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2022 FIDE Grand Prix Belgrade R5: Rapport Wins To Take Lead In Group C
Rapport contemplates his next move during round five. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

2022 FIDE Grand Prix Belgrade R5: Rapport Wins To Take Lead In Group C

chansen64
| 14 | Chess Event Coverage

Drama on Sunday was taken care of courtesy of Group C, where both games found victors, most importantly by GM Richard Rapport, who is leading by a full point ahead of the last round. In Group A, two draws mean that GM Dmitry Andreikin and GM Sam Shankland maintain their lead. GM Anish Giri played unconvincingly but held on to the lead in B, and finally, in Group D, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave retained his lead despite drawing his game.

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Group A

The leaders in Group A faced each other for the second time, and this encounter was a bit more lackluster than their game in the third round. Andreikin played the trendy 3...a6 against Shankland's Queen's Gambit. White did not play particularly ambitiously and allowed the queens to be exchanged. Already after move 21, they started to repeat the moves, settling for a draw.

Sam Shankland
Allowing queens to be exchanged, Shankland drew with Andreikin. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In the second game, GM Etienne Bacrot had the white pieces against the struggling GM Alexander Grischuk. In their recent encounter in Berlin, Grischuk employed the Pirc Defense to play for a win but ended up with a terrible position. So, here neither needing nor wanting to risk anything, he instead played 1...e5.

In a Closed Ruy Lopez (5...Be7), White avoided the most topical lines by playing a setup with 6.d3 and 7.c3. The setup looks somewhat tame but carries a lot more poison than it seems. However, after White's odd 14.c4?!, Black had a comfortable position. Shortly after move 20, the players started repeating moves for the draw. A somewhat disappointing outcome for Bacrot as he could have caught the leaders with a win.

Group B

Ahead of Sunday's round, Giri was leading by a full point. Facing GM Pentala Harikrishna with the white pieces, a win could likely secure him the group win with a round to spare.

Departing from his use of 1.e4 in his two first games with White, Giri instead picked 1.d4. Harikrishna defended with the popular Ragozin Variation in the Queen's Gambit. White did not get anything tangible out of the opening but when he played 19.Ne2?, he lost two tempi and got in trouble. Unfortunately for Harikrishna, he let the advantage slip out of his hands, and soon after a draw became a reality.

In the second game, GM Amin Tabatabaei faced GM Nikita Vitiugov, the latter hoping for a victory to put himself in a better position ahead of the last-round encounter with Giri.

In an Italian Game, Black soon equalized and took the initiative. However, just before the time control, when playing 35...Rd7 (instead of 35...Nd7), Black seemed to let go of most of his advantage. Vitiugov continued to push for some time but was never really close to any tangible advantage, and a draw was eventually a reality. 

Now, Vitiugov needs to win with the white pieces in his last-round encounter with Giri to secure a playoff between the two of them.

Group C

Before Sunday's round, Vidit and Rapport were sharing the lead. As they faced each other, all eyes were on their board. Vidit played White, and like in his game against GM Alexei Shirov in round one, he chose 1.e4, and Rapport replied with the French Defense. In a somewhat unusual line in the Advance Variation, Vidit seemed to gain the upper hand, but with an imprecise 17th move, Black equalized. Slowly but surely, Black took the initiative and gained an advantage that grew and eventually was converted to a full point. 

Chess.com game of the day dejan bojkov

Before this round, Shirov had been winless throughout his Grand Prix campaign, counting both his games in the first event in Berlin and this one in Belgrade. As White, he faced GM Vladimir Fedoseev, who needed a win, as wins in the last two rounds would put him in a good position to reach a playoff for a spot in the semifinal.

Fedoseev opted for the Sveshnikov Sicilian against Shirov's 1.e4. Shirov has played many ways against the Sveshnikov but chose 7.Nd5, which was also Fabiano Caruana's choice against Magnus Carlsen in the world championship match in London in 2018. I don't recall Shirov playing this variation before, but I suspect that he had prepared against a line that Fedoseev had used in 2019.

Nevertheless, it was Shirov who first went wrong, allowing Black a solid advantage after the strong 15...Bd3!. But Fedoseev, tempted by his prospects on the kingside, failed to properly account for Shirov's play with his passed but isolated pawns on the d-file, and all of a sudden White was once again in command. The last few moves of the game were a mess with several mistakes by both sides and in the end, Shirov stood victorious.

Group D

On Friday, Vachier-Lagrave took the lead by winning the first game of the group, and with two draws in today's round, that did not change, although the players worked hard to find winners in both games.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
With two draws, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave retains the lead in Group D. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Leader MVL had the white pieces against GM Yu Yangyi who really has not been in serious trouble at any point in this event by consistently playing solidly and well throughout. On Sunday, taking a chance, he repeated his choice against 4...Nc6 in the Petroff. Vachier-Lagrave was the first to vary from the earlier games in this event and seemed to obtain an advantage. However, actually making use of the better chances proved very difficult and eventually, Yu Yangyi saved a well-deserved draw.

In the last game of the round to conclude, GM Alexandr Predke played the white pieces against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who needed a win to attempt to catch up with MVL. After Black had equalized, White played the somewhat odd 17.Kh2. Shortly after the mistake 20.Re4, Mamedyarov either missed or failed to accurately assess the consequences of 20...d5!. After that opportunity passed, neither side seemed to have a tangible plus or even edge and eventually, a draw was the result.

Results

FIDE Grand Prix Belgrade Leg 2 Crosstable

All Games - Round 5


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