GM Wesley So won week 21 of the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase, defeating GM Sam Sevian in the closely-fought final match that culminated in a bullet playoff.
GMs Dmitry Andreikin and Maxim Matlakov made it to the semi-finals. GM David Paravyan, Alexander Grischuk, Parham Maghsoodloo, and Andrey Esipenko finished in the quarterfinals.
Participating in the event were 54 competitors—now open to all GMs as well as the top-10 women, top-10 juniors, as well as 10 wildcards. The event continues on July 23-24, starting at 9am PT / 6pm CEST.
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Sevian clinched clear first with seven points, defeating GM Alexey Sarana in round seven with a beautiful tactical sequence.
Andreikin finished second with the top tiebreaks of the players with 6.5 points. He defeated Sarana in round five with an insightful pawn sacrifice―with check―to activate his smoke.
So finished third with an undefeated 6.5 score. His critical victory was in round six against GM Pavel Tregubov. So won a pawn with a tactical sequence and then trapped Tregubov’s knight in the endgame.
Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)
|4||19||GM||Billie Kimbah||Maxim Matlakov||2644||6.5||30.75|
|9||17||GM||Joseph||Jose Eduardo Martinez Alcantara||2644||6||24|
|14||22||GM||the rich chance||Eric Hansen||2603||5.5||17|
|16||1||GM||Fabiano Caruana||Fabiano Caruana||2737||5||18|
(Full final standings here.)
The knockout started with the Swiss winner, Sevian, drawing against Maghsoodloo in a very evenly-fought rapid game. They also drew in their blitz tiebreaker, repeating moves in an equal ending. In the bullet playoff, Sevian set up all his pieces on powerful locations in his opponent’s position on all sides of the board and soon checkmated.
Paravyan held an amazing draw against Matlakov in their rapid game. Paravyan fought out the last 25+ moves of the game with just seconds on the clock while Matlakov had nearly two minutes.
Their blitz tiebreaker was equal throughout, leading to a draw. In their bullet playoff, Matlakov overcame by using his rook on the seventh, supported by a passed d-pawn, and his queen to checkmate.
Andreikin defeated Grischuk with incredible technique in the rook ending.
So created a monster knight on d5, and soon his pieces rolled Esipenko’s pieces practically off the board.
Sevian kicked off the semifinals with a quick draw against Matlakov in the rapid, aiming to take his chances with black in the blitz playoff. Sevian came through, saving a worse endgame and then flipping it into a victory.
So declined a draw in the ending against Andreikin and then accurately converted his better position into victory.
The Sevian vs. So the final started with a hard-fought game, full of dynamic play, that ended in a draw.
After reaching an equal position out of the opening, So offered a draw in the blitz tiebreaker. In the bullet playoff, he gained an extra pawn and, as he pressed in the ending, Sevian blundered a knight.
So played convincing, impregnable chess throughout all of his matches. In his interview, he shared his approach to the games and the different time controls:
To be honest, I just wanted to play it safe in every game. I don’t usually play well in the Sunday section. Before, I would be too ambitious and just get a totally worse position with white. It almost happened in the blitz game with Sam. I quickly offered a draw and fortunately, he accepted.
I just wanted to play it safe and keep my chances alive. I think in bullet if you’re not playing Hikaru, I think the chances are 50/50. You have a decent chance. As long as you haven’t lost the game yet, you still have life. You can keep the game going.
I just wanted to play it safe and keep my chances alive.
– Wesley So
Standings, Results, Prizes
The winner of the Swiss tournament is Sevian, and the winner of the knockout tournament is So. Below are the full standings and prizes of the knockout:
Sunday Knockout | Final Standings
The Rapid Chess Championship is a weekly tournament held by Chess.com. It is a nine-round Swiss event with a 10+0 time control held every Saturday, followed by a knockout event on Sunday between the top-eight finishers and a 10+2 time control. If players draw, they play a 3+2 game; if drawn, they play a 1+1 game; and if that is drawn, a single armageddon game is played.
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