Duda On Track For Title After Undefeated Rapid Run
Duda is the sole leader after the rapid portion of the event. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Duda On Track For Title After Undefeated Rapid Run

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The final day of rapid chess at the Superbet Poland Rapid & Blitz 2023 saw local hope GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda take the sole lead after moving to an undefeated 6.5/9 in his bid to defend his 2022 title.

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave made a late challenge to the top of the leaderboard with two wins but was brought to his knees by Duda in an important round-eight clash. GM Magnus Carlsen also worked his way back into contention with a 2.5/3 score on day three, leaving him within striking distance of the lead with 18 rounds of blitz to play.

The Superbet Poland Rapid & Blitz will continue with rounds one-nine of the blitz portion on Wednesday, May 24, 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.

Duda's stellar run continued in front of a home ground in Warsaw, and with four wins and five draws under his belt, the pertinent question is whether or not he can keep his form rolling into the blitz portion. If 2022 is anything to go by, Duda is certainly capable of putting together a tournament-winning score in the blitz—as he had to do so to wrest the title from the grasp of legendary GM Viswanathan Anand.

At the same point of the tournament in 2022, Duda had amassed 12 points in the rapid vs. 13 in 2023. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The Polish GM had to work hard to draw his first game of the day against GM Kirill Shevchenko with White, a matchup that Duda would have felt was important to win given his opponent's 1.5/6 score heading into the round.

With two Whites in a row to start the day, Duda saved his best chess for the eighth round, where he knocked over Vachier-Lagrave in the Queen's Gambit Accepted: Central Variation, McDonnell Defense. Sacrificing his queen for a rook, knight, and two pawns, Duda had all the pieces he needed to confirm the result. Staring at his opponent's connected passed pawns threatening to barrel down the d- and c-files, Vachier-Lagrave resigned, perhaps prematurely.

A comfortable 50-move hold against GM Levon Aronian capped off another successful day for Duda, who also moved into the number three position on the FIDE rapid leaderboards behind Carlsen and GM Ding Liren.

Movement in the top five! Image:

Duda will immediately be tested in the blitz with a round one pairing against the person GM Daniil Dubov dubbed the "rock-and-roll player," GM Richard Rapport. If he is not shaken up by the volatility of Rapport, the game should help to settle his nerves.

Rapport won't be showing a "Whole Lotta Love" to Duda and will aim to put him "Under Pressure" on Wednesday. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Despite his loss to the leader, Vachier-Lagrave had a fine day in Warsaw and was responsible for knocking GM Wesley So off the top of the standings in round seven. So opted to play the Petrov Defense, an opening he is famously solid when playing Black, but panicked with 26...Rxg5? and never recovered from the material deficit.

A round nine win over Shevchenko and his Sicilian Defense: Dragon Variation propelled him into equal third and just two points shy of the lead. The game itself was a monstrous performance from the Frenchman, who blitzed out the opening and put his opponent under immense pressure.

Vachier-Lagrave's win over So shook up the standings on day three. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

A brilliant queen check from Vachier-Lagrave was the breaking point for Shevchenko, and he resigned soon after with only 30 seconds on his clock against his opponent's eight minutes. The speed with which he won the game was an ominous sign for his competitors heading into the blitz portion. Vachier-Lagrave's win was a worthy contender for our Game of the Day, and you can enjoy GM Rafael Leitao's annotations below.

Another player who benefitted from So's loss against Vachier-Lagrave was Aronian, who managed to score 2/3 on day three and move into clear second place. The veteran's grinding effort against GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek in round seven was the most important result for him on Tuesday and proved to be an instructive look into how to extract a long-term advantage from your opponent's doubled pawns.

One player who can never be ignored is the former world champion Carlsen, and while his -1 score after the first two days left him in a disappointing seventh place, two wins and a draw saw him bounce right back into contention. Now only three wins off the lead, the six-time world blitz champion will no doubt be back with a vengeance and still feel optimistic about a late run against the field.

Carlsen seemed to be back to his brilliant best on Tuesday. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The first of Carlsen's wins on day three was against GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac, who enjoyed a good run of form on the second day but only managed to score one point on day three. A vintage Carlsen endgame lesson was on the cards in round seven, and in an endgame that many GMs would have drawn, the virtuoso ground out the win.

Not even brilliant moves could save Shevchenko from Carlsen's wrath in round eight, and in a Scotch Gambit-turned-Italian Game: Two Knights Variation, the classical world number one slowly outplayed his Romanian opponent, eventually claiming victory on move 60.

The only player who could stop Carlsen's rampant run on day three was Rapport, who used brute force with Black to stop his opponent from claiming his third consecutive victory.

The tension in Warsaw could be cut with a knife! Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Four key frontrunners in Duda, Aronian, So, and Vachier-Lagrave have emerged as the chief contenders heading into the blitz. With 18 rounds to play, anyone in the top half of the field still has realistic chances of winning the event, and the early rounds will go a long way to setting the tone of the denouement of the 2023 Superbet Poland Rapid & Blitz.

Round 1 Pairings

White Fed Rtg Black Fed Rtg
GM Deac, Bogdan-Daniel 2649 GM Shevchenko, Kirill 2562
GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2605 GM So, Wesley 2749
GM Carlsen, Magnus 2852 GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2723
GM Rapport, Richard 2701 GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2790
GM Giri, Anish 2807 GM Aronian, Levon 2804

Standings - Round 9

Image: Grand Chess Tour.

All Games - Day 3

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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