GM Ian Nepomniachtchi won the Winners Final of the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase on Saturday, defeating GM Hikaru Nakamura in an armageddon playoff. But it’s not over yet! Nakamura will get a second chance in the Losers Final while Nepomniachtchi will face the Losers Bracket victor in the Grand Final.
GMs Dmitry Andreikin and Wesley So advanced to the Losers Semifinals, defeating GMs Vladimir Fedoseev and Ding Liren respectively in the quarterfinals. GMs Fabiano Caruana and Parham Maghsoodloo reached the end of their RCC journey in round three. Caruana’s loss was especially heartbreaking as he ran into local connectivity issues while on the verge of tying the match.
The Grand Final, as well as the Losers Semifinals and Final, will take place on August 21, starting at 9 a.m. PT/18:00 CEST.
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Although Nakamura didn’t gain much of an advantage in the middlegame with the white pieces, he displayed brilliant technique in the resulting knight ending of game one. With his passed a-pawn, knight on the e5-outpost, and active king, Nakamura conjured a winning position virtually out of thin air against Nepomniachtchi.
With the match on the line, Nepomniachtchi played into a complex line of the Catalan where he had a wealth of preparation and won without much difficulty.
In the armageddon playoff, Nakamura’s bid gained the black pieces with 7:30 minutes. Despite Nakamura catching up on the clock and making it to an even ending, Nepomniachtchi kept the pressure on and won in 87 moves.
Losers Round Three
In game one, Ding gained fearsome center control as White against Maghsoodloo, pushing his pawns to c4, d5, e4, and f4. In time, he expanded further with e5, and the d5-pawn soon became a protected passer that decided in the resulting endgame.
In a must-win position, Maghsoodloo made highly risky choices: accepting two pawn sacrifices, giving up the right to castle, and offering Ding a vast amount of piece activity. Ding was up for the challenge, creating a strong initiative and great pressure on Maghsoodloo’s uncastled king.
Andreikin kicked off his match against Caruana with a powerful victory, taking over the center and then converting it into dangerous threats on the kingside.
With everything riding on game two, Caruana played a beautiful positional game, squeezing his opponent on all sides of the board in a d3 Ruy Lopez.
Unfortunately, in a winning endgame, Caruana’s internet connection dropped out, leading to a heartbreaking loss.
Emerging from a quiet Italian Game, So and Ding drew an even first game that traded into a rook vs. knight and two pawns endgame. With Ding’s turn with the white pieces, the game quickly traded into another equal ending, and they drew again. For the armageddon playoff, Ding gained the black pieces and draw odds by bidding seven minutes. In trying to level the time deficit, Ding blundered on the 22nd move, and So swiftly caught the tactical error.
Andreikin fought for much of the game to defend a tough position against Fedoseev. Then, from a worse ending, Andreikin surprisingly pulled out a tactical victory.
Like Caruana, Fedoseev also chose the d3 Ruy Lopez for his must-win second game. He gained the better pawn structure and won a pawn, but he ambitiously sacrificed the pawn back to Andreikin’s hyper-active rook. The battle raged on with Andreikin expanding on the kingside with …f5 and targeting the h2-pawn while Fedoseev lined up his queen and bishop on the dangerous a1-h8 diagonal to aim at the dark squares around his opponent’s king. After an inaccuracy by Fedoseev, Andreikin played a rook sacrifice that led to perpetual check, sealing the match victory.
Day 3 Standings
All Games | Winners Final
The Rapid Chess Championship Finals is Chess.com’s biggest and most elite rapid tournament. It is a 16-player knockout event with a 10+2 time control. If players draw, a single armageddon game with a bidding system determines the winner. The total prize fund of the RCC is $650,000, with a $150,000 prize for the finals alone.
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