A stunning end to the Goldmoney Asian Rapid semis saw Levon Aronian don his lucky Boston Celtics basketball jersey before slam-dunking Magnus Carlsen in overtime.
The Armenian star, 38, pulled off an incredible comeback to beat the champ twice in tiebreaks and book a place in the $100,000 event’s final.
Aronian, a big Celtics fan, will meet Tour debutant Vladislav Artemiev who also came from behind in stunning fashion to win on a breathless day of chess.
It sets up a treat of a final between two underdogs that no-one expected to get this far.
Carlsen, the reigning World Champion, had been gunning for a hat-trick of wins in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour having won the New In Chess Classic and the FTX Crypto Cup.
But that run came to an end when Aronian thrashed him 3-1 in today’s second match and then again in the resulting play-off to turn the tie around.
“This is something I dedicated my life to, proving people wrong,” Aronian said afterwards. “I am always excited when I can.”
He added: “It’s been a very tough day, very tense.”
Artemiev, the Russian speed demon, came back from even further behind to shoot down world number 3 Ding Liren.
Having lost yesterday, Artemiev was heading for defeat again before a catastrophic blunder from Ding in the final game let the youngster back into the match.
Ding, who rarely shows his emotion in matches, was visibly distraught.
The Russian, who has been the surprise package of this tournament, then took all that momentum into the blitz tiebreak and ran out the winner.
At 23, he will now be the youngest player to play in a Tour final.
“It was a very difficult match,” Artemiev said. “Yesterday I lost with zero chances and I was disappointed. Today I wanted to give a fight to my opponent.”
The final carries a $30,000 first prize and a coveted spot in the Tour finals in September for the winner.
Carlsen and Ding, meanwhile, will fight it out for Tour points in a third-place play-off match.
The Goldmoney Asian Rapid is broadcast live on Norwegian TV station TV 2 and streamed with commentary in several languages on chess24’s YouTube and Twitch channels.
Highlights will also be available in 60 countries on the Eurosport app.
Play begins tomorrow at 13:00 CEST. All games will be played on the chess24.com playzone.