Levon Aronian convincingly wins the Goldmoney Asian Rapid tournament

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/5/2021 – Levon Aronian had a short day at the office on Sunday, as he scored back-to-back wins against Vladislav Artemiev to secure first place at the Goldmoney Asian Rapid tournament. Meanwhile, Ding Liren bounced back from his loss in the first set by remarkably beating Magnus Carlsen 3-0 in their second mini-match. However, it was the world champion who prevailed in the blitz tiebreakers to take third place.

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Carlsen gets third place

It was an impressive triumph by Levon Aronian. The Armenian star, who was playing from Paris, won the preliminary round robin before beating Arjun Erigaisi, Magnus Carlsen and Vladislav Artemiev to take first place at the Goldmoney Asian Rapid tournament. Aronian earned $30,000 and collected the maximum number of points for the overall tour standings.

In the knockout stage, Aronian had a tough time against Arjun, with the 17-year-old taking the eventual champion to tiebreaks after Aronian was actually in trouble in the rapid section of the second set. Against Carlsen in the semis, the world champion was uncharacteristically imprecise. Aronian explained:

I was of course lucky against Magnus. If I hadn’t been lucky in that match, where I was blundering everything, we wouldn’t be sitting here and saying how smart and intelligent my tactics are.

In contrast, the Armenian won the final match with unexpected ease. Artemiev came from impressing all involved by getting second place in the preliminaries and showing excellent chess in the knockout, eliminating Anish Giri and Ding Liren on his way to the final. Against Aronian, however, he lost 3 out of 6 games to get second place.

Artemiev nevertheless looked satisfied in the post-game interview. After all, this was his debut in the tour, with the events’ format not one players easily get used to. We surely hope to see Artemiev getting more invitations to top events.

Vladislav Artemiev

Meanwhile, it was a rather bittersweet final day of the tournament for Carlsen. The Norwegian lost the second set of his match for third place against Ding by a 3-0 score. He noted:

It was just a bad day in the rapid, but fortunately I knew that the stakes weren’t that high, and I always had a chance in the blitz.

And, indeed, the world champion showcased his blitz skills and won the tiebreakers 1½-½ to secure third place against the player who had famously beaten him in the playoffs of the 2019 Sinquefield Cup

Carlsen gained 20 tour points in the event and is still leading the overall standings.

Champions Chess Tour 2021

Aronian 2 - 0 Artemiev

A win with black in the first game (analysed by Karsten Müller) of the second set meant Aronian only needed to score 1 out of 3 points to get first place in the event. The Armenian also scored with white, in a much more tactical struggle.


Although 18.Nd4 would have kept White’s edge, Aronian had foreseen the stronger 18.Ng3. Artemiev grabbed the knight with 18...exf3 and after 19.Nxf4 blocked the e-file with 19...Ne5


What the Russian had missed is the sequence 20.Nxg7 Kxg7 21.Rxe5, which in fact is the only winning continuation in the position. The d-pawn was ready to wreak havoc on Black’s position after 21...dxe5


There followed 22.d6 Qd7 23.Qxf3 Ng6 24.Qxa8 Bb7 25.Qxa7 Qc6 26.f3 Ra8, and once again the d-pawn saved the day.


27.d7 is the only move that justifies all of White’s play in the previous four moves — 27...Qxd7 28.Qxb6 Ra6 29.Qe3 and Aronian went on to convert his material advantage into a full point.


Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Carlsen* 0 - 3 Ding

*Won the tiebreaker 1½-½

Despite winning the match in tiebreaks, Carlsen later noted that “it wasn’t the plan obviously”, and quickly emphasized the fact that he thought he was okay in the first game before blundering an unexpected knight jump played by his opponent.


35.Ne8+ caught Carlsen by surprise. Perhaps the shock after seeing this move on the board prevented him from playing the most stubborn defence — 35...Rxe8 36.d7 Rcd8 37.dxe8Q Rxe8. The world champion instead went for 35...Kf8 36.d7 Rb8 37.Rd6, when Ding was fully in control. The Chinese star soon simplified into a superior endgame and went on to collect the first of three consecutive victories.

After the first two losses, Carlsen knew it would be hard to mount a comeback, so he resigned in a drawish position in game 3. He had switched gears and was getting ready for the blitz. A win with white and a draw in the 5-minute encounters granted him third place in the seventh event of the Champions Chess Tour.


Tour points and prize money

Goldmoney Asian Rapid Chess 2021


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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