Sold Out Shoes And Rapid Blues, So and Duda Lead After Day 2
So's 2/3 on day two allowed him to maintain his lead alongside Duda. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Sold Out Shoes And Rapid Blues, So and Duda Lead After Day 2

| 30 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Wesley So and Jan-Krzysztof Duda extended their lead after six rounds at the Superbet Poland Rapid & Blitz 2023, after both scored 2/3 on the second day of rapid chess. Wins over GMs Kirill Shevchenko and Radoslaw Wojtaszek, respectively, left the players on nine points, a single point ahead of third-place GM Levon Aronian.

On a day that featured 12 draws and three wins, round five was the only one which produced decisive results, and notably, GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac managed to find his first win over GM Anish Giri. GM Magnus Carlsen is still yet to win a game in Warsaw and has seen his live rapid rating dip by 13 points, allowing the world champion GM Ding Liren to attain the top spot.

The Superbet Poland Rapid & Blitz will continue with round seven-nine of the rapid portion on Tuesday, May 23, at 5:00 a.m. Pacific/14:00 CEST.

How to watch
You can watch live games of the Superbet Poland Rapid & Blitz 2023 on our Events Page. The rounds start each day at 5:00 a.m. Pacific/14:00 CEST.

The fourth round of the Superbet Poland Rapid & Blitz was the first in which no decisive results were posted, and this was largely due to the exceptional accuracy of the players. With individual Computer Aggregated Precision Scores (CAPS) of over 95% for every single participant, even perfect chess littered with brilliant moves was not enough to secure wins.

Overnight preparation likely had a hand to play in the players' exceptional accuracy. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

GM Richard Rapport's battle against Duda was the game of the round, and when a tactical line of the Vienna Game materialized, it was clear that chess fans were in for a treat. Benefitting from overnight preparation, the players freely sacrificed material in favor of activity, and both kings were soon exposed to the elements.

Hoping to knock Duda off his perch, Rapport took on a nine-point material deficit in order to throw pieces at the Black king, but Duda was able to stave off the attack and secure a threefold repetition.

So was able to keep up his tournament strategy of pressing with White and drawing with Black, quickly exchanging into an opposite-colored bishop endgame against day one's hero, Wojtaszek. Meanwhile, Carlsen's winless run continued after a draw against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Despite possessing the knight pair against the Frenchman's knight and bishop in an endgame, there was no way through for Carlsen, who seemed to be enjoying himself regardless.

A powerful handshake from one former world champion to another. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The only player who found himself in a remotely uncomfortable position in round four was co-leader Aronian, who overreacted to Deac's knight pairs escapades and made an error with 34...c6?. Finding a precise response proved difficult for Deac, though, as his time had dipped below 20 seconds on the clock. A mistake ensued, and Aronian was able to calcify the pawn structure and proceed to an equal rook endgame.

Round five was the most exciting of the day and featured three wins and two draws. The clash of Polish numbers one and two, Duda and Wojtaszek, drew many fans to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews (POLIN) to witness the showdown. Although Duda was considered the favorite with the white pieces, Wojtaszek's spectacular victory over Carlsen on day one made him a dangerous foe.

A dynamic line of the Nimzo-Indian Defense arose in this game, and Duda soon found himself with some initiative, cashing in on the tempi by pinching several pawns with his queen. Though grabbing pawns is normally considered a risky decision at the top level, Duda's moves were well-founded, and he played all the right moves to consolidate his advantage.

Our Game of the Day, which extended Duda's lead, has been analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao.

Not allowing Duda to run away with the tournament, So kept pace by scoring a fine win over the tournament's lowest seed, Shevchenko, on the white side of the Canal Attack. The American GM took the opportunity to crack open the center early after Shevchenko delayed castling, a decision that left him defending for the remainder of the game.

All smiles from So, who has won every game he has played with the white pieces! Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Preferring to avoid an opposite-colored bishop ending, So played the unsound 38.Bf5? but still maintained a healthy advantage. Eleven moves later, he would confirm the result with 49.Ne4!, leaving all of Black's pieces under threat simultaneously.

Deac also managed to play inspired chess in round five, taking down Giri in a 53-mover with the black pieces to score his first win of the event, catapulting himself from the bottom of the leaderboard into ninth position.

Happy hunting for Deac on Monday as he downed Giri. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Draws in Vachier-Lagrave vs. Rapport and Aronian vs. Carlsen left the middle of the leaderboard relatively unchanged, although Aronian's inability to find a win on day two relegated him from the lead.

While Carlsen's results in Warsaw have been mediocre so far, his off-the-board successes and completion of "side-quests," as many have dubbed it, continued. Live on ChessTV during the Chesskid Cup, the launch of the former world champion's chess-themed PUMA sneakers was announced, and it seems to have been a raging success.

Within one hour of the announcement, the shoe had completely sold out in the U.S. online store, and fans were left begging for the limited edition footwear to be restocked. 

Carlsen sporting his branded shoes at the opening ceremony. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The final round of the day was one of missed chances, and though all five games ended in draws, two of them included moments where one player could have grabbed a decisive advantage. The moment of truth between the two leaders, So and Duda, featured the Petrov Defense, and So was able to build a strong position after the Polish GM's inaccurate 18.Ne6?.

Forcing Duda to give up the exchange, So tightened the screws, and his edge swelled. However, on move 37, he allowed his opponent's queen to swoop in on his king and threaten a threefold repetition. So dodged and ducked the Black queen and seemed to have escaped its clutches before Duda unleashed a brilliant knight sacrifice that secured him the draw.

Deac also almost found his second win of the day, this time against his compatriot Shevchenko. Demonstrating his prowess with the black pieces, Deac equalized easily and headed toward an equal endgame. Looking to press, Shevchenko played an inaccurate rook check which allowed Deac's king to come forward, but the Romanian number two missed the chance and soon had to settle for a draw.

The remainder of the rounds of games were drawn with few dramatics besides the usual banter between Carlsen and Giri. 

With three games left in the rapid portion of the event, players with ambitions to win the tournament will need to close the gap between themselves and the leaders before the blitz segment begins on Wednesday.

Duda is on track for a title defense. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Key matchups on the final day include Duda vs. Shevchenko in round seven, the former of which will try to win with White and move into the sole lead in round eight. So will attempt to keep his 100% win rate with White intact when he takes on Aronian.

Standings - Round 6

The gap between the leaders and the rest of the field has widened. With blitz approaching, Duda sits in a similar position to the 2022 edition, which he won. Image: Grand Chess Tour Twitter.

All Games - Day 2

The Superbet Poland Rapid & Blitz 2023 is the second leg of this year's Grand Chess Tour (GCT) and features 10 of the best players in the world. Players, including GMs Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So, and Anish Giri, will battle it out for their share of the $175,000 prize fund.

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