Superbet Chess Classic: Deac Beats MVL, Leads With Caruana


Last-minute substitute GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac had a great start at the Superbet Chess Classic. After missing a win in the first round, he beat GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave the next day. Deac leads with GM Fabiano Caruana, who beat GM Constantin Lupulescu.

How to watch?
The games of the Superbet Chess Classic can be found here on our live events platform. GM Hikaru Nakamura provides live commentary on his Twitch channel starting at 5:00 a.m. Pacific / 14:00 Central Europe.

Superbet Chess round 3 pairings
Pairings round 3: Aronian vs. Caruana, Deac vs. Mamedyarov, Grischuk vs. So, Radjabov vs. Vachier-Lagrave, Lupulescu vs. Giri.

Deac is proving himself to be an excellent substitute for GM Richard Rapport, who had to withdraw from the tournament at the last moment due to illness (being GM Ding Liren’s replacement on his turn!). After making life hard for GM Anish Giri in the opening round, Deac did even better the next day.

It started with the bold decision to play a new opening: the Open Ruy Lopez. Deac explained that he normally plays the solid Berlin, but he didn’t fancy playing the endgame against the biggest expert from the white side.

MVL was indeed surprised but built up a winning position anyway, correctly avoiding a move repetition with a great attacking setup. He might have been surprised for a second time when Deac countered with an equally brilliant defense. Eventually, the Frenchman had to accept a worse endgame that he probably could have defended better.

Bogdan-Daniel Deac Superbet Vachier-Lagrave
Bogdan-Daniel Deac, quickly becoming a celebrity. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The other winner was Caruana, who said it was nice to return to a normal tournament with over-the-board chess but without the enormous pressure of the Candidates. The world number-two scored a smooth win vs. Lupulescu, who had good preparation but quickly miscalculated things.

“So far, so good!’ said Caruana. “The first two rounds, I couldn’t really hope for more, so it’s a good start.”

Fabiano Caruana Superbet chess 2021
The first win is in the bag for Fabiano Caruana. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

GM Teimour Radjabov is one of the players who hasn’t touched wooden pieces for a long time. His last OTB tournament was in November 2019 (the Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix).

“It’s very unusual,” the Azerbaijani said. “First I tried to find out where the king is and where the queen is. But I’m happy to be back!”

Teimour Radjabov Superbet Romania
Teimour Radjabov hadn’t played chess outside of his house for more than 18 months. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

GM Levon Aronian scored his second easy draw in a row as Black, so he can now look forward to playing the remainder of the tournament with an extra white game. He used the Ragozin Defense vs. GM Wesley So and said afterward: “I know this line. It’s visually more pleasant with white, and you have to play precisely with black.”

Aronian is also quite happy to return to the wooden board and pieces: “It’s a great feeling. This has been part of my life since I was nine years old, and to have such a long break.…

It’s a great feeling. This has been part of my life since I was nine years old, and to have such a long break….
—Levon Aronian

“Of course, you have this anxiety because you stop dreaming about chess,” Aronian added. “At some point, you don’t even understand how you should train because if you analyze a lot of openings, very solid openings, you’re not going to succeed in a rapid format. A year and a half we only have rapid chess, so now I’m working like crazy during this tournament!”

Levon Aronian Superbet chess 2021
Levon Aronian: “This has been part of my life since I was nine years old.” Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Aronian is probably not fancying a career in tourism, but he did take a moment to promote the location where the tournament takes place: “It’s such a beautiful city, Bucharest. Maybe I’m mistaken but I think the Romanian people need to appreciate it more and need to talk about it more and bring people here to see these beautiful villas of the 18th and 19th century, incredible.”

Casa Poporului
Bucharest also happens to have the heaviest building in the world. The Palace of the Parliament weighs about 4,098,500,000 kilograms (9.04 billion pounds; 4.10 million tons). Image: Wikipedia.

The quickest draw appeared on the board between GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and GM Alexander Grischuk. They played kind of a rare line in the Sicilian Taimanov—from a 1.c4 c5 move-order!—where lots of pieces were traded early.

Mamedyarov didn’t hide behind the fact and admitted having played two “boring draws” but also expects more interesting games in the coming rounds. 

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Superbet
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov: “Boring draws.” Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Superbet Chess Classic 2021 | Round 2 Standings

# Fed Player Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1-2 Fabiano Caruana 2820 2901


1 1.5/2 1
1-2 Bogdan-Daniel Deac 2627 2960



1.5/2 1
3-8 Anish Giri 2780 2696

½ ½

1.0/2 1.25
3-8 Teimour Radjabov 2765 2800 ½


1.0/2 1.25
3-8 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2770 2773



1.0/2 1
3-8 Wesley So 2770 2775

½ ½

1.0/2 1
3-8 Levon Aronian 2781 2713


½ 1.0/2 0.75
3-8 Alexander Grischuk 2776 2765



1.0/2 0.75
9-10 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2760 2511



0.5/2 0.5
9-10 Constantin Lupulescu 2656 2610 0


0.5/2 0.5

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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