Chinese powerhouse Ding Liren underlined his credentials in the $150,000 Chessable Masters today with a cool first-set win over Hikaru Nakamura.
The 27-year-old national number 1 drew first blood in the heavyweight pair's race to the semis with a crucial second game victory. Nakamura tried to fight back and threw caution to the wind in the next two games, but couldn't break through "The Chinese Wall". Ding closed out the set 2.5-1.5.
Nakamura, who has become a huge star in online gaming, has failed to find his form so far in this tournament and only just scraped into the last eight from his prelim group. Ding is now the firm favorite to make it through while Nakamura has to win on Sunday to take it to a decider on Monday or face an early exit.
World Champion Magnus Carlsen or world number 2 Fabiano Caruana will lie in wait for the winner in the semis.
In the other tie, it took a two-game blitz chess play-off and then an Armageddon tiebreaker to separate Anish Giri and Alexander Grischuk after they played out four consecutive draws. The draws were not without drama though. Giri spurned a clear chance to go in front in game two and allowed Grischuk to pull off a miraculous save. Watching online, Carlsen remarked on Twitter: "My boy @anishgiri snatching a draw from the jaws of victory."
Giri and Grischuk then went into a blitz play-off which saw two more draws - making six drawn games in total between the two. In the Armageddon game, Giri chose the black pieces with a time disadvantage so only needed to draw which he duly did to finally win the set. On Saturday Carlsen and Caruana are back in action with Caruana needing a win. Ian Nepominachtchi is ahead in the other quarter with a 1-0 lead over Vladislav Artemiev.
About the tournament
The Chessable Masters, broadcast live on chess24, is the next stage of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour which carries a total prize pot of $1 million, a record for the online game.
The event, which runs until July 5, is being put on in association with Chessable and the tour's Education Partner, leading Swiss private banking group, Julius Baer.
The final winner will take home top prize of $45,000 and a ticket to the $300,000 tour Grand Final.
Coverage begins with commentary in 10 languages at 16.00 CEST.
You can watch it live here: https://chess24.com/en/watch/live-tournaments/chessable-masters-2020-group-a#live
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