Favourites Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi took identical routes to get past Fabiano Caruana and Vladislav Artemiev on their way to the semifinals of the $150,000 Chessable Masters on Saturday.
Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi recorded their second successive 2.5-0.5 victories over their rivals to clinch the best-of-three match quarterfinals 2-0. After signing peace in the opening games, they won the next two. On Thursday too, they proved their superiority with a rapid game to spare.
With Caruana and Artemiev desperate to win and force the decider, it did not come as a surprise when they soon found themselves on a path to self-destruction.
Carlsen, as though to make amends for letting Caruana off the hook in the first game, ripped open the defences of the castled black king by launching a fierce attack with his rook pair and a bishop.
In the third game, Caruana looked better off following the opening phase. However, he faltered on the 18th move with the choice of a dubious capture of bishop with his queen, instead of rook, and let the advantage slip away. Thereafter, following a series of exchanges, Carlsen launched a kingside offensive with his queen and knight and eventually sealed the tie in 50 moves.
In contrast, Nepomniachtchi had his nervous moments before posting two victories.
After the first game was fought on an even keel, Artemiev raised visions of a win. But he misplayed a dominant position on the 25th move and got checkmated on the 50th.
In the third game, too, Artemiev lost control after a promising position. He committed a blunder on the 20th move and resigned on the 27th move, when faced with an inevitable checkmate in the next seven moves.
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