Ding Liren is looking to follow up his quarterfinal upset of Hikaru Nakamura by beating World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in the semifinals of the Chessable Masters online tournament.
Carlsen swept Fabiano Caruana in his quarterfinal match, winning both sets by 2.5-0.5 scores.
Liren Takes Down Nakamura in Decisive Third Match
That put Carlsen into the semifinal round for the third straight time in his namesake tour. After his win, he reflected on the nature of the online events, which have used a 15-minute time control with a 10-second increment added after each move.
“I’ve sort of always found rapid chess the most difficult, because it’s such a tricky hybrid between classical and blitz chess,” Carlsen said. “There’s almost always going to be two phases of the game, one classical phase and one blitz phase, and to balance them is very, very hard, but I think it’s also a very entertaining form of play and even though I find it difficult I still enjoy it both as a spectator but also as a player.”
Liren had a much tougher test against Nakamura. After taking the first set on Friday, Sunday’s second match produced high drama. Up 2-1, Nakamura appeared moments away from sealing the deal in the final game when he blundered in a drawn endgame, sending the set to tiebreaks.
Liren won the first blitz game, but Nakamura kept his hopes alive by striking back in the second. The American then convincingly won the final Armageddon game with white to force a third set on Monday.
— chess24.com (@chess24com) June 29, 2020
It was Liren who took full control on the final day. After an opening draw, the Chinese grandmaster won two straight games to clinch his semifinal spot, 2.5-0.5. With the loss, Nakamura failed to make the final for the first time on the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour.
Birthday Boy Giri Reaches Semifinals
In the other Chessable Masters semifinal, Anish Giri will take on Ian Nepomniachtchi after both scored 2-0 sweeps in their quarterfinal matchups. Nepomniachtchi easily swept aside fellow Russian Vladislav Artemiev with two 2.5-0.5 wins. Alexander Grischuk put up more resistance against Giri: after their first match ended in seven straight draws – Giri drawing the Armageddon game with black to take the set – Giri won twice with black on the second day to score a 3-1 victory.
Chessable Masters Semifinal Odds
- Magnus Carlsen (-278) vs. Ding Liren (+200)
- Ian Nepomniachtchi (-220) vs. Anish Giri (+160)
Odds via Unibet
The victory was especially sweet for Giri, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday, the same day he clinched his first semifinal appearance on the tour.
“Kept my eyes on the ball and qualified to the final four at the Chessable Masters!” Giri wrote on Instagram.
While both semifinal matchups promise to be competitive, Carlsen comes into the final four as the favorite to win the Chessable Masters. Online bookmaker Unibet has the world champion as the -225 pick to pick up his second title on his namesake tour, but Liren (+400), Nepomniachtchi (+400), and Giri (+700) all have realistic shots at picking up the $45,000 top prize.