Caruana Wins Superbet Classic Romania

Caruana Wins Superbet Classic Romania


GM Fabiano Caruana won clear first at the Superbet Classic Romania 2023 on Monday. Entering the last round with a half-point lead, he drew a sharp theoretical battle in the English vs. GM Richard Rapport. The four players—GM Anish Giri, GM Alireza Firouzja, GM Wesley So, and Rapport himself—chasing him were unable to create serious winning chances, finishing in a four-way tie for second.

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Rapport vs. Caruana

Rapport and Caruana partook in a wild theoretical battle in the English Four Knights. Despite an early minor piece exchange shattering his queenside structure, the Romanian grandmaster castled into it, utilizing the enemy b-pawn as a shield. On move 17, Caruana set a dangerous trap for his opponent, daring him to capture the hanging pawn on d7. Can you find the tactical shot that the tournament leader had in mind?

With both players aware of the dynamic potential in the position, the game found an unusual equilibrium. Caruana gained two extra pawns, but Rapport activated his rook to paralyze his opponent’s kingside pieces in the nick of time.

Friendly pre-round banter despite their struggle for the throne. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Deac vs. Ding

GM Ding Liren finished strong in an otherwise challenging tournament, defeating GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac in the Queen’s Indian Defense. After playing the thematic pawn sacrifice on d5, Deac gained a powerful grip in the center and expanded on the kingside by advancing his h-pawn. The world champion broke free of his restraints with a timely …d6!?, opening the center files and then maneuvering his knights to dominating posts on d4 and f5. 

When Deac opened the h-file, this also backfired on him. Ding quickly used it as a route for his rook to sneak into the opponent’s kingside. Soon Black’s domineering pieces went on an unstoppable tactical onslaught. This sharp duel is the world champion’s first victory after winning his title and our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao

It’s so nice to finish a rough tournament on a high note. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Firouzja vs. Vachier-Lagrave

The top two players of France faced off in this round. Though still in contention for first, Firouzja seemed rather shaken from his defeat in the previous round. He chose to open with 1.d4, hoping for sharper waters against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave‘s favored Grunfeld. When the 32-year-old grandmaster chose a calmer line in the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, his younger opponent was unable to get much advantage. Vachier-Lagrave’s active and accurate responses kept the game equal. 

Firouzja shared his thoughts after the round: “Maxime plays the Grunfeld most of the time. Today, he chose a very solid line. I couldn’t remember so much also. I think the game was very balanced. He played brilliantly.”

Though his tournament ended on a calm note, Firouzja had the most decisive games of the event, overriding his two losses with three victories. 

Firouzja showed that he can still compete with the very best despite splitting his recent focus with fashion design. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

So vs. Duda

In a Petroff Defense with an early trade of queens, So seemed to be looking for a risk-free position where he could gently push for chances in his game vs. GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The arising bishop vs. knight ending favored the American grandmaster slightly, but Duda kept a mindful watch over White’s ideas, careful not to allow any compelling attempts at the full point. 

Giri vs. Nepomniachtchi

The fate of the tournament rested on the final game to finish. Giri―still in contention to catch Caruana with a win―faced the tired, yet fighting world championship challenger. With the white pieces, Giri had chances for an advantage in the middlegame, but after one inaccuracy, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi shut them down with a resourceful reroute of his knight to the influential c5-outpost. When the players traded into a notoriously complicated queen and knight ending, it was Black pressing for an edge, highlighting his tactical ideas against the white king despite his broken pawn structure. 

Despite the computer yelling equal at several points, Nepomniachtchi made a serious bid for victory, and Giri looked visibly agitated at the board. Commentator GM Yasser Seirawan noted: “The body posture of Anish Giri is feeding Nepo. When you see your opponent collapsing at the board…”

The body posture of Anish Giri is feeding Nepo. When you see your opponent collapsing at the board…

-GM Yasser Seirawan

In the tapestry of complexity, the challenger overlooked the nuanced difference between tactical combinations that led to a victory vs. a draw, and Giri found the critical defense to escape unscathed. 

A late bloomer in this event, Giri serenely made his way into contention for first by the last round. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

As the adventures in Giri vs. Nepomniachtchi settled down, Caruana was confirmed as the tournament champion. 

Caruana leads the 2023 Grand Chess Tour with 13 points. His next event in the tour is the 2023 SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz Croatia that starts on July 4.

Results – Round 9


Firouzja 1/2 – 1/2 Vachier-Lagrave
So 1/2 – 1/2 Duda
Giri 1/2 – 1/2 Nepomniachtchi
Rapport 1/2 – 1/2 Caruana
Deac 0 – 1 Ding

Standings – Round 9

All Games – Masters Round 9

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