Levon Aronian Faces Ding Liren in World Cup Final

Ding Liren vs. Wesley So, Anastasiya Karlovich
Levon Aronian of Armenia and Ding Liren of China will face off in the World Cup final in Tbilisi, Georgia, starting on September 23, at 7 AM EST. By qualifying for the final, both players have secured themselves a coveted spot in the 2018 Candidates. https://twitter.com/bennedik/status/910960935069736961 This means US gold medalists Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana will both have to qualify on rating to participate in the Candidates.  Both are currently on track, as the google doc link above shows with the Chess.Com Isle of Man International soon to provide a further "sweat", as both Fabiano Caruana and Vladimir Kramnik are participating....and playing in round 1! https://twitter.com/FabianoCaruana/status/911299168039292930 The Levon Aronian-Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was a dramatic contest, culminating in an Armageddon. The Armageddon looked to be headed in MVL's favor, when the Armenian suddenly turned the tables. Can you see how he forced victory in the following position?
Show Solution
In a must win situation, Aronian found 55.Rf1+! After ...Rf4 Rxf4+ Kxf4 Rxa2! Rxa2 e7 and white will queen! Full game below.  
[pgn]

[Event "Tbilisi FIDE World Cup"]
[Date "2017.09.21"]
[White "Aronian, Levon"]
[Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2802"]
[BlackElo "2804"]
[PlyCount "155"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Armenia"]
[BlackTeam "France"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "ARM"]
[BlackTeamCountry "FRA"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:44"]
[BlackClock "0:00:33"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bf4 Bg7 4. Nc3 d5 5. Nb5 Na6 6. e3 O-O 7. h3 c6 8. Nc3
Nc7 9. Be2 b6 10. O-O Bb7 11. Bh2 c5 12. a4 a5 13. Ne5 Nd7 14. Nxd7 Qxd7 15.
Bg4 e6 16. Qd2 Bc6 17. b3 Rfc8 18. Ne2 cxd4 19. Nxd4 b5 20. axb5 Nxb5 21. c3
Nxd4 22. exd4 a4 23. b4 Bb5 24. Rfc1 a3 25. Be2 Qc6 26. Bxb5 Qxb5 27. Bd6 Rc6
28. Bc5 Rca6 29. Ra2 Qc4 30. Qe2 Qxe2 31. Rxe2 a2 32. Ra1 Ra3 33. Rc2 Bf8 34.
Kf1 e5 35. Bxf8 Kxf8 36. dxe5 Ke7 37. Ke2 Ke6 38. f4 d4 39. cxd4 Kd5 40. Rd2
Kc4 41. d5 Kxb4 42. d6 Kb3 43. Kf3 Kc3 44. Rf2 h5 45. Kg3 Kd4+ 46. Kh4 Kd5 47.
Kg5 Ke6 48. g4 hxg4 49. hxg4 R3a5 50. Re2 f6+ 51. Kxg6 Rg8+ 52. Kh6 Rxg4 53.
f5+ Kxf5 54. e6 Ra8 55. Rf1+ Rf4 56. Rxf4+ Kxf4 57. Rxa2 Rxa2 58. e7 Rd2 59.
e8=Q Rxd6 60. Qe7 Rd4 61. Qxf6+ Ke3 62. Kg5 Rd5+ 63. Kg4 Rd4+ 64. Kg3 Rd3 65.
Qe5+ Kd2+ 66. Kf2 Kc2 67. Qc5+ Rc3 68. Qf5+ Kb2 69. Ke2 Rc2+ 70. Kd3 Rc3+ 71.
Kd2 Rb3 72. Qe5+ Kb1 73. Qd4 Rh3 74. Qb6+ Ka1 75. Qf6+ Ka2 76. Qe6+ Rb3 77. Kc2
Ka1 78. Qa6+ 1-0

[/pgn]
The two excellent sportsmen and friends exchanged tweets shortly after the match finished: https://twitter.com/Vachier_Lagrave/status/910936934482051072 https://twitter.com/LevAronian/status/910939137510985735 Wesley So lost to Ding Liren in the tiebreaker, his first loss of the event. He was unable to win with Black on demand in the subsequent game, ending So's excellent World Cup run, and securing Ding Liren a spot in the final.
[pgn] [Event "Tbilisi FIDE World Cup"]
[Date "2017.09.21"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Ding, Liren"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2792"]
[BlackElo "2771"]
[PlyCount "138"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "China"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "CHN"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:35"]
[BlackClock "0:05:14"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. d4 Nf6 5. c4 c6 6. O-O O-O 7. Nbd2 a5 8. b3 a4
9. Bb2 Bf5 10. e3 Nbd7 11. Qe2 Ne4 12. Nxe4 Bxe4 13. cxd5 cxd5 14. Qb5 Ra5 15.
Qxb7 Nc5 16. Qb4 Nd3 17. Qd2 Rb5 18. Bc3 axb3 19. Ng5 b2 20. Rab1 Nxf2 21. Qxf2
Bxb1 22. Rxb1 e5 23. Nh3 exd4 24. exd4 Qc7 25. Qd2 Rfb8 26. Nf4 Qc4 27. Bxd5
Rxd5 28. Nxd5 Qxd5 29. Rxb2 Rc8 30. Rb3 h5 31. Bb2 Kh7 32. h3 Qe4 33. Qd3 Qe1+
34. Qf1 Qd2 35. Qf2 Qd1+ 36. Qf1 Bxd4+ 37. Bxd4 Qxd4+ 38. Kh1 Qd5+ 39. Rf3 Rc3
40. Kg2 Qc6 41. h4 Kg8 42. a4 f6 43. a5 Kg7 44. a6 Rc2+ 45. Kg1 Rc1 46. Rxf6
Rxf1+ 47. Rxf1 Qxa6 48. Kg2 Qe2+ 49. Rf2 Qe4+ 50. Kh2 g5 51. hxg5 h4 52. Rf4
Qe2+ 53. Kh3 hxg3 54. Kxg3 Kg6 55. Rf2 Qe3+ 56. Kg2 Kxg5 57. Rf3 Qe2+ 58. Kg3
Qe1+ 59. Kg2 Kg4 60. Rf2 Qe4+ 61. Kh2 Kh4 62. Ra2 Qe5+ 63. Kg1 Qd4+ 64. Kh2
Qd6+ 65. Kg1 Qc5+ 66. Kh2 Qc7+ 67. Kg1 Qb6+ 68. Kg2 Qb7+ 69. Kh2 Qb8+ 0-1
[/pgn]
Follow the final match on the official website and on chess24.   

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