Teimour Radjabov was overcome with emotion today after demolishing Levon Aronian in a breathless final of the Airthings Masters.
The Azeri former World Cup champ capped a stellar return to form by becoming the new front-runner in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and its first Major winner.
Radjabov cried on camera when victory was secured in the third-game. He takes home $60,000 from a $200,000 prize pot.
A tough win
Radjabov said: “Today it was really tough. Trying to keep the focus and concentration to the very end and takes a lot of emotions as well to keep this way of calmness that I am trying to produce and not to show if I am happy or unhappy about my position.
“But it just took so much energy I am completely exhausted.”
He added: “But about the emotions, sometimes I can get emotional as well. It was really so hard and I’m so happy about it.”
The 33-year-old said he had taken the tournament “super serious” and he will celebrate “until the morning, I think”.
Aronian, the beaten finalist, said: “I have some mixed feeling because I am upset with the way I played in the final but generally I played well in the tournament.”
The match itself was spectacular from start to finish. Aronian, who himself has been in supreme form in the run-up to the final, simply could not live with Radjabov who played with the calm assurance of a champion.
Aronian had started the day in desperate need of an early win to put pressure on Radjabov who was ahead after winning Saturday’s first set.
It was a tough task – Aronian had to win today’s four-game set to take the match to tiebreaks. But up against an inspired Radjabov, he just couldn’t manage it.
Aronian falls short
The first game left fans gasping in amazement. Aronian played a spectacular gamble that appeared to pay off when Radjabov failed to find the one safe response.
It launched what should have been a beautiful winning attack for Aronian. But the Armenian, known as one of the most creative players on the circuit, somehow blew it to let his rival off the hook.
Aronian was denied what would have been a seismic victory and the game ended in a draw that only helped Radjabov.
Then in the second game, Radjabov overwhelmed Aronian to leave the match on the brink of being decided. It was now do-or-die for Aronian as, with the score on 1.5-0.5, a draw was the same as a loss.
Aronian pushed, but could not make the breakthrough. Radjabov knew he had got what he needed and celebrated early, and then the emotion came out when the result was confirmed.
In the third-place play-off match, Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave beat Russia’s Daniil Dubov 2.5-1.5 to secure the match after the pair played out a fiery 2-2 draw yesterday.