World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen beat Alireza Firouzja of France in the penultimate round of the Norway Chess tournament at Stavanger on Thursday.

After the classical game was drawn, the local superstar won in Armageddon with black pieces in 46 moves to increase his lead at the top of the table.

Carlsen moved to 16 points, 1.5 more than the second placed Hikaru Nakamura of the United States. The American lost in Armageddon to World champion Ding Liren, for whom the win must have been quite a relief. The Chinese player has been going through a torrid time in the tournament.

Norway Chess 2024: Tall order for Praggnanandhaa as he takes on Caruana in penultimate round

The day’s other game was also decided by Armageddon, as R. Praggnanandhaa defeated Fabiano Caruana of the United States. The Chennai teenager was in third place with 13 points, followed by Firouzja (12).

Caruana was on 10.5 points, while Ding, assured of the last place with a round remaining, was on six.

The female World champion from China, Ju Wenjun, however, retained her sole lead in the women’s event. She beat Koneru Humpy in Armageddon and was on 16 points.

Ju’s compatriot Lei Tingjie, who defeated R. Vaishali in the classical game, and Ukraine’s Anna Muzhchuk, who overcame Pia Cramling of Sweden in Armageddon, were in joint second place with 14.5 points each. Vaishali was on 11.5 points, followed by Humpy (9) and Cramling (6.5).

The results (ninth round):

Open: Alireza Firouzja (Fra) 12 lost to Magnus Carlsen (Nor) 16; Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 14.5 lost to Ding Liren (Chn) 6; Fabiano Caruana (USA) 10.5 lost to R. Praggnanandhaa 13.

Women: Lei Tingjie (Chn) 14.5 bt R. Vaishali 11.5; Koneru Humpy 9 lost to Ju Wenjun (Chn) 16; Pia Cramling (Swe) 6.5 lost to Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) 14.5.