Aimchess Rapid: Arjun beats Carlsen, Abdusattorov leads

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/16/2022 – Arjun Erigaisi was the top scorer on day 2 of the Aimchess Rapid. The Indian prodigy collected three wins and a draw and, in round 7, achieved his first-ever victory over world champion Magnus Carlsen. Thanks to his performance on Saturday, Arjun climbed to shared fourth place, two points behind sole leader Nodirbek Abdusattorov. Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are sharing second place a point behind the young Uzbek. | Photo: Amruta Mokal / 2022 Chess Olympiad

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A first for Arjun

In March 2020, just before the start of the pandemic, Arjun Erigaisi had a 2559 Elo rating. Two and a half years later, he finds himself as the 21st highest-rated player in the world with 2728 rating points to his name. What is more, he has now achieved his first-ever win over world champion Magnus Carlsen — albeit in an online rapid game. 

The 19-year-old comes from reaching the final of the previous event of the tour, when he was quickly dispatched by an inspired Carlsen. Arjun had played phenomenally before that match, but that does not take away from the fact that he must have felt disappointed with his showing in the final. He has quickly bounced back, though, as his win against Carlsen was one of the three he collected on Saturday to climb to shared fourth place in the Aimchess Rapid.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen is playing from a log cabin in Åre, a Swedish ski resort

In the second set of the Generation Cup final, Carlsen had employed the Pirc Defence to beat his young opponent with the black pieces, and he went for the same system in round 7. The Norwegian got good play in a double-edged middlegame position, but began to lose the thread at around move 24. 

Despite Black’s dangerous-looking threats along the b-file, Arjun correctly calculated that he could go for a counterattack on the other flank of the board.

 

27.Qf7+ was responded by 27...Be7, which is not the strongest defensive try. Better was 27...Kd8, but Carlsen surely foresaw that White had 28.Bxh6 in that case — the threat of a queen check from f6 is key here. Importantly, in this line, White should not fear the scary-looking 28...Ba3, as the rook on h2 (!) plays an important defensive role (see diagram below).

 

The continuation seen in the game was only the start of a complex tactical scrimmage. Arjun showed nerves of steel, as he managed to keep his advantage and eventually simplified into a winning endgame with opposite-coloured bishops and four rooks still on the board.

 

Carlsen’s 44...Rc4, allowing a pair of rooks to leave the board, was a decisive mistake. Of course, defending the position would have been nearly impossible in the alternative lines as well, with the connected passers on the kingside a real menace for Black.

 

 

Abdusattorov leads, Carlsen and Shakh close behind

After grabbing the sole lead on day 1 with a 10/12 performance, Nodirbek Abdusattorov kicked off the second day of action with a loss against Vidit Gujrathi. Back-to-back wins over Gukesh Dommaraju and Pentala Harikrishna, followed by a draw against Anish Giri, allowed him to retake the sole lead, however.

Similarly, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov started the day with a loss, against Vincent Keymer, but collected three wins in a row to end the day a point behind the young leader. Shakh is tied for second place with Carlsen. Before losing to Arjun, the world champion had defeated Richard Rapport and David Anton.

GM Karsten Müller analysed the world champion’s endgame against Anton. Carlsen’s wave of pawns on the kingside proved impossible to stop for the Spaniard.

 

Standings after round 8 (win = 3 pts; draw = 1 pt)

 

All games

 

 


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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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