Chess Tour Finals, highlights semifinals: Liren stuns Carlsen, Dubov takes lead against Nakamura

Catch the highlights of the Chess Tour Finals semifinals, the $300,000 Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals.

Magnus Carlsen takes on Ding Liren in the semifinal.   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES

Catch Sunday's action from 7.30 pm:



Chess tour final semis preview

A “tired” Ding Liren feels his chances of overcoming an in-form Magnus Carlsen are “low” ahead of their semifinal clash in the $300,000 Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals beginning on Sunday. The richest online chess event, initially called the Grand Final, brings together USA’s Hikaru Nakamura and Russia’s Daniil Dubov in the other semifinal.

In the four-man field, each player is sure of $40,000. The winner’s share is $140,000 and the runner-up gets $80,000. The four spots in this finale of the million-dollar Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour were reserved for the winners of the four events. Since Carlsen won three and Dubov, the other, the remaining two spots went to non-winners, Nakamura and Liren, on the basis of their points.

READ: Legends of Chess: Carlsen beats Nepomniachtchi to clinch title

Answering questions before the event, Liren said: “All the players have been playing (on the Tour) are tired. But I am not tired because of the games or playing too many tournaments (since April). It is mainly because of the timing. For me, in China, the games begin at 10 pm. If each of the four rapid rounds goes for an hour, then for me it is 2 a.m. Thereafter, it is not easy to sleep immediately,” said the genial Chinese No. 1.

About his chances against Carlsen, Liren said, “I think they are low. I did beat him in the last Sinquefield Cup playoff (and also in the 2019 Tata Steel event in Kolkata).  But that has not happened often. If it happens often, then he won’t be Magnus Carlsen.”

The Norwegian too showed a lot of respect for the Chinese when asked to look at the much-awaited clash. “It’s going to be unbelievably tough. He obviously had a terrible event (Legends of Chess), but he's shown such class in the other events of the Tour that it’s plain to see that he’s a very strong opponent. I just hope his Internet’s going to be fine in general and that we’re going to have some exciting duels,” said the World champion, touching upon Liren’s poor Internet connectivity that has cost him a few games on the Tour.

Nakamura and Dubov were involved in two tough encounters on the Tour. Dubov, the 2018 World rapid champion, defeated Nakamura to win the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge in June. Nakamura avenged the loss by knocking out the Russian in the final preliminary round of Chessable Masters.

The semifinals will be best of five sets, with each set comprising four rapid games. In case the players are tied 2-2, two blitz games will be played and thereafter, if 3-3, an Armageddon game to break the tie. The final will be the best of seven sets.

Given the format, it favours a player like Dubov who has beaten Carlsen more number of times than any other player in the two events that he has played on the Tour. Nakamura, the much-followed player for his style, will have to bring out his best to stop the Russian.