Round 2 saw some exciting action in Bucharest as World No. 2 Fabiano Caruana won a clean game against the local GM Constantin Lupulescu, while tournament newcomer GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac managed to score a stunning upset over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, joining Caruana at the top of the leaderboard with 1.5/2.
The other three games in the round (So-Aronian, Giri-Radjabov, & Mamedyarov-Grischuk) were all drawn shortly before the first time control.
So – Aronian
Facing Aronian’s solid Ragozin Defense, So decided to ambitiously castle queenside, but with only one open file on the board, most of the heavy pieces were quickly traded off and the game was drawn by repetition on move 30.
Giri – Radjabov
Giri utilized the Catalan Opening to create some strategic pressure, but Radjabov was able to keep White’s edge minimal and equalized without too many issues. After the game, Radjabov admitted that he was still getting used to playing over-the-board again, after over a year of playing exclusively online.
Mamedyarov – Grischuk
This game featured some imbalance, as a somewhat rare line of the Open Sicilian (transposed to from an English Opening) eventually led to a middlegame where Mamedyarov had the advantage of the two bishops but a worse pawn structure. Simplifications in the center led to a completely equal double-rook endgame, which the players quickly drew.
Caruana – Lupulescu
Despite being a bit surprised by Lupulescu’s choice of the French, Caruana was able to navigate to a sharp middlegame and created some play by attacking his opponent’s kingside on the light-squares. Lupulescu then erred in the complications, going into an endgame with equal material but much worse activity. Caruana was then able to use the power of his more active rook, knight, and king to force resignation on move 28.
Black resigned facing White’s eventual queenside expansion
Vachier-Lagrave – Deac
In what was the sharpest game of the round, it first looked like MVL would be the one to win, after sacrificing a pawn for the initiative and finding the fantastic shot 25.g4, placing Black’s kingside defenses under great stress.
With the presence of opposite-colored bishops favoring the attacker, it seemed like MVL was in great shape, but an unfortunate blunder allowed Deac to overtake the initiative and retain an extra pawn in the endgame. From there MVL ended up losing another pawn and found himself in a lost ending, where the opposite-colored bishops offered no real saving chances and Deac ended up scoring the full point.
The coverage of the 2021 Superbet Chess Classic continues tomorrow, June 7, at 7:00 AM CDT with live coverage from GMs Alejandro Ramirez, Yasser Seirawan, and Maurice Ashley on grandchesstour.org/live.
Text: IM Kostya Kavutskiy
Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
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