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Carlsen clips Abasov

Magnus Carlsen (in file photo) displays his vintage form. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

Legendary Magnus Carlsen shook off some jitters and eventually nipped local dark horse Nijat Abasov in the opening game of the FIDE World Cup semifinals Saturday to the dismay of a growing local fan-base in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Game 2 of the best-of-two games, classical chess format match was underway as of press time with Abasov needing only a win to stave off his dream run of upsets.

Carlsen, with his army of researchers and an experienced second, was handling the black pieces Sunday.

In the opposite side of the semis bracket, young Indian Rameshbabu Praggnanadhaa recovered in time despite a pawn down and salvaged a draw with black against world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana to force a winner-take-all match in Game 2.

Another draw will force a round of best-of-two tiebreakers using faster time controls—25-minutes, 10-minutes, five-minutes and the ultimate final game Armageddon—should no one gets knocked out.

For Abasov to win, he has to rely on his team’s preparations against the deep and highly mobilized and well-funded Carlsen machinery led by the pricey and award-winning second Peter Heinie Nielsen of Denmark.

Carlsen mentioned “Peter” as the one who prepared for his Rossolimo variation against Abasov’s Sicilian, referring to the 50-year-old Nielsen, who is credited for winning nine world championships—four with Viswanathan Anand of India from 2005 to 2102, and five with the Norwegian ace.

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