It was a gripping round as Alireza Firouzja defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi in order to reach Fabiano Caruana and tie for first place going into the final two rounds. Meanwhile, Anish Giri played a fantastic attacking game to inflict another loss onto World Champion Ding Liren, leaving Giri just a half-point behind the leaders along with So and Rapport.
Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by an additional 30 minutes, with a 30 second increment starting from move 1.
SO - CARUANA | ½-½, 24 moves
An Open Catalan led to a very dry position out of the opening, as So had a small space advantage but nothing special to play for. On move 20 Caruana advanced on the kingside with h6-h5, prompting Wesley to initiate a three-time repetition.
An easier day at the office for Caruana. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
GIRI - DING | 1-0, 36 moves
Likely misremembering his preparation in an Italian Game, Ding essentially blundered out of the opening, allowing a thematic and very dangerous knight sacrifice that would leave his king exposed long-term. Giri was familiar with the line and promptly went for the promising attack. Although Ding tried to resist, Giri was nearly flawless in his execution, as he first won the sacrificed piece back before finishing the game via a flurry of tactical threats.
After 10...g5? Giri did not hesitate long to play 11.Nxg5!, launching a very potent attack.
A big win for Giri, who moves to +1 and is just half a point behind first. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
FIROUZJA - NEPOMNIACHTCHI | 1-0, 57 moves
After a quiet opening the game did not see many fireworks until Nepomniachtchi sacrificed his a-pawn in order to generate some play against White’s weakened king. However he misplayed his attack, as Firouzja was able to execute a powerful breakthrough on the queenside, creating a decisive passed pawn. Nepomniachtchi was forced to sacrifice his queen and try to hold a fortress in a rook vs. queen endgame, but precise technique from Firouzja allowed him to convert the full point.
After 29.a6! – 29…bxa6 30.b6 would be winning for White. Instead the game continued 29…Qxf3 30.Qg4+- with a decisive advantage for White.
Firouzja has beaten both the recent World Champion and challenger in this event. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
DUDA - VACHIER-LAGRAVE - | ½-½, 43 moves
After starting 1.Nf3 d5, the game took on a rather unusual Queen’s Gambit Accepted type structure. The position was fairly balanced, as Duda kept advancing on the kingside, Vachier-Lagrave would exchange pieces in the center, eventually liquidating all of White’s forces.
A fifth straight draw for Duda, who remains on -1. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams
RAPPORT - DEAC | ½-½, 63 moves
Trying the somewhat rare Trompowsky, Rapport got a bit of a strategic edge in the middlegame, with more space on the queenside and good control over the center. However after trading off a few minor pieces he wasn’t able to continue making progress, and despite maneuvering for another 30 moves, Deac simply never gave him a chance, eventually forcing a three time repetition.
Rapport tried and tried, but could not make any headway. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Pairings for Round 8
The 2023 Superbet Chess Classic continues Sunday, May 14, with tournament action live starting at 7:20 AM CT with Grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Var Akobian, Cristian Chirila and International Master Nazi Paikidze on grandchesstour.org and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.