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Paris Rapid & Blitz: So Leads, Nepomniachtchi Sacs
Garry Kasparov was impressed with Nepomniachtchi's play. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Paris Rapid & Blitz: So Leads, Nepomniachtchi Sacs

PeterDoggers
| 28 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Wesley So is leading the Paris Rapid & Blitz tournament after nine rounds of rapid chess. The American grandmaster is one point ahead of GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, who played a brilliant sacrifice in the ninth round. GM Etienne Bacrot, who will be replaced by GM Vladimir Kramnik in the blitz, did surprisingly well and placed third.

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The games of the Paris Rapid & Blitz can be found here on our live events platform.

Paris Rapid Blitz 2021 results

After scoring 2/3 on the second day, Bacrot joked that he was hoping for Kramnik not to make it to Paris so that he could finish the tournament himself. The 38-year-old French GM wasn't joking around on the final day, scoring another 2/3 and finishing in an excellent third place.

In round eight, the former prodigy defeated none other than GM Fabiano Caruana in a sharp Rauzer Sicilian, which is going through a bit of a revival at the top level:

Caruana Bacrot Paris 2021
Bacrot did quite well in this tournament. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

So has played a rock-solid tournament so far. He didn't lose a game, drew six, and won three—two on the final day. He also won against Caruana and then beat GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in round eight.

Although the Frenchman was lucky against Nepomniachtchi the other day and found the lovely 26.Nd7!, his blunder (and So's reply) was some sort of echo that balanced out his luck:

Wesley So Paris 2021
Wesley So, the leader in Paris. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Another Grunfeld specialist fared better in this opening. GM Peter Svidler got the chance to play a pretty but known tactic, apparently unknown to GM Levon Aronian. It was not just nice but winning on the spot:

Peter Svidler Grunfeld
Peter Svidler wouldn't miss a Grunfeld tactic like that. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The Tactic of the Day, however, goes to Nepomniachtchi, for his fantastic move 23.Bxg6!! against GM Teimour Radjabov. "I think a nice piece of calculation," Nepo said about it.

It happened in a Berlin Ruy Lopez, where the Russian GM played the interesting sideline 6.Ba4. GM Garry Kasparov said: "I wish I could have found this idea when I played Kramnik in 2000!" The 13th world champion was very impressed by Nepo's play in this game and like everyone else, he called 23.Bxg6 brilliant.

I wish I could have found this idea when I played Kramnik in 2000!
—Garry Kasparov

Ian Nepomniachtchi Radjabov Paris 2021
Impressive calculation by Nepomniachtchi. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

While we're at it, there was also a Move of the Day: GM Richard Rapport's 36.d4!! vs. Caruana that kind of deserved him to win this game:

Richard Rapport Paris Rapid Blitz 2021
A great move by Richard Rapport. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

GM Alireza Firouzja is in last place after the rapid. He drew two games and then should have drawn the third as well, but he failed to hold a drawn rook endgame with MVL in the ninth round:

Vachier-Lagrave Firouzja Paris 2021
Vachier-Lagrave likely showing the drawing line to Firouzja. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Paris Rapid & Blitz 2021 | Rapid Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 So,Wesley 2770 2879 1 1 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 12
2 Nepomniachtchi,Ian 2792 2835 1 2 1 0 2 1 2 1 1 11
3 Bacrot,Etienne 2678 2808 1 0 1 2 0 2 1 2 1 10
4 Svidler,Peter 2714 2765 1 1 1 2 2 0 1 0 1 9 20.5
5 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2760 2760 0 2 0 0 1 1 2 1 2 9 19
6 Aronian,Levon 2781 2720 1 0 2 0 1 1 1 1 1 8 18
7 Caruana,Fabiano 2820 2715 0 1 0 2 1 1 1 1 1 8 17.25
8 Radjabov,Teimour 2765 2721 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 2 8 17.25
9 Rapport,Richard 2763 2722 0 1 0 2 1 1 1 1 1 8 17.25
10 Firouzja,Alireza 2759 2682 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 7

All games day 3

The Paris Rapid & Blitz takes place June 18-22, 2021 in Paris. 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 second leg of the Grand Chess Tour and has a $150,000 prize fund with a first prize of $37,500.


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