We are happy to welcome GM Pia Cramling to the team! Today GM Pia recaps for us the first phase of the FIDE Grand Prix being played in Berlin. It has been an exciting tournament so far, with some of the best players trying to win their pool to access the semifinals.
After a double round-robin in each of the 4-player pools, only two grandmasters emerged in clear first. Today, two playoffs were played: two rapid games with time control 15+10.
Join us tomorrow, Saturday to watch the first day of the semifinals, at 9 AM EST - 15:00 Berlin (CET) - 14:00 UTC.
Four rapid games decided the tiebreaks, today.
Richard Rapport played Radosław Wojtaszek, and Welsey So played Leinier Dominguez.
In Game 1, Rapport had a sizeable advantage, but then it faded away in the endgame. But Wojtaszek, with a few seconds on the clock, blundered badly in a rook endgame, giving the full point to his opponent.
Wesley So and Dominguez played a quiet game, without any bumps, to draw in an almost peaceful way.
In Game 2, Rapport needed a draw to access the semis, and Wojtaszek chose the Sicilian, Canal–Sokolsky Attack. But Rapport went on to exchange a lot of pieces. By move 20, the players were playing a drawish endgame. Wojtaszek didn't find any way to improve his position, and Rapport played all the right moves to keep the endgame drawn. Rapport is the third semifinalist and will cross bishops with Hikaru Nakamura.
Meanwhile, Wesley So found himself in dire straits after a couple of imprecise moves he played in the middlegame when both Queens were battling on the kingside, supported by the knights. So tried a desperado, attacking full steam ahead with his queen and knight, but Leinier had the sangfroid to find the right defensive move and then deliver the final blow.
Dominguez defeating So can't be called upset, but for sure Leinier wasn't the favorite!
The Cuban- born American GM will challenge Levon Aronian in the semis, and again it won't be easy to play the Armenian-American chess wizard, who showed a stellar status of form in the pools.
The first game of the semifinals takes place tomorrow at 9 AM EST - 15:00 Berlin (CET) - 14:00 UTC