No easy games
It is hard to talk about weak links at the FTX Road to Miami online tournament. Well-known names currently stand on the bottom half of the tournament table, as young rising stars are mixed in the fight for first place. The likes of Levon Aronian, Anish Giri and Teimour Radjabov did not have a good first day, while Jeffery Xiong emerged as the sole leader after four rounds of play.
Xiong kicked off with three wins in a row, and was only stopped by Sam Sevian in the last round of day 1. Sevian’s victory over his compatriot left him in shared second place on 8/12 points. Three other players also collected 8 points on Sunday: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Wei Yi and Jan-Krzysztof Duda.
The preliminaries, which run until Wednesday, see the 16 participants fighting to reach the knockout stage, as half the players will be eliminated in the single round-robin.
Arjun out-calculates Aronian
One of the strong youngsters in the field is Arjun Erigaisi, currently the second-highest rated U20 player in the world, only behind Alireza Firouzja. The Indian defeated Teimour Radjabov and Levon Aronian on Sunday, before losing to Richard Rapport in round 4.
Arjun’s victory over Aronian was the highlight of the day in terms of excitement. Playing black, the 18-year-old transferred his king to the opposite side of the board. The monarch ended up helping the rook and bishops to create a mating net!
Two sharp rook endgames
GM Karsten Müller highlights two rook endgames from the first four rounds. Sam Sevian’s victory over Jeffery Xiong came after the latter grabbed a pawn instead of activating his rook in an imbalanced position.
Xiong’s 45…Rxa4 allowed White to stop all counterplay. Sevian did not take long to secure the all-important full point against the tournament’s leader.
Also in round 4, Sam Shankland erred in an endgame with connected passers for both sides. His opponent was Jan-Krzysztof Duda.
The prophylactic 45.Rg1 defends for White, while 45.d6, as played in the game, allowed Black to quickly push his h-pawn down the board.