Magnus Carlsen Struggles Before Overcoming Indian Teen Arjun Erigaisi in Three games

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Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, the two front-runners in the 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, sped ahead again in the final event after both won their second round matches.

Newly-crowned Tour champion Carlsen finished for the day early in San Francisco, beating the Indian teen Arjun Erigaisi in three games. It was not a smooth ride, however, as the Norwegian struggled at times, but he now has two match wins in a row and the maximum six points.

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Carlsen was upbeat afterwards, but typically self-critical, saying he got “lucky”. Asked if he was happy with his play, the 31-year-old said, “No. I feel like my instincts are good, but I’m missing stuff.”

Duda, the winner of two events on the Tour so far, also took maximum points again in his match against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The Pole won the first two and then secured the draw he needed in the third with a stylish fortress to keep out his Azeri opponent.

Meanwhile, Indian superstar Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa’s match with Dutch No.1 Anish Giri was a thriller. Pragg blazed his way to two quick wins over Giri as he looked to get off the mark after losing on Monday.

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But then, needing to win twice on demand, Giri launched a stunning comeback on Tuesday to level the match score at 2-2 and take it to blitz tiebreaks. In the first blitz game, Pragg went for the jugular with an ambitious 5. h4 line in the London System. Giri found the ruthless 17… a5 and Pragg was sunk. Having lost three games in a row, Pragg now found himself in a must-win situation.

The 17-year-old from Chennai couldn’t do it. Giri held on for the draw to complete a spectacular turnaround and leap into third on the leaderboard. Giri pointed to the fourth game as the moment he knew he was “in business”. A clearly dejected Pragg agreed, saying “everything went wrong”.

Wesley So’s chances of winning the tournament took a severe blow as he went down 2.5-1.5 to Vietnam’s Liem Quang Le. So, playing in his first Tour event this year, was seen as one of the biggest threats to Carlsen but is yet to get off the mark on the event leaderboard.

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