Aronian Leads Chess9LX After Perfect 2nd Day
Levon Aronian on the live broadcast. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Aronian Leads Chess9LX After Perfect 2nd Day

| 31 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Levon Aronian is the new leader of the online Chess9LX tournament after winning all of his games on day two. GM Garry Kasparov managed to score only half a point from three promising positions.

Kasparov's play was influenced by a tragic blunder that happened because of an unintended premove. The 13th world champion is now on 2/6.

GM Magnus Carlsen suffered a rare loss that occurred in round five against GM Wesley So, who also beat him to become the Chess960 world champion in 2019.

Round 6 standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Aronian,Levon 2778 2954 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 4.5/6
2 So,Wesley 2829 2967 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.0/6 12.25
3 Nakamura,Hikaru 2741 2928 ½ ½ 0 1 1 1 4.0/6 10.75
4 Carlsen,Magnus 2881 2914 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 4.0/6 9
5 Dominguez Perez,Leinier 2786 2843 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 3.5/6
6 Caruana,Fabiano 2773 2727 ½ ½ 0 0 1 1 3.0/6
7 Kasparov,Garry 2783 2625 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1 2.0/6 5.25
8 Svidler,Peter 2742 2669 0 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 2.0/6 4.5
9 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2860 2667 ½ 0 0 0 1 0 1.5/6 4
10 Firouzja,Alireza 2703 2569 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 1.5/6 2.5

Kasparov's mishap happened early in the day in his encounter with GM Fabiano Caruana. It was especially tragic as he had just reached a winning position.

What happened is that he wanted to trade queens with 34.Qe4-c2, but his queen landed on d3 instead. He then tried quickly to drag it to c2, which was registered as a premove—a losing one after Caruana's reply.

Kasparov: "It’s shocking because this time it’s not me who blundered; it’s the computer. It was a good game; it was a serious game. Actually, when you look, I made tons of good moves. It was difficult to play after this game."

Kasparov premove Chess9LX
Kasparov's reaction after the premove blunder. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Kasparov drew his next game with GM Leinier Dominguez, ended with a loss against GM Hikaru Nakamura, but also had winning chances in these two games. Asked whether he would be scoring better if he played five tournaments a year instead of just one, he replied: "I just have no time."  

The new leader is Aronian, who has often stated that Chess960 is his favorite game. After a modest 1.5/3 on the first day, he won three games on the second.

"I thought I was playing with more passion today; I cannot say I was playing better, but at least I was more motivated to kind of show that I can play this game well," Aronian said. "Not that I succeeded in the first game, I think I mainly won because of the mistakes of my opponent, but all in all I was alert at times when I needed to be alert so that’s good.

I thought I was playing with more passion today.
—Levon Aronian

Often players don't have an explanation for good form, but this time Aronian mentioned some concrete differences: "I trained more this morning than yesterday morning. I worked harder, solved more tactics, and didn’t miss my chances!"

Here's his win in round six against Dominguez, who said he had spotted the tactic on b2 but miscalculated it.

Aronian Chess9LX
Aronian on the live broadcast. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Carlsen is among the players trailing Aronian by half a point as he suffered a loss in round five to So. The American GM played an excellent game in which he was doing well straight from the opening.

"I was very surprised when he took on c6, but actually at that point, I think I was doing pretty well in the opening," said So, who continued energetically with moves such as 13...a5. "The thing is, against Magnus you need to play very good chess; if you play cowardly, you’re probably gonna lose. I figured I should just try to play aggressively."

Wesley So Chess9LX
Wesley So. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

At the bottom of the table, we find the two GMs who live in France: Alireza Firouzja and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The latter somehow has never really found his top form in online chess events during the pandemic.

"It’s a bit strange of course, but I don’t make to get into it for some reason," MVL said. "Of course, there were some crucial games that I lost yesterday, and today that didn’t help. I do end on a high note today but certainly not a great game."

The Frenchman added that he does have something to look forward to: finishing his tournament with a game against Kasparov in the final round.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Chess9LX
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Chess9LX, Day 2 | All games

The Chess9LX tournament is played September 11-13 on lichess for a $150,000 prize fund. The time control is 20 minutes plus a 10-second increment.

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