Magnus Carlsen will again face Wesley So at the end of a Champions Chess Tour event. But this time, the two will battle for third place while Ian Nepomniachtchi takes on Anish Giri for the title at the Magnus Carlsen Invitational.

Magnus Carlsen Invitational odds
Ian Nepomniachtchi knocked off Magnus Carlsen to reach the finals of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, where he’ll face Anish Giri. (Image: Niki Riga/World Chess)

Nepomniachtchi held off a furious comeback by Carlsen to secure his place in the final following a blitz tiebreaker.

Carlsen Falls Short in Comeback Bid

The Russian beat the World Champion 2.5-1.5 in the first set of their semifinal. He then won with Black in Game 2 of the second set to take a 1.5-0.5 lead.

That meant that Nepomniachtchi needed just a single draw to secure a tie in the second set, enough to go through to the Magnus Carlsen Invitational final. But Carlsen won on demand twice in a row to even the match at one set apiece, forcing blitz tiebreakers.

Carlsen held a draw with Black in the first tiebreaker, and appeared to have the better of the chances early in the second game. But the Norwegian faltered, playing himself into a losing endgame before finally blundering his queen to end the game, the match, and the semifinal as a whole.

“Clearly today was a lottery, and I was the one who got the winning ticket,” Nepomniachtchi said after the match.

Nepomniachtchi has proven himself to be a tough matchup for Carlsen, as he is the only player to have a plus score against the World Champion in classical chess. In this case, however, the Russian showed his nerve in speed chess to dethrone Carlsen.

“Ultimately, what decided the match was that he managed to keep his head in the blitz, and I most certainly did not,” Carlsen said afterwards.

Giri Takes Down So to Reach Invitational Final

In the other semifinal, Giri narrowly defeated So in both sets to advance to the Magnus Carlsen Invitational final. So began the first set with a victory, but Giri controlled the match from that point on. The Dutch grandmaster won the final two games of the first set, then took the only win of the second day in Game 4 to win both sets by identical 2.5-1.5 margins.

That leaves Nepomniachtchi and Giri to battle for the Magnus Carlsen Invitational championship. Giri comes in as a slight -125 favorite over Nepomniachtchi (-106) to win the tournament in what should be a tightly contested final.

Meanwhile, Carlsen stands as a slight favorite over So in the third-place match. Unibet lists the World Champion as a +135 pick against So (+190) in Saturday’s first set.

The winner of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational will take home $60,000, while the runner-up will earn $40,000. There’s also significant prize money at stake in the third-place match, with the winner taking $25,000 compared to $15,000 for fourth place. The tournament winner will also earn an automatic bid into the Champions Chess Tour final.

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