Arjun Erigaisi continued to recover from the loss of the first three rounds by completing a hat-trick of victories after brushing aside the unpredictable Vietnamese Le Quang Liem 2.5-0.5 in the sixth round of the $210,000 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals on Saturday.
However, R. Praggnanandhaa could not reproduce his magic against the in-form World champion Magnus Carlsen and surrendered 0.5-2.5. With this, Carlsen opened a five-point lead at the top and ensured the title with a round to spare.
In the other two matches, Wesley So blanked Poland’s Jan-Krzysztof Duda 3-0 and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov added to the woes of Anish Giri by inflicting a 2.5-0.5 defeat. In the final round, fourth-ranked Arjun plays seventh-placed Praggnanandhaa.
Arjun was at his best against Liem who took Carlsen to the decisive Armageddon game in the previous round.
In the first game, Arjun benefited from Liem’s decision to trade his queen for a rook and a minor piece and won in 66 moves. In the second, Arjun cashed in on a 29th-move blunder and eventually checkmated Liem in 41 moves.
Needing just a draw to close the match, Arjun gained a completely winning position but chose to draw by a three-fold repetition and posted his third triumph in as many days.
Much was expected from Praggnanandhaa since the youngster had three victories this year against Carlsen. But on this day, the Norwegian superstar gave nothing away. He won the first two games by dominating the young Indian and drew the third in an equal position.