Two thrilling blitz chess playoffs decided the Goldmoney Asian Rapid semi-final line-up as Magnus Carlsen survived a fierce comeback.
The World Champion finally overcame two-time US champ Wesley So after the man dubbed the “Comeback King” launched a nerveless rearguard action to level the match.
Carlsen will now face world number 4 Levon Aronian tomorrow after the 38-year-old overcame stiff resistance from Indian teen sensation Arjun Erigaisi.
Aronian and Arjun, the youngest and oldest left in the $100,000 event, drew yesterday’s match and then played out four fighting draws today as the youngster pushed hard for the win.
But having used all his experience to keep Arjun at bay, the wily Aronian was too strong in the playoff.
Nevertheless, getting this far in a Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event was undoubtedly a big breakthrough on the world stage for the 17-year-old.
Asked how hard it was facing Arjun, Aronian said: “Very tough because I didn’t know him well and he turned out to be a very difficult opponent.”
Carlsen, meanwhile, appeared to be cruising after winning the first match yesterday and then going ahead again in the first game today.
Wesley strikes back
But after, a quick “Berlin” draw in the second, Carlsen started to drift and So took his chance.
The American took full advantage of a series of small errors to win two in a row and take the match 2.5-1.5. It levelled the scores overall and meant tiebreaks for a place in the semis.
Carlsen, the Tour leader, would not let the unthinkable happen again against So and the Norwegian dominated the two blitz games to finally deny his nemesis. What a quarter-final it was.
Russian debutant Vladislav Artemiev had been the first name into the semis with a crushing and quick win over Netherlands number 1 Anish Giri.
The speed specialist was mightily impressive as he followed up yesterday’s three wins with a fourth in a row and then secured two draws to go through.
Giri, who revealed this week he has just become a father for the second time, simply didn’t get a look-in against the 23-year-old.
Artemiev will face China’s number 1 Ding Liren who triumphed in a tight match against the dangerous Pole Jan-Krzysztof Duda.
Artemiev said: “Of course, it is a very good result for me and I am happy because Anish is a very good player.”
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.