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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arzi arzi 4/5/2022 07:27
fixpoint:" you are wrong Fischer was a huge favourite with..."

STILL, Fischer had NOT won any games against Spassky before Reykjavik. AFTER Reykjavik Fischer had a positive score against Spassky.
fixpont fixpont 4/4/2022 11:14
@arzi: you are wrong Fischer was a huge favourite with ~125 ELO lead even bigger than MC

January 1972 - FIDE Rating List

Fischer, Robert James USA : 2785.
Spassky, Boris V URS : 2660.
arzi arzi 4/4/2022 06:41
To fixpoint: Before the WC -match in 1972 Reykjavik.

Fischer: easy opponent, Not even once did he won in classical game against Spassky before Reykjavik.
Mamack1 Mamack1 4/3/2022 05:30
I think that Duda would be one of MC's more difficult opponents actually, same with Ding.

Think that Caruana missed his best chance in 2018.
ChessTalk ChessTalk 4/3/2022 02:38
Fixpoint, I think Naka would be a tough match for Carlsen. But all money on the champ. He's a fierce competitor. Caruana and Ding would be tough too. If Carlsen played Firo, Carlsen will be firo'tious. Maybe Nepo will be stronger the second time around and nepo will be very strong in the candidates.
fixpont fixpont 4/3/2022 01:07
@arzi: this is how i see the chances of the candidates from MC's perspective:

Naka: easy opponent
Nepo: easy opponent
Radja: medium opponent
Caru: hard opponent (at least he was tough in 2018)
Duda: easy opponent
Rapport: easy opponent
Firo: i have no idea
Ding: medium opponent

So: he is not even in the candidates

ultimately this field is very very easy for MC and nobody has realistic chance to beat him in 2023
keithbc6472 keithbc6472 4/3/2022 10:06
So would be tough for Carlsen but not Naka who has a dismal record against the world champion.
satman satman 4/3/2022 09:21
Sad for the players, but also sad for Chess when opening theory reaches the stage that players can't diverge from a forced drawing line down to the 27th move.
arzi arzi 4/2/2022 08:52
Borh, Nakamura and So are tough opponents to Carlsen.