In Round 8 Fabiano Caruana stopped the leader Alireza Firouzja and gave a chance to Magnus Carlsen which the World Champion quickly grasped. Jan-Krzysztof Duda moved up a notch in the standings by scoring 1.5 points against Levon Aronian.
Magnus Carlsen gradually outplayed his compatriot Aryan Tari in a symmetrical position and created a textbook case of “good knight vs. bad bishop” concept. On move 34 the World Champion planted his knight on d5 and broke through on the kingside.
Fabiano Caruana tried a relatively rare move 3.f3 against Alireza Fourouzja’s Caro-Kann in both classical and Armageddon games. He got a certain edge in the first one but after 21.Bd7 (21.a4 seems stronger) Firouzja solved all his problems and comfortably reached a drawn in the endgame. Alireza opted for a different line in the Armageddon but jumped out of the frying pan into the fire – Fabiano masterfully took control over the dark squares and sailed to victory.
Jan-Krzysztof Duda was under pressure in the classical game and trying to relieve it he ventured upon a pawn sacrifice to transpose into an endgame with the opposite-colored bishops. Levon Aronian did not accept it but probably underestimated the maneuver Bb2-Ba3 that allowed Duda to sneak out of danger. Levon was full of determination in the Armageddon game but Jan-Krzysztof was holding his own. Trying to win at any cost Aronian took it too far by playing 65. Kb5? but missed an obvious refutation 65…e4, which turned the position from equal into winning for Black.
Standings after Round 8:
1. Magnus Carlsen – 16.5
2. Alireza Firouzja – 14.5
3. Levon Aronian – 13
4. Fabiano Caruana – 12.5
5. Jan-Krzysztof Duda – 8.5
6. Aryan Tari – 1.5