A blistering display from Vietnam’s speed chess superstar Liem Quang Le today put Levon Aronian on the brink of being knocked out of the Chessable Masters.
Liem, the reigning Asian Champion and a former World Blitz winner, was at his tricky, fiery best to shoot down the in-form Armenian 3-1.
Aronian had been installed as a pre-tournament favourite after winning last month’s Asian Rapid.
Yet in Liem, he has come across a razor-sharp opponent who has found his killer instinct. Liem finished the 38-year-old off in stunning style with a queen sacrifice checkmate in a wild final game.
Aronian now has a mountain to climb tomorrow and needs to win the four-game match just to take it to tiebreaks.
Aronian said afterwards: “Definitely my opponent played better than me today. Something went wrong.”
In the other semi, US star Wesley So also has one foot in the final after crushing Vladislav Artemiev.
The young Russian was on top in the first game but accepted a draw by repetition when he looked to have the edge.
The decision came back to haunt him as the 23-year-old then found himself under pressure in Game 2. Artemiev had to pull off an impressive save to survive.
In Game 3, So then broke through to take the lead and held on for a draw in the final game to win the match 2.5-1.5.
Artemiev was gracious in defeat admitting he played “without chances” today.
“I’m unhappy now, but I feel like it was logical result because Wesley played very strong,” he said.