Goldmoney Asian Rapid: A tough field

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/28/2021 – Two thirds of the Goldmoney Asian Rapid preliminary stage have been completed. With five rounds to go, Ding Liren and Levon Aronian are sharing the lead on 7/10. Some strong players, such as Daniil Dubov, Alireza Firouzja and Peter Svidler are currently in the bottom half of the standings table. They will have to fight hard on Monday if they want to move on to the knockout stage of the tournament. | Pictured: Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Sunway Sitges

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Arjun Erigaisi impresses

Ten rounds into the preliminary stage of the Goldmoney Rapid Asia tournament, Ding Liren and Levon Aronian are leading the standings on 7/10 points. With eight players in the range between 4½ and 6 points, even the likes of Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri (both on 6 points at the time) will need to keep an eye on the standings table on the final day of the single round robin phase of the event, as only half the field moves on to the knockout.

Besides Ding and Aronian, Wesley So and Vladislav Artemiev are the other two players going into Monday’s rounds with some leeway regarding the fight to get a ticket to the single-elimination phase — So and Artemiev stand a half point behind the leaders.

Four 2700+ players are currently in the bottom half of the table, while 17-year-old Arjun Erigaisi has impressed on the first two days of play.

Goldmoney Asian Rapid 2021

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The Indian youngster (Elo 2567) has collected 5½ points so far, with wins over Daniil Dubov, Vidit Gujrathi and Hou Yifan. Against the Chinese star, Arjun took advantage of his opponent’s imprecision in the opening.

 

Responding to 11.Nd2, Hou played 11...Bf5, as she had planned to respond to 12.e4 with 12...exd5 13.cxd5 Re8, pinning the pawn. However, after 14.Qf3, the Chinese went for 14...Bg6 — a retreat she could have played at once on move 11, like Dmitry Andreikin had done in a previous game.

 

Arjun was already in the driver’s seat, and he did not look back, as a 33-move victory left him in sole seventh place going into the last five rounds of the preliminaries.

 

In round 7, Arjun lost with the white pieces against co-leader Aronian. The Armenian found the correct king move in an endgame with knight, bishop and two pawns against rook and three pawns.

 

Endgame expert Karsten Müller shows why 45...Kd8 was the only winning move in the position. Do not miss his instructive analysis!

 

An excellent demonstration of endgame technique was shown by So against Artemiev, also in round 7.

 

From a ‘good bishop vs. bad knight’ position, one of the strongest technicians in the circuit scored a crucial full point against his direct rival. Artemiev’s 36...Kg7 was the first step in the wrong direction, as GM Müller demonstrates.  

 

Two 2700+ grandmasters in real danger of not reaching the knockout stage are Jan-Krzysztof Duda (5 points) and Peter Svidler (4½). In the first round of day 2, Svidler — a pupil of the renowned ‘Soviet school of chess’ — skilfully defended a not-at-all-trivial rook endgame a pawn down.

 

50...d2, giving up the pawn in order to activate the king, is the right way to go! GM Müller took a more in-depth look into the position.

 

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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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