Magnus Carlsen dominated on the first day of the Aimchess US Rapid final and is now a hot favourite to win his third Meltwater Champions Chess Tour title. The World Champion and overall Tour leader raced into a swift lead against the event's 23-year-old breakout star.
Artemiev is ranked just 39 in the world but has entered three Tour tournaments and reached the final in two of them and a semi in the other. But Carlsen, winner of the New In Chess Classic and the FTX Crypto Cup, was in no mood to welcome him into the top bracket of elite chess players and showed absolutely no mercy.
Not even an unfortunate mistake in game 3 which provoked shocked reaction from Carlsen could hold him back. After calling Artemiev a "sublime" positional player yesterday, Carlsen stamped his authority by blowing him away with a positional masterpiece of his own. It was an ominous start for Artemiev.
The second was worse. Artemiev was pressing for most of the game but suffered connection problems and wasn't able to keep up on the clock. It was a hammer-blow. A blunder lost him a piece and then Carlsen started working his endgame magic. Facing a barrage of tricks, Artemiev was running out of time and resigned.
Two-nil up, Carlsen just needed a draw in the third to end the match a game early. Then came the strange mistake which looked like a mouse-slip and gifted Artemiev the win. The Russian now had hope of a comeback.
He still had to win the final game, however, and the turnaround was not to be as Carlsen calmly minimised Artemiev's chances and steered it to a draw. Carlsen had won the first match 2.5-1.5 and takes a 1-0 lead into tomorrow's decider.
Carlsen said after it was "reasonably comfortable" and admitted he'd made a mistake, not a mouse-slip, in game 3.
He added: "It was unfortunate because without that move, I don't think the fourth game happens."
Artemiev said the disconnection in game 2 hampered him but facing the champion was a "good experience".
In the battle for third-place, Levon Aronian was awarded the win without a game being played as teen hotshot Alireza Firouzja pulled out of the tie due to ill health.
Firouzja, who lost to Artemiev in the semis, apologised to fans on Twitter and said he would be back.
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