Berlin GP Final: Following theory

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
4/2/2022 – The final match of the FIDE Grand Prix in Berlin kicked off with a quick draw. Wesley So had the white pieces, but was content with keeping things under control in a game that only left theory on move 27. Hikaru Nakamura happily followed suit, as he will get a chance to get ahead on the scoreboard when he gets white on Sunday. | Photos: World Chess

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“Life is nice at the top, but also quite sad”

Last year’s US Championships returned to the Saint Louis Chess Club after going online amid the pandemic in 2020. Wesley So clinched his third national title by dominating the final tiebreakers against Fabiano Caruana and Sam Sevian.

Hikaru Nakamura did not participate, but apparently followed the games closely, as the line he and So explored on Saturday repeated no fewer than 27 moves from the first-round encounter between Jeffery Xiong and the eventual champion. 


While Xiong had played 27.Rf2 against him, So opted for 27.Qxb7, when Nakamura quickly forced a draw via 27...Rc2 28.Rf2 Rxf2 29.Kxf2 Qxh2+ 30.Qg2 Qh5


With major pieces still on the board and his king somewhat weaker than its counterpart, there is no hope for So to create anything from this position without taking unjustifiable risks. In the predecessor game, Xiong got a slight pressure and the game lasted 48 moves, but the position was never away from the realm of equality.

Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura

Talking to Anastasiya Karlovich after the game, the US grandmasters agreed that it feels somewhat lonely in the playing hall with everybody gone but them. Nakamura pointed out that the only scenario in which they could have found themselves in a similar situation is the World Cup, and none of them ever reached the semifinals of finals in the biannual event. So added:

Life is nice at the top, but also quite sad.

The Filipino-born star wondered how Magnus Carlsen must feel after having played  five 12 or 14-game matches in the last nine years. Perhaps the glory of victory makes up for the sadness, especially for someone as competitive as the world champion. We can only wonder.



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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