The third tournament of the Grand Chess Tour 2022 series starts today and will be played in Westin Zagreb from July 19-24. The SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz Croatia is sponsored by the Superbet Foundation and includes 9 rounds of rapid and 18 rounds of blitz chess for a total prize fund of $175,000. The same thing happened today. After winning his first two games against Van Foreest and Topalov, he lost back-to-back games to Wesley and Dominguez. Nobody would have thought he would end the day one and a half points ahead of everybody else.
Replay Grand Chess Tour blitz day 1
Jorden suffered some tough losses, but he bounced back every time. After losing to Magnus in Round 1, he beat Saric in Round 2. And after losing to Topalov in Round 3, he beat So in Round 4. After a couple of draws in Rounds 5 and 6, he beat MVL in Round 7 and it seemed everything was back on track. But you can save only so many “match points” before energy reserves become depleted. Wesley on the other hand, seemed to be cruising, having started the day off with back-to-back wins with Black against Mamedyarov and Magnus. However, Wesley has only won one game with White in both Rapid and Blitz combined! So when his loss with White against Van Foreest came in Round 4 and everything came to a halt.
Nepo seemed to thrive amidst the confusion. He was relaxed and had his best day, so far. He was having fun and even played three King’s Gambits with White, scoring 2 wins and one draw! After Carlsen’s back-to-back losses in Rounds 3 and 4, and especially after Jorden’s key win with Black against Wesley in Round 4, it seemed the Dutchman might be on his way to one of the greatest upsets ever. However, two key losses in Rounds 7 and 9 against Nepo and Firouzja opened the gates for a hungry Magnus that seemed beaming with energy after every win.
As Wesley said in his post-game interview “Once Magnus gets going, he’s hard to stop”. I have a feeling that’s going to go down as the understatement of the tournament. In any case, Magnus is in his element and is a pleasure to watch.
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