After drawing his last game Fabiano Caruana won the 2023 Superbet Chess Classic with a score of 5.5/9, taking home a 1st place prize of $100,000.
2023 Superbet Chess Classic Champion, Fabiano Caruana | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
The current No. 2 American led for most of the event, and secured the title after his nearest rivals all drew their final round games, leaving him half a point ahead of the field. Tied for second place were Alireza Firouzja, Wesley So, Anish Giri, and Richard Rapport, all with 5.0/9.
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.
FIROUZJA VACHIER-LAGRAVE - | ½-½ 32 moves
Looking to play aggressively in today’s round, Firouzja was met with the solid Queen’s Gambit Accepted from Vachier-Lagrave. He went for a line where White goes into the endgame and can play for two results, but wasn’t able to create any chances against MVL’s precise defense, which led to piece simplifications and an eventual draw.
After finishing with +1, Firouzja called his tournament a “a good start for the year”. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
RAPPORT - CARUANA | ½-½, 30 moves
In a repeat of a highly theoretical line in the English that was seen in the recent World Championship, Caruana was put under some pressure out of the opening. The tournament leader spent a lot of time in the middlegame trying to figure out the position, with his pieces arranged awkwardly on the queenside, but eventually found a strong way to create counterplay. After the complications cleared Rapport reached an endgame with two extra pawns, but Caruana’s rook was simply too active for White to make anything out of his material advantage, resulting in a draw.
Caruana's 18...f6! created just enough play for Black, looking to open up the e- and f- files.
Rapport tried an ambitious line, but was met with stiff resistance. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams
SO - DUDA | ½-½, 44 moves
What started out as a 5.Nc3 Petroff led to an early endgame as So tried to build up some pressure against Duda’s position. However despite doubling the rooks on the e-file So couldn’t make much progress, as Duda calmly exchanged pieces and eventually forced a drawn rook and bishop against rook and knight ending.
After starting the event with a big win over Firouzja, So closed things out with eight straight draws. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams
DEAC - DING | 0-1, 48 moves
A sharp line in the Queen’s Indian saw Deac sacrifice a pawn for long-term compensation and pressure. His position was fine, but a mistake allowed Ding to neutralize White’s pressure and emerge with a healthy extra pawn. From there the task for Ding was technical, as he slowly improved his position before eventually taking over and breaking through on the kingside to win.
After 36…Rh2! Black’s pieces were simply crashing through.
Despite a disappointing performance, Ding won his first game as World Champion today. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
GIRI - NEPOMNIACHTCHI | ½-½, 68 moves
The final game of the event had important consequences as a win by Giri would allow him to reach Caruana and force a playoff. After being surprised with the Sveshnikov Sicilian, Giri opted for a rare variation (10.Nab1), where White aims for a small positional edge. He was a bit better in the middlegame, but patient defense from Nepomniachtchi allowed him to equalize and even start pressing for the win. At one point in the queen and knight endgame Giri blundered, but Nepo missed his chance to win and instead the game was eventually drawn.
Here 48…Qg3+ 49.Kh1 Qf4! would have been winning for Black, with a decisive threat of Ng3+
It was a forgetful event for the World Championship challenger as well. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
The 2023 Grand Chess Tour heads to Poland next for the Superbet Rapid and Blitz starting Sunday, May 21, 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.