American Cup: Undefeated Aronian Wins Open Grand Final

GM Levon Aronian won the 2024 American Cup in St. Louis on Wednesday, March 20 after defeating GM Wesley So 2½–1½ in their first Grand Final match. 


Aronian Kavutskiy
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Aronian shakes hand with broadcaster and IM Kostya Kavutskiy following his American Cup victory (courtesy Crystal Fuller/SLCC)


Aronian entered the Grand Final from the Winners Bracket, meaning a win in the four-game match on Tuesday and Wednesday would clinch the cup, while So would need to win an additional match on Thursday (where GM Irina Krush and IM Alice Lee are currently facing off).


Aronian Robson
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Aronian and Robson in their Winners Bracket final (courtesy Lennart Ootes/SLCC)


In his Winners Bracket final, Aronian only needed three games to defeat a red-hot GM Ray Robson, who was fresh off a victory over So. In each game, Aronian managed to surprise Robson in the opening, and continued to show a firmer grip of the practical aspects of the position despite Robson coming within an inch of holding onto the objectively equal position in each of the first two games:




With a smooth draw in the second classical game, Aronian's victory meant that Robson would have to defeat So once again in order to emerge from the Elimination Bracket and earn a rematch with Aronian. As covered here, So bounced back deftly after losing his first rapid game against Robson. Would he be able to keep up this momentum against Aronian?


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A victorious Aronian enjoyed a stop in the Kingside Diner to catch the end of Lee – Krush (courtesy Crystal Fuller/SLCC)


The first day saw two excellently played draws, and the second day saw a classical game continue the trend. The match certainly seemed headed towards a playoff in the second rapid game, too, until ...



Aronian takes home $90,000 for his victory, with So taking home $55,000 for second and Robson $30,000 for third. Stay tuned tomorrow for coverage of the Women's event, including Lee's comeback in the first Grand Final match to force a third day of action, which is currently underway.


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Annotated games

This year's coverage on Chess Life Online

Last year's coverage on Chess Life Online