Levon Aronian Wins FTX Road To Miami

GM Levon Aronian won the FTX Road to Miami tournament on Sunday after a convincing second match victory vs. GM Wei Yi. The American-Armenian grandmaster won both of his games with the black pieces.

Sunday’s match was a must-win for Wei, but the Chinese GM never got serious chances. As the tournament progressed, Aronian seemed to be playing better chess by the day. Interestingly, he won only with the black pieces in both his semifinal and the final.

Stepping away from the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Aronian was slightly better throughout the first game (a Nimzo-Indian instead). It should have ended in a draw, but with 16 seconds on the clock (vs. 37 for Aronian; the games are 15+10), Wei made a fatal error:

Already in serious danger, Wei went for the Modern as Black in the next game, but this didn’t really work out. In fact, Aronian was winning at several moments, but the Chinese eventually held the draw to keep his hopes alive:

Wei Yi FTX Road to Miami
Wei Yi was satisfied with second place. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

Game three was a must-win for the Chinese player, who came up with the fancy 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g4!?, a move he himself had faced with the black pieces two months ago. It led to quite a playable position, but Aronian just played better chess: 

“He was playing extremely sharp and he was close,” said Aronian. “In the time scrambles he was making some mistakes but if not for that, it could have gone either way, of course.”

Aronian also noted his “steady improvement” in this tournament: “I didn’t really deserve to be in the top eight because my play was very poor, but after that I think I got myself together.”

“The result was not good today, but I think the games were interesting,” said Wei. “But he played very good, and maybe I didn’t have any chance.”

FXT Road To Miami 2022 results

The 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour’s fifth event, the FXT Road To Miami, took place July 10-17, 2022 on chess24. The preliminary phase was a 16-player rapid (15|10) round-robin. The top eight players advanced to the knockout phase that consisted of four days of four-game rapid matches, which advanced to blitz (5|3) and armageddon (White to have five minutes; Black, four with no increment) tiebreaks only if a knockout match was tied. The prize fund was $150,000.

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