Arjun knocks out Yoo in tiebreaks
None of the four quarterfinal matches finished ‘ahead of schedule’ — i.e. after three games — in the Julius Baer Generation Cup. Moreover, all the contests offered a dose of excitement, with three of them seeing the contenders trading wins in the first two rapid encounters of the day. In the end, Magnus Carlsen, Vincent Keymer, Arjun Erigaisi and Le Quang Liem advanced to the semifinals.
Out of the four matches, the most exciting certainly was the one facing Arjun Erigaisi and Christopher Yoo. Yoo, who is the youngest player in the field at 15, impressed by reaching the knockout, and continued his run of good form in the quarterfinals.
Facing Arjun, who has climbed to the 18th spot in the world ranking (!), Yoo won both his rapid games with the white pieces. What is more, he scored his second victory in a must-win situation — and he did not shy away from trading his queen for a rook and a bishop in the middlegame.
31.Re1 was by no means forced (31.Qd3 or 31.Qd1 were both perfectly playable), but Yoo decided to create a material imbalance by allowing 31…Bxd2 32.Rxe8+ Kh7 33.Nxd2 Be6
White got good piece play along the dark squares, but of course having the extra queen gives Black plenty of flexibility. The struggle that ensued saw Arjun missing a couple of chances to get a large advantage, but it was the Indian who faltered last in the complications. After 60 moves, Yoo prevailed, and thus took the match to blitz tiebreakers.
In the blitz deciders, Arjun kicked off with a win and safely held a draw with black to get match victory. It was, nevertheless, a valiant showing by the 15-year-old US grandmaster.
Select an entry from the list to switch between games
Carlsen receives ‘massive gift’
The world champion got a 3-1 victory over Levon Aronian, but the match score is somewhat misleading — Aronian kicked off with a win, then blundered early in the second game, and played fighting chess before losing a double-edged fourth encounter.
Aronian’s win in game 1 was very impressive. But then came what commentator Peter Leko described as “the most shocking development I have ever seen in a top-level match”.
12.Bd3 gives way to 12…0-0-0, pinning the bishop, and White is already in deep trouble! Trying to hang on to the bishop with 13.Qe2 is positional suicide due to 13…Bg4, as the white king is still in the centre of the board. Aronian, therefore, decided to play a piece down after 31.0-0 Nb4, and surprisingly continued fighting until move 48.
However, there was little doubt that Carlsen would eventually convert his considerable advantage to tie the match.
Wins in games 3 and 4 gave Carlsen the ticket to the semifinals, where he will face German prodigy Vincent Keymer. The world champion later reflected:
It was kind of a weird match. […] Obviously I got a massive gift in the second game and I felt like after that I was pretty much in control.
Le knocks out Niemann
Much like both aforementioned matches, Le Quang Liem and Hans Niemann traded wins in the first two games. Le, playing black, went on to draw game 3, and a win in the fourth encounter gained him the right to face Arjun in Friday’s semifinals.
A rapidplay specialist, Le correctly offered to simplify into a rook endgame in the following position arising from a Semi-Tarrasch variation.
After 31…Bxd6 32.Rxd6, the Vietnamese grandmaster did not have much trouble converting the rook endgame — with a strong central passer — into a 44-move win.
Keymer wins battle of 17-year-olds
Two incredibly strong 17-year-old grandmasters were paired up against each other in the quarterfinals. With wins in games 1 and 4, Vincent Keymer prevailed over Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu. The German star will face world champion Magnus Carlsen in the semifinals.
Keymer got to play a good-looking final move in the first game of the match.
The f7-pawn is protected by the d6-knight and the queen on c7. Nonetheless, after 43.Ngxf7+ Black can only resign, since 43…Nxf7 fails to 44.Ng6#. Game over.
Its primary focus is a version of the Pirc Defence after 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 g6 where Black has avoided the sharpest variations, at the small cost of some flexibility, since his knight is already committed to c6.Christian Bauer will also reco