Superbet Poland: Anand leads, Caruana scores 8 out of 9

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/23/2022 – Vishy Anand kept the sole lead at the Superbet tournament in Warsaw after scoring 5 points in the first nine rounds of blitz, which were played on Sunday. The Indian has a 1½-point lead over Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who finished the day with three wins in a row. A half point back stand Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian, the day’s top scorers — Caruana collected 8 points, while Aronian added 7 points to his tally. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Aronian and Caruana impress

Grand Chess TourTwo US representatives had a great first day of blitz at the Superbet tournament in Warsaw. Fabiano Caruana (8/9 points on Sunday) and Levon Aronian (7/9) not only climbed to shared third place in the event but also surpassed Magnus Carlsen in the live ratings list for blitz chess. Caruana, who tends to underperform in blitz (compared to his usual level in classical), gained no fewer than twelve spots in the live rankings.

Aronian and Caruana now stand behind only Hikaru Nakamura in said ranking. Of course, this is a highly volatile measurement, which could vastly change in either direction during the last day of action in Poland.

Despite their impressive undefeated runs, the pair of Americans did not manage to overcome Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the tournament’s standings table. The Polish star kicked off the blitz with two straight losses, but managed to first get things under control and then score three victories in a row to go into the final nine rounds in sole second place.

Which takes us to the man of the hour: Vishy Anand. The former world champion grabbed the sole lead in round 2 of the rapid section and has not let go of it ever since. Anand collected three wins and suffered two losses on Sunday, which has left him 1½ points ahead of Duda.

Anish Giri, who is having a great performance at the Chessable Masters, wittily tweeted:

Vishy Anand, Jan-Krzysztof Duda

Vishy Anand beat Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the first round of blitz | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Caruana got the better of Anand with the white pieces in round 7. The Italian-American grandmaster faced the Petroff Defence, a system he used brilliantly during the run-up to the 2018 World Championship match in London (and also at the match itself).

White had been putting pressure on his opponent for a while, but failed to find a killer blow on move 45.

 

Here 45.Rd5+ wins easily, while 45.a6, as played by Caruana, only makes the task of converting the advantage more difficult. But, of course, this was a blitz game, so by move 45 the clock is as much a factor as the position. Anand, who had been defending throughout, had fewer seconds available than his opponent, and in fact lost on time at this point.

This was Caruana’s fourth (out of five) straight victory. He would go on to beat Wesley So with black before ending the day with a draw against Aronian.

You can replay all games from the blitz section at the end of the article.

Fabiano Caruana, Vishy Anand

Fabiano Caruana facing Vishy Anand | Photo: Lennart Ootes

As for Aronian, he needed to work hard to get a few of his wins on Sunday, especially in the third round, when he had two connected passers in a queen endgame against Kirill Shevchenko. This is how the position looked after 61 moves.

 

According to the tablebases, this is a draw, but of course it is White who needs to be precise in order to keep the balance. In a blitz game, Black can shuffle his queen, creating all kinds of threats while attempting to provoke a mistake by the defending player.

In this case, Aronian needed to continue playing until move 126 to get the full point!

 

Shevchenko resigned.

Richard Rapport, Levon Aronian

Upbeat — Richard Rapport and Levon Aronian | Photo: Lennart Ootes

As pointed out by Sahil Tickoo on Twitter, one of Anand’s three wins on Sunday featured a good-looking configuration. The Indian, who is known for his predilection of knights, got to place his minor piece in a perfect defensive position during his round-6 game against So.

 

The knight protects all four pawns at the same time! Anand needed only four more moves to secure a victory in this game.


Current standings

Superbet Grand Chess Tour Poland 2022


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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.
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