Goldmoney Asian Rapid: Artemiev and Aronian mount incredible comebacks

by André Schulz
7/3/2021 – Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren were leading in their matches against Levon Aronian and Vladislav Artemiev before Friday’s second day of play in the semifinals of the Goldmoney Asian Rapid. But in both matches, Thursday’s winners lost the second set and were eliminated in the tiebreaks. | Photo: Maria Emelianova

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The rating favourites knocked out

The Goldwater Asian Rapid is the seventh of ten tournaments in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour organized by the Play Magnus Group. Magnus Carlsen did not win any of the first four tournaments, however, the world champion finished the last two tournaments as the winner. Levon Aronian, however, prevented the hat-trick in this event’s semis.

Magnus Carlsen had won the first set against Levon Aronian 2½-1½. So, colloquially speaking, Aronian was in zugzwang. The Armenian won the very first game of the second set with the black pieces. Aronian had beaten the World Champion in a Ruyt Lopez with white in the first set — in the second set, he did it with Black. Remarkable!


39.Qg3? [Carlsen missed 39.Nxe5 fxe4 (39...dxe5 40.Rxe6) 40.Qxf8+ Kxf8 41.Nxd7+ Bxd7 42.Rxb8+ Be8 43.dxe4 Qe5 44.Raa8 with a clear advantage for White.]

39...Qxg3 40.fxg3 fxe4 41.dxe4 Bxd5 42.exd5 Bc7 43.Rb7 Re7 44.Ra3 e4 45.Re3 Rf5 46.Nd2 [46.Ra3 would have prevented Rxd5: 46...Rxd5? 47.Raa7]

46...Rxd5 47.Rxe4 White gets a pawn back, but the black d-pawn now becomes a passed pawn. 47...Rf7


48.Nf3 Rd1+ 49.Re1 Rxe1+ 50.Nxe1 d5 51.Rb5 Bxg3 52.Nf3 Ra7 Threatens mate. [52...Rc7!?]

53.Kf1 Ra1+ 54.Ke2 Rc1 The black manoeuvre has also improved the position of the white king.

55.b4 cxb4 [55...c4 56.Rxd5=]


56.Rxb4 Rc2+ 57.Kd3 Rxg2 58.Rd4 [58.Rb5 offered good drawing chances, because at the moment the black bishop has no safe retreat square to allow Rg3. 58...Bf4 (58...Bc7 59.Rb7) 59.Rxd5 Rg3 60.Ke4 Bc1 61.Rc5 Bb2 62.Rb5 etc.]

58...Bb8 59.h4 [59.Rxd5 Rg3 60.Ke4 Rxh3]

59...Rf2 60.Ke3 Ra2 61.Rxd5 Ba7+ 62.Kf4 Bf2 63.Rd7+ Kh6 64.Re7 [64.Ng5, creating a mating idea, does not work: 64...Ra4+ 65.Kf3 Bxh4]

64...Ra4+ 65.Re4 Ra5 66.Re6 Ra4+ 67.Re4 Bg3+ 68.Ke3 Ra3+ 69.Ke2 Ra2+ 70.Ke3 Kg7 71.Rb4 Ra3+ 72.Ke4 Ra7 73.Ke3 Ra3+ 74.Ke4 Ra6 75.Ke3 Re6+


76.Re4? The exchange of rooks helps Black. [76.Kd3 should be enough for a draw.]

76...Rxe4+ 77.Kxe4 Kf6 78.Ke3 Kf5 79.Kd2 Kg4 80.Ke2 Kh3 [Avoids the trap 80...Bxh4? 81.Ne5+ Kf5 82.Nxg6 Kxg6 83.Kf3 and Black has the wrong bishop. That was probably Black’s drawing idea when he exchanged the rook.]

81.Ng5+ Kxh4 That settles the matter.

82.Ne6 Bd6 83.Kf3 Kh3 84.Ng5+ Kh2 85.Ne6 Be5 86.Ke4 Bb8 87.Kf3 Bd6 88.Kf2 h4 89.Ng5 Bc5+ 90.Kf3 Be7 91.Ne4 h3 92.Nf2 Bh4 0–1

Two draws followed. The fourth game then went to Aronian again. Carlsen tried the French Defence once here. Aronian answered with a kind of Panov System. Finally, this position was reached on the board:


There followed:

30...Rd7+ 31.Kc4 Rd4+ 32.Kxc5 Rd3 33.Ng4 Nd7+ 34.Kc4 1–0

It was time for the blitz tiebreakers. Levon Aronian won both 5-minute games to reach the finals. That, too, is remarkable.

In the second semifinal, Vladislav Artemiev was behind after the first set against Ding Liren. After a draw in the opening game, Artemiev scored first, but Ding hit back immediately - with a bit of luck.


Black is objectively winning. There is a threat of Ne1 or Bxf3. But White has another good idea.

30.g6 Ne1+ 31.Kh3 Bxc4 [31...Nxf3? 32.gxf7+]

32.Rg3 With a few threats.

32...Qf6? Now the game is lost. White wins material. [The correct defence was 32...Bf1+ 33.Kh2 fxg6 e.g.: 34.Rxg6 (34.Qh7+ Kf8 35.Rxg6 Nf3+ 36.Kg3 Qxh4+) and now 34...Qxh4+ 35.Qxh4 Nf3+]

33.gxf7+ Kf8 [33...Bxf7 34.Qh8#]

34.fxe8Q+ Rxe8 35.Rxc4 Qe6 36.Rf4 1–0

Finally, the Russian GM won the fourth game to force a blitz playoff. The first tiebreaker game ended in a draw, the second was won by Artemiev.

Endgame analysis by GM Karsten Müller


All games



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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