Superbet: Exciting round leaves Grischuk and Mamedyarov in the lead

by André Schulz
6/12/2021 – After the rest day some of the players in the Superbet Chess Classic came back swinging. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov defeated Levon Aronian while Alexander Grischuk got the better of Constantin Lupulescu. Fabiano Caruana missed a good opportunity against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The results left Grischuk and Mamedyarov atop the standings on 4/6 points. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Three rounds to go

After the first five rounds, there was a rest day at the Superbet Chess Classic in Bucharest. Alexander Grischuk, Wesley So and Shakriyar Mamedyarov went into the break at the top of the table. One win and four draws were enough for them to lead the standings. All three remained undefeated until that point.

At the start of the second half, Viktor Bologan visited the tournament. Bologan was born in Moldova and grew up in a former Romanian territory which was incorporated into the USSR after the Second World War. Today, the country is politically independent, but is closely linked to Romania in terms of language and culture. After his active career as a professional chess player, Bologan worked as a trainer (especially for Zhu Chen in Qatar), as an author, and is now the Executive Director in FIDE. He has also recorded a number of DVDs on various openings for ChessBase.

Viktor Bologan, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

A much respected personality in the chess world — Viktor Bologan | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Victor Bologan opened today’s round by playing the symbolic first move in the game between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana.

The two players then followed a rather forced line in the Archangelsk Variation of the Spanish, which Caruana also had up to move 17 in an online blitz game against Leinier Dominguez.

In the game, Black tore open the white kingside and went for a dangerous attack after sacrificing a piece. The Frenchman defended by returning material and shortly afterwards the game ended with a triple repetition. Apparently, Caruana missed a chance to fight for more.

Vachier Lagrave, M (2760) - Caruana, F (2820) 
Superbet Classic 2021 Bucharest ROU (6)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Bc5 6.c3 b5 7.Bc2 d5 8.a4 dxe4 9.axb5 Bg4 10.bxc6 exf3 11.gxf3 Bh3 12.Re1 0–0 13.Ra5 Qd6


14.b4 Bxf2+ The position was certainly thoroughly calculated by the top grandmasters with their high-quality engines.

15.Kxf2 e4 16.Kg1 Rae8 17.Re3 [17.Rg5? exf3–+]

17...Nh5 18.f4 [18.Rg5 Qh6 19.Rg3 Nxg3 20.hxg3 exf3 21.Qxf3= 0–1 (59) Dominguez Perez,L (2758)-Caruana,F (2835) INT 2020]

18...Nxf4 19.Rg5!? [19.Rg3 f5 20.d4 Bg4 21.Bxf4 Qxf4 22.Qe1=]

19...f5 20.d4? [20.Rgg3 Bg4]

20...Bg4 21.Rxg4 fxg4


22.Qxg4 Nd3? The black advantage is gone.

[Better was 22...Qf6!? threatening Nh3. 23.Bxe4 h5 (23...Nh3+ is not enough now because of 24.Qxh3 Qf2+ 25.Kh1 Qf1+ 26.Qxf1 Rxf1+ 27.Kg2 Rxc1 28.Bxh7+) 24.Qf5 Qxf5 25.Bxf5 Rxe3 26.Bxe3 Rxf5 and Black is an exchange up. White, however, has a few pawns in return.]

23.Bxd3 exd3 24.Rxe8 Rxe8 25.Bf4 Qxc6 26.Be5 Qh6 27.Bf4 Qc6 28.Be5 Qh6 29.Bf4 Qc6 ½–½

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Alexander Grischuk played with the white pieces against Constantin Lupulescu, who chose the Classical Variation of the Sicilian Defence against 1.e4. In one of the main variations after 6.Bg5 White castled long while the black king remained in the centre. But Black’s attack turned out to be insufficient and White got a won position.


30...Rg4 Otherwise there would come g3. 31.c5 Decisive.

31...Rc8 32.Rc3 d5 33.Rxd5+ Ke8 34.g3 Qb4 35.Rc4 Qe1+ 36.Rd1 Qe3 37.Qd3 Forces the exchange of queens. The endgame is hopeless. 1–0

Alexander Grischuk, Constantin Lupulescu

Alexander Grischuk vs Constantin Lupulescu | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Levon Aronian repeated a long variation in the Ragozin Defence and reached a well-known balanced position around move 20. Soon afterwards, however, Mamedyarov grabbed a couple of pawns. Aronian was fighting for a draw.


18.Rfe1 [In all the previous games, White continued with 18.Qf2 and, for example, 18...Qb6 19.Rfe1 Rxe1+ 20.Rxe1 Qxf2+ 21.Kxf2 Kf8 22.Rc1 Bf5 23.Bb3 Rc8 24.Rxc8+ Bxc8 25.Ke3 Ke7 26.Kd4 b6 27.Bd5 f6 28.g3 Kd6 29.a3 h6 30.b4 Bd7 ½–½ (30) Abasov,N (2632)-Anand,V (2765) Douglas 2019]

18...Rxe1+ 19.Rxe1 Bd7? Loses a pawn. [19...Qb6+ 20.Qf2 Qxf2+ 21.Kxf2 Kf8= (21...Bd7? 22.Re7) ]

20.Qb3 Qf6 21.Qxb7 Qd4+


22.Kh1 Re8? [Better was 22...Rf8 23.b3]

23.Rxe8+ Bxe8 24.Bxf7+ Perhaps a somewhat unexpected blow.

24...Kf8 [24...Bxf7 25.Qb8+ leads to mate.]

25.Bb3 Qc5 Threatens mate as well, but White will hardly miss that.

26.Qd5 Qc1+ 27.Bd1 Qxf4 28.Qc5+ Kg8 29.Qxa7 White now has two connected passed pawns on the queenside. There is no defence.

29...h5 30.h3 Bc6 31.Bb3+ Kh7 32.Qf7 Qc1+ 33.Kh2 Qc5 34.Qg8+ Kh6 35.Qe6+ g6 36.Qf6 Bd7 37.h4 Qc7+ 38.g3 Qc8 39.Qf4+ Kh7 40.Qf7+ 1–0

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov | Photo: Lennart Ootes

In the game between Bogdan-Daniel Deac and Teimour Radjabov, a Berlin Defence appeared on the board and a move sequence that was seen in a Grischuk v Mamedyarov game up to move 18. The game did not cause any great excitement, but it still took until move 47 for the draw to be officially agreed.

Wesley So and Anish Giri played a classical variation of the Nimzo-Indian. White came into the endgame with an extra pawn, a rook and a minor piece. So got some chances but could not break through Giri’s defensive setup.

Standings after round 6


All games



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


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