Airthings Masters QF: Vladislav Artemiev eliminates Ding Liren
Ian Nepomniachtchi, Magnus Carlsen and Andrey Esipenko - all three of them won their Quarterfinal matches convincingly. They defeated Vincent Keymer, Liem Quang Le and Eric Hansen respectively to advance to the Semifinals of Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Airthings Masters. Ding Liren was on the brink of eliminating Vladislav Artemiev as he was 1.5-0.5 in their match. However, in a completely winning position, a crucial blunder in the third game cost the world no.3 dearly. It affected him in the following game as Artemiev won the fourth game, thus winning the match and saving himself from the elimination. It will be Nepomniachtchi vs Esipenko and Artemiev vs Carlsen in the Semifinals starting tonight at 10:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Niklesh Jain
Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi Final written in the stars?
One cannot help but wonder if Nepomniachtchi and Carlsen win their respective Semifinal matches, they will face each other in the Finals. This will be the first time they face each other in a tournament since their world championship match last year.
Nepomniachtchi - Keymer: 2.5-1.5
Ian Nepomniachtchi struck in the third game after the first two games ended in draws against Vincent Keymer.
Nepomniachtchi - Keymer, Game 3
22...Rxb2 does not help Black gain a pawn. White not only recovers the lost pawn but the resultant rook endgame combined with a bishop pair is favorable for White. 23.Qxc7 Nxc7 24.Nc6 Re8 25.Nxe7+ Rxe7 26.Rxe5 and only White can play for a win here.
Nepomniachtchi drew the fourth game to win the Quarterfinals 2.5-1.5 and advance to the Semifinals where he will face fellow countryman, Andrey Esipenko. Before the match he made a subtle tweet. For those who are unaware, Peter Leko trains Vincent Keymer and he was believed to be one of the seconds of Nepomniachtchi at last year's world championship.
Carlsen - Liem: 2.5-1.5
Magnus Carlsen capitalized in the first game when Liem Quang Le (VIE) made an inaccuracy in the endgame.
Carlsen - Liem, Game 1
Black had to play 25...Rd8 to ensure there is no possibility of a pin on the b-file. 25...Kf7 just allowed it to happen 26.Rb2 and rest was just a matter of time. The world champion certainly does not miss these wins.
Carlsen drew the fourth game although he was completely winning as it was enough for him to advance to the Semifinals.
Ding - Artemiev: 1.5-2.5
Ding Liren started the day with a victory over Vladislav Artemiev. The world no.3 played some enterprising chess.
Ding - Artemiev, Game 1
It is evident that White's position is quite pleasant. How should he continue after 31...Nf6 ?
The second game was drawn which means Ding Liren was just one point away from advancing to the Semifinals. Ding Liren was winning at least on two different occasion against Artemiev in the third game. One should keep in mind that him playing from China means the game started at 3 a.m. local time for time. That definitely does not make things easy for him.
Ding - Artemiev, Game 3
24.Bxg5 Bxg5 25.Nxf7 Rf8 26.Nxd8 Rxf2 27.Rxf2 is completely winning for White. Ding certainly would not have missed it if the game was played during awake hours. Unfortunately he missed another similar chance before blundering his position into a completely lost position.
Artemiev defeated Ding Liren convincingly in the fourth round to win the match 1.5-2.5 and advance to the Semifinals where he will face Carlsen.
Vidit Gujrathi felt bad for Ding Liren's situation
Esipenko - Hansen: 3-1
After two consecutive draws, Andrey Esipenko thought it was enough. He sacrificed his queen for a rook and knight in the third game against Eric Hansen.
Esipenko - Hansen, Game 3
Esipenko opted for the very interesting 21.Bxd6 Bxd5 22.Bxf8 Qxf8 23.cxd5 and White has a promising position. Perhaps Black should have played 22...Bxc4 23.Bxc5 Rb7, getting rid of the doubled pawn and not allowing White to have a center passed pawn would have a better idea for Black in hindsight.
Since a draw was not enough for Eric to force tie-breaks, he had push hard in the equal queen and rook endgame. Unfortunately he lost the game and Esipenko won the Quarterfinals 3-1 to setup a clash with Nepomniachtchi in the Semifinals.
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All games will start from 10:30 p.m. IST between 19th and 26th February 2022.