Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura will fight it out in a Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge semi-final decider after the American squared their tie today.
Nakamura, the world's top-rated blitz chess player, was calm and controlled as he hit back hard in a must-win match against Norway's World Champion.
Carlsen, playing in his signature Magnus Carlsen Tour event, had convincingly won yesterday's encounter 3-0. Speaking on a Twitch stream afterward he showed he was typically confident going into the second. But today was very different.
The first game was a stunner - and it turned out to be extremely important. Carlsen launched a buccaneering attack on Nakamura involving a piece sacrifice. Carlsen was clearly winning at one point, but a blunder in a very tense position let Nakamura counter and Carlsen lost it. At one point, Carlsen - still confident - even turned down a draw by repetition and played 26…g3 which turned out to be a fatal error.
"It was a pretty wild game, but I found a way to win," said Nakamura afterward. "It was a little bit lucky to win this game, but I'll take it."
Game 2, which Nakamura described as "a complete mess", was no less dramatic - despite ending in a draw. Carlsen had a strong position but his advantage evaporated after an apparent mouse-slip.
The resulting draw meant Nakamura retained the lead and went into the third game with a chance of ending the match early. Carlsen bided his time with the Black pieces and steered the game to a second draw that left him with all his chips on the final game.
Yet with Carlsen straining for a win, Nakamura remained solid and played out a third draw that won him the match and got him right back into the seminal.
Meanwhile, in the other match, Daniil Dubov was busy blowing away an out-of-sorts Ding Liren. The Russian smashed through China's number one in the first game to build on his first mini-match win yesterday.
"Dubov just checkmated Ding Liren in 23 moves with Black. What is going on?" said Jan Gustafsson in the commentary box.
Dubov then went 2-0 up against Ding leaving the Chinese needing a minor miracle to reach the final. Ding, who was not his normal solid self, then could not stop Daniil’s steering the third game into a match-ending draw. Dubov goes through to the final with a 2.5-0.5 win against Ding today and 2-0 overall.
Asked who he would like to play in the final, Dubov said: "I would definitely prefer to play Magnus. I just think it would be much more interesting to play him … I just prefer to play the best players. Obviously, Magnus is much stronger than Hikaru."
The event, which runs until June 3, is being put on in association with the Lindores Abbey Heritage Society, which maintains the historic site.
Coverage begins with commentary in 10 languages at 16.00 CEST.
You can watch it live here
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