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Berlin GP: Aronian and Nakamura move closer to the Finals

by Shahid Ahmed - 13/02/2022

Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura defeated Leinier Dominguez Perez and Richard Rapport respectively to win the first game in the FIDE Berlin GP Semifinals. Both of them are still undefeated in the event so far. It is very likely they will face each other in the Finals unless Leinier and Rapport win their must-win games today. Nakamura showed his sharp play against Rapport to make things messy in the endgame, which was quite complex for a human to defend precisely. Aronian played with finesse after his opponent's sharp opening choice backfired him. Semifinal game 2 starts today at 7:30 p.m. IST. Photo: World Chess

Leinier and Rapport in a must-win situation

"I think Hikaru is doing a great job by promoting chess. I am a big fan of him generally because I cannot do it. I don't think I can be there and talk constantly, watch game of some players that are not very good and comment on it. That's a tough job, a really tough job. So I really think that's a great effort he is doing in popularizing chess all over the world. Generally I think when such a strong player is semi-retiring, we have seen in the example of Kamsky. He semi-retired but it didn't stop him from winning tournaments, winning the World Cup and continuing playing well once he came back. I think chess is kind of a skill that you get your work ethics, your calculation and even if you don't play for two or three years, you still are a very very strong player." - Aronian's take on Hikaru's retirement from professional chess.

Hikaru Nakamura is in great form | Photo: World Chess

Aronian - Leinier: 1-0

Leinier Dominguez Perez opted for a sharp line in Queen's Gambit Accepted against Levon Aronian.

Position after 11.Nc7+

Allowing 11.Nc7+, losing castling rights and giving up an exchange is all part of theory. As Aronian said in the post-match interview, "'s a difficult position for humans to play and it requires immense pressure. I had this feeling after a difficult tie-break."

Position after 21...Ne5

21...Ne5 actually does no good for Black as the knight is not making any real threat. 21...Bxd4 is not a real choice either as Black's king is stranded at the middle of the board and it will only make the king more vulnerable. 22.Kh1 Nc6 23.b3 c3 24.Bxb5 and Black's position started falling apart. Aronian converted his advantage into a win comfortably.

Interview with Leinier Dominguez Perez and Levon Aronian | Video: World Chess

Rapport won the first tie-break with black pieces | Photo: World Chess
Fischer or Petrosian? Or maybe Hikaru?! | Video: World Chess

Nakamura - Rapport: 1-0

It is well established that Hikaru Nakamura is a very sharp player. So even if he has a half chance at a promising position, he will take it. His opponent, Richard Rapport has a similar approach too. Thus, the Speed King had to go for, strike the iron first and make it hot instead of waiting for the iron to be hot.

Position after 22...Rdf8

White had to sacrifice a pawn on the queenside to reduce the intensity of attack on his king. An opportunity arose after 22...Rdf8. Can you find out what Nakamura did here in the game? Computer might not put a lot of weight behind that move. Then again, Nakamura was not playing against a computer.

Position after 29.g5

It is not easy to defend the position after 29.g5. Black could not find precise defense and went for 29...Rxf6 30.gxf6 Rf8 31.h4 Rxf6 32.h5 Rh6 33.Kd2 and White got a decisive advantage.

Interview with Richard Rapport and Hikaru Nakamura | Video: World Chess
Hikaru vs Rapport - Analyzed by Hikaru Nakamura himself | Video: GMHikaru

Nakamura defeated Rapport with an intriguing sacrifice | Photo: World Chess
"It is still chess at the end of the day. Today’s game was very exciting" - GM Hikaru Nakamura | Video: World Chess

Sam Shankland praised Nakamura's play in the Berlin GP so far

FIDE Grand Prix 2022 Berlin GP Semifinal Game 1 Live Commentary by GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko and WIM Jesse February | Video: World Chess

Replay Semifinal games

Semifinal 1 results

Nakamura and Aronian are one step closer to the Finals | Photo: World Chess

Time control

The time control for each standard game in pools and play-off is: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 1. In case if a player arrives at the chessboard with a delay of up to 15 minutes from the actual start of the game, he/she should be charged of five hundred (500) euros deducted from his/her prize money. In case of delay of more than 15 minutes, the player loses the game (without financial penalty).


The players cannot draw any game by mutual agreement before black’s 30th move. A claim for a draw before black’s 30th move is permitted only in the case of a draw by repetition.


Each Grand Prix tournament has a total prize fund - €150000.

The winner of each GP earns €24000 and the runner-up gets €18000



FIDE GP 2022 Regulations

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