Armenian star Levon Aronian and China’s Ding Liren share the lead in the Goldmoney Asian Rapid before the cut is made tomorrow.
Aronian started like a train on the second day and led right until the end having gone five unbeaten on day one.
That run stretched to 10 with Aronian scoring back-to-back wins in his first two games to move top of the $100,000 event’s leaderboard early on.
But draws in the next three games allowed Ding, who won a key final game against Peter Svidler, to catch him up.
Ding is also unbeaten having seemingly overcome the internet connection problems that have dogged him in previous tournaments.
First, Aronian toppled World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who lost his first game for the second day in a row.
The 38-year-old then crushed the India teen star Arjun Erigaisi before securing a draw against the in-form Dutchman Anish Giri.
Meanwhile, Carlsen again struggled to get into gear in a Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event and ended the day fifth on 6/10.
Having lost to Aronian in the opener, Carlsen found himself in big trouble again in a blockbuster round 7 against Giri.
Giri sacrificed his queen and had two knights rampaging into Carlsen’s position. The game looked lost for the current Tour leader.
But Carlsen woke up from his “knightmare” and managed to escape with a draw after finding a last-gasp resource to force a three-fold repetition.
Giri, who revealed he has just become a father for the second time, must have been kicking himself. He had started the day with a level score against the Tour leader – that stays the same, for now.
Vladislav Artemiev also put in a phenomenal performance to go joint-third with Skilling Open champ Wesley So on 6.5/10, half a point ahead of Carlsen.
And 17-year-old Arjun Erigaisi impressed too, ending the day out of the drop zone with a real chance to go through.
But the real battle is tomorrow when the 16 scramble for places in the top eight, while the bottom eight bow out.
Salem Saleh, Daniil Dubov, Svidler, Jan-Krzyzsztof Duda and Erigaisi are on the edge, with the youngster Alireza Firouzja half a point behind.
With five rounds to go before the knockouts start, any one of them could lift themselves into contention or drop out of sight.
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 are hosted on the chess24.com playzone.