Legends of Chess: Giri secures a spot in the semis

by André Schulz
7/29/2020 – Round 8 of the Legends of Chess online tournament was played on Tuesday. Magnus Carlsen won his eighth match in a row, this time against second-placed Ian Nepomniachtchi. Vasyl Ivanchuk defeated Anish Giri in Armageddon, but the latter nevertheless secured a spot in the semifinals. Peter Svidler, in the meantime, beat Vladimir Kramnik in a crucial matchup. | Photo: FIDE

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Carlsen keeps pursuers at bay

Three out of four spots in the final knockout of the ‘chess24 Legends of Chess’ online event are already taken. Magnus Carlsen has won all of his matchups and only needs one point in the ninth round to secure first place, while Ian Nepomniachtchi and Anish Giri have also moved on to the semis.

Three players still have chances to get remaining spot. Peter Svidler is currently in fourth place with 14 points; Vladimir Kramnik is fifth with 12 points; while Vasyl Ivanchuk has collected 11 points thus far and is sixth in the standings. Since winning a match without needing tiebreaks grants 3 points, Ivanchuk still has an outside chance of reaching the final stage. The Ukrainian is paired up against Vishy Anand, while Svidler and Kramnik have the tough tasks of facing Giri and Carlsen on Wednesday’s last round of the preliminaries.

Legends of Chess 2020

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Carlsen* 2½ : 2½ Nepomniachtchi

*Won in Armageddon

In the top fight of the eighth round, facing his closest rival Ian Nepomniachtchi, leader Magnus Carlsen achieved a victory in the second game.  In a well known and deeply analysed variation of the Grünfeld Defence, Carlsen, after an inaccuracy by his opponent, gained a decisive advantage with amazing ease.


20.Rdc1 f6? [20...Bb4 was good for Black.] 21.Bd2 Bb2 22.Rxc8+ Rxc8 23.Qa6 [A very unpleasant move. The white queen gains control of the queenside, and then...]



24.Rxb2 [24.Bd3 Rc7 25.Bxa5 bxa5 26.d6 was also very good for white.]

24...Qxb2 25.Qxa7 Qa1+ 26.Kh2 Qa4 27.Bd1 [Black must give up the defence of the d7-bishop.]

27...Qxd1 [27...Qb5 28.Nd4]

28.Qxd7 [The black position collapses completely.]

28...Qc2 29.Qe6+ Kh8 30.d6 exd6 31.Qxf6+ Kg8 32.Bh6 [With forced mate.]

32...Qc7 33.Qe6+ Kh8 34.Ng5 [There is nothing to do against Nf7 and mate.] 1–0

But Nepomniachtchi managed to equalize the score with an impressive performance in the fourth game.

1.d4 d6 2.e4 g6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Bd3 Bg7 5.0–0 0–0 6.Re1 c5 7.c3 cxd4 8.cxd4 Bg4 9.Nbd2 Nc6 10.h3 Bh5 [Provocative!]


11.g4 [Carlsen takes up the gauntlet. 11.Qa4!? causes fewer problems.]

11...Nxg4 12.hxg4 Bxg4 13.Be2 Rc8 14.a3 Qd7 15.d5 Bxf3 16.Nxf3 [16.Bxf3!? Ne5 17.Be2]

16...Qg4+ 17.Kh2 Ne5 18.Ng5 [18.Nxe5? Bxe5+ 19.f4 Qh4+ 20.Kg2 Rxc1 21.Rxc1 Qxf4 22.Qd3 Qh2+ 23.Kf1 Qh1+ 24.Kf2 Qh4+ 25.Kf1 f5 with a strong attack.]

18...Qh4+ 19.Kg2 [19.Nh3!? Qxe4 20.f4]

19...Bf6? [19...Rxc1 20.Qxc1 Bh6 21.f4 Bxg5 22.fxg5 f5 with a strong attack.]


20.Rh1? [A strong tactical shot was 20.Nxh7! Qxh7 (20...Qxe4+ 21.Bf3) 21.Rh1]

20...Rxc1 21.Rxh4 Rxd1 22.Rxd1 Bxg5 23.Rh3 Rc8 [With two pawns for the exchange, Black is now better.]

24.Rc3 Rxc3 25.bxc3 Nd7 26.Rb1 Nc5 27.e5 [Carlsen now throws his pawns forward, but achieves nothing.]

27...dxe5 28.a4 Nxa4 29.Rxb7 Nxc3 30.d6 exd6 31.Ba6 e4 32.Rxa7 e3 33.fxe3 Bxe3 34.Rc7 Bd4 35.Bc4 d5 36.Bb3 Kg7 37.Rd7 Kf6 38.Kf3 Be5 39.Bxd5 Nxd5 40.Rxd5 Kf5 [The endgame is winning, of course, but Carlsen continues fighting.]


41.Rd7 Ke6 42.Ra7 h5 43.Ra6+ Kf5 44.Ra7 f6 45.Rh7 Bc3 46.Rh8 Be1 47.Re8 Bc3 48.Rh8 Kg5 49.Rc8 Be5 50.Rh8 Kh4 51.Rg2 g5 52.Ra8 Kg4 53.Ra4+ Bf4 54.Ra3 h4 55.Rb3 f5 56.Rb4 h3+ 57.Kf2 Kh5 58.Rb5 Kg6 59.Rb6+ Kf7 60.Kf3 Be5 0–1

In the Armageddon game, Carlsen offered a draw with black in a superior position, thus winning the match.


Svidler 2½ : 1½ Kramnik

There was only one decisive game in the match between Peter Svidler and Vladimir Kramnik. Svidler scored with black in game 1.


[A Sicilian gone wrong for white. Black has castled long and the white king is stuck in the centre — a lot of things that have gone wrong for Kramnik.]

19.c4 Qb6 20.Rd2 Bc6 21.Qc3 Rhg8 22.b4 [Very optimistically played.]

22...gxf5 23.Nxf5 [23.exf5 e4 24.Bh5 Bg5]

23...Qf2+ 24.Kd1 Ba4+ [Black has two strong wingers on a4 and h4!]

25.Kc1 Bg5 26.Bh5 Bf4 [Threatening Rg2.]

27.Ng3 Kb8 28.Bd1 Bc6 29.Bc2 f5 30.Rhd1 fxe4 31.Kb2 Bxd2 32.Rxd2 Qf3 33.b5 Qxc3+ 34.Kxc3 e3 35.Re2 axb5 36.cxb5 Bxb5 37.Rxe3 Rg7 38.Kb4 Bc6 39.Bb3 Rg4+ 40.Ka3 Rh4 41.Re2 Rf8 42.Bc2 e4 43.Kb2 d5 44.Kc3 Kc7 45.Kd4 e3+ 46.Kxe3 Re8+ 0–1


Ding 2½ : ½ Anand

Anand also had trouble dealing with his rival’s Sicilian in game 1 of his matchup against Ding. The former world champion lost in 22 moves.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 e6 7.g4 h6 8.Bg2 Be7 9.Be3 Nc6 10.f4 Nd7 11.Nf3 b5 12.Qd2 Bb7 13.0–0–0 Na5 14.b3 Rc8


15.Kb1 [White needed to find a way to protect his e4-pawn instead. 15.Nd4]

15...Qc7 16.Ne2 Bxe4 [The game is over.]

17.Rc1 d5 18.Ng3 Ba3 19.Bd4 0–0 [Since the c1-rook cannot move, Black can take all the time in the world.]

20.g5 Nc5 [Threatening to capture twice on b3.]

21.Bxc5 Qxc5 22.gxh6 Nc4 [Anand had seen enough. 22...Nc4 23.bxc4 bxc4 24.Ka1 Bb2+ 25.Kxb2 c3+] 0–1


Gelfand 3 : 2 Leko

In Leko versus Gelfand, two players from the same generation met, although Boris Gelfand is older than Peter Leko. After a draw in game one, Boris Gelfand took the lead in game two. The Israeli won a heavy-piece endgame, converting his advantage in exemplary fashion.


36.Kf3 Re7 37.Rd5 Rb7 38.Ke4 Rb6 39.Kd4 Ra6 40.Rxb5 Rxa3 41.Ra5 Rg3 42.Rxa7 Rxg2 43.b5 Rb2 44.Kc5 Rc2+ 45.Kd5 Rd2+ 46.Kc6 Rc2+ 47.Kb7 Rc4 48.f5 Rc5 49.b6 Rxf5 50.Kc6 Rf3 51.Ra5 Rc3+ 52.Rc5 Re3 53.b7 Re8 54.Kd7 Rb8 55.Kc7 Rf8 56.b8Q Rxb8 57.Kxb8 g5 58.Kc7 Kg6 59.Kd6 f5 60.Ke5 f4 61.Ke4 Kh5 62.Tc6 1–0

Textbook endgame technique.

But Leko equalized in the next game.


47...f6 48.Rd7 [Threatening mate with a discovered attack on the queen on b8.]

After a draw in game four, the match was decided in Armageddon. Gelfand had the black pieces and a strong rook on d3.


42.Kf2? [42.exf6 and there’s all to play for.]

42...fxe5 43.Rxe5 [Now 43.fxe5 was necessary.]

43...Bd5 [The rook on e5 is out of play.]

44.a5 Qb4 45.g4 Rb3 [White does not survive the assault of the rook and queen.]

46.Kg3 Rb2 47.Qd1 Rb3 48.Qc1 Rc3 49.Qd2 Qb3 50.Kf2 Rc2 51.b6 Rxd2+ 52.Bxd2 Qf3+ 53.Ke1 Bc4 0–1


Ivanchuk 3 : 2 Giri

Anish Giri and Vasyl Ivanchuk played a balanced match in the battle of generations. Giri succeeded in the second game with a mating attack.


36.... Nc5 [With a threat that White ignores.] 37.Rd8 Nb3 38.Rc2 b5 39.Nd2 Re2+ 40.Kf1 Re1+ 41.Kg2 R7e2+ 42.Kh3 Rh1# 0–1

Ivanchuk retaliated immediately.


40...Rxe2 41.Qxd4 Bh3 42.Qh4 Bg2+ 43.Kg1 Bxd2 44.Rf2 Qa7 45.g4 Bxd5 0–1

So this match also went to Armageddon. The players reached a theoretically drawn endgame, but Black faltered and lost. 


43.Kf1 Ra2? [43...g5 44.hxg5+ Kxg5 45.Ke2 Kg4 46.Ke3 Ra3+ 47.Kd4 Kf3 with a draw.]

44.g4! [Why not?.]

44...Ra4 45.f3 Ra2 46.Ke1 g5 47.h5 Kh7 48.Kd1 Kh6 49.Kc1 Kh7 50.Kb1 Ra3 51.Kb2 Ra5 52.Kb3 Ra1 53.Kb4 Rb1+ 54.Kc5 Rc1+ 55.Kb5 1–0



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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