The last battle of the entire 2022 FIDE Grand Prix series organised by World Chess has finished on the 4th of April. In the final match tiebreaker, Wesley So outplayed Hikaru Nakamura by a score of 1½:½ and won the third leg of the Grand Prix in Berlin. The tournament winner and the runner-up looked happy at the closing ceremony as both of them could celebrate the success in the tournament. Despite the result of the final match, Hikaru Nakamura qualified for the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2022 and became the overall winner of FIDE Grand Prix Series 2022. Richard Rapport, who is the second in the overall standings and also punched his ticket to the Candidates, while Wesley So took third place in the Series. More: FIDE Grand Prix in Berlin / Live games / FIDE GP – the first three rounds / Hikaru Nakamura and Richard Rapport qualify to the Candidates
After the match ended, Wesley So said: “I am only 28, and I’m hoping that next year or in a couple of years, I will get a chance to play in the Candidates. The last time I played, I was very inexperienced and finished second to last, so I think if you qualify, you have to be ready to fight for first place.”
Hikaru Nakamura: “The odds [of winning the whole series] were probably 10-15% before everything began. I was quite fortunate in the first leg as I got players who hadn’t played as much; they weren’t sharp.”
In the first tiebreaker game, Hikaru chose the Bishop opening, which Wesley So didn’t expect to see on the board today. However, Wesley played confidently with Black and got a serious positional advantage by move 15. Hikaru showed his excellent defensive skills, and after a couple of mistakes by the opponent, he managed to create a very dangerous attack on the kingside. It was Wesley’s turn to find the only moves to stay in the game. After several evaluation swings in this complicated topsy-turvy game, the opponents split a point in a drawish rook ending.
In the second game, the Berlin Defense in Ruy Lopez was played. White managed to get a pleasant edge, but the position seemed quite balanced until a certain point. Wesley exchanged the queens at the cost of doubling his pawns on the d-file but engineered some initiative in the center. On the 32nd move, Hikaru made a terrible blunder 32…c6 and after a simple refutation 33.Bxe5 found himself in a hopeless position. Wesley emerged a piece up and then slowly but surely converted his advantage to win the game and the match.
FIDE Grand Prix Series 2022 final standings:
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Photo: FIDE Grand Prix Berlin Press kit