RELATÓRIO DA 9ª RODADA E DESEMPATE
VITÓRIA DE LEVON ARONIAN NO DESEMPATE
Levon Aronian venceu o WR Chess Masters. Depois que Aronian, Gukesh e Ian Nepomniachtchi ficaram empatados com 5,5/9 cada no final da distância regular de nove rounds, Aronian venceu o tiebreak. Ele estava muito feliz com a vitória, disse Aronian. Ele agradeceu ao anfitrião Wadim Rosenstein por um torneio excelentemente organizado e pelas condições excepcionalmente boas em Düsseldorf, onde ele “sentiu o respeito pelos jogadores” todos os dias.
Prever o primeiro e o último jogos finalizados da nona rodada não foi muito difícil. Em seu jogo do torneio, o suposto confronto, os co-líderes Levon Aronian e Gukesh não estavam procurando uma luta até a morte. Em uma variação bem conhecida do Ragozin, ambos os oponentes foram direto para uma repetição que muitos grandes mestres usaram para dividir rapidamente o ponto.Os dois adiaram, assim, a decisão sobre a vitória no torneio e quem ganharia o primeiro prémio de 40 mil euros e o troféu para o tiebreak – e arriscaram Ian Nepomniachtchi a disputar este prémio. Mas antes que Nepomniachtchi tivesse a chance de fazê-lo, ele teve que vencer Vincent Keymer. O finalista do Campeonato Mundial precisava de um ponto completo para alcançar Gukesh e Aronian.
While all the other games of the day gradually petered out, Vincent Keymer once again had to put in a six-hour shift. Opposite of him, Nepo didn’t let up, looking for opportunities to sharpen things up even with reduced material. For five hours Keymer kept the position balanced, then he rashly let his passed pawn run, and it was over: On the other wing, Nepomniachtchi’s play against the white king would prove decisive, while Kemer’s passed pawn didn’t reach the eighth rank. Nepomniachtchi had managed to intercept Aronian and Gukesh on the home stretch.
Three players tied at the top of the table – a rarity, but it happens. Levon Aronian has experience of this: in 2018 at the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis he, Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana ended up at the top with equal points. A drawing of lots was scheduled there – and the players negotiated it away at short notice. They preferred to share first place. Such negotiations were not planned in Düsseldorf, and they did not arise. The rules in the event of a tie at the top of the table were clear.
Nepomniachtchi, after his hard-fought victory over Keymer, nevertheless first had to ask main referee Gregor Johann how things would proceed. “A round robin, double round robin, 10+2,” he got in reply. After an 82-move and more than 6-hour tournament game, he was now to face a potentially more than five-hour playoff against two rested opponents.After winning the first tiebreak game against Gukesh, Aronian added another win in the second against Nepo. Nepomniachtchi seemed to have created nice attacking chances, but had made structural concessions. And these weighed heavier.
After that Nepomniachtchi had to play again, this time against Gukesh, and it was already a decisive game. Only the winner would still have a chance to challenge Levon Aronian for the tiebreaker. It went back and forth, both had chances, and at the end of an open game the Indian prevailed. That gave him a must-win game against Aronian: now one more win and the youngest competitor would be back on the heels of the oldest.
It started well for Gukesh, who first smashed up Aronian’s structure, then took aim at some pawn weaknesses and seemed to be on the winning track with two extra pawns. But Aronian didn’t let up, continuously creating problems, and Gukesh failed to turn his big advantage into a decisive one. In the end, the game turned completely around.
After these three full points in a row, Aronian could no longer be denied the tournament victory. The last two games of the tiebreak were not played.