Croatia Rapid & Blitz: Nepomniachtchi Loses To Saric, Still Leads

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GM Ian Nepomniachtchi still leads the Croatia Rapid & Blitz despite a loss in round six to the local wildcard participant GM Ivan SaricGM Vishy Anand and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who both scored plus one on Thursday, are tied for second place with Saric.

Round 6 Croatia Rapid Blitz 2021
Saric was doing quite well on the second day. After draws with MVL and GM Jorden van Foreest, he scored that big win against the tournament leader. This way he is also setting up a decent score for GM Garry Kasparov, who will be taking his place for the blitz segment this coming weekend.

“I feel great, especially after today,” said Saric. “I’ve played good chess today.”

Ivan Saric Zagreb Grand Chess Tour
Ivan Saric: “I’ve played good chess today.” Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The Croatian number one defeated Nepomniachtchi in a Sveshnikov Sicilian, where the world championship candidate played an inaccurate 17th move, according to Saric. The normal-looking 17.Bg2 allows 17…a5 and after that, White cannot maintain a piece on the important d5-square.

“I took his gift in the opening and I converted a slightly better position, maybe a much better position,” said Saric, who connected the game to his famous win over GM Magnus Carlsen at the 2014 Tromso Olympiad: “I’m very happy because, besides the world champion, I’ve now also beaten the world championship challenger in my career. Those are big victories.”

Game of the Day Alex Yermolinsky

Nepomniachtchi Saric Zagreb 2021
Nepomniachtchi vs. Saric. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Saric is currently in second place with Anand and Vachier-Lagrave, who both won one game and drew two on the second day. MVL won a wild game against GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda in round four, despite blundering a pawn in the opening. Even the pawn ending was not trivial:

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Croatia Rapid & Blitz
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Anand scored his win in round five against GM Anton Korobov, a game that had similarities with Anand’s win against van Foreest the other day: opposite-side castling, both players attacking, the pressure on the c2-pawn, a knight going to f5, and eventually winning in an endgame with opposite-colored bishops!



Vishy Anand Croatia Rapid & Blitz
Vishy Anand. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is doing well in the overall standings of the Grand Chess Tour thanks to his win at the Superbet Chess Classic, but the Azerbaijani grandmaster is currently on a minus-one score as he lost to Duda in the sixth round:

Croatia Rapid & Blitz 2021
A shot of the playing hall. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Zagreb Rapid & Blitz 2021 | Day 2 Standings














# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts
1 Ian Nepomniachtchi 2791 2870 0

1 1

2 2 2

8
2 Ivan Saric 2650 2800 2 1

1 2

0 1 7
3 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2831 2801

1 2 2 1 0 1

7
4 Viswanathan Anand 2751 2806 1

0

1 1 2 2 7
5 Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2774 2718 1 1 0

1 2

1 6
6 Anish Giri 2731 2728

0 1

1

1 2 1 6
7 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2761 2727 0

2 1 0

1 1

5
8 Alexander Grischuk 2784 2677 0

1 1

1 1

1 5
9 Anton Korobov 2781 2647 0 2

0

0 1

2 5
10 Jorden van Foreest 2543 2624

1

0 1 1

1 0 4

All games day 2

The Zagreb Rapid & Blitz takes place July 7-11, 2021 in Zagreb, Croatia. The time control in the rapid is 25 minutes for each player with a 10-second increment per move, starting from move one. The time control in the blitz is five minutes for each player with a two-second increment per move, starting from move one. The rapid counts double for the final standings. The tournament is the third leg of the Grand Chess Tour and has a $150,000 prize fund with a first prize of $37,500.


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