Superbet Classic: Nepo and Rapport score, catch So in the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/8/2023 – The Superbet Chess Classic in Bucharest has three players sharing the lead after two rounds. Ian Nepomniachtchi and Richard Rapport joined Wesley So atop the standings after scoring wins over Bogdan-Daniel Deac and Jan-Krzysztof Duda respectively. World champion Ding Liren and Fabiano Caruana signed a 21-move draw. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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“He got careless, obviously”

Three rather uneventful draws were seen in round 2 of the Superbet Chess Classic, with newly crowned world champion Ding Liren deciding to call it a day early on (with white) against Fabiano Caruana. The remaining two games were plenty entertaining, though. Ian Nepomniachtchi got the better of Bogdan-Daniel Deac, while Richard Rapport defeated Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The two winners of the day joined Wesley So in the lead with 1½ points.

Nepo beat the tournament’s underdog with black after making the most of Deac’s subpar (and slow) play in the opening. Talking to Cristian Chirila after his win, Nepo confessed that he is lacking a bit of motivation after the gruelling match in Astana, but that this is his job, and he intends to gain rating in the single round-robin. Nepo’s conversion of his edge was brilliant.

Meanwhile, Rapport demonstrated that not all pure opposite-coloured bishop endgames are drawn. With both sides having the same number of pawns, the Romanian grandmaster outplayed Duda to grab his first win of the event. Rapport later explained:

He got careless, obviously, because he thought everything was a draw. [...] He wanted probably to wrap the game up very quickly.

Round 3 will see co-leader Nepo facing Ding with white in their first encounter after the Astana match. As noted by Caruana, Ding does not seem to have been trying very hard in his back-to-back wins with the white pieces, but obviously, he will have plenty of unused theoretical preparation against Nepo’s repertoire on Monday.

Anish Giri

Anish Giri and Alireza Firouzja signed a 36-move draw | Photo: Bryan Adams

Deac 0 - 1 Nepomniachtchi

Bogdan-Daniel Deac, Ian Nepomniachtchi

Bogdan-Daniel Deac was defeated by an in-form Ian Nepomniachtchi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Rapport 1 - 0 Duda

Richard Rapport, Jan-Krzysztof Duda

Jan-Krzysztof Duda trying to defend the tricky opposite-coloured bishop endgame against Richard Rapport | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Results - Round 2

Standings - Round 2

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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.