Malcolm Pein on…Aronian’s Clean Sheet


firouzja-aronian after 30.Rg1
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Malcolm Pein on…Aronian’s Clean Sheet

Levon Aronian continued his fine form in the preliminary rounds of the $100,000 (£71,000) Goldmoney Asian Rapid on Chess24 and ended top of the field with an unbeaten 10.5/15. Aronian went into the eight-player knockout phase as top seed, where he faces the 17-year-old Indian prodigy Arjun Erigaisi, who finished eighth at the conclusion of the third day and edged out another prodigy, Alireza Firouzja.

Firouzja has just turned 18 and is seen as a future world title contender. That’s why his elimination was a surprise and vindicated the Champions Chess Tour organisers’ decision to make four spots available to qualifiers: two to players from India and two from a tournament for young stars.

Erigaisi seemed at ease in the company of the greats and proved immensely hard to beat. He won three games and lost just two, with 10 draws, one of which was a solidly played battle with Magnus Carlsen.

Carlsen was not in great shape and was just happy to qualify for the knockout with a below-par score of 9/15.

A. Firouzja – L. Aronian
Vienna 15+10

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Qh5 Nd6 5.Bb3 Be7 6.Qxe5 0–0 7.d4 Nc6 8.Qf4 Na5 9.Bd5 Ne8 10.Bf3 Bb4 11.d5 (After 11.a3 Bxc3+ 12.bxc3 d5 Black had the edge, although he later lost in Firouzja-Aronian,, 2020) 11…Bxc3+ 12.bxc3 b6 13.Ne2 Ba6 14.0–0 Qf6 15.Qa4 Nd6! 16.Qxd7 Rae8 17.Be3?! (17.Qg4 Nac4 is better for Black) 17…Nac4 18.Bd4 Ne5 19.Qh3 Nxf3+ 20.gxf3 Qg5+ 21.Kh1 Qxd5? (21…f6! was pretty much winning after 22.Rg1 Bc8! 23.Rxg5 Bxh3 24.Rh5 Rxe2 25.Rxh3 Nf5) 22.Rg1! f6

firouzja-aronian after 23...f6
23.Nf4? (23.Rxg7+!! Kxg7 24.Rg1+ Kf7 25.Qxh7+ Ke6 26.Nf4#; 23.Rxg7+!! Kxg7 24.Rg1+ Kh8 25.Nf4 Qf7 26.Ng6+ Kg8 27.Ne5+ Qg7 28.Rxg7+ Kxg7 29.Qg4+ Kh8 30.Qf4 is good for White as if 30…fxe5? 31.Bxe5+ Kg8 32.Qg5+ Kf7 33.Qf6+ Kg8 34.Qg7#) 23…Qf5 24.Qh6 Rf7 25.Rg3 Qxc2! 26.Nh5 Nf5 27.Nxf6+ Rxf6 28.Rxg7+ Nxg7 29.Qxf6 Qg6 30.Rg1 Now if 30…Qxf6 31.Bxf6 wins in elegant fashion, as Re7 is prevented, but it’s Black to play and win:

Test Your Strength

firouzja-aronian after 30.Rg1

A. Firouzja – L. Aronian
Black to play and win

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

30…Qxg1+!! 0–1 In view of 31.Kxg1 Re1+ 32.Kg2 Bf1+ 33.Kg1 Bh3#; 31.Kxg1 Re1+ 32.Kg2 Bf1+ 33.Kg3 Nh5+.

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