After the final day of the rapid, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura emerged as the new leaders. Fabiano Caruana conceded his leadership spot after losing his first game of the day then drawing the next two. Mamedyarov and Nakamura are currently only one point ahead of Caruana who is in third place, and three points ahead of Karjakin, Aronian and Dominguez. Since wins will be worth only one points in blitz, catching the two leaders will require immense amount of work and luck from the rest of the field. The next two days of blitz are not to be missed!
Final rapid standings. In the rapid a win is worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point and a loss is 0
This was set to be the most important round for the standings. Not only did Leinier Dominguez defeat the leader Fabiano Caruana and blow the tournament open, but all four players who were two points behind the leader were paired. The round was heartbreaking for Caruana as he played an excellent game and achieved a winning position, only to hallucinate at the last moment and blunder his rook. In the matchup between Shakhiryar Mamedyarov and Sergey Karjakin, the Azeri grandmaster declined a draw by repetition and went on to completely annihilate his opponent after launching an attack. Hikaru Nakamura was also successful in his game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, with whom he was tied coming into the round. With these crucial wins, both Mamedyarov and Nakamura joined Caruana in the lead.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov contemplating accepting the draw by repetition
This was the calm after the storm as all the leaders drew, bringing no significant changes to the standings. The surprise of the round was Vachier-Lagrave’s second loss in a row, this time to Aronian. The Armenian played what he thought was a brilliant tactic but missed a counter tactic by his opponent. In a winning position, the Frenchman moved his king away from a check to the wrong square and soon was forced to resign. The other decisive result was between Wesley So and Alexander Grischuk, where the American demonstrated how to handle the dangerous King’s Indian attack and bring home the point.
Hikaru Nakamura in the postgame interview
A quick draw against So was not enough for Caruana to keep his position on the leaderboard. Both Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura leapfrogged Caruana with wins over Viswanathan Anand and Leinier Dominguez respectively. Mamedyarov’s aggressive style paid off as Anand wasn’t able to fend off his opponent’s kingside pawn storm. Nakamura’s task required more effort but he was able to prove that bishops are better than knights in an open position with a fine win. The rest of the games ended in a draw.
Leinier Dominguez ultimately changed the fate of the rapid
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