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Rapid Chess Championship Week 7: Andreikin Wins Knockout

Rapid Chess Championship Week 7: Andreikin Wins Knockout

NM_Vanessa
| 3 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Dmitry Andreikin won week seven of the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase, defeating GM Le Quang Liem in a hard-fought final blitz playoff. GM Fabiano Caruana won the Swiss tournament and made it to the semifinals along with GM David Paravyan. GMs Gata Kamsky, Benjamin Bok, Alexey Sarana, and Mohammad Amin Tabatabaei made it to the quarterfinals. 

Participating in the event were 29 elite players on the FIDE top-100 list, top-10 women, and top-10 juniors in the world, alongside 10 wildcards. The event will continue next weekend, April 2-3, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific / 17:00 Central European.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive.
Live broadcast of this weekend's tournament, hosted by GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Daniel Naroditsky, and IM Anna Rudolf.


The Rapid Chess Championship is a weekly tournament held by Chess.com. It is a nine-round Swiss event with a 10+0 time control held every Saturday, followed by a knockout event on Sunday between the top-eight finishers and a 10+2 time control. If players draw, they play another 3+2 game; if drawn, they play a 1+1 game; and if that is drawn, a single armageddon game is played.


Swiss

After narrowly missing qualification last week, Caruana came back with a vengeance this week. He joined the tournament lead in round four and maintained it to an undefeated finish.

Caruana's excellent form showed from the very first round. An exchange and a pawn down, he fought back against GM Dariusz Swiercz to a clever attacking victory.

Tabatabaei won his last two games to tie Caruana’s 6.5 score and finish second. In his eighth-round victory against GM Jose Martinez Alcantara, he took over the queenside and then transferred his pieces to the kingside for a mating attack that seems to appear out of nowhere.

Bok qualified for the knockout for the first time, finishing third. In his critical round-six victory over GM Maxim Matlakov, last week’s knockout winner, he used dynamic tactical play to reach an advantageous endgame.

Andreikin finished fourth, displaying creative defensive play to draw against Caruana in round seven.

The most shocking moment of the event was GM Hans Moke Niemann’s 10-move victory over GM Rinat Jumabayev, utilizing the classic Greek Gift sacrifice.

Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)

(Full final standings here.)

Knockout

Caruana and Kamsky, two previous world championship challengers, dueled in the first quarterfinal match. In the rapid game, Caruana played the Maroczy Bind, and Kamsky employed the classic ...d5 break to achieve equality. The players traded into a balanced rook-and-bishop endgame and soon agreed to a draw.

In their blitz game, Caruana played a less critical line against the London System, which seemed to throw Kamsky off balance. Possibly looking to take advantage of the Caruana's opening choice, Kamsky fell behind on the clock and then made a tactical error, losing a pawn along with being down two minutes on the clock. 

Despite this, Kamsky defended well and nearly held the tactical endgame, equalizing on the board and the clock. At the last minute, Kamsky made an inaccuracy, blundering his h-pawn and allowing Caruana to have a dangerous advanced passed pawn.

In the Andreikin vs. Sarana rapid game, Sarana gained an edge out of the opening with the Nimzo-Indian, expanding and creating play on the queenside. However, Andreikin responded with strong piece activity, pressing on weak points and aiming to immobilize Black’s advancing queenside pawns. Sarana opted to trade down to a drawn endgame.

Their blitz game was equal until Andreikin made a bold choice of moving his king out to f6, giving Sarana the opportunity to gain a strong attack. 

Can you find how Sarana could've gone after Black’s adventurous king on f6?

When Sarana overlooked this, Andreikin moved his king to safer pastures on e7 and equalized. A tactical duel took place in the endgame, leaving Sarana with a knight and two pawns vs. a rook and eventually an extra doubled pawn, ultimately leading to another hard-fought draw. 

In their bullet playoff game, Andreikin gained an easier-to-play position from the white side of the Queen’s Gambit, pressing on the weak points around Sarana’s kingside. In time trouble, Sarana blundered.

Tabatabaei forfeit his quarterfinal game because he was in the middle of a game at the FIDE Grand Prix in Berlin at the start of the round. Paravyan advanced to the semifinals.

The Bok vs. Le rapid game was a battle between imbalances. Le had pressure down the open h-file, aiming at Bok’s semi-open king. On the other hand, Bok had a myriad of other pluses, including pressure on the b7-pawn, more coordinated and centralized pieces, and the potential for a breakthrough on the queenside with c5. Le countered Bok’s pressure with the creative 18...Bd7!?, rerouting the bishop for both defensive and counterattacking purposes, which led to a fighting draw.


In their blitz game, Le employed a fascinating attacking sacrifice of 13.Nf6+!?, leaving Bok with a tricky defensive task as his clock ticked down. Bok blundered under the pressure.

The semifinals rapid game of Caruana vs. Andreikin was one of those games that gave the evaluation bar no rest―loaded with inaccuracies and resourceful comebacks by both sides. The game culminated in Andreikin’s two rooks breathing down the neck of Caruana’s king while Caruana promoted to a queen, ending with a perpetual check draw.

In their blitz game, Andreikin was able to neutralize Caruana’s opening advantage, and the game gradually traded down into a drawn endgame.

This meant another bullet playoff for Andreikin! Interestingly, Caruana and Andreikin repeated the same opening from the rapid game until Andreikin deviated on the 18th move, preventing Caruana from being able to trade off his bad dark-squared bishop. Andreikin then tried a bold knight sacrifice. Although technically unsound, Andreikin’s attack prevailed in the time scramble.

In the Le vs. Paravyan semifinals game, Le gained a significant time edge of eight minutes to four in addition to a brewing king attack. Although Paravyan defended well and held on for longer than expected, eventually, the combined pressure on the board and the clock was too much.

The final rapid game of Andreikin vs. Le was an incredibly close game with the evaluation bar virtually glued at a balance between white and black for the entire 65-move game. Although Le pressed as much as he could, the game ended in a draw.

Commentator GM Daniel Naroditsky sees this ability to press in even the most equal of positions to be a feature of modern super-GM play: "I think Magnus Carlsen has had this effect on players as well.... Everybody fights until bare kings essentially."

I think Magnus Carlsen has had this effect on players as well.… Everybody fights until bare kings essentially.
—Daniel Naroditsky

The blitz playoff featured a tense middlegame struggle that traded into a level endgame. Just as it seemed that we might see another draw, both sides activated their rooks, and the game spun out of control for Le, who had only seconds left on the clock. Andreikin won two pawns and converted them into a victory.

Andreikin’s victory was well-earned. He overcame three tough opponents, including the current Rapid Chess Championship overall leader, Caruana, and fought all the way to bullet playoff victories in two matches. After coming so close to winning the previous week, Andreikin shared in his interview that he found this victory to be particularly rewarding: "Today, I had extra motivation to win this tournament, and I did it."

Today, I had extra motivation to win this tournament, and I did it.
—Dmitry Andreikin

Standings, Results, Prizes

The winner of the Swiss tournament is Caruana, and the winner of the knockout tournament is Andreikin. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout:

Sunday Knockout | Final Standings

# Fed Player Place Prize
1 Dmitry Andreikin Winner $7,500
2 Le Quang Liem Finalist $3,500
3-4 Fabiano Caruana Semifinalist $2,500
3-4 David Paravyan Semifinalist $2,500
5-8 Benjamin Bok Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Amin Tabatabaei Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Alexey Sarana Quarterfinalist $1,000
5-8 Gata Kamsky Quarterfinalist $1,000


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NM_Vanessa
NM Vanessa West

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

You can follow them on X: Vanessa__West

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