Magnus Invitational SF Day 1: World Champions in peril
If you checked the odds of both world champions and previous event's finalists losing the first set of Semi-Finals in Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Magnus Carlsen Invitational, you would have seen it's slim. Of course you cannot take anything away from Nepomniachtchi or Giri as they both can beat anyone in the world on any given day which is exactly what happened. Nepomniachtchi remained undefeated while Giri came back strong after losing the first game. Will Nepomniachtchi and Giri continue their momentum today? Semi-Finals continue tonight from 9:30 p.m. IST with live commentary by IM Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal on ChessBase India youtube channel. Photo: Tata Steel Chess
Carlsen and So on the brink of elimination
Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So were the favorites heading into the Semi-Finals. However Nepomniachtchi and Giri proved wrong as they both beat their respective opponents 2.5-1.5 in the first set. The finalists of Opera Euro Rapid stare at the elimination from Magnus Invitational. While both of them are known to make comebacks, it will be interesting to see if Nepomniachtchi and Giri can make the most out of their opportunity and set a clash at the Finals.
Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi: 1.5-2.5
Carlsen seemed to have a decent advantage in the Queen endgame against Nepomniachtchi in the first game.
Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, Game 1
White could have pushed the passed pawn with 60.d6. The game went on with 60.Qe6 which allowed black to get back in the game with 60...Qxg3+. Eventually it ended up in a draw after another 40 moves.
The second game was a grandmaster draw in just 20 moves. The score remain tied at 1-1. Nepomniachtchi once again played Queen's Gambit Accepted but this time Carlsen deviated with 6.e5.
Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, Game 3
Nepomniachtchi played the middle game better and his position looked comfortable too. When the opportunity occured, he struck it with 26...Nf4 after which white did not have a decent reply. 27.gxf4 Rg4 28.h3 Rxh4 29.Bxb7 Kxb7 30.Qf3+ Ka6! and it was still not over. However, white's next move 31.d5 which was trying to open the bishop's path, did not help white's cause.
White's desperate exchange sacrifice with 32.Rxe6 after 31...Nxd5, just self-destructed the position.
The fourth game was also a hard fought draw. Thus Nepomniachtchi won the first set 2.5-1.5
Giri - So: 2.5-1.5
Giri got advantageous position in the first game against So. However he was unable to maintain it.
Giri - So, Game 1
White needed to exchange queens here with 26.Qxh5 Bxh5 27.Ndf1 and white would have been absolutely fine. But 26.Qc3 was white loosening his grip of the position.
29.Nf5 turned out to be the straw that broke the camel's back as black crashed through white's center with 29...Rxe4 and white resigned after another three moves.
So-Giri also made a grandmaster draw in their second game in 25 moves. In the third game, So made a couple of unforced errors.
Giri - So, Game 3
29...Kg7 presented the opportunity for white to break the center wide open with 30.e5. After 30...Qd7 31.Re4 Qd5 only invited trouble with 32.exf6+ and now black is forced to play the unpleasant 32...Kxf6. It goes without saying that it all went downhill for black afterwards and white won the game.
In the fourth game, So made an erroneous decision in an already difficult position to make matters worse for himself.
So - Giri, Game 4
24.f5 was completely uncalled for. White could have done 24.Bd3 and things would be just fine. With this victory, Giri won the first set 2.5-1.5
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