Paris Rapid and Blitz Day 4: So maintains his sole lead, Firouzja impresses
Wesley So suffered his first loss of the Paris Rapid and Blitz Grand Chess Tour against Aronian in Round 5. That was the only loss he conceded. He still maintains his sole lead 17.5/27, a half ahead of Nepomniachtchi 17.0/27 who was also defeated only once in the entire day. Firouzja scored a phenomenal 6.5/9 including victories over Kramnik and Nepomniachtchi. The former world champion Kramnik had a tough day as he score only 2.5/9, the lone victory coming against compatriot Svidler who finished the day with a hat-trick at the sole third place 14.0/27. Blitz Round 10 starts today from 5:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour
Svidler makes a hat-trick
Firouzja scored the highest 6.5/9 on the first day of Blitz. His losses were against So and Caruana but a win against Kramnik and Nepomniachtchi among others should definitely make the recently turned 18-year-old's day. The second-highest scorer of the day 6.0/9 is Nepomniachtchi who has showed in both Rapid and Blitz format that he is preparing really hard for the upcoming world championship. The highest climber of the day is Peter Svidler who showed that he still has a lot of left to offer on the board as he beat Radjabov, Vachier-Lagrave and Rapport to finish the day with a hat-trick and climb to the sole third place.
Round 1: Caruana - So: 0.5-0.5
Caruana declined the Berlin draw repetition Qd4-Qd6, went on to play and got a decisive advantage.
Final position as shown in the above diagram is completely winning for White. Since it's a Blitz game, it is safe to assume that White was in time trouble, thus draw was made.
Radjabov - Firouzja: 0-1
Radjabov lost a wild game against Firouzja where the former had an opportunity to make a comeback in the endgame.
Black is forced to play 22...Kb6. Find out how should White continue to minimize the damage.
Vachier-Lagrave - Kramnik: 1-0
Kramnik lost his first game of the event against Vachier-Lagrave on time. The game was heading towards a draw, but he did not have enough time on the clock.
Svidler - Aronian: 1-0
Aronian used his well coordinated pieces to neutralize Svidler's bishop pair and score a victory.
White needed to play 32.Bb3 instead of 32.Qb3. Black got to play 32...d5 and things turned in Black's favor.
Round 2: Kramnik - Svidler: 1-0
Svidler went wrong early in the opening which Kramnik capitalized to score his first and only victory of the tournament so far.
Find out the best continuation for white.
Nepomniachtchi - Caruana: 1-0
Nepomniachtchi grinded an equal rook and minor piece endgame until Caruana blundered and the Russian walked away with a win.
Is it a good idea for black to play 58...Rxc4 now?
So - Radjabov: 1-0
Although So had the upper hand for the better part of the game, Radjabov was not without any chances.
The game continued 27...Be4. What was the better alternative?
Firouzja - Vachier-Lagrave: 1-0
Firouzja got a better position out of the opening and when opportunity arose, he made the most out of it.
Will you take on e4 here? If your answer is yes, you are correct.
Round 3: Caruana - Rapport: 1-0
Caruana and Rapport had an exciting draw although the former world championship challenger had a couple of decent chances.
White should have traded the queens and rooks here because the resultant bishop ending is winning for white. 41.Qxf2 exf2 42.Rxe8+ Bxe8 43.Kh2 and the f2-pawn falls in another two moves.
The rook ending was a draw, but Black made a huge mistake with 64...Re7. Find out why.
Aronian - Kramnik: 0.5-0.5
Aronian and Kramnik had an interesting draw.
Radjabov - Nepomniachtchi: 0-1
Radjabov misplaying the endgame cost him the full point.
Vachier-Lagrave - So: 0-1
Despite being ahead in material and having a better position, Vachier-Lagrave did not handle the final part of the endgame well when So made a desperate sacrifice which eventually worked in his favor.
What is the best continuation for White in the above diagram?
Round 4: Caruana - Radjabov: 0-1
After suffering three consecutive losses, Radjabov once again had a difficult position against Caruana but the latter's questionable king escape got himself in trouble.
32.Kd1 is a huge blunder. Find out why.
Rapport - Kramnik: 1-0
After making a hat-trick of draws, Rapport scored a win over Kramnik probably on time because the game was far from over.
Firouzja - Aronian: 1-0
Firouzja scored a beautiful win over Aronian.
22...e5 provokes White to wreak havoc. How?
White made a pretty finish 56.Kg2 as 56...Be4+ is ineffective against 57.Kxf2. As 57....Bxc6 is met with 58.Ne7+ and it's over for Black.
Round 5: Kramnik - Firouzja: 0-1
Firouzja did a fantastic knight maneuvering and slowly outplayed Kramnik.
Aronian - So: 1-0
Aronian made a short work of So who suffered his first loss in the entire Paris Rapid and Blitz Grand Chess Tour. The Fischer Random world champion uncharacteristically made some passive choice which crumbled his position.
White's sole intention behind 22.d5 was to play d6. 22...Kh8 only facilitated that.
Vachier-Lagrave - Caruana: 1-0
Vachier-Lagrave crashed through Caruana's defence and broke his kingside wide open.
35...Na3 was uncalled for and White did not react correctly either as 36.Bd3 does not punish Black for the knight displacement. What could have White done instead?
Round 6: Nepomniachtchi - Aronian: 1-0
Aronian made an incorrect pawn push in the endgame which completely turned things into Nepomniachtchi's favor.
Find out why 36...d4 is a mistake and what Black should have played instead.
Rapport - Firouzja: 0-1
Firouzja's timely exchange sacrifice allowed him to have a bishop pair and two pawns. Eventually he capitalized on them and beat Rapport.
Black made the wise decision of keeping a bishop pair by sacrificing an exchange and also picking up a pawn in the process, thus 21...Bxe5 was played.
Round 7: Kramnik - Nepomniachtchi: 0-1
Nepomniachtchi scored a fine victory over Kramnik as he showcased fantastic technique in the endgame.
Aronian - Caruana: 0.5-0.5
Caruana was completely winning in the endgame but he missed it and the game ended in a draw.
Vachier-Lagrave - Rapport: 0.5-0.5
The game might have ended in a draw but the Frenchman had a good opportunity in the middlegame.
Find out an interesting continuation for White in the above diagram.
Firouzja - So: 0-1
So scored a fantastic win after Firouzja miscalculated.
Find out the best continuation for Black in the above diagram.
Svidler - Radjabov: 1-0
After a hat-trick of draws, Svidler made a hat-trick of wins. His first victim was Radjabov.
Black went wrong early in the opening. Find out the best continuation for White in the above diagram.
16...Rc5 does not help Black to get anything. In fact, it only traps the b4-bishop, and eventually it got captured.
Round 8: Nepomniachtchi - Firouzja: 0-1
Firouzja went wrong early in the opening and landed himself in deep trouble.
Find out why 8...Nxe5 is incorrect and what Black should have done instead.
23.Rxe6 is a blunder. White needed to play 23.Qc5+ first. After 23...Qc6, now 24.Rxe6 is okay. In the endgame, Firouzja blundered his rook and after mutual inaccuracies, Firouzja scored a victory.
Radjabov - Aronian: 0-1
Aronian scored a fine victory over Radjabov after the latter made a tactical error.
Vachier-Lagrave - Svidler: 0-1
Svidler played the rook and few pawns endgame correctly to win against Vachier-Lagrave.
Round 9: Kramnik - Radjabov: 0-1
Kramnik got a fantastic position early in the middlegame but he could not maintain it and allowed Radjabov to get back in the game.
Kramnik needed to play 21.Nd6 to maintain the pressure, but instead he played 21.Bd3 allowing Black to alleviate 21...Nxe5.
Aronian - Vachier-Lagrave: 0-1
Vachier-Lagrave recovered well from his previous round loss as he beat Aronian convincingly.
Firouzja - Caruana: 0-1
Firouzja suffered his only second loss of the day, against Caruana.
Firouzja blundered a couple of crucial pawns which cost him the game eventually.
Svidler - Rapport: 1-0
Svidler's third victim in his hat-trick finish of the day was Rapport. The Hungary no.1 blundered in the final part of the endgame which cost him dearly.
Rapid: Win - 2 points, Draw - 1 and Loss - 0.
Blitz: Win - 1 point, Draw - 0.5 and Loss - 0
Replay Blitz Round 1-9 games
Standings after Blitz Round 9
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