Teimour Radjabov and Levon Aronian dominated their respective semifinal matchups at the Airthings Masters, leaving no doubt as to which two players deserved to compete for the first major title on the Champions Chess Tour.
Radjabov won the first two games of the second match to finish off Daniil Dubov, while Aronian fended off Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to secure his spot in the final.
Dominant Semifinals Leave No Doubt
Both players were fairly dominant in their semifinal battles. Each won their first sets cleanly by 3-1 scores, and both achieved at least a drawn second match early on Day 2, securing their advancement with room to spare.
Having the lead after day 1 of the semi-finals proved decisive for @LevAronian & @rajachess. Here’s how it happened. #ChessChamps pic.twitter.com/eJd7yAF3iw
— Champions Chess Tour (@ChampChessTour) January 1, 2021
Radjabov said that he was able to take advantage of Dubov’s aggressive style, an approach that had given World Champion Magnus Carlsen so much trouble in the quarterfinals.
“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,” Radjabov said after his victory. “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.”
Aronian faced a bit more resistance from Vachier-Lagrave, though he ultimately went through with a clear and decisive victory. On Day 1, Aronain opened with a win, then closed out the match with another full point in Game 4 to claim a 3-1 victory. On Day 2, the two players drew their first two encounters, but Aronian finished off the match with a Game 3 win, clinching no worse than a tie in the second set.
|Airthings Masters Odds (via Unibet)|
|Teimour Radjabov (+108)||Levon Aronian (-143)|
|Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (-167)||Daniil Dubov (+125)|
“I am very happy with my play today and I am very happy that I managed to beat such a strong opponent,” Aronian said afterwards.
Aronian Favored for Airthings Masters Title
Aronian enters the final as a slight favorite. Unibet lists the Armenian as a -143 pick to beat Radjabov (+108) in the Airthings Masters final. But Aronian doesn’t expect an easy go of it over the next two days.
“Teimour is a tough competitor and he’s very good at this format so I look forward to the match,” Aronian said. “I’ve played him before many times and the score is in my favor, but it is a final so everybody’s ready.”
The winner of the Airthings Masters will pick up $60,000. They will also earn an automatic spot in the season-ending Tour Final.
Unlike in the Skilling Open, the Airthings Masters will also feature a third-place match. Vachier-Lagrave (-167) comes into the consolation final as a slight favorite over Dubov (+125).