Magnus Carlsen just about managed to elude the tightening grip of Ding Liren and escaped to a 3.5-2.5 victory in the fourth set for a 3-1 triumph in the semifinals of the $300,000 Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals on Wednesday.

Before Carlsen entered the final, with a set to spare, against Hikaru Nakamura for the best-of-seven-set title-clash starting on Friday, Ding checkmated the World No. 1 in the second rapid game and then made his rival suffer in three games. Finally, Carlsen pulled off a stunning win in the second blitz game after Ding appeared close to forcing the deciding set.

Carlsen, who said his rival “put up an unbelievable fight,” was far from happy with his display. He said “the main takeaway is, I’ve got to be better in the final.”

Carlsen won the first rapid game after punishing Ding in the Anti-Moscow Gambit. The strongest Chinese in the game bounced right…

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