Berlin GP: So with a foot in the final

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/31/2022 – Wesley So beat Amin Tabatabaei in their first semifinal encounter at the FIDE Grand Prix in Berlin, and now only needs a draw on Thursday to reach the final of the two-week event. In the other semi, Hikaru Nakamura could not get much with white against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a game that was agreed drawn after 30 moves. | Photos: World Chess

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Non-stop chess

FIDE Grand Prix 2022Qualifying to the Candidates for a second time in his career was certainly a big achievement for Hikaru Nakamura, but that did not have any effect on his busy schedule as a player/streamer. After winning pool A, the US grandmaster played two online events on Tuesday and Wednesday, and won both of them. At chess.com’s Titled Tuesday he finished first ahead of Dmitry Andreikin, while on the Arena Kings tournament, played on the same platform, he won a 16-player knockout featuring streamers.

Amid his online outings, Nakamura drew Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the first semifinal of the Berlin Grand Prix. Talking to Anastasiya Karlovich, the 5-time US champion explained that it is now difficult for him to decide whether to play sharp openings in this event, since he is already thinking about the Candidates:

What is the value of playing something special and maybe winning if I’m lucky? Versus maybe using it and possibly winning a game in the Candidates. I mean, there is no upside. Winning a match is nice, but of course the Candidates is more important.

Meanwhile, Nakamura’s compatriot Wesley So got the better of Amin Tabatabaei with the white pieces. The Iranian grandmaster noted that his lack of experience had to do with his mishandling of the position arising from an Exchange Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. A draw on Thursday is all So needs to reach the final of the tournament in Berlin.

Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura

So 1 - 0 Tabatabaei

In a strategic struggle, Tabatabaei faltered by offering a knight swap on move 23, as both players agreed afterwards.

 

After 23.Nxa4 Rxa4 24.Qd2 Black is already on the back foot. Looking to activate his pieces, the Iranian went for 24...Rc7, when White has 25.Bg3 and Black either returns with his rook to a passive square or simply gives up a pawn — by playing 25...Rc6 Tabatabaei decided on the latter.

 

So grabbed the pawn with 26.Rxb7, and carefully converted his advantage into a 43-move victory in yet another showing of his technical prowess.

 

Nakamura ½ - ½ Mamedyarov

Out of a Petroff Defence which saw Mamedyarov deviating from theory on move 10, the semifinalists carefully handled the complex middlegame. By move 29, a rook and bishop endgame appeared on the board.

 

29...Kg7 30.Re1 Kf7 and a draw was agreed.

 

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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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