Berlin GP: Nakamura and So win tiebreakers, reach final

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
4/1/2022 – Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So moved on to the final of the FIDE Grand Prix in Berlin after getting 2-0 victories in the tiebreaks of the semifinals. The American duo showed excellent rapidplay skills, moving quickly and confidently even in somewhat inferior positions. Nakamura’s pair of wins allowed him to climb to first place in the rapid-chess live ratings list. | Photos: World Chess

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Naka tops rapid and blitz live rankings

FIDE Grand Prix 2022This has been an amazing week for Hikaru Nakamura. The 5-time US champion gained a spot in the Candidates, won the FIDE Grand Prix series, and climbed to first place both in the rapid and blitz live ratings lists. His next goal, albeit one that does not particularly motivate him, is to win the third leg of the Grand Prix, as he reached the final on Friday after scoring back-to-back wins over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

Much like Nakamura, Wesley So only needed two games to secure a spot in the tournament’s final. The Filipino-born star defeated Amin Tabatabaei, who had won the second classical encounter of the match on demand.

Given the large number of players that entered the third leg of the series with chances to get a spot in the Candidates Tournament, the fact that Nakamura and Richard Rapport were confirmed as the winners of the coveted prizes early on created a more relaxed atmosphere throughout the knockout stage. Both Mamedyarov and Tabatabaei, right after being eliminated from the competition, were quick to praise their opponents, who had shown a clear superiority in the rapid section of the semifinals.

Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura

Nakamura 2 - 0 Mamedyarov

In both rapid games, Mamedyarov had a good position in complex middlegames. However, Nakamura had the better nerves as the clocks ticked down. His experience playing hours and hours of blitz and bullet chess online paid off.


Mamedyarov’s 33.Rb7 was a mistake in this endgame. In order to prevent what followed, the Azerbaijiani needed to play 33.g4, as after the text move Nakamura found the winning 33...Bh3.

White’s best alternative at that point was to simply grab the bishop, giving up an exchange, with 34.Rxb4. Mamedyarov instead went for 34.Rc1, and resigned after 34...Bc5


Mate in six.


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So 2 - 0 Tabatabaei

While the games in the aforementioned semifinal tiebreaks lasted 41 and 34 moves, the encounters played by So and Tabatabaei lasted 63 and 47. The steady-handed So prevailed in the last stage of the games.


Tabatabaei played 46...Nd5 and resigned after 47.Rb8. In a rapid game, it was perhaps worth to try 46...Nxa6 and test whether White can win the position with a rook against four pawns.


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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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