Wesley So fended off Jorden Van Foreest’s spirited challenge today to move safely in the Chessable Masters semis.
The US Champion overcame his Dutch opponent with two wins and a draw to set up a mouth-watering match against the Russian Vladislav Artemiev.
But it took a marked step up in form and a lucky break in the third game for So to manage it. Van Foreest was crushed on Day 2, but he battled hard and had chances.
So congratulated his opponent afterwards and acknowledged 22-year-old Van Foreest could have won the last game.
Carlsen chase hots up
So, however, now goes into another semi final and can entertain serious thoughts of overhauling World Champion Magnus Carlsen’s overall lead in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.
So is the only player who can stop Carlsen and needs to win this event and better Carlsen in the next.
Meanwhile, as So looked imperious so did Levon Aronian, the winner of the Goldmoney Asian Rapid.
Aronian battered Azerbaijan’s number 1 Shakrhiyar Mamedyarov over the two quarter-final matches and went through today 2-1.
Aronian on top
Aronian was still not happy. The 38-year-old said his first two games were “very sloppy” but his third “worked out nicely”.
He added: “Sometimes I feel like I’m a complete patzer and then I think, if I am a complete patzer then what do some guys who are not very good at chess think?”
Vietnam’s Liem Quang Le was the first player through to the semis when he knocked out 18-year-old Alireza Firouzja with two games to spare.
Liem, a former World Blitz Champion, steamrollered Firouzja 2-0 to book a spot in a Tour semi-final for the first time.
Liem will face Aronian for a place in the final.
The final match to finish was Artemiev’s tight tussle with the American speed demon Hikaru Nakamura.
The pair were neck-and-neck going into the final game having drawn all four encounters yesterday.
Artemiev took control but Nakamura hung on to take the match to tiebreaks.
After the pair traded wins in the blitz section, the quarter-final went down to a tense armageddon shootout.
It was Artemiev who held his nerve to claim a big scalp and knock out the American.
Tomorrow’s first semi-final matches kick off at 17:00 CEST.
All matches in the Chessable Masters are hosted in chess24.com’s playzone and available to watch on the platform’s Twitch and YouTube channels for free.
The Chessable Masters is the penultimate leg of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour before the Finals event in San Francisco, where the ultimate winner will be crowned the world’s best online chess player.