Champions Chess Tour Finals Day 4: Artemiev Shines
GM Vladislav Artemiev stopped GM Magnus Carlsen's run. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Champions Chess Tour Finals Day 4: Artemiev Shines

| 18 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Vladislav Artemiev defeated GM Magnus Carlsen convincingly in round four of the Champions Chess Tour. The world champion still leads, thanks to the bonus points he earned earlier in the tour. GM Wesley So is four points behind with five rounds to go.

How to watch?
The games of the Champions Chess Tour Finals can be found here as part of our live events platform.

Many people might be confused by the standings and score system of this event, so it might be worth clarifying this once again. What counts here is not the number of points won in individual games, but match wins and how matches are won: winning without tiebreaks gives the winner three points while the loser gets zero, while tying the rapid match and winning in tiebreaks results in a score of two points for the winner and one point for the loser. On top of that, players start with bonus points collected earlier in the tour.

As followers of the event know, we left off with Carlsen being the sole leader with seven match points, as he won all three matches, while So, GM Hikaru Nakamura, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave were closely following him with six points each but those were based on points scored in only this tournament. If we look at the full standings including the bonus, we see that after day four, So is alone in second place:


# Fed Player Rating 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Points Bonus Total
1 Magnus Carlsen 2855 3 0 2 2 7 16.5 23.5
2 Wesley So 2778 1 3 0 3 7 12.5 19.5
3 Levon Aronian 2782 0 3 3 1 7 8 15
4 Hikaru Nakamura 2736 2 3 2 1 8 4 12
5 Teimour Radjabov 2763 1 1 1 3 6 6 12
6 Anish Giri 2777 0 2 2 0 4 5.5 9.5
7 Vladislav Artemiev 2699 3 0 0 2 5 3.5 8.5
8 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2763 1 3 2 0 6 2.5 8.5
9 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2762 1 0 3 1 5 0.5 5.5
10 Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2756 0 0 3 2 5 0 5

That said, here were the pairings for round four: GM Teimour Rajdabov faced GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, GM Anish Giri played GM Levon Aronian, the two players chasing Carlsen, namely So and Nakamura, faced each other; the world champion himself played GM Vladislav Artemiev, and finally, Vachier-Lagrave faced GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

Let us see how the games went!

Radjabov - Duda

The tournament paths of these two super grandmasters have been rather different so far. Radjabov played very solid chess in most games, mostly looking to draw the rapid games quickly and play the tiebreaks, while Duda had a lot of fighting games. The Azeri player lost all his matches in tiebreaks, while Duda lost the first one to Carlsen, but then won two matches in a row. 

Psychologically, it would appear as though the advantage would be on the side of the young Polish player who had been having a much better tournament so far, but Radjabov is a very experienced elite player who is perfectly capable of coming back in a game versus anyone, so it was exciting to see what the match had to offer.|

2021 Champions Chess Tour Final
GM Teimour Radjabov scored his first win today. Image: Maria Emelianova/

In the first game, the Azeri grandmaster once again showed the world how dangerous he is, having chosen the old endgame line in the Anti-Grunfeld, which has been a lifetime favorite of GM Ulf Andersson. He got a slight advantage and went on to convert it flawlessly, making it an amazing endgame example to learn from. 1-0!

In the next round, Duda obtained a large advantage with White in the Rossolimo and was up two pawns, but Radjabov showed great defense and held a draw. However, in round three, Duda fought back. With the Black pieces, he chose an ambitious ...h6-g5 plan in a hybrid Queen's Gambit Declined and Slav defense and quickly got an advantage, which he went on to convincingly convert, making the score 1.5-1.5 before the last game. Let's see how that happened.

The last rapid game saw the players repeat the same Rossolimo variation from game two. Again, the Polish player had a huge (and perhaps decisive) advantage, but Radjabov kept defending and eventually equalized. The resulting unbalanced position, where White had a rook versus two minor pieces, wasn't easy to handle, and Duda ended up making a couple of imprecise decisions and quickly found himself checkmated. It was Rajdabov's first match win, and he got to scoop up the full three points since he won without the need for tiebreaks.

Giri - Aronian

The first round of the match saw the Dutch star get pressure in the Ruy Lopez and outplay the opponent in a brilliant fashion to take the lead. A great game! In the second game, Aronian showed very deep preparation in the Najdorf and also won a one-sided game, equalizing the score. 

In the third game, Aronian chose the Petroff instead of the Ruy Lopez and went on to easily equalize. The position remained even for a while, but the Armenian player handled the endgame very well and eventually outplayed the dutch grandmaster, getting ahead with a score of 2-1 and putting Giri in a must-win situation.

But, Levon Aronian handled the fourth game even better than ever and ended up winning it as well, scoring a convincing 3-1 match win and creating a positional masterpiece along the way, which I would love you to look at with GM Dejan Bojkov's analysis:
2021 GM Dejan Bojkov GotD

Nakamura - So

These grandmasters seem very inclined to quickly get to the blitz part of the match, especially Nakamura.

The first game saw the Catalan, where So didn't get much out of the opening and the game was drawn in a rather uneventful way, but at least he tried. However, the next two games saw a strange occurrence... a 14-move draw in the Berlin: first, Nakamura played it with White, and next So did the same thing.

Maybe there should be an option to just skip rapid games if both players agree because they aren't playing in either case. The last rapid game saw another famous quick draw, and players went to tiebreaks.

Note that this time, the quick draws were probably also related to the fact that Nakamura was simultaneously playing in Titled Tuesday!

2021 Champions Chess Tour Naka
GM Hikaru Nakamura won a nice blitz game to defeat So in tiebreaks. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The first blitz game was rather chaotic: Nakamura quickly got a decisive advantage, but So defended and got to a rather safe endgame. However, Nakamura kept pressing and eventually tricked the opponent in a time scramble, getting ahead in the match and putting the opponent in a must-win situation. Wesley So managed to get a promising position in the second round, but an unexpected blunder immediately made everything fall apart, allowing Nakamura to win the playoff and the match.

Artemiev - Carlsen

Carlsen has been having an amazing tournament, and while Artemiev is a tremendously strong player, many expected today's match to be even easier for the Norwegian than his previous encounters versus Mamedyarov and Vachier-Lagrave. However, that's not exactly what happened.

In the first game, Artemiev was White. In the Two Knights variation of the Caro-Kann, both players acted in a solid way and eventually drew without either party ever having a realistic advantage.

But in the second game, after a tense and close fight in the Sicilian when the position was about to be drawn, the world champion sacrificed two pieces for a rook and immediately ended up in a lost position. It's not easy to say what exactly made him go for this idea, but Artemiev scooped up the full point rather easily. Let us see how that happened.

In round three, Artemiev again opened with 1.e4, this time to see the Sicilian. He played absolutely brilliant chess, and with a very timely exchange sacrifice obtained a winning position. But then Artemiev unexpectedly took a draw by repetition, creating a situation where Carlsen needed to win the last game with the White pieces. Definitely a relief for the world champion!

In the last round, Carlsen again chose a sideline against the Sicilian and quickly got a very promising position. By move 10, it already looked like Black would hardly survive. However, the Russian grandmaster kept defending stubbornly and managed to set up a sort of a fortress.

Black went on to grab initiative by opening up the b-file and to make things worse, Carlsen also overlooked a tactical shot, allowing Artemiev to win one more game with the black pieces and interrupt the World Champion's perfect run by beating him in a match with a score of 3-1! What a fantastic performance by Vladislav Artemiev today!

2021 Champions tour final
GM Vladislav Artemiev defeated the world champion. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

MVL - Mamedyarov

Yesterday, both of these super-GMs lost their matches, so it was exciting to see how that would affect their mood, style, and opening choices. The first game saw Mamedyarov choose the Breyer variation of the Ruy Lopez, where MVL went for the rare sideline 11.c4. The game was rather even throughout and ended up in a draw.

In the second round, the Azeri GM showed a very fresh treatment of an Anti-Grunfeld sideline and quickly got a large advantage with White. However, he didn't act energetically enough, allowed the opponent to trade pieces and equalize, and then kept playing passively. This resulted in White's position falling apart rather fast; MVL took the lead with 1.5-0.5.

2021 Champions Chess Tour Final
GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov overcame a deficit to defeat MVL. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In game three, Mamedyarov played some very impressive chess in a Sveshnikov sideline that he seems to really like and got a crushing attack. Nevertheless, it wasn't over, as between moves 32 and 34 a few large blunders were made and MVL could have won rather easily. But, he did not take advantage of the opportunity and Mamedyarov finally made his attack work to fight back and even the score: 1.5-1.5.

In the last rapid game of the match, Mamedyarov repeated his opening choice from game two, and again the French super-GM failed to equalize. This time, the Azeri grandmaster handled the position nearly perfectly and converted his advantage flawlessly to win a very impressive game and to score his first match win in the tournament. Huge congratulations to Mamedyarov and his fans! He's played a lot of great chess in this event, and they must be really excited about him finally scoring the match win.

This day was even more eventful, entertaining and thrilling than the previous one, and surely, things will be getting more and more heated as the tournament approaches its end. That's why we are looking forward to having you follow the next rounds and the next reports—thanks for reading this one!

All Games Day 4

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.

Earlier reports:

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