Superbet Chess Classic Round 8: Caruana Remains Favorite In Bucharest After Another Day Of Draws


A fourth day full of draws means that GM Fabiano Caruana, who played GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu today, goes into the final round of the Superbet Chess Classic Romania with a half-point lead. The longest game of the round, between GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov and GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac, lasted almost six hours.

The other draws occurred in GM Alireza Firouzja vs. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. GM Wesley So, and GM Gukesh Dommaraju vs. GM Anish Giri.

The final round starts Friday, July 5, at 8 a.m. ET / 14:00 CEST / 17:30 p.m. IST.

Superbet Chess Classic Romania Round 8 Results

Superbet Chess Classic Romania 2024 Round 8 Results
Image courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club/Grand Chess Tour.

Superbet Chess Classic Romania Standings After Round 8

Superbet Chess Classic Romania 2024 Standings After Round 8
Image courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club/Grand Chess Tour.

On what was Independence Day in the U.S., voting day in the U.K., GM Alexei Shirov’s birthday, and Alice in Wonderland Day, there were some festivities in Bucharest as well. The Olympic chess torch passed through the city on its way to Budapest—a tradition that was started ahead of the 2022 Olympiad in Chennai.

However, celebrations among the tournament players will have to wait until the final day, as once again, we saw five draws and no changes in the standings. Caruana will defend his half-point lead tomorrow as Black against Giri, who is still looking for his first win.

Abdusattorov ½-½ Deac

Abdusattorov was visibly disappointed when he agreed to a draw after five hours and 55 minutes and 84 moves. Apparently, he felt that he had been very close to scoring a win today, but that was likely some sort of optical illusion. With a knight and a rook vs. a rook and bishop, his side was more pleasant to play but never clearly better.

The opening was the topical Open Ruy Lopez and had a nice theoretical twist. Deac’s move 11…f6 had been played only once before, all the way back in 1888(!) in a game by the three-time Dutch champion Arnold van Foreest, GM Jorden van Foreest’s great-great-grandfather. 

Check out annotations by GM Rafael Leitao below:

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

Abdusattorov-Deach Bucharest 2024
The handshake before the longest game of the round. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Caruana ½-½ Praggnanandhaa

This was the biggest game of the round on paper: the tournament leader against one of the three players in second place. The Indian GM could take over the lead with a win, so he must have been happy to reach a double-edged middlegame position.

“It’s a fighting line that I chose, it’s not like White is better but I’m playing with a very imbalanced structure so I get an extra central pawn, he gets space with d4 but the d4-pawn is potentially a bit weak,” noted Caruana.

On move 14, a series of trades started, simplifying the position considerably. Caruana was perhaps still hoping for a slight edge, having a bishop against a knight, but it was nothing. “Maybe I didn’t have any real chances,” he said. He’s a very stable player; he’s very accurate.”

Gukesh ½-½ Giri

This one had the potential to become a very exciting game. Around move 24, Caruana felt that Giri was taking over a bit; he liked the knight on h4. “It looks like Anish is playing a good game so far,” he said.

It was quite the anticlimax when the players suddenly repeated moves then and there. “I don’t really have an active plan,” Giri explained. “White has all these options with f5 or Bxf6 and Nh5 and I am just waiting and reacting, so from my perspective it’s fine to repeat.”

Gukesh, however, told his opponent after the game that he thought both the f5 and Bxf6 ideas didn’t work and that he didn’t see a move. In other words, neither player really liked their position.

“I think it’s a position of dynamic equality of sorts,” Giri summarized.

Anish Giri closeup
“I was a little bit annoyed that I couldn’t recall exactly my prep,” said Giri. “I looked at it of course, it’s a very principled line.” Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Firouzja ½-½ Nepomniachtchi

Firouzja and Nepomniachtchi, on the other hand, had quite an interesting game today that started with the London System. Although the queens were traded as early as move 14, there was still enough to play for. That was especially the case for Nepomniachtchi, who had slightly better chances with an active rook on the second rank. Why he didn’t want to play the position with an extra pawn was puzzling, though.

Caruana Firouzja Nepomniachtchi
Caruana checks out the opening in Firouzja-Nepomniachtchi. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ So

Apparently not in the mood for another Berlin Endgame, Vachier-Lagrave went for the Italian against So. At first, it looked like Black equalized in the middlegame, but after the queens were traded, it turned out that So still had to be a bit careful, and he was.

Vachier-Lagrave Bucharest 2024
Eight draws for Vachier-Lagrave so far. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The 2024 Superbet Chess Classic Romania is the second leg of the 2024 Grand Chess Tour. The event is a 10-player round-robin with classical time control (120 minutes for the entire game, plus a 30-second increment per move). The tournament runs June 26-July 5 and features a $350,000 prize fund.


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