Chessable Masters: Le and So in the final

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/7/2021 – Le Quang Liem and Wesley So made it into the finals of the Chessable Masters after eliminating Levon Aronian and Vladislav Artemiev respectively. Le’s match went to Armageddon, while So drew the second set after having won the first 4-game mini-match. Expert analyses by GM Karsten Müller. | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

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Le wins on time

Vietnamese number one Le Quang Liem is a quickplay specialist. The 30-year-old grandmaster from Ho Chi Minh City won the World Blitz Championship eight years ago, outscoring the likes of Alexander Grischuk, Ruslan Ponomariov and Ian Nepomniachtchi.

This is Le’s third appearance at the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour — he was knocked out by Hikaru Nakamura at the New in Chess Classic, but could not make it into the second phase at the Skilling Open. The Vietnamese ace has eliminated Alireza Firouzja and Levon Aronian consecutively to reach the finals of the Chessable Masters, the eighth tournament in the online series.

After beating Aronian twice with white in the first set, Le was the first to score a win on Friday. The Armenian is a resilient opponent, though, and won twice on demand to take the match to tiebreaks. Le could have saved a draw in game 3 with a study-like defence.

 

Not all endgames are drawn, but they give astounding resources for the defensive side. Here, after 67.Rh8 it was impossible for White to stop the h-file passer. But Le had 67.Kb6, getting an equal position after 67...Kf6 68.Rb5 h3 69.b3. Endgame specialist Karsten Müller analysed the position in full (his annotations are included in the replayer below).

In the blitz playoff, a wild rollercoaster game was followed by a well-played 63-move draw. Aronian chose to play with black in the sudden-death decider, which meant he started with one minute less on the clock (he also got draw odds). The Armenian’s sub-optimal time management was crucial, as he lost the match after running out of time in an equal position.

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

So reaches fourth final

This year’s tour has seen Wesley So reaching the final in 4 out of 8 events! This is the first time he is facing an opponent other than Magnus Carlsen, though. After winning the first set, So was on the back foot right from the get go in the second mini-match. Vladislav Artemiev won with white after converting from an endgame a (doubled) pawn to the good.

 

So could have defended this tricky position with 47...fxe6, as GM Müller points out in his annotations below, while 47...f5 was duly punished by the Russian star.

The Filipino-born grandmaster bounced right back and drew the remaining games to make it into the final.

 

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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