Polish ace Jan-Krzysztof Duda knocked newly-crowned Tour Champion Magnus Carlsen out of the Aimchess Rapid to set up a mouth-watering final against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov tomorrow. The pair, two of the most chaotic and attacking players in world chess, will go head-to-head over two days after a semi-final full of excitement in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.
Mamedyarov scraped through after beating Romania’s new number 1 Richard Rapport in tiebreaks having come back from a point down. Meanwhile, Duda’s match with Carlsen exploded in the first game after an opening that seemed to go wrong for the champ. Replay all games here
The game turned completely on its head in a matter of seconds. First, Duda had his head in his hands after being tempted by a poisoned bishop with 39.Rxf5? It was a bad blunder that looked to be fatal. But then Carlsen went from completely winning to completely losing in two moves with 41…Ke6? instead of 41…Kc6!
Duda emerged a pawn up in the endgame and went on to win. The 24-year-old from Krakow was one game away from knocking out the new Tour Champion.
Carlsen kept him waiting though. A draw in Game 3 set up a tense final game, a must-win for Carlsen with Duda only needing a draw. Carlsen, with the black pieces, played a King’s Indian. It was tense, but in the end decided by another blunder from Carlsen. The killer blow was a double attack from Duda’s queen with 33.Qf3! and Carlsen resigned.
Duda said afterwards: “I’m very happy, of course. Who wouldn’t want to win? Beating Magnus is probably the most rewarding feeling you can have when playing chess!”
Mamedyarov was up against the form horse Rapport who has got stronger and stronger throughout the tournament. Rapport ended the prelim stage in seventh place, just getting through to the knockout. He came back hard to win against Gukesh D in the quarter-final and started brilliantly with a win today to put Mamedyarov on the back foot.
Yet Mamedyarov, at 37 the oldest player in the event, found a way to get back in the match holding two draws and then taking the final game to level the score at 2-2 and take it to tiebreaks. Another win in the first blitz game and then a draw in the second saw him though.
Asked what to expect in tomorrow’s final, Grandmaster David Howell said: “I’ll say that Duda is a tiny favourite, he is coming off the high of beating Magnus and he also topped the prelims. But Mamedyarov… I have a feeling he’s going to get at least one hit in. There’s going to be some crazy games in this final!”
The two-day final begins tomorrow at 18:00 CEST. Every move will be streamed live and for free on chess24.com/tour and on chess24’s Twitch and YouTube channels.