Superbet Rapid & Blitz

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

Superbet Rapid
Bucharest, Romania
November 6–8, 2019

Final Standings (Rapid portion)

1. Anton Korobov UKR 2798, 6.0/9

2–4. Anish Giri NED 2705, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AZE 2734, Levon Aronian ARM 2768, 5.0/6

5–6. Sergey Karjakin RUS 2756, Viswanathan Anand IND 2757, 4.5/6

7–9. Fabiano Caruana USA 2791, Le Quang Liem VIE 2746, Vladislav Artemiev RUS 2768, 4.0/6

10. Wesley So USA 2802, 3.0/9

Time Control: 25 minutes play-to-finish with 10 seconds time delay before your clock starts.

Superbet Blitz
Bucharest, Romania
November 9–10, 2019

Final Standings (Blitz portion)

1–2. Le Quang Liem VIE 2680, Sergey Karjakin RUS 2829, 11.0/18

3–4. Wesley So USA 2763, Viswanathan Anand IND 2791, 10.5/18

5–6. Levon Aronian ARM 2818, Vladislav Artemiev RUS 2779, 10.0/18

7. Anish Giri NED 2740, 8.0/18

8–9. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AZE 2740, Anton Korobov UKR 2771, 6.5/18

10. Fabiano Caruana USA 2774, 6.0/18

Time Control: Five minutes play-to-finish with three seconds time delay before your clock starts

Superbet Rapid & Blitz
Bucharest, Romania
November 6–10, 2019

Final Standings (Rapid is considered double)

1–2. Levon Aronian ARM, Sergey Karjakin RUS, 20.0/27

3. Viswanathan Anand IND, 19.5/27

4. Le Quang Liem VIE, 19.0/27

5. Anton Korobov UKR, 18.5/27

6–7. Vladislav Artemiev RUS, Anish Giri NED, 18.0/27

8–9. Wesley So USA, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AZE, 16.5/27

10. Fabiano Caruana USA, 14.0/27

Tiebreak Match
Levon Aronian versus Sergey Karjakin, 1.5/0.5

Time control: 10 minutes play-to-finish with five seconds time delay before your clock starts.

The Superbet Rapid & Blitz took place in Bucharest Wednesday 6th November to Sunday 10th this year. It is part of the Grand Chess Tour which encompasses eight tournaments:

Classical Tournaments
($90,000 for first prize)

Zagreb (Croatia),
June 24–July 9, 2019
Sinquefield Cup (St. Louis, Missouri, USA, August 15–30, 2019

Five Rapid/Blitz Tournaments
Abidjan, Ivory Coast, May 6–13, 2019
Paris, France,
July 26–Aug. 2, 2019
St. Louis, Missouri, USA, August 8–15, 2019
Bucharest, Romania, November 4–11, 2019
Kolkata, India, Nov. 20–27, 2019

The top four players by cumulative score will qualify for the 2019 GCT Finals which will be held during the London Chess Classic in London, UK between Nov. 30 and Dec. 10.

In Bucharest Wesley started very poorly. As you know earlier this month Wesley was crowned the 1st World Champion in Fischer Random chess, a variation of chess where you shuffle the pieces on the first rank before start of play. The point of this exercise of course is to remove the whole body of chess opening theory from the competition. On the one hand it can now be claimed that Wesley is the best pure chess player in the world, on the other hand Wesley would need an adjustment period before going back to classical chess, and it showed in this tournament.

The Ukraine’s GM Anton Korobov won the Rapid portion with three wins and six draws, with Aronian, Mamedyarov and Anish Giri trailing one point behind.

Giri, Anish (2776) — So, Wesley (2760) [E04]
Superbet Rapid 2019 Bucharest ROU (1.2), 06.11.2019

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2 c5 6.0–0 Nc6 7.dxc5 Qxd1 8.Rxd1 Bxc5 9.Nbd2 c3 10.bxc3 0–0 11.Nb3 Be7 12.c4 Bd7 13.Bb2 Rfd8 14.Nfd4 Rac8 15.Nb5 b6 16.Nd6 Bxd6 17.Rxd6 Be8 18.Rxd8 Nxd8 19.Rc1 Bc6 20.c5 Bxg2 21.Kxg2 Nd7 22.cxb6 Rxc1 23.Bxc1 axb6 24.Kf3 Nc6 25.Ke3 Kf8 26.Nd4 Nxd4 27.Kxd4 Ke7 28.Kc4 Kd6 29.Kb5 Kc7 30.g4 Nf6 31.Be3 Nd7 32.h4 f5 33.g5 g6 34.f4 Kb7 35.a4 Kc7 36.Bf2 Kb7 37.Bd4 Kc7 38.Bf6 h6 <D>


39.Bd8+!! 1–0

Giri’s 39th move is the kind you don’t consider, but once you get the idea it all looks so simple: 39.Bd8+ Kxd8 40.gxh6 Nf6 41.Kxb6 Kc8 42.Kc6 Kb8 43.Kd6 the Black king is tied down to the defense against White’s a-pawn while the White king mows down the Black kingside pawns.

The next day though Giri got unraveled and Korobov finished the day atop the standings in the Rapid portion of the event.

Artemiev, Vladislav (2731) — Giri, Anish (2776) [D40]
Superbet Rapid 2019
Bucharest ROU
(5.4), 07.11.2019

1.c4 c6 2.e4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bf4 dxc4 7.Bxc4 e6 8.Nf3 Bd6 9.Ne5 0–0 10.0–0 Bb8 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Be5 Nd7 13.Qe2 a5 14.Rad1 Qb6 15.Bd3 Ba6 16.h4 Rd8 17.Bxa6 Qxa6 18.Qh5 h6 19.Ne4 Qb5 20.f4 Qxb2?

Giri forgets how important it is to keep the e5–bishop pinned against his h5 queen.

21.Bxg7! Kxg7 22.f5 exf5 23.Rxf5 Ne5

The only other way to defend his f7–pawn is with 23…Rf8 but i falls to 24.Qg4+ Kh7 (24…Kh8 25.Rh5 Kh7 26.Qg5) 25.Ng5+ Kh8 26.Qh5 etc.

24.Rxe5 Bxe5 25.Qxe5+ Kf8 26.Qh8+ Ke7 27.Qf6+ Kf8 28.Qxh6+ Ke7 29.Qf6+ Kf8 30.Ng5 1–0

[30.Ng5 Qb7 31.Rf1 Ke8 (31…Rd7 32.Qh8+ Ke7 33.Rxf7+ Kd6 34.Qe5#) 32.Nxf7 Kd7 33.Qd6+ Ke8 34.Qe6+ Qe7 35.Qxc6+ Kf8 36.Nh6+ Kg7 37.Nf5+ and wins]

Korobov faded badly in the Blitz portion and Sergey Karjakin and Vietnam’s Le Quang Liem tied for 1st in the Blitz portion. Overall, combining the scores of the Rapid and the Blitz (remember, double weight is given for points scored in the rapid portion) Levon Aronian and Sergey Karjakin finished in a dead heat. They then played a 2-game play-off match which Aronian won. I’d like to say at this point that it might be a good idea for tournament organizers to consult the players on some of the rules concerning game play. For example, the rapid portion (not counting the time delay) is 25 minutes per player, then blitz is five minutes, so why is the tie-break at 10 minutes per player? The players have to get a rhythm going and get used to a certain time control, so changing it for the tie-breaks is bound to mess up the players’ internal clocks.

Aronian, Levon (2772) — Karjakin, Sergey (2754) [C54]
Superbet Tiebreak 2019
Bucharest ROU (2), 10.11.2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5

Jobava and Aronian still play this line on occasion. Just earlier this year Aronian tried it against Wesley So in the Croatian leg of the Grand Chess Tour but the Filipino-American GM had no trouble equalizing.

6…d5 7.Bb5 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 0–0 10.Be3 Bg4 11.h3 Bh5 12.Qc2 Nxc3

The main line is 12…Bg6 but the text is also what Wesley played.

13.bxc3 f6 14.exf6 Qxf6 15.Be2 Rae8

Aronian-So continued 15…Na5 16.0–0 Rae8!? a new idea 17.Ne5 Bxe2 18.Qxe2 Qe6! 19.Rae1 Nc4 20.Nxc4 (GM Mikhalevsky in “” indicates that 20.f4!? should also be considered) 20…dxc4 21.Qd1 Qd5 Black has fully equalized. Aronian, L. (2752)-So, W. (2754) Zagreb CRO 2019 1/2 44.

16.0–0 h6 17.Rae1 Qd6 18.Bc1 Ba5 19.Qd2 Re4 20.Bd1 Bxf3 21.Bxf3 Rxd4

So Black has stolen a crucial pawn, but he has not yet gotten away with it, The rook has problems disentangling and the pawn on d5 can become a target.

22.Qc2 Rc4

[22…Rh4 23.Bg4 Ne5 24.Ba3! Nf3+ 25.Bxf3 Qxa3 26.Bxd5+ Black does not get away with his ill-gotten gains.]


Obviously, if …Qxa3 then Bxd5+ followed by Bxc4.


Correct is 23…Nb4! 24.Bxb4 (Going for more than equality with 24.Qd2? runs into 24…Rxf3! 25.gxf3! Qg6+ 26.Kh2 Nd3 27.Re3 Rxc3 28.Bb2 Rc1! Black wins) 24…Bxb4 25.Qd1 and everything equalizes at the end.

24.Qd3! Rxf3 25.Qxf3 Bxa3 26.Re8+ Kh7 27.Qf5+ 1–0

Black resigns because he will lose his queen after 27…Qg6 28.Rh8+

For the Wesley So fans, and I am one of them, you would be interested to know that he finally adjusted to non-shuffle chess and woke up — he scored four wins four draws and one loss on the last day. At one point he won three in a row, and some of his games were pretty brutal.

So, Wesley (2760) — Caruana, Fabiano (2822) [A13]
Superbet Blitz 2019 Bucharest ROU (12.1), 10.11.2019

1.Nf3 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.b3 0–0 6.Bb2

Wesley So put out a CD on his “secret weapon” 1.b3. One player asked me about it, since he does not see Wesley play 1.b3 a lot. Well, this game is an example where he starts out with Nf3 but transposes to the 1.b3 line pretty soon.

6…c5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qb1 Nc6 9.h4 b6 10.Bb5 Qc7 11.h5 h6 12.Rh3 Bd7 13.Rg3 f6?


14.Rxg7+! Kxg7 15.Qg6+ Kh8 16.Qxh6+ Kg8 17.Qg6+ Kh8 18.Bd3 f5 1–0

Black resigned before White could end him with Nxd5+

By the time you are reading this column the Kolkata Rapid/Blitz event would have started. Watch out for Wesley So there — he is due for another big performance.


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.