Superbet: Mamedyarov in the sole lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/13/2021 – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is the sole leader at the Superbet Chess Classic after an eventful seventh round in Bucharest. The Azerbaijani beat Fabiano Caruana with black while former co-leader Alexander Grischuk was defeated by Levon Aronian. The third decisive game of the day saw Anish Giri getting a full point in his encounter against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


A full-point lead

For the first time in Bucharest, three games finished decisively in a single round. While Levon Aronian and Anish Giri scored their first victories of the event, both to bounce back to a fifty percent score, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov obtained his third full point in a row to go into the last two rounds a full point ahead of the field.

The first game to finish decisively on Saturday was Aronian’s win over former co-leader Alexander Grischuk. Teimour Radjabov and Wesley So — both undefeated so far in the event, with Radjabov having signed seven draws so far — agreed to a 38-move draw meanwhile. These two results meant Mamedyarov would get a 1-point lead over Grischuk and So if he managed to beat Fabiano Caruana with the black pieces.

Caruana was struggling against the Azerbaijani’s bold opening choice, but once he found himself in a clearly inferior position he started to defend tenaciously, giving up two pawns to sharply complicate Black’s task. Eventually, Mamedyarov got to convert in the rook endgame a pawn to the good, climbing to the top stop in the standings table and gaining enough rating points to reach fifth place in the live ratings list.

The second-to-last game to finish was Giri’s victory over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The Dutchman managed to convert an opposite-coloured bishops endgame with an extra pawn. Giri confessed:

The more experienced I get, the more I realize chess is just about luck, there is really nothing else.

In the duel between Romanians, Bogdan-Daniel Deac tried hard but could not convert from a slightly superior endgame against Constantin Lupulescu. The players agreed to split the point after 75 moves — no short draw in the Romanian derby!

Constantin Lupulescu, Bogdan Daniel Deac

Is it FCSB v Dinamo București? No, it’s Lupulescu v Deac | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Two of the most fighting players in the elite predictably went for a sharp struggle from the get go. Caruana played the 4.d3 Anti-Berlin with white, while Mamedyarov did not hesitate to play his trademark move when given the chance.


9...g5 was a novelty, and one that discombobulated Caruana — one of the best theoreticians in the world. The American did not find the best response, as he spent a bit over three minutes on 10.Ne2 when 10.Nd5 was the way to go. The idea is that after 10...Bd7 White has 11.Bxg5 with a big advantage; thus, Black would need to play 10...h6, and White is more than fine.

In the game, Black advanced his g-pawn all the way to the third rank, getting attacking chances even after the queens left the board.


Mamedyarov was clearly the one with the initiative — 17...g3 18.Nd4 Bd8 19.fxg3 Rxg3 20.Re1 Rg4 21.Bg5 Bxg5 22.hxg5 Ke7 23.Rad1 Bd7


At this point, Caruana found two consecutive moves that were the first suggestions of the engines, giving up two pawns to get better defensive chances — 24.e6 fxe6 25.g6 hxg6.

In the post-mortem interview, Mamedyarov praised his opponent’s play in the last stage of the game, noting that, had he managed to save the draw, it would have been a brilliant defensive effort. However, it was not to be for the American, who thus suffered his second defeat in the tournament.


Fabiano Caruana, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Caruana resigns | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Much like Mamedyarov, who played enterprising chess from the get go, Grischuk showed one of his most salient features as a chess player: his proclivity to get into deep time trouble. Against Aronian, the Russian grandmaster faltered on move 21, when he already had less than five minutes on the clock.


Here Black needed to play carefully, as White might at any point get a strong kingside attack. The best moves in the position were 21...Re7 or 21...Ne5, trying to untangle. Instead, Grischuk erred with 21...Nd4, allowing White to play the forcing sequence 22.Nxd4 Bxd4 23.Rad1


White has activated his pieces, while Black’s army is still struggling to find coordination. At this point, again, Grischuk needed to look for a way to relieve the tension with 23...Be5 and try to defend the position a pawn down that would ensue. His 23...Bc5, on the other hand, led to a quick defeat, as White went 24.Bb1 and soon advanced his pawn to e5, which allowed the light-squared bishop to decisively join the attack.


Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 7


All games



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.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register