Aimchess U.S. Rapid Day QF: Firouzja Eliminates So In Thriller
Alireza Firouzja. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

Aimchess U.S. Rapid Day QF: Firouzja Eliminates So In Thriller

| 17 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Wesley So managed to level the score but then lost the playoff to GM Alireza Firouzja in a thrilling quarterfinal of the online Aimchess U.S. Rapid tournament. The other semifinalists are GM Magnus Carlsen, GM Levon Aronian, and GM Vladislav Artemiev, who beat GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and GM Leinier Dominguez respectively.

How to watch?
The games of the Aimchess U.S. Rapid knockout phase can be found here as part of our live events platform. Daily commentary is provided on the Chessbrahs Twitch channel starting at 8:00 a.m. Pacific / 17:00 Central Europe.

Aimchess U.S. rapid results

Firouzja-So 2-2 | 1.5-0.5

For the first time in the Tour, Firouzja went into the second day of the quarterfinal with a match lead. So's task became even harder when he allowed a quick move repetition in his first white game and then lost as Black. The American GM needed to win two games in a row on demand (as he needed to win the second match!) but delivered.

With a 1.5-1.5 score, So had to win with the black pieces in game four. He chose the French Defense, and Firouzja traded on move three, reminiscent of the famous 1990 Gurevich-Short game. Also here, Black ended up winning deep in the endgame:

Alex Yermolinsky Game of the Day

That forced a playoff, as both players had won one match. Firouzja held the first 5|3 game by the skin of his teeth (calling it "crazy") and then struck in the second:

Carlsen-Duda 2.5-0.5

Beating Duda twice without losing was Carlsen's answer to his lost FIDE World Cup semifinal against the Polish grandmaster. The World Cup winner seemed to be getting a chance in the first game on Wednesday when the world champion blundered a pawn, However, as it turned out, Carlsen's position is so much better that even a pawn down he had all the play:

The ...g5 pawn push was the only mistake in an otherwise impressive game. Carlsen said: "I had a fairly decent day today. In general, I have been outplaying him. Generally, my level of play has been very decent."

Magnus Carlsen Aimchess
Magnus Carlsen. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

Artemiev-Dominguez 3-1

After a tied first match, it all remained level with two draws until Artemiev struck with the black pieces. Dominguez tried his best in a wild game four, but luck was not on his side:

This result has wider implications as it means Artemiev has leapfrogged GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the overall Tour standings and has booked himself a place in next month's Finals.

Vladislav Artemiev
Vladislav Artemiev. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Aronian-Mamedyarov 2-1

Just like in the previous leg, Aronian eliminated Mamedyarov with a 2-0 double-match score. Starting with a win made Aronian quite comfortable, after which he sailed to the semifinals with two draws. He could even repeat moves in a winning position in game three.

Here's that win in the first game, which saw a remarkably quick turnaround. Black looked somewhat passive and just a few moves later he controlled the position:

Levon Aronian Aimchess
Aronian will face Carlsen next. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

All Games Day 5

The Aimchess U.S. Rapid runs August 28-September 5, 2021 on chess24. The preliminary phase was a 16-player rapid (15|10) round-robin. The top eight players have advanced to a six-day knockout that consists of two days of four-game rapid matches, which advance to blitz (5|3) and armageddon (White has five minutes, Black four with no increment) tiebreaks only if a knockout match is tied after the second day. The prize fund is $100,000, including a $30,000 first prize.

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