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Shankland and Assaubayeva get eliminated from the Armageddon Grand Finale

Author: Maria Fragaki

On Day 3 of the World Chess Armageddon Grand Finale, the tournament took a decisive turn as it entered the elimination phase. In two exciting encounters, GM Sam Shankland and IM Bibisara Assaubayeva were defeated by GM Wesley So and GM Richard Rapport, respectively, marking the end of their participation in this prestigious competition.

Photo by Max Avdeev

Wesley So vs Sam Shankland

In Game 1, the French Defense set the stage for a smooth evolution of the game, contrasting with Wesley’s heart rate, which surged to 170! Sam displayed unwavering confidence, pushing relentlessly until Wesley’s critical error allowed a queen exchange, ultimately resulting in a losing pawn ending.

Game 2 saw Wesley facing a must-win scenario and opting for the Queen’s Gambit to intensify the struggle for the crucial point. Sam strategically focused on exchanges, maintaining a sense of calm in the position. However, serenity eluded both players as the clock ticked down while they navigated a knight and bishop against two knights endgame. In a spectacular comeback, Wesley capitalized on every opportunity in this endgame, securing a pawn and propelling the match into a thrilling Armageddon showdown!

In the Armageddon, Sam made a critical mistake by playing his moves in the wrong order, leading to an early exchange blunder. From that point on, there was no turning back as Wesley seized control and left no room for counterplay, ultimately securing victory in both the game and the match.

Richard Rapport vs Bibisara Assaubayeva

In Game 1 of this exciting match, Bibisara chose the Sicilian, featuring the unusual move 5...Nh5, which granted Rapport a central advantage. Bibisara had to invest significant time to navigate the position, courageously grabbing a pawn and intensifying the complexity of the game, all while having one minute less on the clock. Despite her efforts, she eventually sacrificed an exchange and couldn’t maintain the position, ultimately losing the game as her clock dwindled to seconds.

In the second game of this engaging match, an unconventional choice was made with the Dutch Defence, an opening not frequently seen among top players. Following a series of exchanges, Richard found himself in possession of an extra pawn. However, Bibisara’s active knights added complexity to the position as they targeted multiple pawns, ultimately equalizing the game. This intense maneuvering pushed Richard’s clock down to under 30 seconds while elevating his heart rate to 145 pulses! Nevertheless, the resourceful grandmaster skillfully orchestrated his pieces to establish control and secure a critical pawn, ultimately clinching the match.

Day 4 pairings, 19:00 CEST

Gukesh – Jan-Krzysztof Duda
Nodirbek Abdusattorov – Humpy Koneru


Find all you need to know about the Armageddon Grand Finale, here.

Watch the games on a chessboard, here.

Rewatch Day 3 broadcast

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