FIDE Grand Prix Berlin R1 2022: Wojtaszek, Fedoseev, Aronian start with victories
The first round of the FIDE Grand Prix 2022 saw three decisive matches in an intense start to the group stage of the event. After the first of six doubles round robin matches between players in each group, GM Vladimir Fedoseev and GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek are top of Group B, while GM Levon Aronian is the leader of Group C. All matches in Groups A and D ended in hard-fought draws, so no clear leader emerges in the groups.
GM Hikaru Nakamura played an effective Berlin damper against GM Etienne Bacrot, neutralized the Whites’ opening advantage quite effectively and drew the game. And then he made some stunning admissions during the post-game interview. Recalled this was his first classic tournament in over two years – he last played at the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg in October 2019 – he admitted his preferences had changed over the past few months, “I love streaming – that’s the main thing! … I think at the end of the game [today] I was too nervous. I was going a little too fast. Just ’cause I haven’t played in too long, playing classic [chess] seemed very boring! Maybe I need to move a little slower.”
I was going a little too fast. Just because I haven’t played for too long, playing classical (chess) seemed very boring to me!
—GM Hikaru Nakamura
Nakamura’s long hiatus from classical chess inspired the obligatory memes:
— Chess.com (@chesscom) February 4, 2022
GM Alexander Grischuk took 48 minutes to think for his 10th move, which allowed him to land under his usual time pressure. In an all-Russian clash, his opponent GM Andrey Esipenko couldn’t gain a midgame advantage when he made an unexpected mistake with 28.Qb1:
Speaking in his usual effervescent style after the game, Grischuk joked: “It was unexpected for me to have such a big advantage. Throughout the game I was just happy with a draw. Andrei played Qb1 [on the 28th move]which looked ridiculous—probably is ridiculous, but it completely took me aback!” under the gaze of his opponent, laughing.
— Chess of the world (@theworldchess) February 4, 2022
Andrey played Qb1, which looked ridiculous—it’s probably ridiculous, but I was completely taken aback!
—GM Alexander Grischuk
Fedoseev claimed the first victory of this Grand Prix tournament when he beat GM Grigoriy Oparin consistently on the white side of a typical Catalan opening.
With GM Ding Liren not starting the event, Group B proved to be the weakest of them all in terms of average rating, with his replacement Wojtaszek rated over 100 Elo less than the Chinese grandmaster. . But, for such a last-minute entrant in such a strong tournament, Wojtaszek started very well. Relentlessly applying pressure on Black, he won a classic game of “White-squeeze” against top-rated GM Richard Rapport.
The event’s joint seed (with GM Wesley So), noted 2772, Aronian represents for the first time the United States of America, his new country of adoption. On such a historic occasion, he scored a battle victory over Indian GM Vidit Gujrathi on the white side of a Nimzo-Indian defense, taking advantage of his opponent’s late game error:
Russian GM Daniil Dubov seemed to be in a tight spot against young GM Vincent Keymer, but he got away with a draw by resorting to a confident late game decision:
With a line-up of over 2700 and the highest average Elo of 2736 among the four players, Pool D had an opening preparation day, as the players with the white pieces faced preparation specific to their opponents that neutralized their advantage on the first move. in both games.
The group also had the distinction of having two Americans, So and GM Leinier Dominguez, who faced each other in the first round. Then admitted after the match that he was surprised by Dominguez’s bold opening choice and mixed his preparation in the opener. But, just as Nakamura did, he too made a surprisingly bold admission about his trip from North America to Europe: “Today wasn’t ideal. I still haven’t slept well. I fell asleep on the board! not my day.”
I still haven’t slept well. I fell asleep at the blackboard!
—GM Wesley So
All round 1 games
The Berlin FIDE Grand Prix is the first of three stages of the event. The Berlin tournament takes place from February 4 to 17. Tune in every day at 6:00 a.m. Pacific / 3:00 p.m. CET for our show.