Magnus Carlsen survived a fierce onslaught from Russian dangerman Daniil Dubov to scrape into the Opera Euro Rapid semi-finals by the skin of his teeth.
Norway’s World Champion had a nightmare day in which he displayed the full gamut of human emotions on-screen.
Carlsen went from inexplicably bursting into hysterics to crushing disappointment as he blundered his queen twice in a row to gift Dubov a way back into the match.
Then, after just about surviving the blitz tiebreakers which sent the tie to a nervy armageddon play-off, Carlsen finally saw Dubov crumble. Carlsen was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
It was an extraordinary end to a match that was rammed full of drama and it was very hard on Dubov.
Carlsen had been odds-on overnight after winning yesterday’s set but had to weather an almighty storm.
Dubov is an opponent who has rattled Carlsen in recent months and knocked him out at the same stage of the Airthings Masters event last month. For a time, it looked like the same would happen in a spookily similar way.
Several times Dubov had Carlsen on the ropes and the talented Russian dominated the day’s play. But he simply couldn’t get over the line when it mattered most.
An exhausted Carlsen said after: “The preliminaries were one step forward and this was two steps back. At least I’m through, it’s better than not being, but overall a very, very disappointing day of chess.”
Carlsen admitted by blundering in the second game he was left “completely unnerved” and it was a “massive own-goal”.
The champion said he didn’t remember why he burst into laughter and it wasn’t the reason why he lost that game.
An intense day of action also saw an astonishing show from US star Wesley So who blasted his way into the semis of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event with two games to spare.
On Tuesday, So turned around his first set against 22-year-old Pole Jan Krzysztof Duda with two wins.
He carried on that run today with a third win in a row that left him needing just one more point to secure passage into the semis.
On the brink of defeat, Duda went all out for the attack and fell apart against the ruthless So.
Duda showed his sportsmanship afterward by clapping So’s brilliance as the American progressed to the semis in double-quick time.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who was ahead overnight, beat Levon Aronian in the first game to leave the Armenian with his back against the wall.
A draw in the second game saw Aronian with the uphill task of needing victory in both the final games to take it to a tiebreak.
Aronian did win the third but was held to a draw in the fourth as French number 1 MVL sailed through.
The match between Teimour Radjabov and Anish Giri, meanwhile, had been on a knife-edge right from the start and also went to a tiebreak after four draws today.
Radjabov finally broke through in the second blitz game to set up a fascinating semi-final clash with So. It is a repeat of the last Tour final, when Radjabov came out on top.
Carlsen, however, will take on Vachier-Lagrave for a place in the final. The two-day semis start on Thursday from 17:00 CET.