SuperUnited Croatia: Formidable Anand grabs the lead

by André Schulz
7/6/2023 – For five days, ten of the world’s best chess players, including former world champions Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand, are playing rapid and blitz chess in Zagreb. The chess stars have been received with great enthusiasm in the Croatian capital. After the first day of rapid chess, living legend Anand has taken the lead. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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A strong field

The SuperUnited Croatia Rapid and Blitz is the third stop on this year’s Grand Chess Tour. It will be followed in November and December by the two tournaments in Saint Louis, the Rapid and Blitz tournament and the Sinquefield Cup.

In the Croatian capital of Zagreb, some of the strongest players in the world, such as Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Richard Rapport meet up-and-coming young players, who already belong to the world’s elite, namely Alireza Firouzja and D. Gukesh. Ivan Saric and Constantin Lupulescu play as representatives of the host countries.

The field offers some interesting encounters with a past, namely rematches of World Championship contests featuring Carlsen and three of his previous challengers: Anand, Caruana and Nepomniachtchi.

Garry Kasparov having fun | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The tournament in Zagreb consists of a rapid chess section and a blitz section. Three rounds of rapid chess will be played on each of the first three days. Then a double-round blitz tournament follows on the remaining two days. The points in the rapid count twice as much as in the blitz (win: 2 pts; draw: 1 pt).

High-fiving Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Carlsen started with a clear win with black over Gukesh. The young Indian was simply outplayed by the 17th World Chess Champion.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda won against Ian Nepomniachtchi, also with Black, while Richard Rapport got the better of Fabiano Caruana.

Duda took the momentum from the first round into the second round, where he defeated another giant, Alireza Firouzja.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda

Richard Rapport, on the other hand, did not manage a second win. The Hungarian, who now plays under the Romanian flag, was defeated by Viswanathan Anand. Fabiano Caruana managed to level his score by beating Constantin Lupulescu.

Carlsen’s game in round two against Ivan Saric ended in a draw after the Norwegian missed a good opportunity in the middlegame and was probably on the losing side in the endgame. In the study-like pawn race, however, the Croatian grandmaster did not find the win and got off lightly. The game between Gukesh and Nepomniachtchi also ended in a draw.

In the third round, Anand scored his second win, against Lupulescu. At 53 years of age, the 15th World Champion has not lost any of his playing strength, at least not in rapid chess. Duda’s winning streak, on the other hand, was ended by Richard Rapport.

Vishy Anand | Photo: Lennart Ootes

With his 5 points out of 6, Anand took the lead in the standings after the first day of play. He is followed by Rapport, Carlsen and Duda.

Anastasiya Karlovich interviews Vishy Anand

Standings after round 3 (win = 2 pts; draw = 1 pt)

All games


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.