Revenge of Nepomniachtchi: 3-0 Streak, Leads With Anand, Caruana
Nobody puts Nepo in the corner. Photo: Bryan Adams/Grand Chess Tour.

Revenge of Nepomniachtchi: 3-0 Streak, Leads With Anand, Caruana

| 13 | Chess Event Coverage

After a winless day one, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi came back with a vengeance today, winning all three of his games to join GMs Viswanathan Anand and Fabiano Caruana in the lead at the SuperUnited Rapid and Blitz Croatia 2023

Caruana also had a strong performance, winning both his games with Black against GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda

While Anand started well, defeating GM Ivan Saric and drawing with Black vs. Caruana, Carlsen spoiled the end, giving the 15th world champion his first loss of the tournament in round six. 

The action continues with the last rounds of the rapid portion on Friday, July 7, at 6:00 a.m. Pacific/15:00 CEST.

How to watch
You can watch live games of the SuperUnited Croatia Rapid & Blitz 2023 on our Events Page. The rounds start each day at 6:00 a.m. Pacific/15:00 CEST.

The day kicked off with nearly all decisive games in round four. Unveiling a rare line with Black vs. the English, Caruana unsettled Carlsen in the opening with an analysis he originally prepared for their 2018 world championship match, as he revealed after the game.

Caught off guard, Carlsen was unable to accurately navigate the arising pandemonium, and Caruana soon trapped his misplaced rook. 

Position after 20...f6

With their overall rapid score overwhelmingly in favor of Carlsen with 37 victories (three of which were the deciding tiebreakers in their 2018 match) to 15 for Caruana, along with 16 draws, the American grandmaster was delighted by this victory and the opportunity to use his throwback analysis. He shared in detail about the origin of his preparation: 

"I prepared this in 2018 for the match against Magnus. We were just checking random English lines. I kinda forgot about this d4 line for a few years. Then recently Magnus started to play it. For example, he played it in Poland against Wojtaszek. He beat him. He played it online a bit. He’s having very good results with this line."

I was very happy when Magnus started to think.

-Fabiano Caruana

"I didn’t check it today, but I checked it a few weeks ago. It’s very straightforward this whole Na5 line. It gets a bit crazy, but it’s very forcing… It’s very safe for Black. White has to navigate the way to equality. I didn’t remember the details, but I was very happy when Magnus started to think because, of course, White can’t go into this if you don’t know it."

Years later, their WC match still affects their encounters. Photo: Bryan Adams/Grand Chess Tour.

Anand maintained his lead, outplaying Saric in the strategic phase of the game and capping it off with a tactical finish. Can you see how in the puzzle below?

White to move.

Nepomniachtchi started getting back on track with his first victory of the tournament, spotting a picturesque idea vs. GM Alireza Firouzja.

Duda bounced back with swift attacking play vs. GM Constantin Lupulescu by swinging his rook deep into his opponent's kingside to gain a material advantage.

Position after 23.Rxg6

Even the only draw of the round, GM Gukesh D. vs. GM Richard Rapport, was a dynamic minefield that ultimately ended in a perpetual check.

In round five, Firouzja served Carlsen a second loss in a row after the Norwegian grandmaster chose the wrong square for his king in the queen ending, allowing Firouzja to create a potent passed pawn. 

Position after 49.Qh7+

After a rough start, will Firouzja's win vs. Carlsen inspire him in the remaining rounds? Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Gukesh scored his first win by catching a tactical error by Lupulescu in the opening. Do you see how?

Black to move.

Nepomniachtchi won again, beating Rapport with creative play to create pressure on the queenside.

The last round of the day was another bloodbath. Carlsen reminded us of his ability to influence the tournament, bouncing back and defeating the tournament leader, Anand. Carlsen's acute tactical eye detected a hidden opportunity to win a pawn. Despite this extra pawn being doubled and isolated in the arising rook ending, Carlsen converted it without trouble.

This is our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao below.

Their longstanding competitive saga continues. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Nepomniachtchi completed his 3-0 winning streak with a win vs. Lupulescu, creating a passer on the seventh rank and eventually utilizing it to take over his opponent's back rank. 

Caruana joined the leaderboard by knocking Duda off it, poking at the holes in his opponent's position, and bursting through with a stunning shot.

Position after the final move of the game, 57.Bxg3!!

With two wins with the black pieces, Caruana has climbed his way into a share of first. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Gukesh also continued to turn his tournament around with a victory against Saric, successfully converting his two-pawn advantage in the ending despite the presence of opposite-colored bishops. He finished the day tied with Duda for fourth.  

Standings - Round 6

With a three-way tie at the top, who will tip the scales in their favor at the rapid finale tomorrow?

All Games - Day 2

The SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz Croatia 2023 is the third leg of the Grand Chess Tour (GCT). The event will start on July 3 at 6 a.m. PT/15:00 CEST, featuring Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand as wild cards along with Tour mainstays like Alireza Firouzja, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and more top-notch competitors battling it out for their share of the $175,000 prize fund.

Previous Coverage:

NM Vanessa West

Vanessa West is a National Master, a chess teacher, and a writer for In 2017, they won the Chess Journalist of the Year award.

You can follow them on X: Vanessa__West

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