Aimchess US Rapid Finals: Carlsen clinches first set

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/5/2021 – Magnus Carlsen obtained a clear victory in the first set of the finals at the Aimchess US Rapid. The world champion beat Vladislav Artemiev 2½-1½ thanks to wins in the first two games of the day. Meanwhile, Levon Aronian was awarded third place, since Alireza Firouzja had to withdraw due to illness. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Firouzja withdraws due to illness

Wunderkind Alireza Firouzja impressed in the last ‘regular’ event of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, as he reached the semifinals for the first time in the series after failing to make it through the quarterfinals on multiple occasions. Moreover, he knocked out Wesley So, one of the favourites to take first place. In the semis, the 18-year-old from Babol lost against Vladislav Artemiev in an incredibly close match that was only decided in Armageddon.

After missing his chance to set up a final match against Magnus Carlsen, Firouzja could have still fought for third place against Levon Aronian. However, shortly before the match, it was announced that the youngster would not be able to play due to health issues. Firouzja sent an apology to his fans on Twitter.

Thus, Aronian was granted third place. The Armenian played in all 9 events of the tour, reaching the semifinals (or more) five times. A couple of months ago, he won the Goldmoney Asian Rapid tournament.

During the webcast of the finals, Aronian told the commentators that he will travel to Saint Louis tomorrow night — the world number 5 announced his federation switch to the United States back in February.

Carlsen’s victory

The world champion had nothing but words of praise for Artemiev on Friday, as he described the Russian’s positional prowess as “sublime”. There is no doubt Artemiev’s ability to quickly ‘feel’ the position on the board helps him greatly in quickplay tournaments. However, nerves seem to have betrayed the 23-year-old in the first set of the finals.

 

Playing white in game 1, the Russian erred decisively with 31.Rac1, allowing 31...Bc4 which cuts the connection between the white rooks and attacks the queen — to prevent this trick, it was necessary to trade a couple of rooks first: 31.Rxc8. There followed 32.Rxc8 Bxe2 33.Rxe8+ Kh7 34.Bd2

 

34...Bxg4 35.Bg2 Bf3 and White resigned.

Artemiev got a good position with black in game 2, but he found himself low on time after suffering problems with his internet connection. The players reached a difficult endgame, the kind that needs precise play to stay afloat.

 

The Russian’s 26...Ra4 was not accurate, as the more active 26...Ra1 was called for. After 27.Nxd4 Rxc4 28.Nf5, Black made the last mistake.

 

28...g6 loses to 29.Nd6, and 29...Rc5 — keeping the defence of the knight on c3 — fails due to the lethal fork 30.Nb7+. Artemiev resigned.

Endgame specialist Karsten Müller took a more in-depth look into this position. Do not miss his full annotations in the replayer below (second game).

 

Aimchess US Rapid 2021

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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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