Magnus Carlsen dominates Legends of Chess online tournament

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/5/2020 – It was a dominant performance by the world champion. Magnus Carlsen won the ‘chess24 Legends of Chess’ tournament without losing a single set, and finished his impressive run with a clear 2½:½ victory over Ian Nepomniachtchi on Tuesday. Carlsen won three out of the four events played so far in the tour that bears his name, thus giving the two best-performing players that did not win any event a chance to play in the Grand Final that kicks off on Sunday. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

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“I’m just an addict”

It was an action-packed four months ever since the current crisis prompted Magnus Carlsen to organize a series of online tournaments. Not only did he play in all four events, winning three of them, but he also won the Clutch Chess International and the Steinitz Memorial. When asked about how he feels after having played so much chess, the world champion responded:

I’m just an addict. I like chess.

According to the rules of the Magnus Carlsen Tour, the four winners of the events played from April to August would qualify to a Grand Final scheduled to begin on August 9. Since Carlsen won three of these tournaments, the two best-performing players not to have won a single event received a pass to the knockout that will put an end to the series — i.e. Hikaru Nakamura and Ding Liren. 

The pairings for the Grand Final are out, with Carlsen paired up against Ding and Daniil Dubov — winner of the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge — set to face Hikaru Nakamura. Unlike all previous knockouts of the series, each match in the semis will be played to the best of 5 sets, while the final will be played to the best of 7 sets.

Legends of Chess 2020

Carlsen 2½ : ½ Nepomniachtchi

While the first set saw Ian Nepomniachtchi getting good chances against the world champion, Carlsen was ruthless in the second mini-match of the final. A lot had to do with the fact that the eventual winner of the tournament came from getting a relatively easy victory in the semifinals, while his rival had to work hard to take down Anish Giri. ‘Nepo’ tweeted:

Congrats to Magnus Carlsen, seems like those young ‘under 30’ players have more energy at the end of the run.

The Russian referred to a joke Carlsen had previously shared on his account, noting that he is still 29 while Nepomniachtchi already turned 30 — they were both born in 1990, but the older of the two had a birthday last month.

Two blunders led to Nepomniachtchi’s quick defeat in the second set of the final. In game 1, he hastily pushed his f-pawn, giving his opponent a chance to get a clear edge with a forcing continuation:

 

16...f5 allowed 17.Bc4+, when Black loses at least a pawn in all variations. ‘Nepo’ opted for 17...Be6 18.Bxe6+ Rxe6 19.h3 Ngf6 20.fxg5 hxg5 21.Rxf5 and Carlsen, who was in top form, needed only six more moves to force his opponent to resign.

Game 2 lasted 76 moves, but Carlsen was already in the driver’s seat much earlier, when one of Nepomniachtchi’s tricks badly backfired:

 

White entered this position counting on 22.Rg6, as the bishop seems to be trapped due to the threat of mate on g7. However, Carlsen had correctly foreseen that 22...Nhg5 solves all his tactical problems. The world champion explained afterwards:

That’s probably the main weakness of his game — that he sometimes plays excessively for tricks. I think this was certainly one case where he needed to take a more normal approach.

Nepomniachtchi needed to win two in a row to force a tiebreak, but did not come close to creating winning chances in game 3 — Carlsen kept everything under control and got a 36-move draw from a position of strength.

 

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 8/6/2020 07:47
Carlsen in full flow ... just like Bobby in his heydays!
KrushonIrina KrushonIrina 8/5/2020 05:08
Magnus isn't just in a class by himself. He's in a whole different school district.
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