Nakamura and Nepomniachtchi break through to face off in RCC Winners Final

The winners of the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship Semi-Finals presented by Coinbase unfolded on Friday in two colossal clashes that saw GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Ian Nepomniachtchi advance to the winners’ final.

GMs Wesley So and Vladimir Fedoseev fought valiantly in their respective matches and will have a second chance to return to the Winners Bracket if they triumph in the Losers Bracket. They will be joined by general managers Parham Maghsoodloo, Ding Liren, Dmitry Andreikin and Fabiano Caruana, who all won their respective matches to keep their tournament chances alive.

The winners’ final, as well as the third round and the losers’ quarter-finals. will be held on 20 Augustfrom 9:00 a.m. PT/6:00 p.m. CEST.

How to watch?


Semi-final winners

Hoping to recover from last week’s knockout loss to So, Nakamura was very careful with his opening picks in Friday’s semifinal, opting for a trade at 1.d4 in the opener. Having played 1.Nf3 for the majority of his RCC matches this season, the calculated decision to trade clearly paid off as Nakamura secured a +2 position after just 20 moves. So, who was leaning over a chair he was using as a table for his laptop, created enough counterplay to stabilize the position, eventually earning a draw in 58 moves.

With everything on the line in game two, So picked the Italian game as his go-to poison but couldn’t find a way through the stiff defense thrown up by Nakamura. In the end, Nakamura’s pair of knights ended up doing the damage, winning one of So’s pawns and allowing the American streamer to convert quickly.

In the second semi-final, Fedoseev was in no mood to fight with the white pieces after Nepomniachtchi played a semi-tarrasch defense in the first game. Fedoseev chose the unusual 5.Be3 which had only been achieved at master level three times before the match. Nothing came of novelty and a 21-move draw ensued, putting immense pressure on Fedoseev with the black pieces in the second, but that match was also drawn.

Nepomniachtchi shifted into high gear in the last game and decided to go for a more aggressive Catalan than in his second attempt. Fedoseev began to fall back and put up a fortress-like defense, but Nepomniachtchi was sharp as a knife, finding a brilliant knight sacrifice that left the World Championship challenger in a commanding position.

Nepomniachtchi’s victory earned him a match in the winners’ final against Nakamura and no one knows who will win the blockbuster showdown on Saturday.

First round losers

The inspiring play in the Losers Bracket on Friday showed that several players are still worthy contenders to challenge the eventual top bracket winner. GM Alexander Grischuk was winning outright in his debut match against Maghsoodloo, although back-to-back blunders after a brilliant shot left him hopelessly lost.

Unable to find his feet afterwards, Grischuk was knocked out by the Iranian GM after a comfortable hold in the second game.

Ding was anything but board shy in his games on Friday and dispatched GM Jose Martinez, scoring 1.5/2. In the second game, Ding showed his tactical prowess with the incisive 37.Rxd4 which left his two rooks hanging after an earlier rook sacrifice by his opponent went wrong! Unfortunately, no trick could be taken by the Peruvian number two and he laid down his sword just six strokes later.

Andreikin’s match against GM David Paravyan was one of the easiest of the day after the former European blitz champion won a pawn with the white pieces in the opener. In the second, Paravyan could not break Andreikin’s strong Berlin defense, and a match result of 1.5-0.5 was quickly confirmed.

Andreikin was highlighted by Naroditsky and Hess as being able to beat anyone. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

After a disappointing round of 16 defeat yesterday, Caruana beat general manager Maxim Matlakov with two wins, returning to the form that saw him win multiple Swiss and knockout rounds in the RCC’s inaugural season.

Second round losers

GM Daniil Dubov and Maghsoodloo, both known for their dynamic style of play, faced off in the second round in a Queen’s Indian Defence. Neither player was able to find ways to break through until Dubov capitulated at move 35, allowing Maghsoodloo to trick his opponent with a passed pawn and win the game in one move.

With the white pieces, it was the Iranian GM who again jumped into an advantageous position against Dubov’s Semi-Slav, but this time a draw was agreed in order to secure the match.

Maghsoodloo has become one of the favorites to win the Losers Bracket. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Ding capped off a near-perfect day with a 2-0 thrashing of rapid-fire world champion GM Nordibek Abdusattorov. The Uzbek GM’s dream run fell apart after he was punished in the opener for loosening the pawns around his king, allowing an inspired Ding to lacerate his kingside.

Andreikin looked slightly sharper than GM Jeffery Xiong when they met after winning the opener in just 16 moves! Xiong cheered in the second though, and an Armageddon tiebreaker was needed to separate the two. Andreikin was able to create a small advantage on the symmetrical English opening before knocking the hammer down with a well-placed tower in seventh, securing his place in the next round.

GM Alexey Sarana has been one of the shining stars of the RCC season and fought enthusiastically in his final matches, but his tournament was abruptly cut short by Caruana on Friday. The match was not without its hitches for the US GM, who needed to bounce back from a 0-1 deficit, although in the Armageddon tie-break he showed world-class preparation for rout his opponent with the Nimzo-Indian Defense.

Ranking of day 2


All Games | Semi-final winners

The Rapid Chess Championship Final is Chess.com’s largest and most prestigious rapid tournament. This is a 16-player knockout event with 10+2 time control. If players draw, a single Armageddon game with a bidding system determines the winner. The total price of the RCC is $650,000, with a $150,000 prize for the final only.


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