2020 Clutch Chess International - Day 4 Recap

Congratulations to Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana for defeating Alexander Grischuk and Leinier Dominguez respectively and qualifying to the semifinals. Both matches were highly contentious and were decided in the final clutch game. Dominguez and Grischuk are eliminated from the event, earning $15,000 each, with Grischuk picking up an extra $4,000 for his clutch game victories.

Two very exciting semifinal matches are ahead as Aronian plays World Champion Carlsen, while Caruana and So show a rematch of Clutch Chess USA finals. The action will resume on Thursday as players take a rest day tomorrow.

The final standings of the Clutch Chess International quarterfinals

Levon Aronian vs Alexander Grischuk 10-8

It comes as no surprise that the match between these two entertaining and creative players was a nail-biter. Even though Aronian entered the day with a two point lead, the match could have gone either way at any point. After a draw in the first game, Grischuk punished his opponent’s adventurous pawn grab, narrowing the score. Although Grischuk is a three-time World Blitz Champion, he is notorious for time trouble in longer games and was severely punished for it in game three. Game 10 ended in a draw after big missed opportunities by Grischuk. However the game was irrelevant for the standings, as the Russian Grandmaster needed to score a win and a draw in the final two clutch games in order to advance to the semifinals. He did just that in the penultimate game with an aggressive attack right out of the opening, leapfrogging his opponent and only needing a draw in the final game. The dramatic final game was the perfect culmination to the match. The evaluation of the position changed several times throughout the game, but it was Grischuk who made the decisive mistake, allowing a beautiful tactical sequence which sealed the deal for his opponent. With this true clutch win, the Armenian Grandmaster earned an extra $4,000 and a spot in the semifinals.

Congratulations to Levon Aronian for qualifying to the semifinals

Fabiano Caruana vs Leinier Dominguez 10.5 - 7.5

This back and forth match was a combative affair which resulted in four decisive games. Surprisingly, the tumultuous pre-clutch games all ended in Black’s favor. Since the disaster in the first game, Caruana’s Caro Kann has held up quite nicely, yielding him two points today. Dominguez’s wins were in the Nimzo Indian during long technical battles. His second win of the day came as Caruana blundered on move 81, finding himself in a zugzwang. Dominguez entered the clutch games with a three point deficit but could still qualify to the semifinals with a win and a draw. Caruana mishandled the winning rook endgame in a time scramble in game 11, allowing his opponent to escape with a draw and keep his hopes alive. During the final game, the world number two’s new pet line, Caro Kann Defense, proved to be unbreakable as Caruana earned a draw to qualify for the semifinals. 

Congratulations to Fabiano Caruana for qualifying to the semifinals