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2022 FIDE Grand Prix Berlin R2: Nakamura, Wojtaszek, Aronian, Dominguez Group Sole Leaders
GM Leinier Dominguez earned today's Game of the Day distinction after a complicated struggle. Photo: WorldChess.

2022 FIDE Grand Prix Berlin R2: Nakamura, Wojtaszek, Aronian, Dominguez Group Sole Leaders

VSaravanan
| 24 | Chess Event Coverage

The second round of the the 2022 FIDE Grand Prix produced fierce battles in all the games except from Group C. GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek, GM Levon Aronian, and GM Leinier Dominguez emerged as sole leaders in their respective groups, all with a score of 1.5/2.

In the post-game interviews, the format of the event—where a preliminary group stage selects only one player from each group to advance to the knockout stages—is mentioned often. It is becoming increasingly obvious that almost all the players feel the importance of fighting for the top place in their respective groups, auguring well for the fighting spirit in the tournament.

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FIDE Grand Prix Berlin Chess.com



Group A

Both the games of the group produced scintillating battles with the possibility of producing decisive results, but GM Alexander Grischuk escaped from a difficult position to hold the draw against GM Etienne Bacrot. Nakamura played a near-flawless game to outwit GM Andrey Esipenko and score the only win of the group so far, emerging as the sole leader.

Grischuk's games almost always guarantee interesting play, and he set the ball rolling by employing the Pirc Defense with the black pieces, though he spent copious amounts of time in the opening phase itself. By the 14th move, Black's position looked so passive that one of our commentators WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili remarked: "Look at those [Black] pieces on the queenside—they look like penguins!" Commentator GM Robert Hess too blamed Grischuk's handling of the clock as the main reason for his problems: "He did this to himself from move one. The game is as one-sided as it gets." But Grischuk fought doggedly:

In comparison, Nakamura won a well-conducted game. Gaining a slight advantage in the opening, he consistently applied pressure to score a well-deserved victory:

Hikaru Nakamura - Showing alertness and accuracy, scoring a remarkable win. Photo: WorldChess

Group B

Another player who continues to impress in Berlin is Wojtaszek, who is playing remarkably in spite of being a last-minute replacement for GM Ding Liren.  Asked in the post-game interview about his remarkable show so far, Wojtaszek replied modestly: "I didn't expect anything [here]. I simply expected that I can play some games. I got to know [about my participation] only three days before the event... I am playing here [under] zero pressure. Am enjoying the whole process. It's nice!" Such wise words, in spite of missing a probable win:

I am playing here [under] zero pressure. Am enjoying the whole process. It is nice!

—GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek

One of the best games of the round was the clash between GM Richard Rapport and GM Vladimir Fedoseev. It was a classic game of hard hand-to-hand combat by two remarkable fighters of the current chess world, and the game was a clash of two strong wills. One of the main reasons for the intensity of this fight was Rapport coming to the board having lost his first round, whereas Fedoseev had scored an impressive win:

GM Richard Rapport and GM Vladimir Fedoseev keep up a conversation even after a remarkable clash. Photo: WorldChess

Group C

This was most peaceful group of the day, as both the games ended in draws within three hours of the start, within minutes of each other. The game between GM Daniil Dubov and Aronian started interestingly from what appeared to be a complex opening but never really warmed up for a full-fledged fight. Though Aronian seemed to be better prepared, even being half an hour ahead on the clock, Dubov never lost control of the game. 

Dubov and Aronian - an evenly matched clash. Photo: WorldChess

Both GM Vincent Keymer and GM Vidit Gujrathi too came to the board well-prepared in a Queen's Gambit Tarrasch Variation and the game quickly reached an equal ending to conclude peacefully. Thus, the group maintains the status quo in terms of points by each player.

Group D

This was another intense day for the group, after a relatively calmer first round. From the onset, GM Pentala Harikrishna seemed to be pressing against GM Wesley So from the white side of a Berlin, but the latter defended doggedly to hold a draw in a rook ending:

Finally, in our game of the day, Dominguez played a remarkably dynamic game to outwit GM Alexei Shirov:

Chess.com game of the day



Leinier Dominguez came up with a dynamic performance to outwit Alexei Shirov. Photo: WorldChess

If the quality of the games and the level of competition is any indication, the FIDE Grand Prix 2022 being held at Berlin is bound to produce high-intensity clashes in the days to come.

Results

All games round 2

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 each day for our broadcast.


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