Carlsen roars back from horrendous blunder to face Nakamura in the MCI final



Carlsen roars back from horrendous blunder to sting Ding and book his place in the final

A mercurial Magnus Carlsen said he got away with "something akin to murder" after overturning a disastrous collapse to book his place in his own signature tournament today.

The World Champion was visibly distraught as he crashed and burned in a dramatic second game of his semi-final match against “The Chinese Wall” Ding Liren.

But Carlsen showed unbelievable class to quickly recover from that setback and coolly roll over the super-solid Ding in the next two games.

After the tight 2.5-1.5 win, Carlsen said the second half of the match “was just mayhem” and described his blunder as “a complete blindspot”.

"I haven't been in too many of these situations where I face a whole bunch of adversity, so I guess it's good for me," Carlsen said.

Asked whether it was his toughest ever win, the 29-year-old added: "This was dead serious and, as far as tension goes, as much as I've experienced in a long time.

"I feel the same way as I felt after game 10 of the [World Championship] match in London with Fabi, that's really the sort of feeling I had."

Carlsen now advances to tomorrow’s $70,000 final of The Magnus Carlsen Invitational when he will face American speed chess specialist Hikaru Nakamura.

The Norwegian had been brimming with intent at the start of the semi and stormed out of the blocks in the first game with a quick attack.

Ding, however, has been in top form and fended him off impressively.  Carlsen’s initiative fizzled out and the opening game ending in a draw.

In contrast, Game 2 started cagey but burst into life quickly.

Then the unthinkable happened: Carlsen spent five minutes on a key move and blundered it horribly.

A quick checkmate was inevitable and Carlsen was behind. The champion was disgusted with himself and stormed out of his chair. 

Lawrence Trent, commenting on the action, said: “Absolute shocker from the World Champion! He will be distraught and will need the next few minutes to cool down."

Russian Grandmaster called it: "A howler of unbelievable proportions."

But then came the turnaround. Carlsen looked on the ropes again but found a stunning trick to hit back immediately.

Carlsen threw his arms into the air with relief. The match was all square on 1.5 points each and there was everything to play for in the final game.

Asked about his reaction afterward, he said: "There's no faking it at that point, there was just pure joy."

Game 4 was nerve-shredding - but by then Carlsen had the momentum. With time fast running out, Ding had a chance to force a draw but chose to go for a risky win.

The gamble backfired for Ding and the Chinese number 1 imploded, handing victory to Carlsen.

“This is going to sting because he sort of had it,” said Svidler in the commentary box.

On the upcoming final, Carlsen said: "It's going to be awesome tomorrow. I really got away with something akin to murder today and I'm really happy to be here."

Coverage of tomorrow’s grand final begins with pre-match analysis at 15.00 with the action kicking off at 16.00 CEST. 

You can watch it live here:

Video highlights from every round are here: 

Leon Watson