-LAGRAVE - RAPPORT | ½-½, 34 moves
A Winawer French developed into a heavy strategic battle, as Rapport castled queenside while Vachier-Lagrave put his king on d2. While it was MVL who had the space advantage, he couldn’t make much progress as Rapport’s pieces were placed optimally to create counterplay. Eventually Vachier-Lagrave tried a sharp winning attempt by abandoning his queenside in order to create a passed pawn on the kingside, but precise defense by Rapport allowed him to force a perpetual thanks to his active queen.
After 18.Kd2, the position was tremendously complicated.
Another draw for Rapport, who remains tied for second. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
CARUANA - FIROUZJA | ½-½, 45 moves
In a symmetrical Grunfeld Caruana emerged with a clear plus in the middlegame, as most of his pieces were more active than their counterparts. As the players traded down into the endgame things didn’t get any easier for Firouzja, who was stuck passively in a rook and knight ending, with Caruana’s rook posted on the 7th rank. But on the 41st move Caruana let his entire advantage slip, allowing Firouzja to challenge White’s rook on the 7th and simply equalize immediately.
Here 39.h4, followed by g3-g4-g5 would have posed serious problems for Black. Instead Caruana played 39.Nf7+ Kg8 40.Nd6 f5 41.Nc4?, which allowed 41…Rf7!, allowing Black to hold.
A serious missed opportunity for Caruana, who had a chance to take a full-point lead. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
NEPOMNIACHTCHI - DUDA | ½-½, 36 moves
Facing his own opening, the Petroff Defense, Nepomniachtchi played quite quickly out of the gate to put pressure on Duda, but couldn’t seem to get more than a symbolic advantage with the slightly more active pieces. Despite having a weak pawn on c6, Duda put pressure on White’s isolated d4-pawn in order to hold the balance, and eventually Nepo had nothing better to do than to repeat the position.
Duda was under some difficulties today, but managed to hold. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
DING - SO | ½-½, 40 moves
In what was the wildest game of the day, Ding played rather ambitiously in an English Opening, looking to claim a lot of space at the cost of his development. But So reacted quite energetically, blasting open the center while White’s king was still in the middle of the board. A highly tactical battle ensued which saw So sacrifice his queen for a rook and two pieces, but then to the shock of commentators he decided to repeat moves and force a draw in a position where he was clearly better.
Here So played 29...Bxg4!, sacrificing the queen for multiple pieces after 30.Rxg3 Nxg3+
A miraculous escape for Ding, who was on the ropes early on. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Pairings for Round 7
The 2023 Superbet Chess Classic continues Saturday, May 13, 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.