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Aronian joins So in the lead; Grand Chess Tour Romania 2022 – R6 recap

After yesterday’s rest day the players seemed fresh and ready for a day of exhilarating chess on Day 6 of the Superbet Chess Classic Romania. Today’s round brought entertaining games with plenty of drama and even some disaster, along with a few tenacious and close battles. Two games were decisive in this round, bringing American GM Leinier Dominguez his first win of the event against Romanian sensation, GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac, while American Grandmaster Levon Aronian took advantage of a blunder by his opponent GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to catch up to GM Wesley So in the lead after 6 rounds.
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Replay the games from Round 6:

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov – Alireza Firouzja 1/2-1/2
Leinier Dominguez Perez – Bogdan-Daniel Deac 1-0
Wesley So – Richard Rapport 1/2-1/2
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Levon Aronian 0-1
Fabiano Caruana – Ian Nepomniachtchi 1/2-1/2

Recaps of previous rounds: Caruana scores, So maintains the sole lead; Grand Chess Tour Romania 2022 – R5 recap / Decisive results in the majority; Grand Chess Tour Romania 2022 – R4 recap / Deac surprises Rapport; Grand Chess Tour Romania 2022 gets the leading trio – R3 recap / Nepo defeats Firouzja, Grand Chess Tour Romania 2022 – R2 recap / Wesley So in the early lead of Grand Chess Tour Romania 2022

Results of Round 6

Standings after Round 6

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Levon Aronian

GM Levon Aronian seems to be on the quest to prove that Black better than OK in this game. The Armenian-American didn’t seem rattled by GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s 1.d4 . The French Grandmaster let his opponent enter the Nimzo-Indian Defense, which soon transposed to a Ragozin and finally into the Vienna Variation of QGD (Queen’s Gambit Declined). MVL chose 12.Ke2 which is a much less common idea than the natural 12.Kf1. He sacrificed a pawn and seized the seventh rank, yet Aronian seemed in complete control and dismissed White’s initiative with ease. 20.f4? was a big mistake after which Aronian responded with 20…e5!. The counter-strike ensured a close to winning endgame for Aronian, but he did not have to work long to convert his advantage as MVL blundered with 25.Kd4?? after which his king was trapped in a mating net after 25…Na4!. Aronian secured a tie for first in a crucial victory over a rival who had the same number of points as him. Replay the game here

GM Levon Aronian cruising to victory in Round 6 to catch up with the leader | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams

Fabiano Caruana – Ian Nepomniachtchi 

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi played once again the Petroff Defense, in which it seemed that GM Fabiano Caruana either forgot or lost the thread of his lines somewhere out of the opening. He spent quite some time trying to gain back the advantage, but in the end he did not achieve a promising position. Black was very comfortable and it was White who needed to play accurately to maintain the balance. In the end, Caruana was able to find a way to trade off most pieces and the game ended in a draw before the time control was reached. Replay the game here

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi with a dominating glance in Round 6  | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Wesley So – Richard Rapport

In a Semi-Slav Defense of the Stoltz Variation, GM Richard Rapport essayed the novelty 15..e5!?, that turned out to be a prelude to a pawn sacrifice in which Black had the bishop pair and active play. Soon the players entered an endgame with opposite-colored bishops (the 3rd in a row for GM Wesley So in this event) where White’s chances were minimal. With the rooks off the board the players called it a day and the game ended peacefully in a draw on move 50. Replay the game here

A thoughtful GM Richard Rapport during Round 6 | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Leinier Dominguez – Bogdan-Daniel Deac

In a complex opening where GM Deac chose the ambitious Najdorf Defense, GM Leinier Dominguez essayed his possibly favorite – The English Attack.  On move 16, Dominguez played the novelty 16. g3!?. It was not long before the players entered a severe time trouble where the Romanian grandmaster was up a pawn, but White had compensation thanks to his piece activity. As the time control was being reached at move 40, Deac made the inaccuracy 40…Rf8?! , after which the position seemed to be in Dominguez’ favor. However, this wasn’t the end of the story as the players entered another severe time pressure. Both players made several mistakes, but finally it was Dominguez who beat his young opponent to score his first victory in this event. Replay the game here

GM Leinier Dominguez looking sharp in Round 6, winning his first game of the event | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov – Alireza Firouzja 

The game between two of the most aggressive players in the tournament ended in a fighting draw. GM Alireza Firouzja chose a line in the Nimzo-Indian where GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had a past win (his 2013 Grand Prix victory over Topalov). Firouzja played the line superbly and the game entered a dynamically balanced middlegame. According to the engines, Firouzja’s 24th and 25th moves were rather slow and 26.Qd3 (instead of Be3) could give some advantage to Mamedyarov. However, after missing this opportunity, Firouzja was in a bind which denied Mamedyarov’s bishop pair to target Black’s position. The queens went off the board and the players entered a drawn ending with relatively accurate play. It seemed as if the game would end in a draw around move 40, but it was Mamedyarov who chose to maintain the pressure on the young Iranian-French Grandmaster pressing to get into a rook endgame with 3 vs 2 pawns and then 2 vs 1 pawn rook endgame, but Firouzja stayed consistent and ultimately achieved the draw. Replay the game here

GM Alireza Firouzja during Round 6| Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Florin Raducioiu, a famous former Romanian soccer player has been invited to make the first move in the game Dominguez – Deac  | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Round 7 pairings:

Ian Nepomniachtchi – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Levon Aronian – Fabiano Caruana
Richard Rapport – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Bogdan-Daniel Deac – Wesley So
Alireza Firouzja – Leinier Dominguez Perez

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