Superbet Chess Classic: Lupulescu tricks Giri

by André Schulz
6/8/2021 – In the one game of the day that finished decisively, Constantin Lupulescu took down Anish Giri to bounce back from his defeat against Fabiano Caruana in the preceding round. The Romanian contestants — Lupulescu and Bogdan-Daniel Deac — have shown the most fighting chess so far in Bucharest, with their higher-rated colleagues often choosing to play it safe in their direct encounters. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Getting used to classical chess

Here it is again, the Grand Chess Tour, after the pandemic forced the series to take a break last year. Six tournaments in five locations are planned between June and August 2021. The Superbet Chess Classic in Bucharest kicked things off. It will be followed by rapid and blitz tournaments in Paris (16-23 June) and Zagreb (5-12 July). In August, the world elite will meet in St. Louis, where they will first play the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz (9-16) and then the Sinquefield Cup (16-28). That’s a smart schedule, since who knows what awaits us in the autumn, although one can harbour some hopes that the situation will gradually return to normal everywhere thanks to the vaccines.

Ten players take part in each of the tournaments. Nine players play the whole tour, namely: Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley So, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Teimour Radjabov and Anish Giri. Richard Rapport was scheduled as the ninth player. However, the Hungarian withdrew at short notice and was replaced by the 19-year-old Romanian Bogdan-Daniel Deac. 

In addition, there is a tenth player for each event who is invited via a wildcard. For the Superbet Chess Classic, this is Constantin Lupulescu, the ‘local hero’. 

The players receive points and prizes for their placings. At the end of the tour, there is a special bonus for the best players.

Wesley So with his foster mother Lotis Key | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The Superbet Chess Classic is played with a classical time control. After countless online rapid chess tournaments, you first have to get used to the fact that chess games can — and many times will — last several hours. This is probably also the case for some players, and perhaps explains the brevity of some games, which ended abruptly with the players splitting the points.

In the third round of the tournament neither the game Grischuk vs. So nor the game Radjabov vs. Vachier-Lagrave reached move 30. In Grischuk vs. So, the position was fully equalized quite early out of a Berlin Defence, and the game ended on move 23 after perpetual check. The game between Radjabov and Vachier-Lagrave lasted two moves longer, after no new insights were shown in a long theoretical variation of the Grünfeld Defence.

Among the winners of the first two rounds was Bogdan-Daniel Deac, who defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave out of an Open Variation of the Spanish with black in round 2. Deac was sharing the lead with Fabiano Caruana before the round started, and had to defend his spot at the top against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. He did not have a very hard time doing precisely that with the white pieces out of a Catalan Opening.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Deac, Bogdan-Daniel (2627) - Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (2770)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2 Nc6 6.Qa4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Nd5 8.Bxb4 Ndxb4 9.0–0 Rb8 10.Na3 0–0 11.Qb5 b6 12.Qxc4 Ba6


13.Nb5 Qe8 [13...Qd5 Often, also 14.Qxd5 Nxd5 15.a4 Na5 16.Ne5 Rbd8 is played.]

14.Rfc1 Nd5 15.e4 Na5 16.Nxc7 Nxc4

[In two previous games the following line was explored: 16...Bxc4 17.Nxe8 Rfxe8 18.Ne5 Rbc8 19.Nxc4 Nxc4 20.exd5 exd5 21.b3 Nd6 22.Bxd5 Nf5 ½–½ (78) Svane,R (2600)-Ragger,M (2701) Germany 2018]

(18.exd5 Bxd5 19.Rc7 Rb7 20.Rac1 Rxc7 21.Rxc7 Nc6 22.Ne5 Nxe5 23.Bxd5 exd5 24.dxe5 g5 25.Rxa7 Rxe5 26.Kf1 g4 27.Ra4 h5 28.Rb4 Re6 29.Rb5 Rd6 30.Ke2 Kg7 31.Kd3 Rf6 32.Ke2 Re6+ 33.Kd2 Rf6 34.Ke2 Re6+ ½–½ (34) Giri,A (2776)-So,W (2760) Kolkata 2019

17.Nxe8 Rfxe8 18.exd5 exd5 19.b3 Nd6 20.Ne5 Bb7


21.Nc6 Bxc6 22.Rxc6 [In principle, this created the same endgame that would arise after 16...Bxc4.]

22...Nb5 23.Bxd5 Re7 24.Bc4 Nxd4 25.Rd6 Nf3+ 26.Kg2 Ne1+ 27.Kf1 Nf3 28.h3 g5 29.Rad1 Ne5 30.R6d5 h6 31.Ba6 Kg7 32.Kg2 Rbe8 33.a4 Rc7 34.a5 Re6 35.Re1 Kf6 36.axb6 axb6 37.Re4 Rc3 38.Rb5 Nd7 39.Rxe6+ Kxe6


40.Rb4 Kd6 41.Bc4 f6 42.Rb5 Ke7 43.f4 Rc2+ 44.Kf3 Rc3+ 45.Kg2 Rc2+ 46.Kf3 Rc3+ 47.Kg2 Rc2+ 48.Kf3 Rc3+ ½–½

Anish Giri, Constantin Lupulescu

A tough day at the office for Anish Giri | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The surprise of the day was given by Romanian grandmaster Constantin Lupulescu. Against Anish Giri, he was first under pressure and then countered with a poisonous trick.


Black is more active and now brings some spice into the game.

21...Be4!? [21...Be4 22.fxe4 fxe4 and the d3-bishop cannot move, as the rook on e2 would hang.]

22.Bb1 Rg6 [Threatening to capture on f3.]

23.Bg3 Bxb1 24.Rxb1 Ne4 [Once again the same motif.]

25.Rbe1 Nxg3 26.Qd5+ Kh8 27.hxg3 Rxg3 [Black is a pawn up at the moment, which is not worth much here in the heavy-piece endgame.]

28.e4 [After the black storm is over, White now becomes active and offers a pawn. Also playable was 28.Qc6 Re7 29.Qa8+ Re8 30.Qc6=]

28...Qxf3 [28...Qg6=] 29.Qf7 [That was the idea.]

29...Rg8 30.exf5 [Not 30.Qxc7 f4 followed by Qg4 and f3.]


30...Qc6?! [Better was 30...Rg5 so that after 31.Rf2 Qd3 32.Re8 there is perpetual check: 32...Qd1+ 33.Rf1 Qd4+]

31.Rf2 Qc5? [Black could not give up control of e8.]

32.Re7! [Giri’s idea (or trap) was 32.Re8 Rxg2+ 33.Kxg2 Qc6+ 34.Kg1 Qxe8]

32...Qd4 [The threat is 32...-- 33.f6 h5 34.Qxg8+ Kxg8 35.f7+ Kh7 36.f8Q]


33.Re8 [Now Black is busted.] 33...Rxg2+ 34.Kxg2 Qg4+ 35.Kh2 Qh4+ 36.Kg2 Qg4+ 37.Kf1 Qh3+ 38.Ke1 Qc3+ 39.Rd2 [39.Rd2 Qa1+ 40.Ke2 escaping the checks.] 1–0

The game between Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana ended in a draw.

Standings after round 3


All games



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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