Goldmoney Asian Rapid QF: Artemiev stuns Giri, Carlsen beats So

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/30/2021 – The first sets of the quarterfinal matches at the Goldmoney Asian Rapid Tournament were played on Tuesday. Magnus Carlsen and Vladislav Artemiev got off to a good start, with the former obtaining a 2½-1½ victory over Wesley So and the latter defeating Anish Giri by a convincing 3-0 score. The remaining two mini-matches finished drawn. | Photo: Alina l’Ami / Tata Steel Chess

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Exciting pairings

Fighting chess was the rule rather than the exception on day 1 of the quarterfinals at the Goldmoney Asian Rapid tournament. Two of the matches go into day 2 with a tied score, while Anish Giri and Wesley So will need to bounce back in the second set to force tiebreaks — two blitz games followed, potentially, by an Armageddon decider.

While So was defeated by Magnus Carlsen in an exciting mini-match full of ups and downs for both players, Giri was convincingly beaten by Vladislav Artemiev by a 3-0 score. The one-sided nature of Artemiev’s victory might have had something to do with the fact that Giri celebrated his 27th birthday on Monday — or, perhaps, it was due to a side effect produced by the coronavirus vaccine.

There was no lack of excitement in the drawn mini-matches either. Arjun Erigaisi continues to impress in his tour debut, as he held his own against Levon Aronian in the first set of their confrontation. Meanwhile, the fact that Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Ding Liren drew all four of their games does not mean their mini-match was boring or dull — in fact, Duda and Ding played some of the most exciting games of the day.  

Goldmoney Asian Rapid Chess 2021

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Carlsen 2½ - 1½ So

Against one of his most feared opponents in the online era, Carlsen started the first set with the white pieces — in a game he could have easily lost after blundering a piece on move 21.


Grabbing the pawn with 21.Nxa5 in the previous move was a mistake by the world champion, since it allowed 21...fxe3, and after 22.fxe3 Rxa5 White cannot capture the rook due to ...Nxe3, forking queen, rook and bishop. Carlsen was clearly on the back foot after 23.Bxd5 Rxd5, but inaccurate play by his opponent allowed him to equalize shortly afterwards.

Carlsen eventually got an edge thanks to his connected passers on the queenside. In the end, it was a blunder by So on move 32 which gave the Norwegian an unlikely victory.


32...Bd7 loses to 33.Qxd7, as 33...Qxd7 fails to 34.Bxe5+ with a discovered check.

So bounced back immediately, getting the better of his opponent from the white side of an Italian in game 2. A third decisive game in a row saw Carlsen getting ahead on the scoreboard after outplaying his rival from a materially imbalanced position.

The world champion only needed a draw with black to win the first set. It was not easy, but he managed to get the all-important half point in the end, which means So needs a win in the second set to force the match to go to tiebreaks.


Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Artemiev 3 - 0 Giri

A sudden attack along the back rank gave Artemiev the first of three victories against the winner of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational.


Grabbing a pawn with 37...Rxb3 meant the black rook was no longer defending a5 and, more importantly, it allowed the white rook to infiltrate along the a-file. There followed 38.Rxa5 Nb4 39.Ra8+ Kh7 40.Nf6+


40...Bxf6 is forced, which means the other rook gains access to the back rank after 41.exf6. The game continued with 41...Nd5 42.Ree8 Nxf6 43.Rh8+ Kg7 44.Be5


Giri resigned, as he would need to give up a rook to prevent mate on g8.

Two more wins by Artemiev meant there was no need to play a fourth game. Unfortunately for the Russian, winning by a wider margin does not grant extra points — notwithstanding, he must have got a confidence boost from the one-sided victory. 


Arjun 2 - 2 Aronian

In a very close first set, winning the first game would have certainly made a difference for Aronian, who missed a chance to play a killer rook move from a superior position.


36.Rb6 would have given White a massive advantage here, since 36...axb6 would lose quickly for Black, while 36...Rc7 37.Ne2 would have also been very discouraging for the Indian. Aronian did not play it, though, and went for 36.Ng6. Only after 36...Bxg6 37.hxg6 h5 did the Armenian go for 38.Rb6, but in this configuration Black has enough resources to keep the balance. The game was drawn shortly after.

The players traded blows in games 2 and 3, and a draw in the fourth encounter meant the youngster had drawn the first set against the fifth highest-rated player in the world.

Note that the first game in the replayer below includes endgame analysis by our in-house expert, GM Karsten Müller.


Ding 2 - 2 Duda

The first two games in this confrontation lasted 73 and 87 moves respectively, with the white player in each game pushing for a win from slightly superior positions in technical endgames. Can you spot Duda’s only move to defend with black in the following position?


Karsten Müller analysed both this game and the one played earlier, in which it was Ding who found precise defensive moves to save a draw (games 1 and 2).



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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