Airthings Masters Day 5: Nepo, Carlsen, Artemiev, Esipenko Win

Airthings Masters Day 5: Nepo, Carlsen, Artemiev, Esipenko Win

| 34 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Magnus Carlsen, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Vladislav Artemiev, and Andrey Esipenko won their respective quarterfinals matches of the Airthings Masters to move on to the semifinals.

How to watch?
The games of the Airthings Masters knockouts can be found here as part of our live events platform.
Airthings Masters 2022 How To Watch Live

Airthings Masters | Day 5 Standings

Airthings Masters Knockouts Bracket

I don't know about you, my dear readers, but I liked the preliminary tournament so much, I'm afraid the knockout may not be able to upstage it. With fewer players, those who remain will have to be less loose and more result-oriented. Perhaps, I'm too pessimistic.

World Champion Carlsen has long since taken to match formats like fish to water. He took control early by winning game one against GM Le Quang Liem in his typical steady manner.

Le couldn't get much with White, and game two was drawn without any fireworks. Game three also went to the endgame early, when Magnus refused to enter theoretical lines of the Vienna Variation. Le handled the position well and was even able to gain some advantage, but the pawns were being vacuumed off the board, and all he could get was a R+N vs. R ending. Carlsen had no problems defending that.

Airthings Masters 2022 Magnus Carlsen
Carlsen defeated Le without much trouble. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Game four featured a modern line of the Queen's Gambit. Le couldn't do anything with his extra pawn because of the great activity of Carlsen's pieces and soon blundered into a tactic. Magnus could have won the game, but it's winning the match that counts, and the world champion generously took a draw by repetition.

Nepomniachtchi blew a big advantage in game one that started as a quiet line of the Najdorf Sicilian and had to wait to play White again in game three to open up a lead over GM Vincent Keymer.

I'm somewhat surprised by Keymer's choice of opening when he had White. Needing a win in game four, Vincent went for an old line of the Symmetrical Tarrasch, where White is hoping to lay a siege on Black's isolated queen pawn—a bit of an unusual strategy for a young player. Nepo had no problems dealing with that.

Magnus and Ian were clear favorites to go all the way, so we shouldn't be much surprised by the smoothness of their victories.

The battle between GMs Ding Liren and Artemiev, on the other hand, was more of a toss-up. Ding did well by taking game one.

Artemiev's slight advantage in game two didn't amount to much, and when Ding had White again it looked like he was going to win the match with a game to spare. Then the unexpected happened.

Welcome to my Game of the Day juggernaut. game of the day yermolinsky

Buoyed by this success, Artemiev issued his trademark weapon against Ding's Queens Indian setup in the decisive game four.

With Ding's time lag clearly posing a great obstacle, I hear comments suggesting that the Chinese grandmaster would be better off settling somewhere in Europe to facilitate his chess career. As an immigrant myself, I can attest that such decisions are never easy.

The remaining match between Esipenko and GM Eric Hansen was a tense affair. After the first two games ended in draws, the young Russian had to make a push in his last game with White.

Hansen didn't quit. He put his best effort forward in game four, but Esipenko defended steadily. In the end, Eric ran out of time and lost, but it was the same thing as a draw as far as he was concerned.

Today's winners will meet tomorrow in the semifinals. Carlsen will face Artemiev, while Nepomniachtchi is going up against Esipenko.

All Games Day 5

The 2022 Champions Chess Tour's Airthings Masters runs February 19-27 on chess24. The preliminary phase is a 16-player rapid (15+10) round-robin. The top eight players advance to a knockout that consists of one four-game rapid match during the quarterfinals and semifinals and two four-game rapid matches during the final.  Play advance to blitz (5+3) and armageddon (White has five minutes, Black has four with no increment) tiebreaks only if a knockout match ends in a tie. The total prize fund of the event is $150,000, with $750 for each win and $250 for each draw in the preliminaries.

Previous reports:

More from GM AlexYermo
Airthings Masters Day 8: Carlsen Wins First Leg Of Champions Tour

Airthings Masters Day 8: Carlsen Wins First Leg Of Champions Tour

Airthings Masters Day 7: Nepomniachtchi, Carlsen Draw First Four Final Games

Airthings Masters Day 7: Nepomniachtchi, Carlsen Draw First Four Final Games