Chessable Masters: So leads, newcomers struggle

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/1/2021 – While players and enthusiasts took a day off from the highly tense World Cups in Sochi, the online Chessable Masters kicked off with an eye-catching lineup, as 12-year-old GM Abhimanyu Mishra, women’s world champion Ju Wenjun and Indian star Humpy Koneru join the likes of Wesley So and Levon Aronian in the 9-day event. After five rounds, So is the sole leader on 4 points, with a 3-player chasing pack a half point behind. | Pictured: Wesley So and Pentala Harikrishna at the 2019 Riga Grand Prix

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A newly minted grandmaster

Just a month ago, a driven teenager from Englishtown, New Jersey became the youngest chess grandmaster in history. Abhimanyu Mishra scored his third and final norm in Hungary to earn the title at the age of 12 years, 4 months and 25 days, which is 66 days sooner than Sergey Karjakin — the former record holder — who got the title in 2002.

The Play Magnus Group did not waste any time and decided to invite the youngster to participate in the very next event of the Champions Chess Tour, the Chessable Masters.

Besides Abhimanyu, two other notable debuts see women’s world champion Ju Wenjun and Indian star Humpy Koneru joining the 16-player field. After Hou Yifan was the first woman participant in this year’s tour at the Goldmoney Asian Rapid, Ju and Humpy are trying their hand at facing elite grandmasters in the online rapid event.

After the first five rounds, the usual suspects are topping the standings, with Wesley So grabbing the sole lead with a 4/5 score, followed by Vladislav Artemiev, Hikaru Nakamura and Alireza Firouzja, who stand a half point back.

Chessable Masters 2021

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In the first round, Firouzja and So played a thrilling encounter which lasted no fewer than 95 moves. Playing black, So was trying to convert an advantageous double-knight ending.


All the remaining pieces had left the board on move 52, and 32 moves later So faltered by allowing a knight exchange after 86...Nd4 — Firouzja correctly responded with 87.Nfe4+ and So tried to trick his opponent with 87...Kf4 88.Nxf6 Ne2+.

As GM Karsten Müller notes in his annotations below, Black needed to play 86...Nd6 in the diagrammed position. Our in-house specialist explains the logic behind So’s trick mentioned above, and introduces us to the concept of Springerschachschatten!


After failing to beat the 18-year-old Firouzja in an endgame, So went on to face the youngest player in the field. This time around, the position was drawn, but the experienced Filipino-born grandmaster managed to outplay his 12-year-old opponent.


Abhimanyu was already a pawn down, but as GM Müller explains, he still was in time to save a draw with 60.Rf1 in the diagrammed position. After 60.Ra1+, So demonstrated the correct technique to score his first win of the day.


The top seeds in the event are Levon Aronian and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, both currently rated 2782 in the official FIDE list. While Shakh obtained a win and four draws, Aronian only managed a fifty-percent score despite finishing the day with back-to-back victories — the Armenian made a crude blunder in the first game of the day.


Black has a winning position with his much more active pieces in the setup with opposite-coloured bishops. Aronian’s 48...f3, however, loses the game to 49.g4 with a discovered attack against the rook on h2. Jorden van Foreest quickly punished his opponent’s blunder, but did not look particularly happy right after he found the trick.

All games



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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