3 losses for Carlsen at GCT STL Rapid after just 6 games
At the end of day two, Levon Aronian still remains in the lead but there were several shifts in the standings. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had a perfect day, winning all his games and moving to the second place, only a point behind the leader. The most surprising part of the day was Magnus Carlsen’s result, who lost two games in a row and is now in a tie for fifth. Tomorrow, the final three games of the rapid will take place.
The day kicked off with a key matchup of Caruana against Carlsen. The World Champion repeated the same opening he successfully used against Anish Giri in Croatia Grand Chess Tour, but found himself in suspicious position with an atrocious pawn structure. Caruana played a clean game, converting his advantage without giving his opponent any counterplay chances. The leader of the tournament, Levon Aronian made his first draw against Ding Liren in a closed Caro-Kann position. Vachier-Lagrave grinded out a win in the same colored bishop endgame by slowly building up his position then winning a pawn after putting his opponent in zugzwang. The game between Yu Yangyi and Mamedyarov was a chaotic affair where Mamedyarov gave up an exchange then went all out with a kingside attack. The Chinese player had tactical ideas himself, allowing simplifications which left him with an extra rook. Rapport suffered his third loss in a row after he lost his sense of danger in a key moment in the game. Dominguez punished him swiftly for his carelessness, avoiding the complicated lines his opponent must have relied on that would have led to some kind of perpetual.Fabiano Caruana vs Magnus Carlsen
The World Champion’s troubles continued in the next game. He achieved a pleasant position with great attacking chances, but fell for a trap set by Aronian. Carlsen went down a forcing line, winning a queen for a rook and a bishop, but forgetting that his knight would get trapped at the end, giving his opponent the material advantage. Instead, he chose an endgame where he had a rook against two minor pieces, which Aronian converted with ease. Vachier-Lagrave continued his winning streak but this time by getting a lucky break. In an endgame, Mamedyarov moved his king away from a check into a pin, which not only allowed the Frenchman to get out of a mating net but also win material. The all Chinese match up led to a technical game, where Yu Yangyi was being slowly squeezed by his opponent. He decided to sacrifice a rook looking for a perpetual. Ding Liren fearlessly ran his king to the other side of the board, forcing a resignation after his opponent ran out of checks. Caruana survived the storm to escape with a draw after getting a nearly lost position out of the opening. Dominguez had two minor pieces for his opponent’s rook but had two issues: a weak king and little time on the clock. Both of these factors resulted in him letting the advantage slip, allowing Caruana to exchange his rook for a pawn and a minor piece, ending the game due to insufficient mating material. Rapport had the more active pieces in the rook and knight endgame and even tried to create a mating net, but had to settle for a draw after Karjakin found a repetition.Levon Aronian
The World Champion was finally able to stop the bleeding with a draw against Yu Yangyi. He had little space for his pieces but was able to stabilize his position slowly, eventually drawing in a bishop ending. In the first Berlin Defense of the tournament, Dominguez slowly outplayed Aronian out of the opening but wasn’t able to score the full point. The draw was enough for Aronian to keep his sole lead. Vachier-Lagrave’s final victory of the day was against Ding Liren in a pawn endgame. After both players queened their passed pawns, Ding Liren missed a sequence where he could have won a pawn and instead went down two pawns. He lost the game by running out of time in an already losing position. Caruana abandoned his queenside in order to create an attack on the kingside. He won the tumultuous game after Rapport blundered his queen in a simple tactic with only seconds left on his clock. Just like Carlsen, Mamedyarov was in a bad position with little space for his pieces to move against Karjakin. Just as he had found equilibrium after muddying the waters, he blundered a full to in a skewer and resigned the game.Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
All info provided by GCT