Magnus Carlsen closed in on the Tata Steel Chess tournament with a win over Poland’s over Jan-Krzysztof Duda in 71 moves on Saturday while former five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand’s chances of securing the top spot effectively ended when he was held to a draw in 41 moves by Chinese Grandmaster Ding Liren. On the penultimate day of the tournament in Lieden, Anand had to secure a win in order to stay in contention and hope for Carlsen to lose or draw the match against Duda but the reigning world champion showed his class and came out on top after the Polish GM made a blunder on pawn h6 and this resulted in him losing his queen to come under immense pressure.
Although Carlsen also lost his queen a couple of moves later, Duda employed a solid defensive line but missed out on some key moments yet again to give Carlsen a big win. With Carlsen winning, the onus was on Anand to win against Ding. Playing with black, Anand was put under pressure but he held his line and managed to reverse the position. Both players attacked and had their winning moments but the players agreed to a draw.
Ian Nepomniachtchi, the Russian Grandmaster who was also in with a faint chance, lost his chance to challenge Carlsen for the title as he lost in 35 moves to US Champion Samuel Shankland, who had earlier resigned from a drawn position in his previous game against Holland’s Anish Giri. The decision to resign from a position which was deemed a draw by a majority of experts prompted Giri to describe it as the American having an ‘hallucination.’
Giri, on the other hand, drew in 31 moves against Teimour Radjabov but he remains the only player who can effectively dethrone Carlsen for the Tata Steel title, trailing by just half a point heading into the final round.
The final round will be played on Sunday and Anand’s campaign will end against fellow Indian Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi. The title will be decided when Carlsen takes on Giri, with their rivalry dominating the chess landscape. Giri has drawn 16, lost one and won one encounter against Carlsen but their rivalry exploded on Twitter in 2018, when Carlsen said Giri had to win a title in order to be taken seriously.