Caruana Leads Superbet Chess Classic Romania at Halfway Point

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The leader after five rounds (courtesy Lennart Ootes/GCT)


Caruana leads the Superbet Chess Classic Romania by a half-point after five rounds of play in the first event of this year's Grand Chess Tour. The American GM has been in fine form with two wins. The first was a lovely miniature against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in an opening that "MVL" himself had used successfully only two years prior.



Caruana separated himself from the pack with his win over GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, where the Russian had appeared to neutralize Caruana out of the opening in a topical line of the Tarrasch. Caruana nevertheless kept things difficult for his opponent, who eventually erred fatally on move 45.



With four games to follow after the rest day, three players are on Caruana's heels with 3/5 scores.


after 5 rds


Fellow American GM Wesley So jumped out to an early lead with a first-round win over French GM Alireza Firouzja in one of So's favorite openings: the Italian game.


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One of the last people you want to see across the board: GM Wesley So (courtesy Lennart Ootes/GCT)



One of the most anticipated encounters was the third round rematch between Nepomniachtchi and GM Ding Liren. As if 14 classical games last month weren't enough, the pair got right back to it in the third round. Nepomniachtchi chose to test Ding's preparation in the Queen's Gambit, and Ding looked like he was going to flunk the exam before bailing himself out.


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Deja vu (courtesy Lennart Ootes/GCT)



While Ding managed to avoid disaster against "Nepo," he eventually lost his first game as world champion in round five to Firouzja. The Frenchman was able to navigate an incredibly tactical position more successfully than the world champion, which is not something many people can say. With a second win under his belt, Firouzja joins So in the pack chasing Caruana with 3/5.


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The relief from beating the world champion (courtesy Lennart Ootes/GCT)



Although both Ding and Nepomniachtchi have shown signs of fatigue in this tournament, Ding's second GM Richard Rapport has looked energized and played chess to back it up. His win over Polish GM Jan-Krzystof Duda showed excellent calculation in the dreaded opposite-colored bishops endgame.



With four more rounds of chess to play, a winner will be crowned in Bucharest on Monday. Live action can be followed daily at 7:30 a.m. CT on the Saint Louis Chess Club's Twitch channel


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GM Richard Rapport is tied for second after five rounds (courtesy Lennart Ootes/GCT)



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