Ding smoothly took down Firouzja while Carlsen edged Nakamura in Armageddon



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Magnus Carlsen wins tense tiebreak against blitz king Nakamura

Magnus Carlsen set the pace in his own $250,000 signature tournament today with a tense tiebreak win over the world’s best blitz player.

The World Champion’s four-game rapid match against Hikaru Nakamura in The Magnus Carlsen Invitational went to a tense “Armageddon” play-off after the pair were left locked on two games each.

A blitz game followed which Carlsen won despite Nakamura complaining he had been disturbed during play. The American, however, did not launch an appeal.

He tweeted: “Fun match, very unsatisfactory ending with the arbiter writing a message to me in the middle of the game to abort while I am thinking about playing Kf1 or Kh1! Not that it changes the outcome, but still…”

Carlsen and Nakamura had traded blows in the first two regulation rapid games but the Norwegian’s impressive win in game three was a body-blow to his opponent.

Going into the final game 2-1 up the champion was the hot favourite. But he became visibly frustrated as it descended into a blunder-fest that left him in an impossible position.

Following Carlsen’s resignation to leave the match all square, commentator Alexander Grischuk said: “I was just shocked by the game, it was terrible.”

The match then went to the “Armageddon” play-off.

In the other round 1 match, 16-year-old Alireza Firouzja could find no way through “The Chinese Wall” Ding Liren going down 2.5-1.5.

The pair’s first game was a draw but Ding outplayed Firouzja in games 2 and 3, although was unable to seal the third game.

Going into the final game, the world number 3 needed just a draw which he duly secured.

Round 1 will be completed on Sunday when four national number ones face each other. Fabiano Caruana (US) plays Russia’s Ian Neopomniachtchi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) faces Anish Giri (Netherlands).