Airthings Masters Day 4: Nepo, Carlsen and Ding to face young stars in upcoming knockouts
GM Ian Nepomniachtchi won the preliminary stage of the Airthings Masters. Pre-tournament favorites GMs Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren are also in the game. They will be challenged by a well-represented group of young stars when the knockout stage begins tomorrow.
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Master Airthings | Ranking of the 4th day
|7||Le, Quang Liem||2709||22/45|
|15||Niemann, Hans Moke||2642||15/45|
The last day of the preliminary tournament was devoted to securing a qualifying spot. The first man to do the job was GM Vladislav Artemiev, who easily beat GM Hans Niemann. For Hans, this tournament was a great experience, and I’m sure he will do better next time. Its openings could be a subject of improvement.
GM Eric Hansen took a big step forward by beating leader Nepomniachtchi. The latter wasted a good position with a misguided pawn push on move 15, and after that Eric’s play was a model of consistency.
GM Anish Giri’s hopes took a hit when he over-pressed against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Shakh had long been out of action, but on the final day he was happy to play spoiler.
My favorite game (also known as game of the day) is below. General manager Andrey Esipenko used many tactical tricks to bamboozle his esteemed opponent, Ding.
Carlsen was able to get a pawn out in front of a tactical skirmish with GM Levon Aronian, but this time the defense prevailed, leaving both players in need of another win in the final two rounds.
Both superstars accomplished just that in round 14. Carlsen crashed into Mamedyarov’s Kings Indian with an e4-e5 thematic push, while Aronian intricately dominated GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov in what seemed like an end game. equal. This loss hurt Nodirbek’s chances and left him in need of a last-round win, which just wasn’t meant to be.
Another young player who stumbled, Esipenko, was the hero of the previous round. Andrey had blank against GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who was only playing for his pride and some change (every win at Airthings makes you $750 richer), and he got it wrong early in the midgame. Esipenko’s kingside offense totally backfired, and the heroic defense that followed was only good enough to hold out until move 71.
To make matters worse for those of us who support the younger generation, GM Vincent Keymer lost his way in a singles final against GM Le Quang Liem, and suffered a painful defeat.
Meanwhile, Niemann deals the fatal blow to GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu’s chances, and he does it in style.
However, all that drama pales in comparison to the next bombshell of a game. GM Alexandra Kosteniuk finally lit the scoreboard at Hansen’s expense.
Alexandra must have been relieved to get off the schneid.
In a way, his victory also helped his last-round opponent, Ding, who needed three points to solve his qualifying problems. The pressure was gone and Ding won a smooth game. Eric, in his place, had to stoically defend to earn a draw in his last battle against Keymer. When the smoke cleared, the two warriors were happy to find themselves in the top eight.
However, other top players were unable to follow suit. It all started when Aronian made an inexplicable mistake and lost to Esipenko after just 20 moves.
The outcome of this game had huge implications. Esipenko passed a group of people to land in fourth place, while Aronian had to sit and hope others couldn’t pass him. I don’t know how the tie-breaks would have worked out for Levon, but in the end the only help he got was a Mamedyarov win over Abdusattorov with everything else going against him.
Yesterday I expressed my belief that more experienced players find ways to win when it matters most. Giri puzzled me when he accepted a draw in the following position:
So it’s Nepomniachtchi-Keymer, Hansen-Esipenko, Artemiev-Ding and Le-Carlsen tomorrow. Stay tuned.
All Games Day 4
The Champions Chess Tour 2022 Airthings Masters takes place February 19-27 on chess24. The preliminary phase is a rapid round robin (15+10) with 16 players. The top eight players qualify for a knockout which consists of one four-game rapid match during the quarter-finals and semi-finals and two four-match rapid matches during the final. The game switches to blitz (5 + 3) and armageddon (white has five minutes, black has four with no increment) only decides if a knockout match ends in a tie. The total prize money for the event is $150,000, with $750 for each win and $250 for each draw in the preliminaries.