Day 1 of the quarterfinals at the Airthings Masters featured four mini-matches of four 15+10 games.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave defeated Wesley So 3-1 winning two games with Black in the sharpest lines of the Sicilian. The second game with unusual material balance (a rook and four pawns vs. a pair of bishops) was particularly exciting. The Frenchman proved once again that he feels in his element in this type of position.
Levon Aronian beat Hikaru Nakamura 2½-1½ after winning the second game and drawing all the rest. In the critical second game, the Armenian obtained a very comfortable position in the London System and instructively exploited the weakness of dark squares in the opponent’s camp.
Magnus Carlsen again outwitted Daniil Dubov in a drawn endgame in the starting encounter of their match, but the Russian stroke back in the third game. The World Champion snatched a poisoned a5-pawn and fell under a crushing attack. The second and fourth games were drawn.
Ian Nepomniachtchi and Teimour Radjabov played solid chess and drew all four games although the Azerbaijani GM was much closer to the match victory. In game four Teimour reached a quite promising position but being short of time did not use all his chances.
The second quarterfinal matches will be played on Wednesday starting at 2 PM GMT.
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