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Firouzja scores first OTB win in 2022; Grand Chess Tour Romania 2022 – R7 recap

The stakes are heating up for Superbet Chess Classic Romania, as the tournament is quickly coming to an end with only two more rounds left to play. Today’s Round 7 brought once again entertaining games with key dramatic moments as three of the five games were decisive. Wesley So and Levon Aronian maintain their co-lead in the event, being trailed by half a point by GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who won his game today, taking advantage of a tragic blunder by GM Richard Rapport. GM Mamedyarov won his first game in the event, taking down GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, while GM Firouzja scored his first classical Over-The-Board win in 2022 defeating GM Dominguez.
Popular from GCT Romania 2022:
Interview with Wesley So: “Everyone except Magnus has a lot of weaknesses” (VIDEO) / 
Fabiano Caruana: “Firouzja is one of the hardest players in the World” – Interview with Grand Chess Tour players (VIDEO)

Replay the Round 7 games:

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

Recaps of previous rounds
Aronian joins So in the lead; Grand Chess Tour Romania 2022 – R6 recap
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 7

Standings after Round 7

Levon Aronian – Fabiano Caruana

In their recent encounter at The American Cup, last month, GM Fabiano Caruana almost lost to GM Levon Aronian with the Italian, so it is very likely that the latter wanted to avoid the Petroff Defense. In order to ensure another Italian game, Aronian chose 2.Bc4, but it seemed that Caruana was prepared for it playing the solid Nf6 and c6 set up. It never appeared that Aronian had any opportunity to play for the advantage and the players traded all of their pieces to a rook endgame that finished in a three fold repetition in 26 moves. Replay the game here
In the short interview about the opponents, Levon emphasized he is excited to meet Fabiano, looking for revenge: “I really look forward to play against Fabiano. I’ve lost to him in the American Cup, so I want to have my revenge.“.  See the whole interview here.

Mr. Andrei Diaconescu, the CEO of One United Properties, one of the tournament sponsors after making the first move in the game Aronian-Caruana  | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Bogdan-Daniel Deac – Wesley So

The game between GM’s Deac and So started with the Classical Line of the QGA (Queen’s Gambit Accepted). However, this time around, So, was on the Black side of the QGA which he faced in his Round 2 game against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Differently from that game, Wesley tried 13…Bxf3 with the idea to bring his rook into play via a7-c7, instead of MVL’s choice of 13…Qd7.  However, this game had the same fate as his Round 2 as it finished expectedly in a draw by repetition in just 25 moves. Replay the game here

Adrian Mutu, the famous Romanian soccer player, now soccer manager, after he made the first move in the game Deac-So | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Richard Rapport – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

It is hard to write about this game without having sympathy for Grandmaster Richard Rapport. The Hungarian super-GM has been playing his usual creative style, but in this tournament, he has made two blunders that have cost him dearly. The first was in Round 3 against GM Deac and in today’s game against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Today’s blunder was unfortunately quite tragic after a QGA (Queen’s Gambit Accepted) which transposed into a well-known variation of the Meran Defense, the players reached a balanced position and it seemed that a draw would be the most likely result. However, on move 28, Rapport hung his undefended rook with 28. Nd5?? after which he immediately resigned. It is not clear whether he missed the fact that his rook was hanging or if he forgot about the existence of Black’s bishop on a5 while he was thinking. In case it was the latter, he probably thought that 28…Bxe5 was’t possible because of 29.Nxe7+ Rxe7 30. Rd8+ Kf7 31.Rf8 #, missing of course 30…Bxd8!. This was an important point in the tournament for MVL which came in the most unexpected fashion. Replay the game here

A tough loss by GM Richard Rapport in the most tragic way | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Ian Nepomniachtchi – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

The game between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov started as a heavily theoretical line of the Italian Giuoco Piano. Shakh played energetically and it seemed that Nepo had misplayed the opening at some point. Things turned in favor of Nepo when Mamedyarov made the dubious choice of 28…Rd3?! trying to go for the material and allowing Nepo to consolidate his position while focusing on some attacking ideas on the king’s side. With a blunder toward time pressure, 35…h6?? Mamedyarov gave Nepo a clear path to victory with the idea 36. Qf2! – an easy choice for the computer, commentators and spectators, but not as logical considering that White would be taking the queen from the long diagonal. However, should the queen have been on f2, it would have helped to actually infiltrate into Black’s territory and have unstoppable mating ideas. This was most certainly the turning point of the game. Nepo’s miss on move 36, prompted a series of blunders which gave Mamedyarov a winning position. The Azeri super GM did not let go of it this time and scored his victory to move up from the bottom of the standings. Replay the game here

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on his way to winning his first game in the event | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Alireza Firouzja – Leinier Dominguez

The game between GMs Alireza Firouzja and Leinier Dominguez started with a developing theoretical idea of the Nimzo-Indian Defense, On move 12, Firouzja tried an interesting aggressive scheme with 12. g4!?, after which a strategic and typical battle ensued. Firouzja developed an attack on the kingside, while Dominguez expanded on the queenside. The position seemed to be more comfortable for Black. However, close to the time control and at a critical moment, Domínguez missed the beautiful and typical 36.Rh7! tactic which won material for Firouzja. After which, the youngster converted his advantage after the time control. This win brought Alireza his first win of the event. Replay the game here

A smiling GM Alireza Firouzja at the beginning of Round 7 | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Mr. Henk Paardekooper, CEO of the First Bank or Romania, making the first move in the game Rapport-MVL  | Photo: Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes

Round 8 pairings:

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

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