Superbet: Deac joins the lead as Rapport blunders

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/7/2022 – For a third day in a row, we got to see one of five games ending decisively at the Superbet Chess Classic in Bucharest. Bogdan-Daniel Deac, the clear underdog in the field, joined Wesley So and Ian Nepomniachtchi in the lead after making the most of Richard Rapport’s one-move blunder. Meanwhile, Levon Aronian escaped against Alireza Firouzja, who could not convert his advantage in a double-edged endgame. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Three co-leaders

Each of the three first rounds at the Superbet Chess Classic has seen a single decisive game. Three different players scored full points, while none of the losing players bounced back from previous defeats, thus leaving three players tied for first place with a plus-one score.

Wesley So won on opening day; Ian Nepomniachtchi beat Alireza Firouzja in the second round; and now Bogdan-Daniel Deac has joined the lead by defeating third seed Richard Rapport. The latter had a strong initiative out of a Nimzo-Indian with opposite-side castling.

 

White’s king looks quite weak, but after 19.Rxd3 Qxd3 20.Nxf6 it is Black who needs to be careful. Of course, 20...gxf6 fails to 21.Qxf6#, but the young Romanian was not going to fall for such a simple tactic — he found 20...Qd6, preparing to defend the weak g7-square after 21.Nfh5, which threatens mate-in-one.

Deac’s follow-up was not as strong though, as he gave a check with 21...Qh6+ instead of going for the correct 21...Qf8

 

White now gets the upper hand after 22.f4. Finding the right path to make the most of the initiative was no easy task for Rapport, though, who failed to play the most precise continuation on move 26. 

A dynamically balanced position appeared on the board with the clocks ticking down dangerously four hours into the round.

Suddenly, however, the balance was tipped in Black’s favour as Rapport found himself in a clearly losing position after blundering on the last move before the time control.

 

The Hungarian needed to play 40.Nf6+ here, when Black is forced to give up his extra exchange with 40...Rxf6 — 40...Kf8 fails to 41.Rh2, since there is nothing better for Black than 41...Qb5+ 42.Qxb5 cxb5 43.Rh8+ Ke7 44.Rxa8 Rxf6, and White has the upper hand in the rook endgame. (You can try your own variations on any of our dynamic diagrams!)

Instead, Rapport faltered with 40.Ng5, which allows an immediate simplification which clearly favours Black: i.e. 40...Qxf4 (crucially attacking both the knight on g5 and the rook on d2) 41.Qxf4 Rxf4 and Black is simply an exchange up in the endgame.

 

Rapport went through the motions until move 52, when he finally resigned. In Sunday’s fourth round, the Hungarian will have the tough task of facing Alireza Firouzja with the black pieces.

 

Bogdan-Daniel Deac

Bogdan-Daniel Deac leaves the playing hall, while young fans await to get an autograph | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Aronian escapes

After a bit over five months of inactivity in classical chess, Firouzja entered the tournament in Bucharest as the top seed. A draw against Fabiano Caruana was followed by a defeat with white against Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Facing an in-form Levon Aronian in round 3, the 18-year-old seemed to be heading to a speedy recovery after his loss on Friday.

 

Firouzja, playing black, correctly agreed to enter this double-edged endgame with bishop against knight and passed pawns on both sides of the board. 

Such sharp positions need extremely precise calculation though, as both players must consider every potential pawn endgame carefully. A long-standing competitor like Aronian knew this all too well, as he continued to create problems for his opponent.

By move 47, a mutual-zugzwang position appeared on the board.

 

As Yosha Iglesias pointed out on Twitter, this position is winning for Black if it is White to play. But it is Firouzja’s turn, and he has no way to make progress — the position is drawn.

The grandmasters continued playing until move 62.

 

62.Qxb2+ Qxb2 Stalemate!

 

Levon Aronian

A smiling Levon Aronian | Photo: Lennart Ootes

In the all-American confrontation between Caruana and So, it was the latter who got a slight edge with black out of a Catalan. A draw was nonetheless signed after 40 moves. 

Meanwhile, in Nepomniachtchi vs Leinier Dominguez, the Cuban-born grandmaster spent over an hour on moves 22 and 23, as his opponent was better prepared in the variation of the Petroff Defence that the strong theoreticians explored in their round-3 contest. Dominguez spent his time wisely though, as he managed to keep things under control against the latest World Championship challenger.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov reached a draw by triple repetition after merely 20 moves.

Round 3 results

 

Standings after round 3

 

All games

 

Links


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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