China’s former child prodigy Wei Yi has reached his first Meltwater Champions Chess Tour final after knocking Richard Rapport out of the FTX Road to Miami. The 23-year-old will face top seed Levon Aronian, a Tour winner in the Goldmoney Asian Rapid last season, in a two-set match over the weekend.
Wei booked his place by crashing through against Rapport in game 2 and then finishing off his opponent with a tactical blow that won him a piece in the third. It ended the semi with a game to spare. By reaching the final, Aronian and Wei have both now qualified for the upcoming Tour “Major”, the FTX Crypto Cup in Miami. “I think I can go,” Wei said afterward, referring to covid restrictions in China.
Wei, playing from Hangzhou City, finished the match at 3am local time. Asked if he would celebrate, Wei said he’s probably get some sleep.
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Aronian’s semi-final with the always-sharp World Cup winner Jan Krzysztof Duda was a thriller. Game 3 caught fire when Duda went all-in with 21… Qh5 sacrificing a pawn on d7 and opening up wild possibilities on the board. Aronian, who has won the World Cup twice himself, then missed a chance to end the match early, before Duda also let a chance to level slip. On move 51, the game ended in a draw and the players entered the final game with Duda needing a win to take it to tiebreaks.
Duda played a quiet novelty with 9. Ne2 that took the game into a new line but the premature 12. f4 was a big mistake that left the Pole’s defence wide open to attack. By move 15, the writing was on the wall and Duda resigned on move 25.
The final starts tomorrow at 18:00 CEST. The FTX Road to Miami is the fifth leg of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and the qualifier for the Tour’s next Major, the FTX Crypto Cup. The line-up of top players is competing for places in the Major and a prize fund of up to $150,000. Those who make it through to the FTX Crypto Cup can vie for the Tour’s largest prize fund so far this year: $210K plus an additional $100K tied to the price of bitcoin provided by leading cryptocurrency exchange FTX. FTX is the Official Cryptocurrency Exchange Partner of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and was the title partner of the first FTX Crypto Cup in the inaugural season of the Tour. Every move will be streamed live and for free on chess24.com/tour with commentary for all.