Chessable Masters: Le wins first set against Aronian

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/6/2021 – In the first set of the Chessable Masters semifinals, Le Quang Liem and Wesley So took the lead in their matches against Levon Aronian and Vladislav Artemiev respectively. Le won twice with the white pieces, while So scored a single victory against his Russian opponent. Expert analysis by GM Karsten Müller. | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

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Winning with white

Le Quang Liem is having an excellent run at the Chessable Masters. The Vietnamese number one finished the preliminary stage with a 9/15 score, only losing once, against Alireza Firouzja. Coincidentally, he was paired up against Firouzja in the quarterfinals, except this time around things worked out perfectly for him, as he beat his younger colleague in 4 out of the 6 games they played.

Facing top seed Levon Aronian in the semis, Le continued to impress by getting ahead on the scoreboard after winning twice with the white pieces in Thursday’s first set. 

Aronian was in a must-win situation in game 4, but he had managed to provoke his opponent to keep his king in the centre on a board full of pieces.

 

Unfortunately for the Armenian, White’s king is actually safe along the dark squares. Had he not been in a must-win situation, Aronian would have probably found that he can draw the game by perpetual check starting with 37...Qd6+. Instead, his 37...Qb2 gave Black a winning advantage.

Le was proficiently converting his advantage, until he took a step in the wrong direction on move 43.

 

White needed to escape with his king to e5 or f3, keeping all the trumps in the position. Le’s 43.Nd4, on the other hand, allowed 43...Rxd8 44.Qxd8+ Rf8 and White can only defend his knight with 45.Be8, entering an inferior position.

None of this happened, though, as Aronian did not find the refutation and played 43...Bd7, giving way to a spectacular mate.

 

44.Qg8+ and Black resigned — 44...Rxg8 and a capture with any of the rooks is checkmate.  

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

So beats Artemiev

In the first set of the other semifinal, a draw in game 1 was followed by Wesley So missing a chance to win in a rook and knight endgame.

 

Endgame specialist Karsten Müller explains in his annotations that even the slightest of initiatives can have a major effect in an ending with rooks and knights. Here, Black needed to immediately start pushing his more advanced passer on the kingside with 41...g5. On the other hand, So’s 41...a5 gave Artemiev a chance to get counterplay, which led to the game ending in a 59-move draw.

Notwithstanding, So won the next game with white and had a considerable advantage in the last game of the day — a draw was enough to win the set, however, and the pragmatic grandmaster went for it when he got a chance.

Take a look at GM Müller’s instructive annotations on game 2 in the replayer below.

 

Chessable Masters 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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