Chessable Masters: Carlsen beats So, Lazavik and Martinez impress

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/3/2024 – Three out of four quarter-finals favoured the lower-rated contender in Division I of the Chessable Masters. Denis Lazavik beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Jose Martinez beat Ian Nepomniachtchi and Vladimir Fedoseev beat Alireza Firouzja. The one match that ended with the rating favourite remaining in the winners’ bracket was Magnus Carlsen v. Wesley So, as Carlsen obtained a 2½-1½ victory. | Photo: / Thomas Tischio

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Division I: Checkmate ends the game

It was a good day for the underdogs in the top division of the Chessable Masters. Jose Martinez, who won the Play-In stage on his 25th birthday, beat Ian Nepomniachtchi 3-1, and ended the match in style.

The Peruvian GM had won the first game and drawn the next two. Nepo, a great fighter, went all-in in the fourth encounter, and chased the black king all the way to the queenside (it does not appear so, but Black castled kingside in this game). However, at the end it was Martinez who got to checkmate the opposite king with 42...Nd4#, as the rook on f4 is pinned!

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Martinez’s rival in the winners’ bracket semi-finals will be Denis Lazavik, who came from defeating Hikaru Nakamura and Anish Giri in the placement phase, and got the better of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave the very next day. The 17-year-old got his ticket to the semis by winning the Armageddon decider after agreeing to four draws ‘in regulation’.

Vladimir Fedoseev also beat a higher-rated opponent, albeit he is not so much of an underdog against pretty much anyone in the online-chess scene (except Carlsen and Nakamura). Fedoseev defeated Alireza Firouzja by winning games 2 and 4 after having lost the first encounter of the match.

In the one match that favoured the rating favourite, Carlsen defeated Wesley So by the smallest of margins in a rematch of last year’s final at the in-person event in Toronto.

The world number one scored the one victory of the match in game 3, as So ran out of time in the following position.

Black is surely the one with winning chances, but converting this into a full point is no trivial task, especially against a gifted technician. Apparently, So is struggling to make some adjustments to deal with the new time control of the tour, which has gone from 15+3 to 10+2 in this edition.

In the first game of the match, it was Carlsen who was a pawn down in a technical endgame — and he managed to escape with a draw, as analysed below by GM Müller.

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Division I winners’ bracket

Chessable Masters 2024

All games - Division I

Division II: Aronian and Anton play four decisive games

Only one of the eight matches in Division II went to Armageddon — Jeffery Xiong beat Anish Giri with white in the sudden-death decider to remain in the winners’ bracket.

Meanwhile, the most exciting confrontation was the one facing Levon Aronian against David Anton. The Spaniard won game 1, but saw his opponent scoring three wins in a row from that point on to get overall victory.

A spectacular-looking variation was seen in game 4.

Engines do not approve of 29.Re5, as they consider that White gives up his advantage with this flashy sacrifice. However, dealing with this idea is extremely difficult in a quick game.

Black can actually capture the rook with 29...fxe5, since after 30.dxe5 there is 30.Bb4, gaining a key tempo to then consolidate via 30...Qd4 31.Qe6, with an equal position.

Anton apparently saw ghosts, though, and faltered with 29...g5, allowing 30.Nf5 and White’s initiative is too strong. There followed 30...Bb4, attacking the queen — but now Aronian has 31.Rxd5, counterattacking to end up a piece to the good.

After 31...Qxd5 32.Qd3, White has a knight for a pawn, and a strong initiative on the kingside to boot. Aronian went on to get a 37-move win.

Division II winners’ bracket

Chessable Masters 2024

All games - Division II

Division III: Dubov knocked out

This division moves a bit quicker than the other two, so a few strong players have already been eliminated on the first day of the knockout:

  • Daniil Dubov lost to Alexander Grischuk and Amin Tabatabaei
  • Kirill Shevchenko lost to Jaime Santos and Bogdan-Daniel Deac
  • Rasmus Svane lost to Kacper Piorun and Christopher Yoo

All games - Division III

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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.