Aronian wins the preliminary round
The preliminary round of the Goldmoney Asian Rapid tournament ended on Monday. Eight of the sixteen participants reached the quarter-finals, with the top grandmasters Alireza Firouzja, Peter Svidler and Daniil Dubov missing the cut. The big surprise, however, was when the 17-year-old Indian grandmaster Arjun Erigaisi made it into the round of 16.
The top scorers were Levon Aronian, Vladislav Artemiev and Ding Liren. Tour leader Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So took fourth place with 9/15 points each, which means that they will meet in the most exciting duel of the quarter-finals. Carlsen and So finish first and second in the Overall rating of the touras they were the finalists in 3 out of 6 events played so far – Carlsen won the last duel at the end of last month.
In a short video montage, the organizers of the Champions Chess Tour have put together a series of strong emotional reactions that the world champion showed during this year’s series:
In the remaining quarter-finals, Aronian meets Arjun, Ding meets Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Artemiev meets Anish Giri.
In the knockout phase, every match is decided on two days. There are four rapid games on the first day, and if the game ends 2-2 it will simply be a draw. Another 4-game match will be played on day 2. If both games are tied or the players win, there will be a playoff shortly after the second game: two blitz games followed, if necessary, by Armageddon.
click to enlarge
Usually these events do not have as many decisive results on the third day of the preliminary round as in the first ten rounds, as the players who are in the top half of the table prefer not to risk too much.
At Goldmoney Asian Rapid, only Aronian finished undefeated in the preliminary round, who did not shy away from complications in his first game on Monday – against none other than the always sharp Firouzja.
Firouzja, who turned 18 a little over a week ago, has recently been playing against Vienna. Due to his tournament situation, the youngster decided not to swap women on move 14, which put him in an inferior position. However, his opponent was not very precise with the following complications and could not foresee that White would have a winning tactic in the diagram position.
Fortunately for the Armenian, Firouzja did not find 23.Rxg7 + Kxg7 24.Rg1 + Kh8 25.Nf4, which both threatened the queen and pushed it to g6.
Black would have to give up the queen for a rook after 25 … Qf7 26.Ng6 + Kg8 27.Ne5 + Qg7 and although the game is not over, White will be the driver.
However, none of this happened when Firouzja was playing 23.Nf4 immediately, and Black had an advantage after that 23 … Qf5 24.Qh6 Rg7. Aronian continued to find strong defensive moves and took the full point shortly after White’s initiative ran out.
Firouzja bounced back with a win over Hou Yifan but failed to make it to the quarterfinals despite two wins in Rounds 14 and 15. The youngster had the worst first tiebreaker result among the four players who tied with 8 points – Duda, Giri and Arjun were the other three and they got knocked out.
In the final game of the day, Duda scored a clutch win over Gukesh to secure a spot in the singles elimination phase.
Before the finals, Gukesh still had outside chances to qualify for the round of 16. Perhaps that is why he decided not to play 56 … Qxa4 in the above position, since 57.Qb6 + Kb8 58Qd8 + would make it possible with an eternal check.
It’s likely that Duda would not have forced the draw, especially if he had known Firouzja had already defeated Saleh Salem. Still, the Indian’s decision is for 56 … Qb3 left him in a subordinate position. In the nerve-wracking final phase of the game, Duda managed to keep a cool head and take the all-important victory.
Endgame analyzes by Karsten Müller
Our in-house expert took a closer look at three instructive endgame positions, including the following, which appeared in Artemiev vs. Duda from round 12 onwards.
Müller shows why the automatic 33 … Kf7 is actually a mistake in this seemingly harmless position with a symmetrical pawn structure.
Select an entry from the list to switch between games
Final result – preliminary round
|10||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||2726||7.0||0.0|
|14th||GM||Salem AR Saleh||2682||5.5||0.0|