International Chess Federation
Tuesday, 24 May 2022 12:22
Jan-Krzysztof Duda wins Superbet Rapid & Blitz

The final day of Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland was filled with a significant amount of excitement in the history of The Grand Chess Tour. Going to the final round of the blitz games, four players had a chance to win or tie for first place for this event. In the end, it was the Polish wildcard GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda who secured the Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland first place prize.

Duda’s performance was consistent throughout the event and his result only got better as the event came to a close. He posted 12 points out of the 18 available points and went on to score 5.5/9 on day one and 6.5 (tying for the best score of the day) on the second day, edging both GM Aronian and former World Champion Vishy Anand by half a point, while GM Fabiano Caruana came forth only a point shy of the eventual winner. With this result, Duda should be quite confident as he begins preparation for the upcoming World Championship Candidates tournament, which begins next month.

GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda won the first prize of $40,000. The Polish super-GM is now looking ahead at the 2022 Candidates Tournament happening next month in Madrid.

Now let us have a look at how things proceeded on the Day 5 by looking at some of the key individual performances and moments from the final day.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda

GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda started the day off in second place. The Polish hero began his work by beating GM Vishy Anand, the tournament leader, in an uneventful Petroff where the Pole’s tactical alertness earned him a material advantage and a consequent victory. After Anand faltered further down the road, Duda was in the mix of the leaders with Anand and later GM Aronian until the very last round, and despite his lucky last round win against GM Kirill Shevchenko, the Polish #1 was in control most of the time. Keeping his cool and playing good moves throughout the event leave us with a keen interest in his performance at the Candidates where a grueling schedule only favors those who can keep running all the way till the end.

‘That was hard but I did it!’ Poland Rapid and Blitz winner, Jan-Krzysztof Duda | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Levon Aronian

GM Aronian was the dominant player in the blitz portion of Poland Rapid and Blitz. The American started the blitz section four points behind the leader in fifth place. His 7 out 9 performance on day one would have simply been the talk of the day if it weren’t for Caruana’s incredible 8 out of 9. However, Aronian showed that he is a blitz powerhouse by posting another magnificent result going 6.5 out of 9 on the last day. He also proved that he meant what he said in his interview before the event that ‘given his success in the Romania Superbet classic, he intends to make the most out of this event.  The last two rounds might have been a bit of a heartbreak for Aronian as he spoiled a piece-up position after Korobov blundered a piece out of the opening, and he also failed to convert his advantage on the clock and on the board against Caruana in the last round. Nevertheless, Aronian’s performance is good enough to move him to the first spot of the Grand Chess Tour standing at the end of the second leg. 

Highly motivated, the current leader of the tour, and is only .4 Elo shy of GM Hikaru Nakamura on the world blitz rating ranking. GM Levon Aronian  | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Viswanathan Anand

Scoring +1 (9.5/18) is definitely not great for the five-time world champion after the kind of standard he had set in the rapid portion. On the last day of the event, Anand began poorly and opened with two losses, against Duda and Korbov, losing his 1.5 points lead in the process. He did some damage control after a draw and win but he again lost a crucial game to Aronian. With 1.5 out of 5 some could have easily gone ahead and written off the ‘Tiger of Madras’.

However, Anand once again showed why he has remained a power to reckon with in the chess world even in his 50’s. The Indian legend went on to score a technical win against Rapport, almost beat Caruana (the game ended in a draw), drew Wesley So with ease from the Black side, and won against one of the members of his World Championship matches’ training member, GM Radek Wojtadszek. The even score wasn’t enough to catch up with Duda but a tie for second wasn’t that bad after quite a long break for the celebrated veteran. It is noteworthy to mention that Anand had already played a world championship against legendary World Champion GM Garry Kasparov, and had won the FIDE world championship before either GMs Kirill Shevchenko or David Gavrilescu were born!

How does he do it?!  GM Viswanathan Anand  | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Being one of the wildcards, similar to GM Duda, Anand took a lofty number of GP points from the rest of the contenders, along with a check of $27,500. Seeing Anand in action, although happening less often these days, is a feast to remember!

Fabiano Caruana

Finishing 4th is never an achievement for a World Championship contestant but GM Fabiano Caruana has a couple of things to be happy about. For a long time, Caruana has been considered as someone who does not fare equally well in Rapid and Blitz chess compared to his performance in classical tournaments. At least, the American GM proved that such claims are already long forgotten. After winning two matches in tiebreaks during the American cup, he tied for the first with Aronian in the subsequent blitz event and after a great performance in the blitz portion of this event, he is now #3 in the world in blitz rating, 3.2 rating points shy of Hikaru Nakamura.

Caruana’s subpar performance in the rapid part did indeed hurt his overall score and standing but he still scored a reasonable number of points to maintain his hopes for a strong finish at the tour during the upcoming two back-to-back events in Saint Louis.

Anton Korobov

GM Korobov had a nightmarish event before the last day. After starting at %50 by round five in the rapid, the Ukrainian flamboyant players started losing games right and left. Starting the day with only six points, everybody might have thought of him as ‘the target of the day. Korobov however had entirely different things in mind. After beating his countryman, Kiril Shevchenko in the first round, he went on to score 6.5 out of nine tying for the most number of points in today’s games. Korobov’s games were particularly important against the top players in the standings. He beat Anand, and Duda, and drew Aronian after blundering a piece while losing to Caruana. These results really shook the table at times and added to the excitement of the tournament.

Anton Korobov Was his usual self today but his opponent’s realized it too late! | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Wesley So and Richard Rapport

GM Rapport and GM So both had an off day. Although they were still in the race before the beginning of the round, within the first three rounds it was clear that the two elite players weren’t in the best shape and the six-man race was not a four-man one. The final match between the two decided who would finish 5th, which Wesley So won to claim the spot. 

Radoslaw Wojtaszek

The Polish champion won the lower-rated players' tournament finishing seventh. His victory over Caruana with Black pieces in the blitz was the key moment of the day for him and the tournament which stopped Caruana’s winning streak.

Kirill Shevchenko & David Gavrilescu

The tournament's two youngest players, Kirill Shevchenko and David Gavrilescu might have different takes on this event. While David Gavrilescu has just begun to enter bigger events and this entire experience was a great learning process for him. He continuously obtained good positions in his games and with some more confidence he surely can improve and I am sure we will hear more of him in a near future.

Kirill Shevchenko is a very strong blitz player and he already bagged a major blitz tournament with some of these players in it in the past. He also continuously obtained winning positions but he kept finding himself under severe time pressure, which cost him many points. Nevertheless, he achieved a great deal of experience playing against the best players in the world, and the experience will surely help him in his coming chess endeavors.

The next leg of the Grand Chess Tour, SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz Croatia will be held in Zagreb, Croatia from Tuesday, July 19 - Sunday, July 24, 2022.

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Text: GM Elshan Moradiabadi

Photo: Courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes and Bryan Adams

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