Superbet Classic: Firouzja beats Nepo, Giri beats Ding

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/14/2023 – Alireza Firouzja joined Fabiano Caruana in the lead of the Superbet Chess Classic after beating Ian Nepomniachtchi in the tournament’s seventh round. The other decisive game of the day saw Anish Giri claiming his first win in Bucharest by beating Ding Liren with white. Thus, much like in round 5, the two recent World Championship contenders lost on the same day. Ding and Nepo stand now in shared last place with 2½/7 points. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Firouzja shared leader

A first-round loss did not bode well for a rusty Alireza Firouzja in Bucharest. However, his three wins (and three draws) in the next six rounds have allowed him to go into the final two days of action sharing the lead with Fabiano Caruana. Furthermore, the 19-year-old has gained 7.6 rating points in the process, climbing to clear second place in the live ratings list, almost 13 points ahead of third-placed Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Firouzja’s widening the gap relative to Nepo and Ding Liren in the world ranking also has to do with the World Championship contenders’ subpar performance in the Romanian capital. The protagonists of the thrilling match in Astana have minus-two scores and are currently standing in shared last place, together with underdog Bogdan-Daniel Deac.

Not to mention the fact that Firouzja has beaten both Ding and Nepo. Fortunately for the French representative, he got white against the world champion in round 5 and also white against Nepo on Saturday. After beating the Russian, Firouzja explained:

[Nepo] has a very solid repertoire with black, so it was very difficult to get a game. So I’m really happy with this win, and it improves my score in the standings.

With two rounds to go, Firouzja and Caruana are sharing the lead with 4½ points each. Wesley So, Richard Rapport and Anish Giri make up the chasing pack a half point behind.

Giri joined the chasers by beating Ding with white, after the latter played somewhat carelessly in the opening. The position was quite complicated, though, as Giri needed to show persistence and a good tactical eye to convert his advantage into a full point.

As ever, the Dutchman was very eloquent while analysing the game afterwards:

Firouzja 1 - 0 Nepomniachtchi

Anish Giri

Anish Giri has plenty of fans in Bucharest! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Results - Round 7

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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.