The Opera Euro Rapid online chess event got off to an explosive start as World Champion Magnus Carlsen won four in a row to end the day out on top.
The Norwegian went into the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour tournament on the back of a poor run of form he described as a “funk”.
But after an early wobble that stoked fears he wasn’t out of it, Carlsen roared back to post a quadruple of back-to-back wins.
Carlsen said afterward: “I wouldn’t say the funk is over but what I would say is that this was a very enjoyable day of chess and I tried to win every game.
'Awesome' day for Carlsen
The result, Carlsen said, was “awesome”. He added: “Overall I’m very happy with my play – the spirit I had to always try for the maximum!”
After losing to Wesley So in Round 1, Carlsen’s victims were Airthings Masters finalist Levon Aronian, German number 1 Matthias Bluebaum, 2018 US champ Sam Shankland and finally Cuban-American Leinier Dominguez.
You can view the games on chess24 here.
The champion wasn’t alone in hunting down wins. All 16 appeared to throw caution to the wind as 24 of the first 40 games finished decisively.
Drama kicked off only seconds after the start of play as Alexander Grischuk made a mouse-slip just four moves in.
With the odds stacked against him, Grischuk then went on to save a draw against Anish Giri.
The prelim stage taking place now is the first act of the $100,000 Opera Euro Rapid.
The players are battling it out to make it into the last eight. But there are still two days and 10 rounds to go of this phase.
Carlsen finished Day 1 of the nine-day tournament on 4/5, half a point ahead of Wesley So and Ian Nepomniachtch.
“I would say overall I’m just very happy with my play, the spirit that I had to always try for the maximum,” Carlsen said.
Teimour Radjabov, winner of the Airthings Masters, was the only one of the 16 players to avoid defeat. The Azerbaijan star made four draws and defeated Shankland in an impressive display.
Play resumes on Sunday at 17:00 CET.