Chessable Masters Play-In: Le Quang Liem the top scorer

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/16/2023 – Four players qualified to play in Division I of the upcoming Chessable Masters in last week’s Play-In event. Le Quang Liem, Levon Aronian, Vladimir Fedoseev and Vladislav Artemiev will join Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana in the online tournament set to start on April 3. In a very competitive competition, the likes of Anish Giri and Nodirbek Abdusattorov could only make it to Division II.

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A very strong field

The play-in stage of Champions Chess Tour’s second event took place on March 13. A total of 147 players participated in a 9-round Swiss tournament with a time control of 10 minutes for the game and 2-second increments from move one. The top 8 finishers decided who would move on to Division I of the main event in 2-game matches. At the end of the day, Le Quang Liem, Levon Aronian, Vladimir Fedoseev and Vladislav Artemiev qualified for the star-studded knockout set to start on April 3.

Four other players gained their spots in Division I thanks to their performances at the Airthings Masters in February — i.e. Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana. A double-elimination knockout will decide who gets the 150 Tour points and $30,000 reserved for the winner.

Like Dommaraju Gukesh at the Airthings Masters Play-In, Le Quang Liem scored 7½/9 points to get clear first place in the Swiss tournament. Levon Aronian and Vladimir Fedoseev finished a half point back, while ten players scored 6½ points. Out of the ten, five moved on to the match-play stage thanks to their tiebreak scores: Vladislav Artemiev, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Maksim Chigaev and Denis Lazavik, in that order.

Chessable Masters

According to the tour regulations, the top four finishers in the Swiss get to choose whom to face in match-play. Despite getting to choose first, Le was the one struggling the most to win his match, as he only beat Chigaev in Armageddon after trading wins with white. 

Chigaev had white in the sudden-death decider, and lost the thread in a double-edged position after underestimating his opponent’s attacking chances on the kingside:


White has an extra pawn in a position with both kings rather exposed. His best chance here is to simplify the position a bit with 30.Re8+, forcing a rook swap — the setup is lively enough for him to look for winning chances in this must-win situation (Black gets draw odds in Armageddon).

Instead, Chigaev’s decision to play 30.Kh1, probably motivated by a refusal to simplify matters, allowed Le to double on the h-file with 30...Qh6, when 31.Re8+ would remarkably fail to 31...Ka7. Chigaev went for 31.R1e2, but there is nothing to do against the black attack starting with 31...Rxh3+ — if White captures with the bishop, a knight check from f3 in many ensuing variations becomes deadly.


Chigaev resigned eight moves later.

In the three remaining matches, Aronian showed his class against Lazavik, while elite GMs Abdusattorov and Vachier-Lagrave were defeated by their Russian opponents.

Chessable Masters 2023

Division I

The pairings are ready for the main event starting on April 3. The favourites will certainly have a tough task right off the bat.

All matches for Division I spots


Division II

Plenty of strong players will be fighting in Division II, with two matches particularly enticing for chess enthusiasts: Abdusattorov vs Anish Giri and Yu Yangyi vs Vladimir Kramnik.

All matches for Division II spots


Division III

The likes of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Dommaraju Gukesh and European champion Alexey Sarana will be among the 32 participants in a very competitive Division III.

All matches for Division III spots



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.