The 16th week of the Rapid Chess Championship, presented by Coinbase, concluded today with an inaugural win for GM Alexander Grischuk in the knockout, while GM Raunak Sadhwani won the Swiss on tiebreak ahead of GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Daniil Dubov, Le Quang Liem and Vladimir Fedoseev.
Grischuk was powerful en route to his knockout victory, having to stabilize each of his matches starting with the black pieces due to finishing sixth in the Swiss event. After knocking Nakamura out in the quarterfinals, he gained the confidence needed to overcome Fedoseev and Sadhwani in the semifinals and final, respectively.
Participating in the event were 50 competitors—now open to all GMs as well as the top-10 women, top-10 juniors, as well as 10 wildcards. The event continues next weekend, June 4, starting at 9 a.m. PT / 18:00 CEST.
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The Swiss tournament was fiercely contested this week and the top score of 6.5/9, which was shared by six players, was indicative of the strength of the field. Sadhwani and Nakamura remained unbeaten in today’s Swiss but were joined at the top by four other players who conceded fewer draws.
Sadhwani was the player of the day overall with four wins and five draws. His best win came at the expense of his higher-rated countryman GM Vidit Gujrathi, while he scored impressive draws against Nakamura, Caruana, Fedoseev, and GMs Dmitry Andreikin and Jose Martinez.
Nakamura was his usual top-class self, not only managing to go unbeaten in the Swiss but also commentating his way through the games over on Twitch, his channel now home to over 1.4 million subscribers!
Caruana was the subject of a number of close games that primarily went the way of the American GM on Sunday. A single loss against Le was the only hurdle between Caruana and a qualifying score of 6.5/9. A stunning game against GM David Paravyan, where he broke down his opponent’s fortress, was one of the most instructive of the day.
Dubov was another player whose games were full of fireworks in the Swiss this week and, on his way to a 6.5/9 score, he defeated GMs Jose Ibarra, Alan Pichot, Harsha Bharathakoti, Zhao Jun, Grigoriy Oparin, and Dmitry Andreikin, whose tournament he likely scuppered. His game against Pichot in round two included a creative assault on the Argentinian’s king.
Yoo was the surprise packet of the Swiss event, finishing the day in 8th and qualifying for the knockout. Yoo’s meteoric rise to the upper echelons of chess has been rapid in itself, and due to a focus on classical chess, Yoo’s FIDE rapid rating of 1861 nowhere near reflects his ability in the format, as evidenced in this week’s championship.
Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)
|8||11||GM||ChristopherYoo||Christopher Woojin Yoo||2627||6||21|
|13||47||GM||Miguelito||Miguel Santos Ruiz||2723||5.5||19.5|
|18||8||GM||Jospem||Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara||2684||5||17.5|
|20||38||GM||FGHSMN||Bharath Subramaniyam.H Harishankkar||2500||5||16|
(Full final standings here.)
The first match of the knockout featured the youngest players left in the field, Sadhwani and Yoo. Sadhwani ground down Yoo over the course of 85 moves in his dismantling of his opponent’s French Defense. Despite his time winding down to just a few minutes, the American was able to bring the game back to a drawn position at one stage; however, Sadhwani’s knight was too energetic in the locked-up endgame.
Dubov then took on Le to determine the second semifinalist, with Dubov brushing aside his Vietnamese opponent in the second game. After a good showing in the Swiss tournament, Le may have forgotten he was playing one of the most creative players in the game and was punished for being overzealous in the opening.
The eventual winner faced his most difficult opponent in the quarterfinals, needing to take down the five-time knockout winner Nakamura. Beginning with the black pieces, Grischuk played cautiously and was able to limit Nakamura to a draw.
With the reverse colors and blitz time controls, Grischuk created an isolated queen’s pawn weakness and started to press. The American GM, who is famous for his resourcefulness and ability to swing rapid and blitz games back in his favor, was unable to dint the three-time world blitz champion (2006, 2012, 2015), who soundly converted the point and became one of the few people to topple Nakamura in the event so far this year.
After playing out a short draw in their semifinal rapid game, Sadhwani was forced to defend against Dubov’s Catalan Opening. The pair jousted in the center, trading off pieces until the position reached a four pawns and rook versus three pawns and rook ending that was slightly better for Dubov. The advantage dissipated several moves later, and Dubov appeared to be heading for a regulation draw, when a heartbreaking mouse-slip came between him and the final.
Compatriots Fedoseev and Grischuk clashed in the second semifinal match where the latter again proved that he is a fortress with the black pieces. Out of preparation early, Grischuk burned five minutes (a third of his time) on the 10th move, leaving him in serious time trouble. In classic fashion, though, he was able to dissolve Fedoseev’s advantage with seconds left on the clock and secure a draw.
Fedoseev was unable to replicate his earlier heroics against Caruana with the black pieces and eventually succumbed to a protected passed pawn, bolstered by Grischuk’s active pieces.
The final was the closest encounter of the day with Grischuk and Sadhwani battling it out until the dying sections of the bullet tiebreaker. Sadhwani made the curious choice to agree to a draw after just 18 moves in the rapid game, in a slightly better position playing White. The strategic implications discussed by commentators Hess and Bok were that the Indian GM had wasted an important chance to capitalize on moving first, allowing Grischuk to push in the following game.
Push Grischuk did indeed on the white side of a Ragozin Defense, but again the players could not be separated by a blitz game that fizzled in the middle stages. A final bullet game was needed to split the finalists and it was a tactical masterpiece from Grischuk. Early inaccuracies from Sadhwani that would normally be difficult to take advantage of in bullet were sprung on by Grischuk, who capped off his first Rapid Chess Championship win in style.
Ever the character, Grischuk jested that he “had two ambitions left in chess and that was to win Titled Tuesday and the weekend rapid [Rapid Chess Championship],” going on to mention that he could now “retire with a clear conscience.” Fans of the entertaining GM need not be alarmed, as he quickly clarified that after his wins in the aforementioned events, he suddenly “did not want to retire.”
Standings, Results, Prizes
The winner of the Swiss tournament is Sadhwani and the winner of the knockout was Grischuk. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout:
Sunday Knockout | Final Standings
|5-8||Le Quang Liem||Quarterfinalist||$1,000|
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.
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