World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen wasted little time defeating Levon Aronian and advancing to the semifinals of his namesake tournament, the Magnus Carlsen Invitational.
Carlsen finished off the two-set series without losing a single game, winning the first match 2.5-0.5, then securing victory by gaining a 2-1 lead in the second set on Wednesday.
Carlsen crushes Aronian to reach semis
The Norwegian won the first two games against Aronian on Tuesday, then never looked back.
“It’s been a pretty consistent theme, I feel, at least in the last tournament and this, that I play well on the first day,” Carlsen said after the first set. “I think my win rate with White in the first game must be pretty high, and that sort of sets the tone for the rest of the day.”
Carlsen won with Black in Game 1 on the second day of play, then managed to hold off Aronian by securing two draws to go through. He was less impressed by his performance in the second set, however.
“It wasn’t very good,” Carlsen said afterward. “Today in general, I felt like I played a lot worse than I did the other days. But fortunately, I got the job done.”
The Magnus Carlsen Invitation is the fourth event – and second major – of the Champions Chess Tour season. Carlsen has yet to win an event on the tour, though he has lost two finals, both to Wesley So. Bwin now rates Carlsen as the -155 favorite to win his namesake tournament.
To get back to the final, Carlsen will have to beat Jan Nepomniachtchi. The Russian upset American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, winning the first two games on Wednesday on his way to a 2.5-0.5 victory. Since the two players drew their first match, the win was enough to send Nepomniachtchi through to the semifinals.
Carlsen comes into that semifinal matchup as a -650 favorite over Nepomniachtchi (+400) to reach the final.
So faces Giri in second semifinal matchup
On the other side of the bracket, Wesley So easily advanced past youngster Alireza Firouzja. So won both legs of the match by identical 2.5-0.5 scores in a thoroughly overwhelming performance.
The American will move on to face fan-favorite Anish Giri. After drawing the first match against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Giri won both of his White games on Wednesday to dispatch the Frenchman by a 3-1 score.
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That sets up what should be a tight semifinal encounter. So (-275) comes into the contest as the favorite, but Giri (+200) will be hungry to make his first final of the Champions Chess Tour season.
|Magnus Carlsen Invitational Odds (via Bwin)|
|Magnus Carlsen: -155||Wesley So: +150|
|Anish Giri: +700||Jan Nepomniachtchi: +1400|
|Semifinal Match Odds|
|Carlsen: -650||Nepomniachtchi: +400|
|So: -275||Giri: +200|
Overall, So stands as the +150 second choice to win the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, ahead of Giri (+700) and Nepomniachtchi (+1400).
The winner of the Magnus Carlsen invitational will take home $60,000 and a guaranteed spot in the tour final in September. All four remaining players will win at least $15,000.