Giri hits top gear as Ding overcomes internet outage to make knockouts

The challenges of elite online chess events were laid bare today as Ding Liren overcame connection problems to book a place in the Chessable Masters knockout.

China’s number 1 made it through a tight Group B despite suffering a loss when his internet failed against the eventual leader Anish Giri.

On a day of twists and turns, Ding then benefitted from a quirk of the online game himself when one of his opponents – the top Russian player Ian Nepomniachtchi – suffered a mouse-slip.

Nepomniachtchi, like Ding, recovered and went on to tie down a spot in the quarters. World number 2 Fabiano Caruana also qualified finishing fourth overall.

Giri said afterward: “I knew today that I would have to be fighting from the first game to the last so I was ready for that but I was quick lucky along the way.”

On his Round 7 win, he added: “I was slightly better against Ding but it was going to be a draw and then he disconnected.

“I’m really happy for him that he bounced back because it would be so unfortunate for him if he had to finish last because of the disconnect.”

Today’s top four join World Champion Magnus Carlsen, Vladislav Artemiev, Hikaru Nakamura and Alexander Grischuk from Group A in the last eight.

The day’s play started with Teimour Radjabov missing an early chance to get back in the running and having to settle for a draw against Nepomniachtchi.

But then a bloody Round 2 really shook up the standings.

Nepomniachtchi downed Caruana in scintillating style, Radjabov showed he still had plenty of fight in him to hit back against Vachier-Lagrave and Giri benefitted when Ding suffered the disconnection.

Ding, playing from China, couldn’t reconnect and ran out of time to hand Giri victory the sole lead.

Ding, however, bounced back in the next round to score a full-point against Nepomniachtchi after the Russian suffered a mouse-slip – another danger in online chess.

Caruana also hit back beating Vachier-Lagrave while Radjabov-Giri ended in a draw.

With two rounds to go, Giri was out in front with 5pts but the next five places in the table were separated by just a half-point leaving the race for the knockout stage wide open.

In Round 9, Ding dished out a dominating display against Vachier-Lagrave to record back-to-back wins. It was a big blow to the French number 1.

Radjabov also suffered when he spurned a golden chance to leapfrog Caruana when their manic game ended in a draw. Nepomniachtchi-Giri, meanwhile, was drawn.

It teed up a thrilling Round 10 with everyone in with a shout.

Caruana safely secured the half-point he needed with a quick draw against the already-qualified Giri.

Nepomniachtchi ended Vachier-Lagrave’s slim hopes to claim his place while Ding and Radjabov ended in a perpetual check giving Ding the half-point he needed.

Vachier-Lagrave and Radjabov are now eliminated before the tournament rest day tomorrow.

During the action, Carlsen joined the commentary box and revealed he is hoping to face Giri in the final.

Carlsen said: “There’s been significant action, it’s been so many twists and turns already and I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of it.”

He then added: “I would like to play Anish Giri in the final and I don’t think he’s going to be part of my bracket.

“I’m fine either way to be fair but, as I said earlier, probably Ding and Caruana are the best players in general so avoiding them in the quarter-finals wouldn’t be bad.”

The event, broadcast live on chess24, is the next stage of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour which carries a total prize pot of $1 million, a record for the online game.