Artemiev impressive in the tour

Magnus Carlsen obtained his third tournament victory in this year’s Meltwater Champions Chess Tour by taking down Vladislav Artemiev in the finals of the Aimchess US Rapid. The world champion thus got as many victories as Wesley So. Carlsen played in all but one of the nine events and topped the overall standings in the end, accumulating 339 points for $215,370 in total earnings.

The top 8 players in the overall standings qualified to the Tour Final, scheduled to start on September 25. They will be joined by two wildcards in a single round-robin tournament in which the top scorers during the ‘regular season’ will get extra points from the get go. 

Remarkably, Artemiev made it to the grand finale after playing only in the last three events of the series, twice reaching the final and once making it to the semifinals. For comparison’s sake, the likes of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (6 events) and Alireza Firouzja (7 events) did not manage to qualify. These players might be invited as wildcards anyway, but that does not take away from Artemiev’s impressive achievement.

The remaining six players who qualified are Wesley So, Levon Aronian, Teimour Radjabov, Anish Giri, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Hikaru Nakamura.

Aimchess US Rapid 2021

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Carlsen’s smooth ride

Talking to the commentators after his victory, the world champion described the match as “a fairly smooth ride”, noting that this was “for sure” his best performance in the tour so far. Only needing a draw in the second 4-game mini-match against Artemiev, the world champion kicked off the day with a win.

 

Carlsen managed to keep the position lively enough against an opponent who feels more at home in positional struggles. On the diagrammed position though, Artemiev, playing black, would have been well advised to close things off with 27…c4. Instead, there followed 27…Qd6 28.Qa3, and Black did not get any other chance to push his c-pawn to keep things under control.

Nevertheless, the tense struggle continued, with White getting only a slight initiative. But the one handling the small plus was an in-form Carlsen, who kept tightening the screws as his queen and bishop kept creating threats along the light squares.

 

At this point, Black had nothing better than 40…Qd6, trying to defend passively — White would then start pushing his kingside pawns, potentially creating more weaknesses on Black’s camp. Artemiev chose not to enter this line, though, and played 40…Kd6 instead.

Black’s position quickly crumbled — 41.Qd7+ Ke5 42.Bd3 f5 43.Qxa7

 

There is no perpetual check for Black, and the passer on the a-file is too strong. Seven moves later, Artemiev resigned.

The Russian got some chances with white in game 2, but he could not find a way to break through against the ever-resourceful world champion. A draw was agreed, which meant Artemiev needed back-to-back wins to take the match to blitz tiebreakers. 

Carlsen quickly got the upper hand in game 3. Clearly in good form, the Norwegian kept things under control and ended up scoring his second win of the day, thus securing tournament victory with an overall convincing performance in the finals.

 

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Aimchess US Rapid 2021

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