Giri hits top gear with Carlsen in hot pursuit as rivals face elimination

Anish Giri’s hot streak got even hotter today as he nailed down a place in the Magnus Carlsen Invitational’s KO stage with five rounds still to play.

The Dutch No.1 scored 4/5 points for the second day in a row and was on a run of six consecutive wins at one point in the $220,000 event’s prelim stage.

Giri, who now sits clear in the lead on 8/10, said: “Today it was incredible how many points I managed to collect.”

Eight stars face elimination from the $1.5 million Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event tomorrow as the 16-player field is cut in half.

But like Giri, World Champion Magnus Carlsen won’t be one of them.

The Norwegian rarely looked troubled as he scored three wins to end the day clipping Giri’s heels on 7.5/10.

Carlsen said: “Two of the games I won today, were kind of gifts by my opponents. The score today was great, and it puts me in a great position. But I have to do better in the knockout stages.”

Tour leader Wesley So lost two games yesterday but he bounced back to haul himself up the leaderboard and into third alongside fellow American Hikaru Nakamura on 6.5/10.

For a second day running, So was seen using an electric shaver while playing which he later said was “stress relief”.

“To score +3 today is really incredible, really amazing,” he said.

Nakamura, meanwhile, remains unbeaten after 10 rounds and appears to be returning to the form that took him to the final of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour final last year.

Two of the games I won today, were kind of gifts by my opponents. The score today was great, and it puts me in a great position. But I have to do better in the knockout stages

Nakamura and So’s new fellow countryman Levon Aronian, who announced earlier this month he will switch to the US, finished off the day with a win to stand in seventh.

It was also a good day for the youngster Alireza Firouzja and Russia’s Sergey Karjakin who both got themselves back into contention.

Today’s play was also notable for an extraordinary Round 9 when 7/8 of the games ended in decisive results. It followed 25/40 games being won or lost yesterday.

And tomorrow will surely see more drama as the players battle to stay in the competition.

The Magnus Carlsen Invitational is supported by Breakthrough Initiatives and the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. It is leg four of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour hosted by the Play Magnus Group.

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