GM Levon Aronian leads the final of the FTX Road to Miami tournament after the first of two days. GM Wei Yi had winning positions in both the second and third games, but had to settle for draws and then lost the fourth game.
Although somewhat worn out, the comparison with the Hungarian-American escape artist Harry Houdini is tempting. The way Aronian escaped lost positions today, especially in the third game, is remarkable. His reward? Match victory.
The players had started with a draw in the first game, where Aronian had the better chances. In game two, for a single moment, Wei got a winning position in an opposite-colored bishop endgame. The importance of a crucial tempo eluded him, and then the Chinese player’s further attempts were in vain:
In game three, Aronian’s opening as White didn’t go well and after taking a poisoned pawn on d4, he got in big trouble. Black moved a passed pawn all the way to d3 and White’s king was constantly in danger, but the slippery Aronian somehow got away with it:
“That second and third game were, of course, disastrous for me,” Aronian said afterward. “I got in a lot of trouble.”
Game four followed quite a bit of theory in the Ragozin Defense. Wei’s first new move wasn’t a good one, and from that moment he was on the defending side. With a nice little tactic, Aronian then soon got a positionally winning position:
It must be noted that Aronian played much faster in this match, and in the end, that strategy paid off as his opponent was down on the clock for most of the time.
Aronian: “All in all, I was maybe not playing well but being resourceful. At least, this was a good thing!”
All Games Final, Match 1
The 2022 Champions Chess Tour’s fifth event, the FXT Road To Miami, takes place July 10-17, 2022 on chess24. The preliminary phase is a 16-player rapid (15|10) round-robin. The top eight players advance to the knockout phase that consists of two days of four-game rapid matches, which advance to blitz (5|3) and armageddon (White has five minutes; Black, four with no increment) tiebreaks only if a knockout match is tied after the second day. The prize fund is $150,000.