Magnus Carlsen lost two games in under 25 moves each, but still rallied to beat Daniil Dubov in an Armageddon tiebreaker and go through to the semifinals of the Opera Euro Rapid online chess tournament.
Carlsen will now face off against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a two-leg semifinal beginning on Thursday.
Carlsen Squeaks Out Win in Armageddon
The World Champion got off to a flying start against Dubov on Tuesday, winning both of his White games to score a 2.5-0.5 victory in the first set. After an opening draw, Carlsen allowed Dubov to build a crushing kingside attack in Game 2, then blundered a piece in Game 3 to quickly drop two games and the second set.
The nightmares continued in the blitz tiebreakers. After falling behind in Game 1, Carlsen managed to complicate the situation and ultimately earn an unexpected win. But with a minimum of a draw seemingly assured in Game 2, Carlsen made an incorrect capture that allowed Dubov to go up two pawns in an opposite-color bishop endgame. Dubov converted cleanly to force an Armageddon game.
Carlsen took White in the must-win contest. While Dubov simplified into what appeared to be a drawn endgame, the World Champion pushed and prodded, eventually achieving a winning advantage before the Russian grandmaster ran out of time.
“It’s a relief, the final result, but a thoroughly disgusting performance on my part and I’ve got to be a lot better,” Carlsen said afterwards. “The preliminaries were one step forward and this was two steps back. At least I’m through, it’s better than not being. But overall, a very, very disappointing day of chess.”
So, MVL, Radjabov Reach Opera Euro Rapid Semis
Wesley So took an easier path into the Opera Euro Rapid semifinals. The American came from behind to win the final two games on Tuesday and take his first set against Jan-Krzysztof Duda by a 2.5-1.5 margin. Wednesday’s contest wasn’t nearly as close: So won the first two games, enough to clinch at least a tie in the second set and giving him the overall match.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave advanced over Levon Aronian by winning the first set 2.5-1.5, then holding on for a 2-2 draw on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Airthings Masters winner Teimour Radjabov played to two straight 2-2 draws – including four straight drawn games on Wednesday – against Anish Giri, before beating the Dutch grandmaster 1.5-0.5 in the blitz tiebreakers to advance.
|Opera Euro Rapid Semifinal Odds (via Bwin)|
|Magnus Carlsen: -500||Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: +325|
|Wesley So: -165||Teimour Radjabov: +125|
|Magnus Carlsen: -155|
|Wesley So: +300|
|Teimour Radjabov: +500|
|Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: +600|
That sets up two semifinal matchups featuring four of the top five players in the Champions Chess Tour standings. Bwin rates Carlsen as a -500 favorite over Vachier-Lagrave (+325), while So (-165) holds a slight edge over Radjabov (+125) on the other side of the bracket.
Overall, Carlsen remains a -155 pick to win the Opera Euro Rapid, ahead of So (+300), Radjabov (+500) and Vachier-Lagrave (+600).