GM Fabiano Caruana was the standout performer on the fourth day of the Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland, the second event of the 2022 Grand Chess Tour, that took place on Sunday. The American superstar, scoring 8/9 to commence the blitz section, reeled in GM Viswanathan Anand‘s lead to just two points heading into the final day.
GM Levon Aronian was also impressive, scoring 7/9 and showing remarkable tenacity to trump a tough field and climb more than 60 rating points. GM Jan Krzysztof Duda has been the most consistent performer across the two events so far and is on track to replicate his rapid third place in the blitz portion.
The blitz segment will conclude with rounds 10-18 on May 23 at 5 a.m. PT / 14:00 Central European.
Following three riveting days of rapid chess, the first day of the blitz was full of decisive games, time scrambles, and artistic gameplay. The legion of fans that showed up to watch the proceedings would not have had it any other way and swarmed the players before the start.
The player of the day was, without a doubt, Caruana who started with 8/9, He dispatched GMs Anand, Wesley So, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Richard Rapport, David Gavrilescu, Kirill Shevchenko, and Anton Korobov, while conceding only two draws—with Duda and Aronian.
Currently sitting in second place on the leaderboard in the 2022 Chess.com Rapid Chess Championships (behind GM Hikaru Nakamura no less), Caruana came out firing in the blitz to make up for his lackluster rapid showing. Even creative play by So could not stop the Caruana train from steamrolling over the number-two American player in what was Caruana’s finest game of the day.
The extraordinary run of top form helped Caruana add 88 points to his FIDE blitz rating and launched him ahead of GM Magnus Carlsen and into the number-three spot in the world. Aronian (who is discussed later) had a newsworthy 61-point gain to claim the second spot.
With this win, @FabianoCaruana has surpassed @MagnusCarlsen and catapulted to the third position in live ratings! @LevAronian is also doing amazing and is currently ranked #2!
Source: @2700chess #GrandChessTour #SuperbetRapidBlitzPoland https://t.co/rIl8ride34 pic.twitter.com/3XIuZywVQd
— ChesscomLive (@ChesscomLive) May 22, 2022
Popular Norwegian GM Jon Ludvig Hammer made an interesting observation about Caruana’s blitz form: “Is this the same Fabiano Caruana that everyone has always ridiculed for not being good at rapid+blitz? The same Fabiano that is now ahead of Magnus Carlsen?”
The winner of the rapid section, Anand, picked up where he had left off with a win over Duda, his closest chaser before the blitz. Anand was on the front foot early but was held off by some stiff defense by his Polish opponent. The “Tiger of Madras” struck late with a spicy tactic that put the game to bed.
Twitter was on fire as Anand’s brilliant sequence against Duda was celebrated.
Unstoppable, @vishy64theking 🔥 https://t.co/BBiaJ5zms1
— Chess.com (@chesscom) May 22, 2022
The former world champion’s run ended in the following rounds, however, and he shockingly conceded a game to Gavrilescu. The young Romanian had struggled in the event so far but, pulling out all stops in his game against Anand, upstaged him with his first win in the event off the back of spectacular preparation.
A timely win against So and draws against dangerous blitz players Duda, Aronian, and Rapport helped Anand to steady the ship. He scored a healthy 5/9 on the first day and stayed just in front of Caruana in the overall standings.
On any other day, Aronian’s 7/9 score on the first day of the blitz would be enough to be sitting pretty in first place, but the American GM was likely having flashbacks to the famous Sinquefield Cup of 2015, where Caruana’s 7-0 to start the tournament shut the rest of the field out of contention.
As Aronian had to squeeze out several of his wins from completely drawn positions with tricky endgame play, his path to second in the blitz contrasts with Caruana’s. Shevchenko and Gavrilescu were his main victims on this front.
Duda scored an underwhelming 1/4 in his first blitz games. Falling to So after an earlier loss against Anand, he was slipping down the overall leaderboard, but a reawakening saw him flip those results upside down. He was able to capture 4.5/5 in the second half of the day to climb back into third place in the blitz. One of Duda’s important results occurred when he held Aronian to a draw by clinically executing the ending where he had to defend a knight against four pawns.
After an excellent showing in his rapid games, Rapport played slightly too ambitiously in Sunday’s blitz games, overpressing in several and winding up in lost positions. He was able to win two games against Gavrilescu and Korobov but will be unhappy with his total score of 3.5/9, a far cry from his 6.5/9 second-place score in the rapid.
So was also likely unsatisfied with his blitz performance, scoring just over par with 5/9. He lost to both Anand and the trailblazing Caruana, but his most heartbreaking loss of the day came in a position where he could have taken a repetition against Wojtaszek. So played 39.Rb1?? that allowed his opponent to fork a king and rook, an elementary error brought on by his will to win. So did well to recover after the early loss and is still in the mix considering his decent rapid results.
Factoring in the rapid results, Anand still maintains a one-and-a-half-point lead heading into the final day of blitz with a score of 19. Closely behind on 17.5 is Duda, but the true threats to the throne based on Sunday’s results are Caruana and Aronian who both sit two points shy of the lead on 17. It is anyone’s guess who will finish first after Monday’s proceedings, but in the event of equal standing, a tiebreaker will determine the winner.
Monday will certainly be an entertaining final day of the Superbet Rapid and Blitz in Poland.
Day 4 Standings
All Games Day 4