Teimour Radjabov will face Levon Aronian in the final of the $200,000 Airthings Masters online chess event after both players dominated their semi-finals today.
Radjabov said he tried to play as “boring chess as possible” to counter Russia’s explosive young star Daniil Dubov, who knocked out World Champion Magnus Carlsen in the quarters.
Meanwhile, Aronian continued his stellar run in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event to end the challenge of French number 1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.
It sets up a mouth-watering final starting tomorrow between two players who are bang in form and known for creative, imaginative chess.
Radjabov, Azerbaijan’s 2019 Chess World Cup winner, had started the day 1-0 up in sets against Dubov. It meant Dubov needed to hit the ground running in Game 1.
But the 24-year-old missed a key move early on and found himself in trouble against Radjabov who stayed composed throughout to close out an opening game win.
It was a dramatic start to the day and left Radjabov right on course for the final as he dominated his younger opponent. A win for Radjabov in the next game and it would be all over for Dudov.
And, against all expectations, it happened. Radjabov won to sail through to the final in just two games. Dubov again battled hard but found himself up against an opponent in supreme form.
Radjabov said: “I was just happy to be alive today after the celebrations, but that’s fine. I tried to keep as cool as possible.”
Radjabov went on to say “the aggressive style of Dubov” was the reason he was able to get two wins
He said: “So I was trying to cool him down as much as I can, I was playing all the boring positions so that he will sacrifice something, maybe in the endgame.
“And in this way it worked. This was the strategy I had for the match – to play as boring as possible.
“But you can thank Dubov for creating a lot of interesting games and making me show my best there.”
In the other semi, Aronian was also ahead after yesterday’s play and played out two draws against MVL before making a superior position count in Game 3 to win the second set and the match.
Both matches were completed early and without the need for tiebreaks as Radjabov and Aronian dominated.
Aronian said afterward: “I am very happy with my play today and I am very happy that I managed to beat such a strong opponent.”
On tomorrow’s final, he said: “Teimour is a tough competitor and he’s very good at this format so I look forward to the match. I’ve played him before many times and the score is in my favour, but it is a final so everybody’s ready.”
The two-day final of the Airthings Masters, organised by the Play Magnus Group, starts at 15:00 CET tomorrow. If the scores are locked at 1-1 on Sunday, tiebreaks will be played to decide who wins.