Rapid Chess Championship Week 4: Aronian Wins Knockout

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GM Levon Aronian won the fourth week of the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship tournament presented by Coinbase. Last week’s winner, GM Fabiano Caruana, finished second. GM Hikaru Nakamura finished first in the preliminary Swiss tournament but fell to the eventual winner, Aronian, in the semifinals.

GM David Paravyan made it to the semifinals for the second time while GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi, Daniil Dubov, and Anton Demchenko made it to the quarterfinals. 

The event will continue next weekend, March 12-13, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 Central European.


The Rapid Chess Championship is a weekly tournament held by Chess.com. It is a nine-round Swiss event with a 10+0 time control held every Saturday, followed by a knockout event on Sunday between the top eight finishers and a 10+2 time control. If players draw, they play another 3+2 game; if drawn, they play a 1+1 game; and if that is drawn, a single armageddon game is played.


Swiss

Nakamura and Caruana were tied for the lead until the last round. Nakamura turned an equal ending into a tactical victory against GM Parham Maghsoodloo, pulling into clear first. 

The strength and format of the Rapid Chess Championship leave little room for unexciting rounds. In fact, as early as the second round two participants ranked in the world’s top 10 were facing off—with Aronian playing Nakamura. Naroditsky commentated: “There is no word in the English language that describes the tenacity he [Nakamura] displays.”

There is no word in the English Language that describes the tenacity he displays.

—Naroditsky

Aronian pressed his advantage most of the game, finding creative ideas like 39.Rb6!?, but Nakamura continued to find ample defensive resources and counterplay. During the final moves, it was amazing to see Nakamura’s ability to keep his cool despite his wide-open king, Aronian’s passed pawn prancing down the board, and a position that looked like it could collapse at any moment.

RCC 2022 Chess.com
Nakamura won the Swiss event. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Nepomniachtchi had a turbulent path to qualifying for the knockout with a loss in a heavily tactical game against GM Alexey Sarana in round five. 

In the very next round, Nepomniachtchi showed that the key to success is resilience, winning a clever attacking game against the resourceful GM Benjamin Bok.

Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20) 
























Number Rk Fed Title Username Name Rating Score SB
1 2 GM Hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 2872 7 33
2 1 GM FabianoCaruana Fabiano Caruana 2892 6.5 31.5
3 3 GM lachesisQ Ian Nepomniachtchi 2812 6 32.25
4 13 GM LevonAronian Levon Aronian 2796 6 28
5 5 GM Duhless Daniil Dubov 2743 6 27.5
6 7 GM dropstoneDP David Paravyan 2772 6 22.25
7 21 GM Anton_Demchenko Anton Demchenko 2588 5.5 26.5
8 6 GM ChessWarrior7197 Nodirbek Abdusattorov 2745 5.5 25
9 24 GM GMBenjaminBok Benjamin Bok 2482 5 17.75
10 18 GM Parhamov Parham Maghsoodloo 2608 5 16.5
11 16 GM Jospem Jose Martinez 2589 4.5 15
12 20 GM Infernal_XaM Pavel Ponkratov 2552 4.5 13.25
13 25 GM igorkovalenko Igor Kovalenko 2405 4.5 7
14 10 GM mishanick Alexey Sarana 2684 4 19.5
15 15 GM champ2005 Raunak Sadhwani 2582 4 14.25
16 8 GM LiemLe Liem Le 2612 4 12.75
17 19 GM OparinGrigoriy Grigoriy Oparin 2551 4 11
17 4 GM GMWSO Wesley So 2701 4 11
19 23 GM GMKrikor Krikor Sevag Mekhitarian 2465 3 11.75
20 22 GM ChessQueen Alexandra Kosteniuk 2480 2.5 7.75

(Full final standings here.)

Knockout

Nakamura, Caruana, Dubov, and Paravyan are becoming knockout regulars—all qualifying for the third time. This was Nepomniachtchi’s return after his victory in week one. 

Aronian and Demchenko were interesting new additions to the knockout field. It’s always exciting to see another player from the world’s top 10 join, and Aronian’s creative style can lead to especially fun games. Demchenko’s spot was well-earned with his two upset victories in the Swiss. 

Reigning World Rapid Champion and 17-year-old prodigy GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov qualified but forfeited to Nakamura in the quarterfinals. Abdusattorov was competing in the Belgrade GM tournament at the start of the round.

RCC 2022 Chess.com
Abdusattorov advanced to the knockout but was unable to play. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The ability to save a losing game has been an essential skill for many of the top scorers this week and was very present in Nepomniachtchi-Paravyan. Their game was a double-edged tactical battle that had the evaluation bar going up and down like a yo-yo. Nepomniachtchi had a significant advantage but overlooked Paravyna’s key saving move of 28…c4, turning the tables.

Despite the shock, Nepomniachtchi immediately struck back with a resourceful tactic in 30.Qxb3! to regain his advantage.

RCC 2022 Chess.com
Nepomniachtchi lost a tough game against Paravyan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

From there, the battle raged on with Paravyan holding his position together and even gaining the advantage of a queen against a rook and bishop, despite having under 15 seconds to Nepomniachtchi’s nearly 4 minutes on the clock. Nepomniachtchi responded by setting up a fortress, holding off Paravyan’s queen and passed pawn. The game finally looked like it had calmed to a draw when the dangers of pre-move led to an unexpected victory for Paravyan, capping off an unbelievable game.

Caruana won his game against Demchenko and showed his uncanny ability to gradually turn a slightly worse position into a winning one:

Aronian versus Dubov was a close game until the very last seconds. With around 10 seconds left for each player in a nearly equal position, Dubov’s 59…Re3? gave Aronian the chance to win a pawn and achieve a winning ending.

In the semifinals, Aronian and Nakamura faced each other yet again. Seirawan commented: “If you were just to write a book of their games, it would be a trilogy.”

If you were just to write a book of their games, it would be a trilogy.

-Seirawan 

Though it ended as a draw, their first game had one fascinating feature in common with their game in the Swiss: Nakamura’s kingside pawns aggressively marching down the board in the exact same way toward Aronian’s castled king.

In the blitz tiebreak, Aronian gained an extra pawn and then a second one in a two knights versus two bishops middlegame. It looked like a comfortable win for Aronian when Nakamura fought back, regaining one of the pawns and reaching a bishop versus knight ending with very few pawns left on the board. Ultimately, though, Aronian was able to hold on to his last pawn and convert to a win.

2022 RCC Chess.com
Aronian won his first Chess.com RCC event. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Paravyan seems to be a master at using his own time trouble to his advantage. It can be very distracting to see your opponent’s clock so much lower than your own. Visions of their clock ticking down to zero and the smell of victory nearing can conflict with the tense battle still taking place on the board. In their first game, with just seconds on his clock, Paravyan came really close to defeating Caruana in another battle of two bishops versus two knights. 

Caruana managed a clean victory in the blitz tiebreak. Paravyan blundered a pawn in an unfortunate fashion with 21.Nd4?, and Caruana carefully converted his advantage, never letting Paravyan back into the game. 

RCC 2022 Chess.com
Caruana defeated Paravyan to reach the final. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The final game between Caruana and Aronian looked like a completely even game throughout, gradually trading towards a draw, when Caruana made an inaccuracy in the bishop vs. knight ending, allowing Aronian to penetrate with his king and win. 

Aronian was a gracious winner with a number of positive things to say about his competitor, Caruana.

Standings, Results, Prizes

The winner of the Swiss tournament is Nakamura, and the winner of the knockout tournament is Aronian. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout:

Sunday Knockout | Final Standings – EDITOR: UPDATE












# Fed Player Place Prize
1 Levon Aronian Winner $7,500
2 Fabiano Caruana Finalist $3,500
3-4 Hikaru Nakamura Semifinalist $2,500
3-4 David Paravyan Semifinalist $2,500
5-8 Wesley So Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Alexey Dreev Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Peter Svidler Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 David Anton Guijarro Quarterfinalist $1,000

Rapid Chess Championship 2022 week 4 bracket


The Rapid Chess Championship is brought to you by Coinbase. Whether you’re looking to make your first crypto purchase or you’re an experienced trader, Coinbase has you covered. Earn crypto by learning about crypto with Coinbase Earn, explore DeFi and web3 with Coinbase Wallet, get exclusive rewards when you spend with Coinbase Card, and much more. Learn more at coinbase.com/chess and get $10 in bitcoin when you sign up and verify your account.


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