2023 Superbet Rapid & Blitz - Day 1 Recap

The second leg of the 2023 Grand Chess Tour kicked off today in Warsaw, Poland, with World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, and several other wildcards joining the GCT field for five days of non-stop rapid and blitz action. After the first day, Wesley So, Levon Aronian, and local favorite Jan-Krzysztof Duda lead with a score of 5.0/6, while Carlsen is in 7th place after scoring one loss and two draws

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the rapid portion is 25+10, with 2 points awarded for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 for a loss. The blitz portion will be played at a time control of 3+2, using the typical 1,1/2,0 scoring system.

The opening ceremony began with a drawing of lots and featured a simul where each of the tournament participants played in tandem on 25 boards, alternating moves. Local sport stars, chess influences, and local chess players got a chance to face the GCT field. In the end, the grandmasters won 19 games, with three draws and three losses.

For more photos of the opening ceremony, check out the Grand Chess Tour Flickr page. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes



The first round started off with multiple decisive games, including a huge upset as Wojtaszek defeated a gambling Carlsen, who chose the extremely risky (but festive) Polish Opening (1.d4 b5) and fell under heavy pressure from the outset. 

After 10.d5! Wojtaszek’s idea was to meet 10…exd5 with 11.e5!, sacrificing a pawn for a long-term initiative.

The former Polish No.1 took down the Polish Defense...in Poland! | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes


Other important results saw So defeating Deac, Rapport defeating Shevchenko, and Duda grinding out a win against Giri in a technical endgame:

Here Duda played 52.Kd6!, transitioning to a winning rook ending.

In Round 2 the players settled down a bit, as the games Carlsen-So, Giri-MVL, and Rapport-Wojtaszek all ended peacefully. In the meantime Aronian took advantage of a late endgame blunder by Shevchenko to pick up the full point, while Duda took the sole lead with 2/2 after defeating Deac in a long positional squeeze.

After 41…b5!, Duda started to take over as Black.

Local favorite Duda is one of three players tied for first. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes


The final round saw more decisive action with Aronian winning his second game of the day as he defeated Giri in a rook endgame, while Vachier-Lagrave scored a brilliant attacking effort against Deac. But the most exciting game was won by So, who managed to exploit a late endgame blunder by Rapport in order to win while a full rook down:

Rather than repeating moves for a draw, So found 55.Qf8!!, winning the game due to the dual threats of Qxh6+ (which leads to mate) and d8=Q.

A great first day for So, who scored two wins and a draw. | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes


In the meantime Carlsen drew his third round game against Duda, as he played the Caro-Kann and comfortably held a slightly worse endgame.

I haven't really played or studied chess much recently, and it was showing!" - Carlsen | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Rapid pairings for Round 4

The 2023 Superbet Rapid & Blitz continues Monday, May 22, with tournament action live starting at 7:05 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.