Mamedyarov Wins Superbet Chess Classic


GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov won the $90,000 first prize at the Superbet Chess Classic on Monday. The 36-year-old Azerbaijani GM finished a point ahead of the pack as he secured victory with an easy draw against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

The standings didn’t change with all five games ending in draws in what was a rather dull final round. GM Fabiano Caruana had chances to beat GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac but the Romanian player managed to hold a difficult ending.

The tournament finished where it started, with quick, theoretical draws in the final two rounds. On the last day, it was not the Grunfeld but the even more popular drawing line in the Berlin Ruy Lopez. GM Levon Aronian didn’t really try with the white pieces and instead forced a draw against the player who had already played eight draws himself, GM Teimour Radjabov.

“I considered my odds,” said Aronian. “I thought most likely Maxime is going to play peacefully too because he’s having a bad tournament. When I play for a win, I normally play with taking a lot of risks. I thought, OK, if I lose, if I have to play for three results, then it’s just, from a mathematical point of view, the gain is less than the loss.”

chess Berlin draw
Countless games ended in a draw like this. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Not long after, Mamedyarov became the tournament winner officially. Vachier-Lagrave hadn’t played anything critical either with white, but at least the Scotch opening leads to a bit of a game, unlike the one above. But still, Mamedyarov equalized very quickly and after about 35 minutes, the game was over.

Mamedyarov said he was particularly happy with his first Grand Chess Tour tournament victory because it was classical chess. He also said he prepared a lot during the tournament, even seven hours for his last-round game, but did not expect 3.Nc3.

“After Covid, we had more time to prepare openings and for this reason, I am very happy to come to this tournament in good form and to win this strong tournament like this,” said Mamedyarov.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Bucharest 2021
Early in the round, the press was obviously focusing on Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Photo: Bryan Adams/Grand Chess Tour.

The third game to finish was GM Constantin Lupulescu vs. GM Wesley So, who also followed theory for most of the moves. The line in the Nimzo-Indian was known as equal, and still is.

Lupulescu described how wonderful it was for him to play in this event: “It was just great. I will be having the World Cup in July and I cannot think of a better preparation for such a tournament. It was a great opportunity to be here, to see the guys at work. Especially, for me, the way they prepare against you, that’s very important. Because OK, when you’re looking from home, with a coffee, let’s say, just chilling, OK, engines says this, engine says that, it’s totally different from when you have to play against the guys.” 

The other two games had more content, with GM Anish Giri being the next to finish.

“I’m very happy with the result, not happy with my play but the result is fine,” said GM Alexander Grischuk about his tournament. About his last round, he said he was “suffering the whole game.”

Giri was indeed clearly better out of the opening but missed a chance on move 22, after which it was equal:

Grischuk Giri Superbet 2021
Giri vs. Grischuk. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The tournament of missed chances continued for Caruana, who once again failed to convert a promising position. As a result, he and Deac finished on 4/9—excellent for the young Romanian but disappointing for the world number two.

From a neutral point of view, this great fight, which ended with two bare kings on the board, can be seen as a victory for fighting chess. Besides all those quick draws, this tournament also saw lots of very interesting games played at the highest level thanks to the longer time control and we don’t wanna live in a world without such events. 

Caruana Deac Superbet 2021
Caruana-Deac, an ode to the classical chess that we want it to be. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Superbet Chess Classic 2021 | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2770 2868 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 6.0/9
2 Wesley So 2770 2787 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 5.0/9 22
3 Levon Aronian 2781 2785 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 5.0/9 21.5
4 Alexander Grischuk 2776 2786 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 5.0/9 21.25
5 Anish Giri 2780 2748 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 4.5/9 20.25
6 Teimour Radjabov 2765 2749 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5/9 20.25
7 Bogdan-Daniel Deac 2627 2725 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.0/9 17.25
8 Fabiano Caruana 2820 2705 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4.0/9 16.75
9 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2760 2671 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 3.5/9 16.5
10 Constantin Lupulescu 2656 2682 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 3.5/9 15.5

All games

The Superbet Chess Classic takes place June 5-14, 2021 in Bucharest, Romania. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with a 30-second increment per move, starting from move one. It is the first leg of the Grand Chess Tour and has a $325,000 prize fund.

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