Superbet: Wins for MVL, Firouzja and Mamedyarov

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/12/2022 – Levon Aronian and Wesley So continue to share the lead at the Superbet Chess Classic despite three games finishing decisively in the seventh round. After losing to Aronian on Wednesday, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave bounced back with a win over Richard Rapport — the Frenchman is now in sole third place, a half point behind the leaders. Meanwhile, both Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Alireza Firouzja collected their first wins of the event. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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One-move blunders

All three decisive games in Thursday’s seventh round came down to one deciding moment, as rather large blunders tipped the balance in favour of the players who would go on to score full points. With wins for Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alireza Firouzja and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, nothing changed atop the standings table, where Levon Aronian and Wesley So continue to share the lead on a +2 score.

Vachier-Lagrave, who was quickly defeated by Aronian on Wednesday, is now the only player trailing the leaders by a half point. The Frenchman grabbed his second win of the event after Richard Rapport erred massively in a queenless position.


Rapport responded to 27...Nd7, which attacks the rook on e5, with 28.Nd5. The Hungarian resigned once 28...Nxe5 was played by his opponent, as he noticed that after 29.Nxe7+ Rxe7 there is no checkmate following 30.Rd8+


The man from Szombathely forgot about the bishop on a5. Had Black’s minor piece not been defending e8, mate would follow with 30...Kf7 31.Rf8#. This is the second time Rapport blunders into a losing position in the tournament, as he had also lost with the white pieces after making a grave error in round 3, against Bogdan-Daniel Deac.


Richard Rapport, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Pre-game handshake — Richard Rapport and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The other player representing France in Bucharest also scored a full point in round 7. Firouzja, who entered the event as the top seed and had yet to collect a win, defeated Leinier Dominguez with the white pieces. Dominguez failed to foresee a good-looking tactical shot on move 36.


The Cuban-born grandmaster could have prevented White from penetrating with his rook in the previous move. After 36.Rh7, however, he is all but lost. The idea is that after 36...Kxh7 White has 37.Qxf7 and there is no way to prevent mate with the other rook from h1.

Dominguez continued with 36...Re6 and sacrificed his knight on d4 on his next turn, but Firouzja quickly showed that his domination of the h-file is a decisive factor, as Black will need to give up too much material to avoid getting mated. 

Curiously, as Eyal S pointed out on Twitter, Dominguez had used the exact same tactical motif to beat So back in 2014, at the Tata Steel Masters tournament.


This position arose from a Petroff Defence. So resigned after 19.Rh7 d4 20.Bc4 Qe7? 21.Qh4.


Leinier Dominguez, Alireza Firouzja

Getting everything ready | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Both Rapport and Dominguez suffered painful losses after blundering, but Ian Nepomniachtchi is perhaps the one that will have a tougher time recovering from his loss in round 7. The latest World Championship challenger not only erred when he allowed Mamedyarov to get full control over the position on move 43, but he also failed to find a winning tactical shot earlier in the game.


Shakh’s 35...h6 was a losing mistake, as it allowed 36.Qf2 — Nepo missed this chance by playing the natural-looking 36.Rf6.

Had the Russian found the queen manoeuvre, his opponent would have been forced to give up material in order to prevent mate. For example, after 36...Nd7 there is 37.Rxc5 Qxc5 38.Qf7, both attacking the knight and threatening mate on g7.


There is no perpetual check for Black, and any move that defends against checkmate, like 38...Qf8, simply loses the knight.

In the game, Mamedyarov made the most of Nepo’s error on move 47 and thus grabbed his first full point of the event.


Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Cristian Chirila

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov sharing a laugh with Cristian Chirila | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 7 results


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.