A nerve-jangling start to the $100,000 New In Chess Classic final saw World Champion Magnus Carlsen take an overnight lead over Hikaru Nakamura.
The World Champion broke through in game 3 after two close draws against his big rival.
Then, with Nakamura needing a win in the final fourth game, the momentum appeared to rock in the American’s favour. Was a comeback on?
Not so as a mistake let Carlsen in and Nakamura resigned immediately. It meant the champ sealed Saturday’s match 3-1.
A relieved Carlsen said after: “It was one of those days when neither of us was at our best, but we had great fighting spirit.”
Carlsen and Nakamura face each other again tomorrow for the decisive second encounter.
Nakamura, the US speed demon, needs to win that to take it to a tiebreaker.
Anything less and Carlsen will win his first Meltwater Champions Chess Tour title.
Speaking about his plan for day two of the finals, Carlsen said: “I will try to be solid tomorrow, not score any own goals and take my chances.”
Carlsen had put Nakamura under intense pressure in game 1 and the American was relieved to escape with a draw.
Game 3 was where the match turned. Carlsen appeared to sacrifice a bishop – a move he later described as a “blunder” – and then crushed his opponent in an epic 90-move endgame.
Meanwhile, the third-place play-off match between Levon Aronian and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was marked by an odd quirk.
Aronian and Mamedyarov finished 2-2 after four decisive games of attacking chess. But very much against the odds, the winner in each game played with the black pieces.