Champions Chess Tour Finals Day 7: Carlsen Loses But Wins Series

Champions Chess Tour Finals Day 7: Carlsen Loses But Wins Series
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In round seven of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals, the two leaders, GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Teimour Radjabov, faced each other. The Azeri star won the match, but… this day still turned out amazing for the world champion, who won the entire Chess Tour Series! That’s all because his closest rival in the series, GM Wesley So, also lost.

Other matches: GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda played his other brilliant peer GM Vladislav Artemiev, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave competed against GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov played GM Anish Giri, and finally, GM Wesley So faced GM Levon Aronian.

Let us take a deep dive into the games and action of the round!

, Champions Chess Tour Finals Day 7: Carlsen Loses But Wins Series,

Duda-Artemiev

In the first game of this exciting match between two young super grandmasters, Artemiev chose the Tarrasch Defense as Black and saw Duda deviate from the mainline theory as soon as move six.

Black got a very comfortable position, but then the Russian star traded queens prematurely and not only let go of his advantage but even ended up under a significant amount of pressure himself. However, with careful defense, he managed to save half a point.

In round two, Artemiev had a chance to put the opponent under a lot of pressure early but missed it, and then the game never deviated much from equality and was drawn.

In the third game, the Polish grandmaster got a large advantage in a Queen’s Gambit Declined as White, but missed a lot of counterplay on the kingside and ended up in trouble. However, Artemiev exchanged rooks prematurely and let the opponent’s king invade on b7, which made Black’s position collapse very rapidly. Now the Russian star had to win as White.

However, that didn’t happen. The Polish GM kept the game under control and took a draw in a winning position to seal the match.

, Champions Chess Tour Finals Day 7: Carlsen Loses But Wins Series,
Duda took a draw to seal the match. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

MVL-Nakamura

In the first round of the match, MVL showed an extremely interesting idea against the Berlin, having chosen the line that has been considered harmless. He put Nakamura under tedious defense early and went on to slowly increase his advantage to score a full point and take the lead. If anyone is looking for a cool idea against the Berlin, this game is a must-see!

In the next game, Nakamura chose a slow positional setup and slowly outplayed his French opponent. However, while Nakamura was much better, the win was never close. Black slowly equalized and, all of a sudden, was then completely winning. Unfortunately, MVL missed a very beautiful tactical shot on move 43, and eventually the American player managed to escape to stay just a point behind.

In the third game, MVL played the combination of Reti and English but quickly got an inferior position with White, which forced him to struggle the entire game. However, he defended well and saved half a point, putting the opponent in a must-win situation… and the American did pull off a win to take the match to playoffs.

But having won the first blitz match, the French player immediately took the lead again. Nakamura scored again. He continued the streak in the Armageddon, having won with White and gotten two match points.

Mamedyarov-Giri

Mamedyarov had the white pieces in the first game, where he chose a very unusual Reversed Sicilian type of position. After an intense battle, White emerged a pawn up in the endgame on one flank. While the position may have been holdable, it was certainly by no means easy to defend, and eventually the Azeri star scooped up a win.

In the next encounter, Giri got a huge advantage in the Catalan, but couldn’t capitalize on it, and let the opponent get out of trouble. Later, Mamedyarov still had to be precise in an endgame a pawn down—and he was and deservingly saved half a point.

In round three, Mamedyarov misplayed the Slav with White and gave the opponent a dangerous initiative. However, Giri ignored the white center, which rapidly landed him in a lot of trouble. The black pieces got very uncoordinated, and White easily constructed a decisive attack, which enabled the Azeri player to finish the match just after three rounds with a score of 2.5-0.5.

Carlsen-Radjabov

The Azeri GM started the tournament by losing the first three matches in tiebreaks, while the world champion won his first three matches. However, later Radjabov won three in a row, all without tiebreaks, which somewhat unexpectedly brought him to share the lead with Carlsen after round six. Now, we got to enjoy the direct encounter of the two leaders.

The beginning of the match wasn’t looking promising for the Azeri player, as Carlsen got a massive advantage in the Berlin and was playing a great game. He was winning, but then let Black bail out… only to outplay him later again. However, the resulting position with a queen and passed pawns versus the two rooks wasn’t a very straightforward win—the world champion miscalculated and let Black escape.

In the next game, Carlsen chose a rather passive variation of the King’s Indian but went on to equalize and draw very easily. Maybe this game can make players reconsider their evaluations!

However, in round three, the world champion got in trouble. Radjabov easily equalized and went on to slowly but surely outplay White. Carlsen had to sacrifice a queen, but the resulting position was hopeless. Despite some technical difficulties, the Azeri GM scooped up a full point, putting the Norwegian in a must-win situation with the black pieces.

Carlsen went for the Pirc but never managed to generate counterplay, and as he was desperately trying to keep pieces on the board, his position fell apart in no time. Let’s see how that happened.

A great achievement for Radjabov, who became the sole leader of the event, and for Carlsen, who won the series today. For additional insights into this game, see the detailed analysis by GM Dejan Bojkov.

, Champions Chess Tour Finals Day 7: Carlsen Loses But Wins Series,

So-Aronian

On Friday, both players had difficult matches, which they lost in rapid. It must have been particularly disappointing for So, who lost his leading position. 

However, today was a new day, and it was exciting to see these amazing players face each other.

In round one, Aronian made a very safe choice, playing the Petroff as Black. He got a comfortable position after the queens were traded, but So could have defended to save half a point. Instead, he made a terrible one-move blunder and resigned nearly immediately. In a way, one can argue it’s Caissa giving back to the Armenian player who blundered a checkmate in one yesterday.

In the next game, So easily equalized with Black and then got rather ambitious. He had great compensation for White’s advanced b7-pawn but missed the fact White’s king could boldly hide on h4. Then Black had no play whatsoever, and Aronian scored another win, putting So in a very dangerous position. 

In the third game, the American grandmaster played really well, got a decisive advantage, and was winning. But instead of keeping the pressure, he sacrificed a piece and saw his position fall apart. However, needing just a draw, Aronian took a draw a piece up to win the match. 

All Games Round 7

Standings












# Fed Player Rating 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Points Bonus Total
1 Magnus Carlsen 2855 3 0 3 0 2 2 2 12 16.5 28.5
2 Wesley So 2778 0 0 1 3 0 2 3 9 12.5 21.5
3 Teimour Radjabov 2763 3 3 3 1 1 1 3 15 6 18
4 Levon Aronian 2782 3 0 0 3 1 3 0 10 8 15
5 Hikaru Nakamura 2736 0 2 2 3 2 1 2 12 4 14
6 Vladislav Artemiev 2699 3 0 2 0 2 0 3 10 3.5 13.5
7 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2763 1 3 2 1 1 3 0 11 2.5 12.5
8 Anish Giri 2777 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 6 5.5 11.5
9 Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2756 0 0 3 3 0 3 2 11 0 8
10 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2762 1 0 1 0 3 3 1 9 0.5 6.5

The $300,000 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals take place September 25-October 4, 2021 on chess24. The format is a 10-player round-robin, with each round having the players play a four-game rapid match. The time control is 15 minutes for the whole game plus a 10-second increment.


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