Chessable Masters: Artemiev leads Group A

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/21/2020 – Vladislav Artemiev kicked off the first day of the preliminaries with two whites and two wins at the Chessable Masters. He drew the remaining three games of the day to finish in the sole lead with 3½ points. The winner of the previous event of the ‘Magnus Carlsen Tour’, Daniil Dubov, is in sole second place a half point behind — the Russian defeated Magnus Carlsen in round 4. | Photo: Patricia Claros Aguilar

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Another upset by a young Russian?


World Champion Magnus Carlsen and eleven more of the world's best chess players are competing in the Chessable Masters by chess24, the third event in the $1 million Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, taking place from June 20 to July 5.


Although their relative superiority has decreased with the years, Russia continues to be a hotbed of talented chess players. With the ‘old’ guard (Grischuk, Svidler, Vitiugov) still going strong, younger players like Vladislav Artemiev (22) and Daniil Dubov (24) seem to be en route to becoming constant figures in the Russian national team in the future — together with the likes of Karjakin, Nepomniachtchi and Andreikin, of course.

After Dubov won the previous event of the Magnus Carlsen Tour, when he defeated the world champion in the preliminaries, Artemiev, who is making his debut in the tour, left a strong impression on day one, scoring two wins and three draws to get sole first place in Group A. Dubov, in the meantime, bounced back from his loss against Artemiev with back-to-back victories, defeating Harikrishna and Carlsen in rounds 3 and 4.

Given the tournament format, having a strong performance in the preliminary round-robin only gets you the chance to choose the colour in the first game of each knockout matchup and which colour to play with in a potential Armageddon decider. However, we have yet to see if Artemiev performs well in the knockout — assuming he will go through — when strong nerves and the ability to strike when it matters most are key factors for success. We know Dubov has what it takes when in good form. 

Chessable Masters 2020

Artemiev starts with two wins

The 2019 European champion made good use of his consecutive whites in the first two rounds, beating Harikrishna by showcasing his technical prowess in a queenless position and taking down Dubov in 30 moves. Against Dubov, Artemiev based all his play on advancing his passer on the d-file and saw his compatriot blundering on move 27, when the most forced continuation was actually the way to go:

 

Black could have actually gained an edge with 27...Rxc7 28.dxc7 Rc8, when White will lose his passed pawn and has no tactical continuation that keeps his strong initiative. Instead, 27...Be6 led to 28.Bd5 Bxd5 29.Rxd5 Nf7 and the killer 30.Nc6 — there is no way for Black to avoid losing material given White’s threat of Ne7+.

Dubov beats Carlsen

After drawing Grischuk and losing against Artemiev — as seen above — Dubov went on to inflict Harikrishna’s third straight loss and defeat Carlsen in consecutive rounds. Dubov had said after winning the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge:

If you’d ask me what would I prefer, to win the Lindores Abbey or to win a series of matches against Magnus, I would definitely think about it. [...] And, in terms of the way I see things, I would probably prefer to beat Magnus, to be honest.

He had in fact defeated Carlsen in their game from the preliminaries in that tournament, and he repeated the feat on Saturday, again with the black pieces:

 

The engines already think Black has a big advantage at this point and suggest 30...Rxa2 as the best way to move forward. However, Dubov’s plan of 30...Rb2, 31...Qc2 and 32...Qb1 left commentators Peter Svidler and Yasser Seirawan very impressed — the Russian is known for embracing creativity and a human approach to chess even at a professional level, as he has been proving by employing non-standard openings in first-class events.

Will this be his time to shine with two tournament wins in a row?

Turnarounds

It was a day of big swings, as a number of games saw one of the players either losing after having obtained a big advantage or drawing from a clearly inferior position. Carlsen, for example, could have lost in rounds 2 and 3, against Harikrishna and Grischuk respectively, but ended up with 1½ points instead. ‘Hari’ missed the same chance in two consecutive moves:

 

Both now and in the next move the Indian failed to find 31.Rxa4 Nxa4 32.Qa7, forking knight and rook and getting a significant material advantage. The game continued 31.h4 h5 32.Be2 and Carlsen eventually got the full point.

It was definitely a strange day for Harikrishna, as he also saw Nakamura and Grischuk letting winning positions go to waste against him. ‘Naka’ misplayed a clearly superior ending and ended up splitting the point, while Grischuk could have finished the day with a win but instead gave up the full point against his Indian colleague:

 

Svidler could not understand why his friend Sasha did not go for the strong 23...Bh3, when Black gets a clear material edge in all lines. 23...Ne6, on the other hand, allowed the immediate 24.Ng4 and White went on to quickly build up an attack. Grischuk resigned four moves later. 

So, at half time, Grischuk and Harikrishna are at the bottom of the standings table with 2 and 1½ points respectively. Carlsen and Nakamura are only a half point ahead of Grischuk though, both on fifty percent — while Carlsen lost one and won one, Nakamura drew all of his games on the first day of action.


Standings after Round 5 - Group A

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Artemiev Vladislav 3,5 0,0
2 Dubov Daniil 3,0 0,0
3 Carlsen Magnus 2,5 0,5
4 Nakamura Hikaru 2,5 0,5
5 Grischuk Alexander 2,0 0,0
6 Harikrishna Pentala 1,5 0,0

All games - Group A

 

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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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wittgenstein wittgenstein 6/21/2020 07:04
Dear lajorpad!

I can not agree more with every word you said!
PhishMaster PhishMaster 6/21/2020 01:06
@lajosarpad, good call. I just took up OTB tournaments after 16 years away raising my daughter, and I already miss them. I am also giving lessons to just one student, who is almost 70, so he needs the extra thinking time to really evaluate how he is coming along.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/21/2020 11:37
"Svidler could not understand why his friend Sasha did not go for the strong 23...Bh3, when Black gets a clear material edge in all lines."

The reason is simple. Under tournament conditions, using classical time controls virtually any of us would not find it difficult to find the solution within seconds. It's not a brilliant combination, it is just a simple combination even beginners would be able to find. Why did a super GM miss it? Because it's a tournament with quick time controls and no personal contact. That's quantity instead of quality. Playing 5 tournament games a day suddenly makes the individual games less relevant and ensures that super GMs blunder very frequently and they look no better than mere patzers. If blitz tournaments would replace classical tournaments long-term, then I would probably find another hobby.
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