Airthings Masters Semifinals: Aronian, Radjabov Lead
Teimour Radjabov beat "man of the moment" Daniil Dubov twice. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Airthings Masters Semifinals: Aronian, Radjabov Lead

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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41 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Levon Aronian and Teimour Radjabov won their matches on the first day of the Airthings Masters semifinals. Both won two games and drew two, against GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Daniil Dubov, respectively.

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 6:00 a.m. Pacific / 15:00 Central Europe.

Airthings Masters results

Dubov vs. Radjabov 1-3

After two draws, Radjabov won his second white game from an Exchange Queen's Gambit that saw a classic minority attack in a Carlsbad structure. He kept the pressure on Black's c-pawn and eventually won it.

With less than half a minute on the clock, Radjabov started playing inaccurately and lost his extra pawn, only to win it back after a blunder by Dubov, who was also low on time:

Needing to win the last game, Dubov tried a remarkable sacrifice that might have been based on a miscalculation. Radjabov didn't pick up the piece, but his defense was adequate as he enjoyed the advantage when a draw was enough.

While Dubov desperately tried to keep the game going, his opponent held his nerves—Radjabov played 31...e3 with three seconds on his clock and the pretty 36...Bg5 with just one second left.

36...Bh6-g5 was an amazing move played by Radjabov with one second left on the clock.

Daniil Dubov Airthings
Dubov needs to win Friday's match and tiebreak to reach the final. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Aronian vs. Vachier-Lagrave

Vachier-Lagrave is one of the few top GMs who keeps fighting the Berlin in the infamous endgame. It served him well in the quarterfinal against GM Hikaru Nakamura, but against Aronian he lost in game one due to an early mistake.

MVL needed to play for a win in the last game, which clearly showed in his opening choice. He was being outplayed, but suddenly Aronian blundered a knight and was lucky he wasn't lost then.

"I told myself: well, this had to come at some point," said Aronian. "I wasn't too surprised; I'm used to blundering things. Fortunately, I have some play; it's very strange. Maybe it's a practical blunder."

"The play was OK; the speed was not," said Aronian. "I think I was getting some problems in the openings, so unlike the case with Hikaru, against Maxime I was struggling a bit."

The Armenian GM has been showing good chess so far and commented: "I'm surprised myself. I'm trying to take it easy, and it seems to work. Before I really used to get stressed out, be more worried, but now I'm more relaxed. For the moment, it's working."

Levon Aronian Airthings
Levon Aronian is "more relaxed." Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The second day of the semifinals starts on New Year's Day at 6:00 a.m. Pacific / 15:00 Central Europe. The final will be played on January 2-3.

All Games Day 6

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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