Magnus Carlsen needed an Armageddon tiebreak yet again, but found a way to get past Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and reach the finals of the Opera Euro Rapid online chess tournament.

Opera Euro Rapid odds final
Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So will renew their rivalry in the finals of the Opera Euro Rapid tournament. (Image: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com)

The World Champion will take on Wesley So, who finished off Teimour Radjabov in their semifinal to advance.

Carlsen Advances Despite Continuing Struggles

Carlsen won the first set of his semifinal 2.5-0.5, meaning he only needed a 2-2 draw on Day 2 in order to go through to the final. But after two draws, Vachier-Lagrave won Game 3 with White to put himself on the verge of tying up the match. Carlsen then pushed hard to win Game 4, but an error was compounded by a mouse slip that cost him his queen on the 24th move.

With Vachier-Lagrave claiming a 3-1 win on Day 2, the match went to tiebreakers. Both players won their respective White games in the blitz mini-match, taking the match to an Armageddon tiebreaker.

Carlsen chose to take White in the Armageddon game, just as he did against Daniil Dubov in the quarterfinals. That meant he needed to win the game to advance, though he also had a one-minute advantage on the clock.

“I think it really depends on the opponent and how the match is going in so on,” Carlsen said of his decision. “It’s not a coincidence that I chose White against two very aggressive and sharp players. To me, again, it was obvious. I struggled mightily with Black in the last couple of games against him and I thought, yeah, a minute up, an interesting position, should sort of be fine.”

Carlsen Favored in Opera Euro Rapid Final

Carlsen played a Grunfeld, and gained a winning advantage with the stunning Qh6 on his 27th move. While he didn’t convert in the cleanest fashion, Carlsen quickly put Vachier-Lagrave away to secure his spot in the final.

“I feel like today it was more Maxime playing well and posing me some very difficult problems,” Carlsen said. “I’m still making horrendous blunders in some of these games, but at least I had a lot more fun today than I did against Dubov, and I felt like I played better at the very least, and I think also Maxime did great today.”

Meanwhile, So calmly put away Radjabov in their match. Already up a set, So needed just a draw on Friday to reach the final. After starting with two draws, So won a beautiful game with Black to take a 2-1 lead, enough to clinch advancement.

The results set up a rematch of the Skilling Open final between Carlsen and So. Bwin rates Carlsen as the -200 favorite to win the tournament, with the American listed at +145 to score what would be only a minor upset. The winner will claim the $30,000 first prize, while the runner-up will settle for $15,000.

Radjabov and Vachier-Lagrave will also play off for third place. Bwin rates the match as a tossup, with both players going off at -115 to win.

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