GM Alexey Sarana won week 23 of the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase, defeating GM Jeffery Xiong in one of the most exciting finals of the season.
GMs Hans Niemann and Vladimir Fedoseev made it to the semifinals. GMs Sam Sevian, Gata Kamsky, Illia Nyzhnyk, and Saleh Salem finished in the quarterfinals.
Participating in the event were 47 competitors—open to all GMs as well as the top-10 women, top-10 juniors, as well as 10 wildcards. The event continues on August 6-7, starting at 9 a.m. PT / 18:00 CEST.
You can watch the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship presented by Coinbase on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on the Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive.
Xiong clinched first with an undefeated seven points, kicking off the tournament with a 5-0 winning streak. He capped off his winning streak with a victory over GM Dmitry Andreikin, currently second in the Rapid Chess Championship overall standings, by squeezing a victory out of a drawish opposite-color bishop ending.
Fedoseev won second, also with seven points, including a vigorous last-round victory where he pushed every single one of his kingside pawns two squares by move 11 vs. GM Oleksandr Bortnyk.
Sarana finished third with the top tiebreaks of those with 6.5 points. In the penultimate round, he defeated Kamsky in 24 moves, kicking off his attack in the center with 16. Kd2!?.
One of the most impressive displays of speed in the event was when Bortnyk saved a draw with less than a second left on his clock.
— ChesscomLive (@ChesscomLive) July 30, 2022
Saturday Swiss | Final Standings (Top 20)
|16||21||GM||ChristopherYoo||Christopher Woojin Yoo||2618||5||16.75|
(Full final standings here.)
The Swiss winner, Xiong, won the first quarterfinals match by sneaking out a victory from an equal rook ending. Test your endgame understanding: Can you find Salem’s missed opportunity to save the game?
Niemann played a positional masterpiece to break through with a mating attack against Sevian.
Fedoseev won vs. Nyzhyk by using an interference tactic to promote his elusive passed a-pawn.
After two hard-fought draws in the rapid and blitz, Sarana vs. Kamsky was decided in a bullet playoff. After Kamsky overlooked a couple of tactical opportunities, Sarana fought back, eventually breaking through on the kingside.
Xiong kicked off the semifinals with a 26-move victory, using his central control to press on Niemann’s weaknesses.
Sarana vs. Fedoseev began with a dynamic draw in the rapid game. Fedoseev was on the verge of promoting his e-pawn when Sarana doubled rooks on the seventh rank and created a perpetual check.
In the blitz playoff, Sarana sacrificed a knight to break through on the kingside dark squares, leading to a crushing king attack.
In the final, Sarana sacrificed a piece to get a pawn to d3, locking in Xiong’s kingside pieces. From there, the game became a thrilling battle, revolving around the d3-pawn and Sarana’s attacking efforts vs. Xiong’s attempts to free his f1-bishop. As commentator IM David Pruess described, “The champion of week 23 is going to be discovered in a ball of fire.”
The champion of week 23 is going to be discovered in a ball of fire.
The game culminated when Sarana sacrificed a rook to open up Xiong’s central pawn cover. Xiong countered with the crafty Qe2! when his queen is untouchable due to the threat of back-rank mate. Yet, Sarana anticipated this and replied with a deflection zwischenzug to seal victory.
In the post-match interview, Sarana confirmed that he saw the shocking combination in advance: “Yes, I already saw this move. I thought about h5, but then I saw Re3 and Rc1. Very forced variation. And I’m just winning.”
The winner of the Swiss tournament is Xiong, and the winner of the knockout tournament is Sarana. 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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