Aronian Wins 6th Masters Final in Bilbao
Levon Aronian won the 6th Masters Final in Bilbao. The Armenian grandmaster drew his last round game with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov to finish on 10 "football" points (two wins and four draws). Michael Adams beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the last round to finish in second place. Mamedyarov and Vachier-Lagrave shared third and fourth places with 5 points.
You might remember that at the half-way point Michael Adams was leading with 5 points. The tournament, which lasted only six rounds this year, didn't have a rest day and so only three days later it is time for a final report!
Thursday's fourth round saw a great fight between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian. In an English, the Armenian GM got an advantage thanks to some tactical tricks on the queenside. But after a big mistake in timetrouble the tables turned, and it was Vachier-Lagrave who got a devastating attack. But then the Frenchman first missed the win, and then also the draw...
Getting three "football" points for this win, Aronian caught Michael Adams in first place, as the English GM had drawn quickly with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Via an interesting move order, a Panov Caro-Kann came on the board and White got some activity, but not more than that.
In the fifth round, Levon Aronian won his second game in a row. This time the Armenian GM beat co-leader Mickey Adams and now, besides a new 2801.9 live rating, Aronian was suddenly three football points ahead in the standings. In fact this was one of the situations where there's not much difference with the classical scoring system, where Aronian would be leading by a point. In both systems, a draw with Mamedyarov on Saturday was enough for clear first.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave didn't seem to have Caissa on his side in Bilbao. For the second day in a row, the Frenchman picked the wrong square for his king after a check, where the difference meant half a point. Against Aronian it was Kg2 or Kh2, and against Mamedyarov it was the choice 44...Kd7 or 44...Kf7. Perhaps he should start treating such king moves like the famous "which rook" question: think about it, make a decision, and then play the other one!
On Saturday Levon Aronian managed to score the one point he needed to secure sole first place. It was the second victory for Aronian in Bilbao, who also won the second edition of the tournament in 2009.
Afterward, Aronian said he was both satisfied and disappointed.
“Satisfied for having won such a prestigious, world-class tournament as this one in Bilbao, but at the same time disappointed because I don't think I played well and I have to improve a lot.”
Aronian, who feels at home in the Basque country and recently bought a flat in San Sebastian, also said something that could be a major blow to many chess fans who are reading this.
“You get better in chess until you are twenty. Later you start to make little adjustments.”
Michael Adams can be satisfied as well, as he finished second, with a plus one score. He won 6 rating points and is even back in the world's top 10 in the live ratings. On the last day he beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who had the initiative for most of the game but then overpressed.
Levon Aronian, who received the traditional winner's txapela, won 6.4 points in Bilbao and is back to being a 2800 player.
Masters Final 2013 | Final standings (football score)
Masters Final 2013 | Final standings (classical score)