Opera Euro Rapid: Dubov Edges Out Nakamura On Tiebreak
Daniil Dubov edged out Hikaru Nakamura on tiebreak. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Opera Euro Rapid: Dubov Edges Out Nakamura On Tiebreak

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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70 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Hikaru Nakamura narrowly missed the cut to reach the top eight and qualify for the Opera Euro Rapid's knockout bracket. The American grandmaster lost a crucial final game to his compatriot GM Sam Shankland, and GM Daniil Dubov had the better tiebreak.

GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Anish Giri tied for first place in the preliminaries, scoring 9.5/15. The pairings for the quarterfinals are Carlsen-Dubov, Giri-Radjabov, So-Duda, and MVL-Aronian.

How to watch?
The games of the Opera Euro Rapid can be found here as part of our live events platform. IM Levy Rozman and IM Anna Rudolf are providing daily commentary on GM Hikaru Nakamura's Twitch channel starting from 8:00 a.m. Pacific / 17:00 Central Europe.

Opera Euro Rapid knockout bracket


It was a tight race in the end. The third day was the most drawish of the three with 25 games ending peacefully. A 50-percent score was just good enough for Dubov with four wins and four losses, while Nakamura had scored two more draws. Like at the FIDE Candidates Tournament, decisive games are valued more.

GM Leinier Dominguez had the best day with 3.5/5, but he still was a point short of qualifying. As for Dubov, GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda's plus-one on the last day was just enough. GM Teimour Radjabov remained unbeaten for the whole 15 rounds.

Opera Euro Rapid Preliminaries | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts
1 Carlsen 2881 2844 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 0 9.5/15
2 Giri 2731 2853 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 9.5/15
3 So 2741 2828 1 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 9.0/15
4 Aronian 2778 2802 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 8.5/15
5 Vachier-Lagrave 2860 2797 ½ 0 1 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 8.5/15
6 Duda 2774 2779 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 1 1 1 8.0/15
7 Radjabov 2758 2780 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 8.0/15
8 Dubov 2770 2757 ½ ½ 0 1 0 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 7.5/15
9 Nakamura 2829 2753 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 7.5/15
10 Shankland 2609 2743 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 7.0/15
11 Nepomniachtchi 2778 2733 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½ 7.0/15
12 Vidit 2636 2718 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 6.5/15
13 Dominguez 2786 2709 0 ½ 1 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½ 0 6.5/15
14 Grischuk 2784 2709 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 6.5/15
15 Bluebaum 2562 2675 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 5.5/15
16 Ding 2836 2632 1 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 1 1 0 ½ 5.0/15

Nakamura's failure to qualify is perhaps the biggest news. The speed chess specialist was not in his best shape but normally qualifies because his base level is so high in this format.

It's easy to see from the final standings that a draw would have been enough for Nakamura. His loss to Shankland, a Rauzer Sicilian, was extra painful because Nakamura was initially outplaying Shankland and completely winning at one point:

Hikaru Nakamura Opera Euro Rapid
A tough loss means an early exit for Nakamura. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The most spectacular game of the day was between two players who eventually made it to the top eight. Duda said he was in "kamikaze mode" as he finished his game with Dubov with a nice queen sacrifice after the latter had been playing for a win for too long.

"I think at some point Daniil wanted to beat me because I started playing so poorly and so badly!" said Duda afterward. He was partly right: Dubov thought the game was a must-win because of the tournament standings.

Dubov: "I am happy for Jan-Krzysztof to qualify because normally he manages to beat me and miss qualification, so it basically makes no sense! He wins a game, and it's like a lose-lose. This time at least it brings him to the heavy stage, which is fun."

Skilling Open: Knockouts Day 2.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda Opera Euro Rapid
A nice win for Jan-Krzysztof Duda. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

As the number-eight always plays the number-one in such knockout brackets, Dubov will again be facing Carlsen (first on tiebreak), the player he eliminated six weeks ago in the Airthings Masters. The Russian GM looks forward to the match the same way as then: "For me, it will be great fun, as always. He's still my favorite opponent, so I'm obviously very happy to play him again."

The world champion cannot be too confident about his chances, knowing his next opponent and after finishing the preliminaries with a rather mediocre 2.5/5. Of all the participants, tailender GM Ding Liren (who must have suffered from starting his games at midnight in China) beat him in round 13 as Carlsen played the opening too frivolously:

GM Levon Aronian and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, good friends of each other, will face once again in a battle where there can be only one winner. Their semifinal in the 2017 FIDE World Cup (won by Aronian) was epic. More recently they played in the quarterfinal of the 2020 Chess.com Speed Chess Championship (won by Vachier-Lagrave) and the semifinals of the Airthings Masters (won by Aronian).

It looks like it's MVL's turn again, although in the preliminaries of this tournament, Aronian beat the Frenchman:

Giri vs. Radjabov is a clash between two of the most solid players on the circuit. They played an insipid draw in round six. More interesting to show is Giri's single win on day three when he experimented somewhat against the London System:

Duda said he is looking forward to his match with So, but definitely considers his opponent the favorite. After a win against Carlsen in the first round, the American GM had a wild ride on the first two days with five wins and two losses before drawing his last seven games. One of his victims, in fact, was Duda:

Wesley So Opera Euro Rapid
After a wild start, Wesley So drew his way into the knockout. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

All Games Day 3

The Opera Euro Rapid runs February 6-14. The preliminary phase is a 16-player rapid round-robin (15 + 10). The top eight players advance to a six-day knockout that will consist of two days of four-game rapid matches, which may advance to blitz (5 + 3) and armageddon (White has five minutes, Black four with no increment) tiebreaks only if the knockout match is tied after the second day. The prize fund is $100,000 with $30,000 for first place.


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