News
Dazzling Chess By Nepomniachtchi As Zagreb Rapid & Blitz Gets Underway
Ian Nepomniachtchi looked sharp on day one of the Zagreb Rapid & Blitz. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Dazzling Chess By Nepomniachtchi As Zagreb Rapid & Blitz Gets Underway

PeterDoggers
| 30 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, the challenger of GM Magnus Carlsen in the world championship in November, made his mark on the first day of the Zagreb Rapid & Blitz. The third leg of the Grand Chess Tour will have GM Garry Kasparov playing in the blitz segment this coming weekend.

How to watch?
The games of the Zagreb Rapid & Blitz can be found here on our live events platform.


We've had the Superbet Chess Classic in Bucharest and the Paris Rapid & Blitz, and today the Grand Chess Tour continued in the Croatian capital for another rapid and blitz event. This year's tour has three of them (the third being the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz in August), and all Full Tour players play in two out of three.

Like in Paris, the field in Zagreb consists of 11 players. As mentioned in the intro, none other than the 13th world chess champion will be trying his luck again at the chessboard. He'll only be playing in the blitz though, and his place is taken by the Croatian number-one GM Ivan Saric in the rapid.

Garry Kasparov Zagreb Rapid Blitz 2021
Garry Kasparov made a ceremonial first move today but will be one of the players on Saturday and Sunday. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

A wildcard was also given to another former world champ, GM Vishy Anand, and it's also interesting to have 2021 Wijk aan Zee winner GM Jorden Foreest in the field. The four Full Tour players are GMs Anish Giri, Alexander Grischuk, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Bucharest winner GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

It was Nepomniachtchi, however, who drew the attention on the first day with two dazzling white games. Well, especially the second.

In the first round, he beat wildcard GM Anton Korobov, whom we've also seen in the previous Grand Chess Tour, one and a half years ago. The Ukrainian grandmaster was actually doing well, as Nepo readily admitted: "I scored probably one point more than I deserved. I really misplayed the opening and I quickly got into trouble."

"I overestimated my position," said Korobov. "After 24...Nxd4 I thought it was over, or almost over. Then I had to defend with my precise moves, and I failed."

Game of the Day Alex Yermolinsky
Anton Korobov Zagreb Rapid Blitz 2021
Korobov overestimated his position versus Nepomniachtchi. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

In the second round, Mamedyarov used an old love of his against Nepo, i.e. the Gallagher Variation against the Fianchetto King's Indian, but the world number four from Russia was up to the task and produced another gem, starting with a sacrifice in the opening.

Korobov called it a brilliant game, saying about Nepomniachtchi: "He is very good in complications and mental strength, commitment. I like his commitment."

Ian Nepomniachtchi Anton Korobov Zagreb Rapid Blitz 2021
Nepomniachtchi's wardrobe seems to be ready for a world championship match as he was wearing a three-piece suit today. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Another very interesting game from the first round was Anand's encounter with Van Foreest. It was Anand's first over-the-board game in almost 17 months.

"It started to come back, but the first game was very strange," said Anand. "There were several moments where I realized: oh, I have to make a move now! When you're sitting at home you're always in analysis mode but here suddenly you actually have to make a decision."

Vishy Anand Jorden van Foreest Zagreb Rapid Blitz 2021
Anand and Van Foreest. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Like GM Etienne Bacrot in Paris, Saric definitely isn't just cannon fodder for the big guns. The local hero beat one of those big guns in the third round: Giri.

"It started very bad," said Saric. "He completely outplayed me out of the opening. When we traded the queens I was feeling OK; I was thinking I could save this game and eventually he got a bit too optimistic and got carried away." 

Ivan Saric Zagreb Rapid Blitz 2021
An expressive Ivan Saric after his win vs. Giri. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Zagreb Rapid & Blitz 2021 | Day 1 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts
1 Nepomniachtchi,Ian 2791 3043 2 2 1 5
2 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2831 2766 0 2 1 3
3 Korobov,Anton 2781 2734 0 1 2 3
4 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2761 2801 0 2 1 3
5 Anand,Viswanathan 2751 2722 1 0 2 3
6 Grischuk,Alexander 2784 2702 1 1 1 3
7 Duda,Jan-Krzysztof 2774 2642 1 1 1 3
8 Saric,Ivan 2650 2762 0 1 2 3
9 Giri,Anish 2731 2616 1 1 0 2
10 Van Foreest,Jorden 2543 2649 0 1 1 2

All games day 1

The Zagreb Rapid & Blitz takes place July 7-11, 2021 in Zagreb, Croatia. The time control in the rapid is 25 minutes for each player with a 10-second increment per move, starting from move one. The time control in the blitz is five minutes for each player with a two-second increment per move, starting from move one. The rapid counts double for the final standings. The tournament is the third leg of the Grand Chess Tour and has a $150,000 prize fund with a first prize of $37,500.

More from PeterDoggers
Nepomniachtchi, Caruana Pick Up Wins In Spectacular 6th Round

Nepomniachtchi, Caruana Pick Up Wins In Spectacular 6th Round

Nepomniachtchi Dodges Bullet, Maintains Lead In Madrid

Nepomniachtchi Dodges Bullet, Maintains Lead In Madrid