The red hot Dutchman knocked out Norway’s no.2 Aryan Tari with a game to spare as he went 18 unbeaten in the event so far. He will face 16-year-old Pragg, who overcame a spirited comeback from Wei Yi to win 2.5-1.5.
The quarter-finals ended with the commentators singing the praises of Giri and Pragg before tomorrow’s face-off. Grandmaster David Howell said Giri is on “top form” and “playing some of the best chess I’ve ever seen him play”. GM Simon Williams said of Pragg: “I’m so impressed with him playing without fear.”
Giri said of his own performance: “I’m thrilled and I’m just enjoying myself.”
In fact, Giri’s match was one of three left on the brink of a quick conclusion after just two games. Giri, Ding and the 16-year-old Pragg all took 2-0 leads leaving them needing just a draw in the third to go through.
Giri’s match ended even quicker than expected. Tari was in a must-win situation but sprung a big surprise when he, inexplicably, offered Giri the draw that knocked himself out of the tournament. The 22-year-old Tari looked totally dejected at the end and appeared to give up. Replay the games here
Meanwhile, Pragg was being made to work hard by a resolute Wei Yi but wrapped his a semi-final spot in nerveless fashion after his Chinese opponent hit back with a win in game 3. It took their marathon tussle to a fourth game during which Pragg walked a tightrope as his Chinese opponent pushed hard for a win. Pragg defended like a lion, and was eventually rewarded when he found a forced draw to seal his place in the semis. Replay the games here
Afterwards, a relieved Pragg said: “I’m just very happy to save that.”
Earlier, after two games Carlsen was 1.5-0.5 up against Spain’s David Anton, having dominated the first game and drawn the second.
In the third, Carlsen played 1.f3 the Bird’s Opening, rarely played at the top level, before overpowering his opponent with the killer 44.a5 to win in the endgame. Anton resigned soon after and Carlsen was into the semis with a game to spare. Two days ago, Magnus Carlsen played one of the worst possible opening moves and still secured his place in the Chessable Masters knockout. Replay the games here
Carlsen joked about his opening: “I think it’s appropriate that I only wheel it out once every few years!”
While Giri faces Pragg, Carlsen will play Ding in the semis tomorrow. Play starts at 18:00 CEST. All the games can be followed live through Chessdom.com.