The rapid portion of the Superbet Rapid and Blitz concluded day 3 with wildcard Anton Korobov maintaining his lead of the event. The tournament is still wide open with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Levon Aronian and Anish Giri trailing the leader by only two points. There’s still time for a new leader to emerge with 18 exciting blitz games left to play over the weekend.
Anton Korobov started the day with a draw against Levon Aronian with the white pieces. Korobov’s position was slightly unpleasant but the transition to an opposite-colored bishop’s endgame ensured him half a point. After a successful day two, Fabiano Caruana decided to keep the momentum going by playing a sharp line in the Giuoco Piano against Vishy Anand. The former World Champion kept his cool in the chaotic position, and eventually punished his opponent for taking too many liberties with his position. Anish Giri suffered the same fate as Caruana, after playing a sharp line in the Nimzo-Indian against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov leaving his king in the center and compromising the kingside. Giri played too slowly at the critical moment thus allowing his opponent to develop and castle into safety, and was punished swiftly. Sergey Karjakin had a great day today, beginning with a win over Vladislav Artemiev. After his countryman blundered, Sergey quickly found a geometric sequence to win his opponent’s bishop with a queen and knight maneuver. Both Le Quang Liem and Wesley So are still struggling to find their form and consequently drew their game, after the Vietnamese player slowly let his advantage slide and finally missed a study-like win at the end.
Korobov extended his lead to two points after a miraculous draw against Giri. The Dutchman has been playing very dynamic chess as of late, and this game was no exception. After posing some problems to his opponent in the Najdorf, he emerged three pawns up in the middle game. The position still required some work and a few inaccuracies later, Giri found his king in real danger and had to force a draw with a perpetual. This result puts Giri in second place two points behind the leader. He was joined by Aronian, Mamedyarov, and Anand for a big tie for second place. Aronian’s dynamic play with black pieces in the Giuoco Piano paid off handsomely against the suffering So; the Armenian won his game with a direct kingside attack in 33 moves. The game between Caruana and Mamedyarov was a rollercoaster ride. In another Giuoco Piano, Caruana suffered with white pieces, going down a pawn and defending for most of the game. He managed to outplay his opponent and win a pawn in the endgame, only to blunder his knight in a time scramble. Karjakin continued his comeback by demonstrating his impressive endgame skills and winning a queen endgame against Anand. The game between Le Quang Liem and Artemiev was another rollercoaster ride with the interesting dynamic of queen vs three pieces on the board. The Vietnamese star keeps struggling in this event as his winning advantage turned into a losing position in a matter of moves. Thanks to his opponent’s inaccuracy, he was able to give up his queen for a rook and a bishop and force a draw in the resulting endgame.
The only decisive result of this round was between Anand and Le Quang Liem. In a messy tactical battle, the former Blitz World Champion achieved a winning position but blundered the advantage away. Anand found the best moves to keep the game going only to return the favor and allowing his opponent to score the first victory of the tournament. Korobov had the perfect opportunity to extend his lead to three points as he played an excellent game, putting enormous pressure on Caruana. However, this event keeps proving that converting winning positions is extremely difficult against strong players. Caruana created enough difficulties for his opponent to escape with half a point. Aronian had two dangerous connected passed pawns against Giri, but the opposite-colored bishops allowed a comfortable draw. Artemiev and Mamedyarov drew So and Karjakin respectively in quiet games.