Shenzhen Masters, Round 3: Yu leads, Arjun beats Giri

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/2/2024 – Two games ended decisively in round 3 of the strong Shenzhen Masters. Yu Yangyi became the sole leader by beating Vladislav Artemiev with the white pieces. Arjun Erigaisi (pictured), meanwhile, bounced back from his loss against Bu Xiangzhi with a fine victory over Anish Giri. | Photo: Liang Ziming

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Yu’s technique, Arjun’s tactics

Two games finished drawn — both in 31 moves — in round 3 of the Shenzhen Masters. And the two remaining encounters, the ones that ended decisively, saw Yu Yangyi and Arjun Erigaisi grabbing full points. While Yu showed proficient technique to outplay Vladislav Artemiev in a rook endgame, Arjun was stronger than Anish Giri in a tactical skirmish to obtain the victory.

The following position was reached in Yu v. Artemiev on move 34.

Surely White will put pressure on his opponent to make the most of his extra pawn, but with the black rook behind the passer and the well-known drawish tendency of rook endgames, Artemiev might still save the half point with an accurate defensive effort.

The deciding factor at the end of the day was the clock, as Artemiev, a brilliant technician, faltered on move 40, when he had less than a minute to make his final decision before reaching the time control.

40...g5 at once is the correct continuation here. Artemiev’s 40...Kg7 — preparing to push the g-pawn, as was seen in the game two moves later — wastes a key tempo, as Yu duly demonstrated starting with 41.b6 Rb5 42.g3 g5 and the crucial 43.h5

Note that White could not have been able to push his pawn to h5 after 40...g5 in the second diagrammed position, since Yu got to play g2-g3 on move 42, protecting the f4-pawn.

The conversion from this point was not trivial, but a player of Yu’s calibre did not have much of a problem making progress and eventually forcing his opponent’s resignation.

Yu Yangyi, Ma Qun

Yu Yangyi playing black against Ma Qun in the first round |  Photo: Liang Ziming

In Giri v. Arjun, a position with kings castled on opposite sides (due to Giri’s aggressive approach out of the opening) also reached a critical point with both players short on time.

Both contenders count with doubled rooks on (attacking) open files, Black has two extra pawns, and White has the better minor piece. Surely a difficult position to handle with less than 10 minutes for 8 moves.

As it turns out, Giri’s innocent-looking 33.Qxh3 was the game’s decisive mistake, as Arjun quickly found the forcing 33...Rc1+ 34.Rxc1 Qd3+ 35.Ka2 Rxc1 — Giri certainly saw this line, but apparently he missed his opponent’s reply to his counter-attacking 36.Rxg7+

The point here is that 36...Kxg7 leads to a draw by perpetual check after 37.Qg3+ Kf7 38.Qg6+ Ke7 39.Qxf6+ Kd7 40.Qf7+, etcetera.

However, Arjun counts with 36...Kf8, winning!

Black’s dual threat of either giving a check with the queen from c4 or doubling on the first rank is devastating. Giri tried to defend with 37.a4 Qd1 38.b3 Rc2+ 39.Ka3 — but here Arjun got to play the very elegant 39...a5, prompting White’s resignation.

With the escape square on b4 under control, there is no way to prevent mate without making gigantic concessions — e.g. 40.Bb2 Qb1, and game over.

Yu is now the sole leader with 2½ points. Arjun, Bu Xiangzhi and Daniil Dubov are sharing second place a half point back. Sunday’s fourth round will see Yu facing the ever-creative Dubov with the black pieces.

Daniil Dubov

Daniil Dubov |  Photo: Liang Ziming

Results - Round 3

Standings after round 3



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.