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2022 FIDE Grand Prix Berlin R1: Wojtaszek, Fedoseev, Aronian Start With Wins
An intense first round at the FIDE Grand Prix 2022. Photo: WorldChess

2022 FIDE Grand Prix Berlin R1: Wojtaszek, Fedoseev, Aronian Start With Wins

VSaravanan
| 10 | Chess Event Coverage

The first round of the 2022 FIDE Grand Prix saw three decisive games in an intense start to the group stage of the event. After the first of the total six double round-robin games to be played among players of each group, GM Vladimir Fedoseev and GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek are in joint lead in Group B, while GM Levon Aronian is the leader in Group C. All the games in Groups A and D ended in hard-fought draws, thus no clear leader emerging in the groups.

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FIDE Grand Prix Berlin Chess.com



Group A

GM Hikaru Nakamura played out an effective Berlin dampener against GM Etienne Bacrot, neutralized White's opening advantage quite effectively, and drew the game. And then he came up with staggering admissions at the post-game interview. Reminded that this was his first classical tournament in more than two years - he played last at the FIDE Grand Prix 2019 at Hamburg in October 2019 - he admitted that his preferences shifted in the past months, "I enjoy streaming - that's the main thing!... I do think at the end of the game [today] I was too jumpy. I was moving a little bit too quickly. Just because I haven't played for too long, playing classical [chess] seemed very boring! Maybe I have to move a bit slower."

Nakamura - feeling a little jumpy. Photo: WorldChess

I was moving a bit too quickly. Just because I haven't played for too long, playing classical (chess) seemed very boring!

—GM Hikaru Nakamura

Nakamura's long hiatus from classical chess inspired the obligatory memes:

GM Alexander Grischuk took a full 48 minutes' think for his 10th move which made sure that he was going to land under his usual time pressure. In an all-Russian clash, his opponent GM Andrey Esipenko was not able to gain any advantage in the middlegame when he unexpectedly blundered with 28.Qb1:

Esipenko - In high spirits before the game. Photo: WorldChess

Talking in his usual effervescent style after the game, Grischuk joked, "It was unexpected for me that I got such a big advantage. Throughout the game, I was just happy with a draw. Andrei played Qb1 [on the 28th move], which looked ridiculous—probably is ridiculous, but it threw me off completely!" as his opponent watched with a chuckle.

Andrey played Qb1, which looked ridiculous—probably is ridiculous, but it threw me off completely!

—GM Alexander Grischuk

Group B

Fedoseev scored the first win of this Grand Prix tournament when he outwitted GM Grigoriy Oparin systematically from the white side of a typical Catalan Opening. 

Fedoseev - Impressive start. Photo: WorldChess

With GM Ding Liren being a non-starter at the event, Group B turned out to be the least strong of all of them in terms of average rating, as his replacement Wojtaszek was rated more than 100 Elo less than the Chinese grandmaster. But, for such a last-minute entrant in such a strong tournament, Wojtaszek started off very well. Relentlessly applying pressure on Black, he won a classic game of "White-squeeze" against the higher-rated GM Richard Rapport

Chess.com game of the day


Wojtaszek - A classic squeeze. Photo: WorldChess

Group C

The joint top-seed of the event (along with GM Wesley So), rated 2772, Aronian is representing the United States of America, his newly adopted country, for the first time. On such a historic occasion, he scored a fighting win against the Indian GM Vidit Gujrathi from the white side of a Nimzo-Indian Defense, taking advantage of his opponent's error in the endgame:

Aronian - A memorable debut for USA. Photo: WorldChess

Russian GM Daniil Dubov seemed to be in a tight spot against young GM Vincent Keymer, but he escaped with a draw by resorting to a confident decision in the endgame:

Dubov - confident in defending an unpleasant ending. Photo: WorldChess.

Group D

With an all-2700+ line-up and the highest Elo average of 2736 between the four players, Pool D had a day of opening preparation, as the players with the white pieces faced specific preparation from their opponents which neutralized their first-move advantage in both the games.

GM Alexei Shirov and GM Pentala Harikrishna entered an obvious theoretical battle from deep preparation, entering into an endgame within half an hour of the game's start.

Shirov - Caught in preparation. Photo: WorldChess

The pool also had the distinction of having two Americans, So and GM Leinier Dominguez, who played each other in the first round. So admitted after the game that he was surprised by Dominguez's bold opening choice and mixed up his preparation in the opening. But, just as Nakamura did, he too came up with a surprisingly bold admission regarding his travel from North America to Europe: "Today wasn't ideal. I still haven't slept well. I was falling asleep on the board! Today was not my day."

So - Today was not my day! Photo: WorldChess

I still haven't slept well. I was falling asleep on the board!

—GM Wesley So

Results

All games round 1

FIDE Grand Prix Berlin is the first of three legs of the event. The Berlin tournament takes place February 4-17. Tune in each day at 6 a.m. Pacific/ 15:00 CET for our broadcast.


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