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Caruana scores, So maintains the sole lead; Grand Chess Tour Romania 2022 – R5 recap

Day 5 of the Superbet Chess Classic Romania came with an exciting finish with Fabiano Caruana taking down Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov to get back to fifty percent. Today’s games brought some surprise lines and missed opportunities, but was overall a peaceful day. Going into tomorrow’s rest day, Grandmaster Wesley So has drawn his game and maintains half a point advantage over his competitors sharing 2nd place. 
Interview with Wesley So: “Everyone except Magnus has a lot of weaknesses” (VIDEO)

Replay the Round 5 games:

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

Popular GCT Romania 2022 content: Wesley So in the early lead / Nepo defeats Firouzja / Deac surprises Rapport / Decisive results in the majority / Interview with Garry Kasparov (VIDEO) / Caruana, Rapport and Dominguez comment on the Grand Chess Tour Romania playing venue

Results of Round 5

Standings after Round 5

Ian Nepomniachtchi – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

The first game to finish was the one between GM Ian Nepomniachtchi against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, which ended in a draw after some missed opportunities by the French Grandmaster. Nepo surprised MVL in the opening with a slight move order change. He played  Bb5+ on move 5 instead of move 3. Nevertheless, the position transposed to a typical Maroczy-bind a few moves later. The position looked absolutely equal, and Nepo’s blitzing through his moves resulted in an inaccuracy that happened on move 25 (Qxe7?! instead Rb1 which would have maintained easy equality). MVL played all of the right strategic moves and started putting on the pressure in a Q+R (queen and rook) endgame. He had his best chance to continue the pressure on Nepo around move 27, with the h5-h4 idea followed by the infiltration along the c-file, which could have given Black good chances to play for a win. MVL misplaced however, and let Nepo escape a little too soon with a perpetual check right after the time control was reached. Replay the game here

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi looking focused and possibly concerned about his game in Round 5 | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Richard Rapport – Leinier Dominguez 

The start of the game between GM Richard Rapport and GM Leinier Dominguez brought smiles among the players and commentators, as Richie played 2.Ne2!? in order to avoid Dominguez’ Petroff Defense and test the waters in some less explored territories.  Dominguez responded in a principled, but ultra-solid fashion.  By move 6 all the central pawns were exchanged and as soon as the players developed their piece, a massive trade off ensued. Although the game did continue for quite a bit, it was clear that the game was heading to a draw, which happened on move 51 in a king and pawn ending. Replay the game here

A thrilled smile by GM Richard Rapport after his 2.Ne2 against GM Leinier Dominguez | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Fabiano Caruana – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

The players followed a well-known Petroff line where Caruana chose a variation which happened between Nepomniachtchi-Wang Hao in the last Candidates. Mamedyarov played with confidence and after the players lashed out around 20 moves of theory, it seemed that a draw would be the likeliest outcome. However, an inexplicable mistake was played by Mamedyarov on move 21, bringing his knight to a6 (21…Na6), which put him in a very unpleasant position. Caruana in return rushed with 23.f4 which let go of most of his advantage, yet he maintained an ongoing initiative. The pressure became increasingly difficult as the players were approaching move 40, but Shakh survived the time control and the positional weaknesses in his position. Sadly for the Azeri super-GM, he began making inaccuracies after the time control was reached and by move 49 he found himself in a lost position. This time, Caruana showed patience and gradually, but assuredly, converted his advantage into a full point and his first win of the tournament. Replay the game here

A calm GM Fabiano Caruana, cruising through to victory in his Round 5 game against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams

Bogdan-Daniel Deac – Alireza Firouzja

Desperate for a win before the rest day, GM Firouzja chose the aggressive KID (King’s Indian Defense) to which the Romanian GM Deac responded with the ambitious 6.h4, hinting a promising fight among the two youngest players of the tournament. Firouzja went down a risky road and after some unsound strategic decisions (risky in favor of complications), his position was strategically worse for some time. However, both players burned their time a little too quickly and found themselves with less than 10 minutes at move 21. After a number of inaccuracies and a blunder in time scramble, the tide turned in the favor of Firouzja and he was up a piece. However, after a sequence of inaccurate decisions, most likely due to time trouble, right as they were approaching move 40, Firouzja let go of a simple win and spoiled all of his advantage. After the time control, it was clear that neither side could improve and the game ended in a draw on move 68. Replay the game here

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

Levon Aronian – Wesley So

GM Aronian’s opening choice was a bit surprising. In the post game-interview GM Wesley So mentioned he was expecting 1.e4 , although he was of course prepared for 1.c4 as well. On move 4, Wesley played 4…d5 opting for a Maroczy-bind with reversed colors, which Aronian denied later with 7.d4 . The theory considers this line rather harmless and the rest of the game proved so. After a number of quick trades the game ended in a draw with opposite-color bishops, but the game was long drawn before it ended. With this draw, Grandmaster Wesley So maintains his half a point advantage from his competitors sharing 2nd place. Replay the game here

GM Wesley So maintaining the sole lead going into the rest day  | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Virgil Stănescu, a famous former Romanian Basketball player has been invited to make the first move in the game Deac-Firouzja  | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Tomorrow is the resting day, and the event continues on Wednesday with the following encounters:

Round 6, May 10, 14:00 CEST

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

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