Aimchess U.S. Rapid Final: Carlsen Leads Despite Mouse Slip
Magnus Carlsen leads the Aimchess final after day 1. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

Aimchess U.S. Rapid Final: Carlsen Leads Despite Mouse Slip

| 26 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen won the first of two matches vs. GM Vladislav Artemiev in the final of the online Aimchess U.S. Rapid tournament. The world champion scored 2.5-1.5 on Saturday and needs just two game points tomorrow to win his third tournament in this Tour.

The match for third place between GM Levon Aronian and GM Alireza Firouzja was declared a win for Aronian as Firouzja pulled out of the tie due to ill health.

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.

2021 Aimchess U.S. Rapid Final results

Carlsen said he was feeling "so-so" after winning the first match vs. Artemiev after all that had happened. His play was good but not perfect, and then there was a mouse slip (well, sort of) that also disturbed his mood a bit.

The start was smooth for Carlsen, who with the black pieces outplayed his opponent and was much better after 22 moves when White's pieces were very passive. 

"The first game was normal. Magnus played it well," said Artemiev, but there was more to it than meets the eye.

"I think I played well up to a certain point, but then I made a huge mistake when I played 23...Qg5, giving him time to push his pawn and gain a few tempi there," Carlsen pointed out. "I thought I was so good that I could do anything."

Magnus Carlsen
Carlsen almost spoiled an excellent game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Artemiev got serious counter-chances, according to the world champion, who added: "I decided to gamble there and sac another pawn, but I assumed with the strength of my pieces I should never be worse, but still, it was quite unnecessary."

The second game, chosen as the Game of the Day because the opening phase is interesting and both kings stayed in the center, was played "kind of poor," said Carlsen: "I completely miscalculated early on, and I was frankly just hoping to survive."

However, luck was on his side there as Artemiev started suffering connection problems. "It was not easy; the position was very complicated," said the Russian GM. "I was very disappointed at this moment."

Alex Yermolinsky Game of the Day

After that, fortune shifted to Artemiev during game three. Having fully equalized, Carlsen was about to clinch the match when something strange happened on move 25: the move Qe5 was played unintentionally.

"My first idea was to play my queen from e4 to e6, so I almost played it and then I became a bit unsure. I thought I put the queen back and I kept thinking," explained Carlsen. "I think I sat there for, like, a minute before I realized that I had actually put the queen on the wrong square. I noticed all of a sudden that it was his move and I was shocked by that."

Artemiev was suddenly back in the match, but scoring a win with the black pieces on demand was too much to ask, especially as Carlsen chose an extremely solid setup in the Moscow variation of the Sicilian.

Artemiev, who is playing his second final after the Goldmoney Asian Rapid tournament, said he plans to play faster: "I have problems with time, also with time management."

Carlsen, about day one of the final: "This kind of reaffirmed that Artemiev can be quite vulnerable in dynamic and tactical play, so I think that's the main area where I can strike."

Vladislav Artemiev
Vladislav Artemiev as seen via his webcam. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

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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