Chessable Masters: Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi take lead

Magnus Carlsen simply destroyed Fabiano Caruana by handing out a 2.5-0.5 drubbing in the first set of rapid games during the quarterfinals

World champion Magnus Carlsen dominated World No. 2 Fabiano Caruana in the Chessable Masters on Thursday (File Photo).   -  AFP

It was hard to imagine World champion Magnus Carlsen dominate World No. 2 Fabiano Caruana the way he did on Thursday.

The world’s best player simply destroyed his nearest challenger in the world rankings by handing out a 2.5-0.5 drubbing in the first set of rapid games in the quarterfinals of the $150,000 Chessable Masters.

In the other quarterfinal of the day, Ian Nepomniachtchi, too, scored a 2.5-0.5 over his young Russian compatriot Vladislav Artemiev.

Carlsen won the first game with white pieces after gaining a pawn-advantage. In the second, Carlsen worked a bit harder to score another authoritative victory with black pieces. In the third, Carlsen realised Caruana misplayed the opening phase and pushed his rival on the defensive. Carlsen did not press too hard for the win and forced a draw by perpetual checks for the half-point needed to close the first set of rapid games.

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“It was a pretty good day but I just got to keep it up,” said Carlsen after winning the match. He also revealed that in the second game, a mouse slip did not prove costly, as he got lucky to get a counter-attack going.

Ian Nepomniachtchi gained from a connectivity issue faced by Artemiev in the first game and ‘won’ in a completely drawn position.

In trouble, Nepomniachtchi sacrificed a rook to get into a position where he could force a draw by perpetual checks. When the internet connection was lost for Artemiev, he had an extra rook and a knight. Unfortunately, Artemiev’s lost connection decided the game.

In the second game, Artemiev raised visions of levelling the score but Nepomniachtchi defended well to earn a draw.

In the third, Nepomniachtchi traded a bishop for a rook and easily converted his advantage to close the clash, and match Carlsen’s scoreline.

The quarterfinals involve best-of-three sets of best-of-four rapid games and if needed, blitz games. On Friday, the other two quarterfinals - Hikaru Nakamura vs Ding Liren and Alexander Grischuk vs Anish Giri - will take place.

The results:

Quarterfinals: Magnus Carslen (Nor) beat Fabiano Caruana (USA) 2.5-0.5; Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus) beat Vladislav Artemiev (Rus) 2.5-0.5

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