An error of judgement on the 155th move from D. Gukesh was enough for Richard Rapport to close out the four-game quarterfinal match 2.5-1.5 in the $150,000 Aimchess Rapid online chess tournament on Tuesday.
Earlier, Arjun Erigaisi let Magnus Carlsen off the hook in their first game and the resultant draw proved a severe blow to the Indian’s confidence. In the two games that followed, Carlsen dominated Arjun for a 2.5-0.5 win, the score-line with which Jan-Krzysztof Duda ended Vidit Gujrathi’s campaign.
In the only quarterfinal which did not feature an Indian, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov won the first game and drew the rest to knockout young Uzbek Nodirbek Abdusattorov 2.5-1.5.
In the semifinals, Duda faces Carlsen and Mamedyarov plays Rapport.
The Gukesh-Rapport battle appeared to have headed for the blitz tie-break games until the Indian teenager’s sense of danger let him down and he lost the fourth game in 167 moves. It was Gukesh who drew first blood by winning the second game in 32 moves. Rapport bounced right back to take the third in 55 moves.
Carlsen’s 136-move save in the first game was enough to break Arjun’s confidence. Holding a two-pawn advantage and looking good to win till the 75th move, Arjun faltered in execution as Carlsen’s fabled tenacity came into play.
After Carlsen traded his bishop for Arjun’s last pawn, the Indians’ extra knight, in an ending where both players had a rook each, was not good enough.
Arjun could not come to terms with the fact that he let Carlsen escape with a draw. In the two games that followed, Carlsen took control of the second game around the 25th move and went on to break Arjun’s resistance in the 48th move. In the third game, Carlsen needed two moves less to close the contest.
The entry into the semifinals also meant that Carlsen had retained the Tour title, this time with an event to spare. The World No. 1 has ensured an additional $50,000 apart from his Tour earnings of $192,000 so far. The final event of the $1.6 million Tour, with a prize-money of $210,000, could further boost Carlsen’s winnings.
Vidit encountered a frustrating draw in the first game after 105 moves during which he could not take advantage of his two extra pawns in an endgame involving a bishop each.
In the second game, Vidit blew away his early advantage following a weak move on the 22nd turn. Duda gained a decisive edge after Vidit blundered on the 29th move and finally won in 42 moves. In the third game, Vidit missed a trick on the 13th move and crashed to a 27-move loss.