Goldmoney Asian Rapid: Firouzja, Svidler and Dubov miss the cut

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/29/2021 – Levon Aronian won the preliminaries of the Goldmoney Asian Rapid tournament after scoring two wins and three draws on Monday to get a 10½/15 score. Eight out of the sixteen participants made it into the knockout stage, with 17-year-old Arjun Erigaisi surprisingly qualifying, while Alireza Firouzja, Peter Svidler and Daniil Dubov were left out of contention. | Don’t miss the instructive analyses by GM Karsten Müller! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

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Aronian wins the preliminaries

The preliminary stage of the Goldmoney Asian Rapid tournament came to an end on Monday. Eight out of the sixteen participants moved on to the quarterfinals, with top grandmasters Alireza Firouzja, Peter Svidler and Daniil Dubov missing the cut. On the other hand, the big surprise was 17-year-old Indian grandmaster Arjun Erigaisi making it into the knockout.

The top scorers were Levon Aronian, Vladislav Artemiev and Ding Liren. Tour leader Magnus Carlsen finished tied in fourth place with Wesley So, each with 9/15 points, which means they will face each other in the most exciting matchup of the quarterfinals. Carlsen and So are placed first and second in the tour’s overall standings, as they were the finalists in 3 out of the 6 events played so far — Carlsen won the last duel at the end of last month.

In a short video montage, the organizers of the Champions Chess Tour compiled a series of strong emotional reactions shown by the world champion throughout this year’s series:

In the remaining matches of the quarterfinals, Aronian will play Arjun, Ding will face Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Artemiev will play against Anish Giri.  

In the knockout stage, each encounter will be decided over two days. On day, 1 there will be four rapid games, and if the match ends 2-2 it will simply be a draw. On day 2, another 4-game match will be held. If both matches are drawn, or the players have traded wins, then shortly after the second match there will be a playoff: two blitz games followed, if needed, by Armageddon.

Goldmoney Asian Rapid Chess 2021

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Usually in these events, the third day of the prelims does not feature as many decisive results as in the first ten rounds, since the players who are in the top half of the standings table naturally prefer not to take too many risks.

At the Goldmoney Asian Rapid, the one player that finished the prelims undefeated was Aronian, who did not shy away from entering complications in his first game on Monday — against none other than the ever-sharp Firouzja.


Firouzja, who turned 18 a little over a week ago, has been playing the Vienna lately. Given his tournament situation, the youngster chose not to exchange queens on move 14, which left him in an inferior position. However, his opponent was not very precise in the ensuing complications and failed to foresee White had a winning tactic in the diagrammed position.

Luckily for the Armenian, though, Firouzja did not find 23.Rxg7+ Kxg7 24.Rg1+ Kh8 25.Nf4, both threatening the queen and check on g6.


Black would need to give up the queen for a rook after 25...Qf7 26.Ng6+ Kg8 27.Ne5+ Qg7 and, although the game is not over yet, White will be the one in the driver’s seat.

None of this happened, though, as Firouzja played 23.Nf4 at once, and Black got an advantage after 23...Qf5 24.Qh6 Rf7. Aronian continued to find strong defensive moves, and went on to collect the full point shortly after the white initiative had dissipated.

Firouzja bounced back with a win over Hou Yifan, but despite getting back-to-back victories in rounds 14 and 15 he did not make it into the quarterfinals. The youngster had the worst first tiebreaker score among the four players tied on 8 points — Duda, Giri and Arjun were the other three, and they did reach the knockout.


In the last game of the day, Duda scored a clutch win over Gukesh to secure a spot in the single-elimination phase.


Going into the final round, Gukesh still had outside chances to qualify to the knockout. Perhaps that is why he chose not to play 56...Qxa4 in the above position, as it would allow 57.Qb6+ Kb8 58.Qd8+ with a perpetual check.

It is likely that Duda would not have forced the draw, especially if he knew that Firouzja had already defeated Saleh Salem. Nonetheless, the Indian’s decision to go for 56...Qb3 left him in an inferior position. In the nerve-wracking final phase of the game, Duda managed to keep a cool ahead and scored the all-important victory.


Endgame analyses by Karsten Müller

Our in-house expert took a closer look at three instructive endgame positions, including the following one, which appeared in Artemiev vs. Duda from round 12.


Müller shows why the automatic 33...Kf7 is actually a mistake in this seemingly harmless position with a symmetrical pawn structure.


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Final standings - Preliminaries

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Aronian Levon 10,5 0,0
2 Artemiev Vladislav 10,0 0,0
3 Ding Liren 9,5 0,0
4 Carlsen Magnus 9,0 0,5
5 So Wesley 9,0 0,5
6 Duda Jan-Krzysztof 8,0 2,0
7 Giri Anish 8,0 2,0
8 Erigaisi Arjun 8,0 1,5
9 Firouzja Alireza 8,0 0,5
10 Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 7,0 0,0
11 Svidler Peter 6,5 0,5
12 Gukesh D 6,5 0,5
13 Dubov Daniil 6,0 0,0
14 Salem A.R. Saleh 5,5 0,0
15 Adhiban B. 5,0 0,0
16 Hou Yifan 3,5 0,0

All games - Preliminaries



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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