Aimchess Rapid: Carlsen and Abdusattorov reach winners’ final

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/12/2023 – Magnus Carlsen and Nodirbek Abdusattorov advanced to the final match in the winners’ bracket of the Aimchess Rapid online tournament by beating Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian respectively. Meanwhile, in the losers’ bracket, Wesley So and Eduardo Iturrizaga both won their Tuesday matches in Armageddon. | Photo: Eric Rosen / FIDE

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Abdusattorov’s flashy win

There are no easy pairings in the top division of the Champions Chess Tour events. On day 2 of the Aimchess Rapid, the marquee match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana saw the former advancing to the winners’ bracket final, where he will meet Nodirbek Abdusattorov, who got the better of Levon Aronian in style.

Abdusattorov came from defeating none other than Wesley So — their matchup was close, with the Uzbek star winning game 4 on demand before prevailing with white in Armageddon.

Things went more smoothly against Aronian. In a match that ended 2½-½ in his favour, Abdusattorov achieved a brilliant 21-move victory in game 1.

White entered this theoretical, gambit line that reminded us of chess’ Romantic era, and Aronian, true to his style, took the challenge. After 10.Nd4, using the pin along the e-file, Black replied correctly with 10...Nd8.

Two pawn pushes followed, further increasing the tension — 11.f4 c6

All this had been played in a 2009 correspondence game, much like 12.fxe5 Qe7 13.e6. Only with 13...Nxe6 (instead of 13...fxe6) did Aronian deviate from the predecessor game.

The text move was not a mistake. But Aronian erred four moves later, having spent more time on his clock due to the opening surprise.

17...Be7 was not precise, as 17...Rc8 18.Nxa7 Rb8 would have been the way to go — removing the rook from a potential discovered attack by the queen.

The direct 18.Rf1 Qg6 19.Nxe7 Kxe7 20.Rd1 allowed White to immediately coordinate his major pieces. Abdusattorov already had a clear advantage...

...but 20...Rad8, for example, would have kept the game going. However, Aronian’s 20...Kf8 immediately blundered the rook on a8. The US representative naturally threw in the towel.

Fortune favoured the brave. Following the clear win over such a strong opponent, Abdusattorov will have an even greater challenge in the next round, as he will face Carlsen in the final of the winners’ bracket. On Tuesday, Carlsen won game 1 and drew the rest against Caruana to advance in the upper bracket.

Aimchess Rapid 2023

In the losers’ bracket, Wesley So knocked out Vladimir Fedoseev by drawing three games in a row, including the Armageddon, when So had the black pieces.

Meanwhile, Eduardo Iturrizaga got the better of Jorden van Foreest. The Dutchman won game 1 and saw Iturrizaga bouncing back by scoring with black in game 2. The queen endgame was balanced with many chances to find perpetual checks — but it was White who needed to be careful, and Van Foreest let his guard down on move 58.

58.Kh4 was the losing mistake. After 58...Qh2+ 59.Kg5 f6+ 60.Kf5, Black can force a queen trade and make the most of his kingside pawns in the simplified endgame. Iturrizaga found this idea, and went on to win the Armageddon decider to knock his opponent out of the competition.

Division I - Games and brackets

Division II - Games and brackets

Division III: Games at | Brackets at

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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.