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Airthings Masters R1-4: Ding Liren takes sole lead 10.0/12

by Shahid Ahmed - 20/02/2022

World no.3 Ding Liren might have missed his second consecutive opportunity to qualify for the Candidates, the fire inside him still burns bright. He scored three wins and a draw to take sole lead 10.0/12 after round 4 of Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Airthings Masters. He is closely followed by Nepomniachtchi who scored a hat-trick of wins after starting the day with a loss against Aronian. The World Championship 2021 Challenger defeated Carlsen for the first time since March 2021 in the fourth round, handing him his second consecutive defeat of the day. Both Carlsen and Praggnanandhaa struggled on the first day as they racked only 4.0/12 and 1.0/12 each respectively. Round 5 starts tonight at 10:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Amruta Mokal

Tough start for Carlsen and Praggnanandhaa

The new format of Meltwater Champions Chess Tour encourages players to play fighting chess. It was evident on the first day as only nine out of 32 games ended in draws which means 71.87% games were decisive. The shortest draw was 24 moves. That definitely shows that incentivizing players for playing fighting chess and a good regulation can make an impact in the quality of games. Andrey Esipenko and Ian Nepomniachtchi ensured Magnus Carlsen's two consecutive losses in round 3 and 4.

Ding Liren scored 10.0/12 on the first day | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Round 1: Carlsen - Artemiev: 1-0

Magnus Carlsen scored his sole victory of the day against Vladislav Artemiev in the first round.

Position after 35...Qg4

Queen endings are as always quite complex. 35...Qg4 turned things completely into White's favor. Find out why it is a mistake and what Black should have played instead.

Esipenko - Mamedyarov: 1-0

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov started the event with a loss as he blundered a piece early in the opening.

Position after 9...Nc6

9...Re8 is what is commonly played here. 9...Nc6 drops a piece after 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.e5 and it's over for Black. White wrapped up the game in just 23 moves with a beautiful finish.

Keymer - Ding: 0-1

Ding Liren's first win against Vincent Keymer was a rollercoaster thrill ride. Evaluation kept changing back and forth in the endgame.

Position after 44.Qf1

White is on the verge of losing both h4 and e5-pawns. Despite being ahead in material and having a passed pawn at d6, the exposed king does not help White's case. Ding Liren won the game after a long battle.

Praggnanandhaa - Liem: 0.5-0.5

Praggnanandhaa started the day with a solid draw against Liem Quang Le (VIE).

Round 2: Hansen - Praggnanandhaa: 1-0

Eric Hansen (CAN) made the most out of his opportunities against Praggnanandhaa.

Position after 24...Nxb3

What did Black miss when he played 24...Nxb3?

Position after 26.Qh3

Black had an opportunity to get back in the game after 26.Qh3. What was it?

Round 3: Esipenko - Carlsen: 1-0

Carlsen made a questionable choice of capturing Esipenko's pawn and not defending his own.

Position after 20...Rxb2

20...Nd8 would have been a better way to continue for Black. Sure, it may seem slightly passive. 21.Qxe6+ Qxe6 22.Nxe6 Esipenko seized his advantage and went on to win the game.

Andrey Esipenko made a very good start 8.0/12 | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

Praggnanandhaa - Ding: 0-1

Praggnanandhaa did not respond correctly to Ding Liren's onslaught on the kingside.

Position after 13...g4

The f3-knight is under attack which means d4 is about to fall. Find out the best continuation for White.

Round 4: Ding - Liem: 1-0

How do you know Ding Liren is in terrific form? You have to see his immaculate technique in the double rook endgame against Liem.

Position after 28.Ree7

White is not afraid of losing the f2-pawn or f3 becoming a menace because he knows that he can not only wreak havoc in the seventh rank but also prevent the f-pawn from being promoted when required. Thus, he played 28.Ree7 and won the game eventually.

Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi: 0-1

Carlsen suffered his second consecutive loss of the day, his first one against Nepomniachtchi since March 2021 at Carlsen Invitational.

Nepomniachtchi's hat-trick win was against Carlsen | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

Round 1 in progress | Photo: ChessBase India live stream

Replay the live stream

Airthings Masters 2022 Round 1-4 Live commentary by IM Sagar Shah | Video: ChessBase India

Replay Round 1-4 games

Standings after Round 4

Ding Liren is in the sole lead 10.0/12 | Photo: chess24

All games will start from 10:30 p.m. IST between 19th and 26th February 2022.


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Tournament regulations

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