Airthings Masters: Giri, Grischuk, Hari, Anton Eliminated
Alexander Grischuk was among the players who got eliminated. Photo (archive): Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Airthings Masters: Giri, Grischuk, Hari, Anton Eliminated

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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45 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Anish Giri, Alexander Grischuk, Pentala Harikrishna, and David Anton didn't make it to the knockout phase of the Airthings Masters. The four grandmasters failed to finish among the top eight in a group where GM Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, and Wesley So tied for first place. 

How to watch?
The games of the Champions Chess Tour Airthings Masters can be found here as part of our live events platform. IM Levy Rozman and IM Anna Rudolf are providing daily commentary on GM Hikaru Nakamura's Twitch channel starting from 9:00 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 Central Europe.


With so many draws on the first two days, a plus-two score was enough to tie for first. Carlsen and So remained undefeated (with Carlsen beating Nakamura on day three) and so did GM Teimour Radjabov, who scored plus one together with GM Ian Nepomniachtchi.

GM Levon Aronian's 50 percent score was enough as well, but for the four players who finished on 5/11 extra calculations were needed. GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Daniil Dubov made the cut based on the first two tiebreakers (mutual result and number of wins) while it was tough luck for Hari and Grischuk. Below them finished Giri and Anton with minus two.

Airthings Masters | Final Standings Preliminary Phase

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts SB
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2881 2828 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 6.5/11 35.5
2 So, Wesley 2741 2741 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 6.5/11 34.5
3 Nakamura, Hikaru 2829 2829 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 6.5/11 33.5
4 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2778 2778 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 6.0/11 32.5
5 Radjabov, Teimour 2758 2758 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 6.0/11 32.25
6 Aronian, Levon 2778 2778 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 5.5/11
7 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2860 2860 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 5.0/11 27.75
8 Dubov, Daniil 2770 2743 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.0/11 25.5
9 Harikrishna, Pentala 2705 2705 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 5.0/11 28.25
10 Grischuk, Alexander 2784 2784 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 5.0/11 27.75
11 Giri, Anish 2731 2732 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 0 1 ½ ½ 4.5/11 24
12 Anton Guijarro, David 2667 2719 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 4.5/11 24.75

Things got very tricky for Vachier-Lagrave, who was in ninth place after two days and started his first day with a loss. The opening phase was interesting: MVL avoided his usual Najdorf while Giri chose the Velimirovic Attack, which he faced himself two days before. The game was decided much later when MVL gave d6 for no reason. 


After a draw with Radjabov, Vachier-Lagrave had to win on demand in the final round to keep chances alive. He defeated Grischuk with the black pieces, thereby eliminating the Russian while reaching the knockout himself. The rook endgame was highly instructive:

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave chess
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Photo (archive): Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The 10th round saw the clash between Carlsen and Nakamura. It was yet another example of the world champion trying to squeeze out a win in an endgame that the engines evaluated as equal. Just when Nakamura had the safe haven of the draw in sight, he sailed away from it with a miscalculation:

Going into the final round, So had drawn nine games and beaten Giri. The American grandmaster only needed another draw (and, as it turned out, could even afford a loss) but Dubov gave him the chance to execute a beautiful attack:

Skilling Open: Knockouts Day 2.

The rounds start at 15:00 in Europe which means 6 a.m. in California, from where Nakamura is playing. He said he had been a bit fortunate with his three early games so far in terms of how the games went and added: "As far as Wesley and myself are concerned, we're probably the only two chess players I can think of who are morning people for the most part so I think that also helps us a lot in terms of these early rounds."

Hikaru Nakamura chess
Starting at 6 a.m. hasn't been a problem so far for Hikaru Nakamura. Photo (archive): Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The knockout phase starts on Tuesday, Dec. 29 with the matches Carlsen-Dubov, MVL-So, Nakamura-Aronian, and Radjabov-Nepomniachtchi. 

All Games Preliminary Phase

The Champions Chess Tour Airthings Masters runs December 26-January 3. The preliminary phase is a 12-player rapid (15|10) round-robin. The top eight players advance 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 the knockout match is tied after the second day. The prize fund is $200,000 with $60,000 for first place.


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