Magnus Carlsen faced his kryptonite today as Hikaru Nakamura launched an astonishing comeback win to go just one set away from glory in the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour.
Nakamura and Norway's World Champion fought tooth and nail in an incredibly tight encounter that was decided in a nail-biting final tiebreak game. The regulation four rapid chess games on day 5 of the final finished all-square as the two rivals matched each other blow-for-blow in a series of draws.
But then in a two-game blitz playoff, Carlsen pulled a rabbit out of the hat with his choice of opening and win the first. It looked like curtains for Nakamura because Carlsen simply does not lose in situations like these. But the five-time US champ did what no-one else appears able to do and beat Carlsen when the pressure is really on in a must-win second blitz game.
It was an astonishing turnaround that had Nakamura saying afterward it was a "crazy match".
"I was thrilled that I got to the Armageddon because after the first blitz game I assumed it was over," he said afterward.
Before the final, Carlsen had lost just 1 out of his last 23 matches. Now Nakamura has beaten him in 3 out of the last 5. Nakamura has been 1-0 and 2-1 up in sets so far in the match leaving Carlsen to play catch-up and blowing apart any lingering thoughts that the climax of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour would be a coronation.
After today's result, the pre-event tour favorite Carlsen needs to win tomorrow or face losing his own signature tournament.
The final of the world's richest, most prestigious online chess tournament, played between two of the game's fiercest rivals, really could not be more dramatic.
For the third day in a row viewing figures hit new highs across chess24 channels along to watch the drama unfold.
Play is due to start again today at 16:00 CEST.
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During the event, chess24 and Kiva will highlight stories where chess has changed people’s lives under the official tournament social media hashtag #ImpactChess.
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More details on the Finals
The Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour was devised by Norway’s World Champion and chess24 after traditional over the board chess was halted suddenly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tour Final kicks off on August 9 and runs until August 20. It is the culmination of four elite-level super-tournaments that began in March as a way of getting chess started again while other sports worldwide were prohibited.
The first four stages of the first Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour were:
Four players have qualified for the final crescendo of chess after being the best performers during the preceding tour events. The winner of the Tour Final, which has a total prize pot of $300,000, will scoop a top prize of $140,000 and the title of Champion of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour.
Tournament rules and schedule
The Tour Final will be a 12-day event running from August 9 to August 20. Time control is a rapid 15m + 10s from move 1 played in the chess24 Playzone.
The semi-finals of the Tour Final tournament will be a best of 5 four-game mini-matches. The final will be a best of 7 mini-matches. As usual, play will start at 16:00 CEST.
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