2022 FIDE Grand Prix Berlin R3: Wesley So Joins Other Leaders
Aronian is the highest scorer of event at 2.5/3 after a clinical victory over Keymer. Photo: WorldChess

2022 FIDE Grand Prix Berlin R3: Wesley So Joins Other Leaders

| 13 | Chess Event Coverage

The third round of the 2022 FIDE Grand Prix produced fighting games on all the boards in all the groups, though the leaders remain unchanged except for Group D, where GM Wesley So joined the lead with GM Leinier Dominguez on 2/3. In Group C, GM Levon Aronian increased his lead to a full point with 2.5/3 when he scored a clinical victory over young GM Vincent Keymer.

The preliminary group stage of the tournament reaches its halfway mark with this third round, all the players having played each other in their respective groups. Starting Monday, the second half of the double round-robin begins with the fourth round, the players facing the same opponents with reversed colors.

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FIDE Grand Prix Berlin

Group A

GM Alexander Grischuk was in a spot of bother against GM Hikaru Nakamura when he almost got his own rook trapped on e7 inside the enemy territory. He admitted during the post-game interview: "At the critical moment, I had a bad feeling about taking on b7—I felt something [was] wrong. But I could not see..."

The players had an interesting exchange at the end of the interview. First, Nakamura was asked if he fancied his chances in the tournament after two draws with black pieces and a win with White. He didn't hide the obvious strategy that in the second cycle of the inter-group round-robin, all the 2700+ players in the group would be gunning for GM Etienne Bacrot! "All of us are going to be going after after one player in this group in the rest of our games."

And that's when Grischuk decided to bring the house down with the quip, "Also there are three more PCR tests. So, everything is ahead!"

Grischuk and Nakamura - candid thoughts at the post-game interview. Photo: WorldChess

...There are three more PCR tests. So, everything is ahead!

—GM Alexander Grischuk

GM Andrey Esipenko scored his first win of the event when his opponent, Bacrot, self-destructed in the final hour before the first time control on move 40:

Etienne Bacrot - the French grandmaster had a difficult day at the office. Photo: WorldChess

Group B

GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek continued to impress, by now used to his presence in the tournament in spite of being a last-minute entry. He even had his chances against GM Vladimir Fedoseev in a tense game:

GM Richard Rapport built up a huge advantage against GM Grigoriy Oparin only to let the win slip away just before the first time control:

Group C

After a peaceful second round, both the games of the group ended decisively in the third round. Aronian squeezed out Keymer from the white side of a strategical fight, explaining after the game: "What I wanted to get out of the opening, generally more or less, I got—a playable position with some strategic contours." game of the day

Aronian was quite satisfied with his play, "I take it day by day. There are three rounds to go. Let us see how tomorrow will go. But, so far, my play is fine."

Vidit won against Dubov, and was obviously delighted with the result. He had scored three losses and two draws in his last five games at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, and had started with a further loss and a draw in the first two games here. "It was much-needed because in the last six games I had scored... one or one and a half points—something like this. I really needed this win".

Curiously, Vidit's surname appeared misspelled as "Gujarathi" on his name-plate at the playing table...

It should have been Vidit Gujrathi who played against Daniil Dubov. Photo: WorldChess

... which Vidit appeared to make light of with a tweet after the game, but the question was—was he?!

Group D

While the encounter between Dominguez and GM Pentala Harikrishna never showed any promise for either player, So finally showed his immense playing strength, patiently surviving GM Alexei Shirov's dynamic play in the opening and fighting throughout the game:

Talking after the game, So sounded positive about his form at this point: "I feel I have gotten over the jet lag today. The first game was really hard. I am just very happy to win a game. I am not that optimistic—I haven't played [for] three months; my play has been quite rusty, making mistakes here and there. I hope to play better." And he also shared his thought about the the elephant in the room, "Atleast no one has got Covid in this tournament!"


All Games Round 3

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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