Carlsen Wins Aimchess U.S. Rapid: "A Fairly Smooth Ride"
Magnus Carlsen won his third tournament in the 2021 Tour. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen Wins Aimchess U.S. Rapid: "A Fairly Smooth Ride"

| 22 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen won the online Aimchess U.S. Rapid tournament on Sunday, securing a $30,000 paycheck. The world champion called it "a fairly smooth ride" as he also won the final's second match against GM Vladislav Artemiev, scoring 2.5-0.5.

How to watch?
The games of the Aimchess U.S. Rapid knockout phase can be found here as part of our live events platform.

Aimchess U.S. Rapid Results

"It feels great," said Carlsen after winning his third leg in the Champions Chess Tour after convincingly beating Artemiev 2-0. "It's the first time in like ever that I won one of these tournaments, and it's been a fairly smooth ride so that feels really good."

Carlsen again started with a win right away. The middlegame, from a Queen's Gambit Exchange, was fairly quiet and had the interesting twist as Carlsen walked his a-pawn up to a6. As his second GM Peter Heine Nielsen watched, he noted the similarity with the more common running of the h-pawn to h6 and tweeted:

"The human brain is strange. I have gotten used to a pawn on h6 gives you a great long-term attack, but the a6-pawn intuitively still just looks weak to me."

That a-pawn did eventually decide the game, so it was clearly the main theme. GM Alex Yermolinsky will soon provide further explanation:

Alex Yermolinsky Game of the Day

The second game was a small exception to the "smooth ride," as there was a tiny glitch in the Norwegian's play. As he pointed out, he played the wrong rook to d8:

"I was pretty sure I was going to lose the second game, to be honest," Carlsen said. "I had completely missed his idea of going a5 and giving up the pawn. I brought the wrong rook to attack his pawn."

Carlsen decided to "bite the bullet" and take a pawn. "Realistically I don't think I should have held there in practice." But he did, mostly because Artemiev once again got into time trouble.

Magnus Carlsen Aimchess 2021
Carlsen went undefeated on the second day of the final. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

In a must-win situation now, Artemiev had to take more risks as Black, went for a Najdorf, and next chose a Dragon setup against 6.Be2. Despite needing only a draw, Carlsen then went for the most principled setup that was one with long castling.

Artemiev said he missed his opponent's 18.Bd4 idea, followed by 19...a3 20.b3, and felt he was lost after that. He could live with the result in the final, saying: "It's logical because Magnus played good, and I think that I didn't have chances in these matches."

We'll see Carlsen again in just two days, and over-the-board, as the Norway Chess tournament starts on Tuesday. There he will be playing the last two classical games with GM Ian Nepomniachtchi before their world championship match.

Carlsen, on whether he's anxious to face Nepo: "I'm not sure if I'm anxious. I haven't thought about that, but I'm excited to play a big tournament, that's for sure."

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

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