For the second successive day, Magnus Carlsen shut out Peter Svidler 2.5-0.5 to cruise into the final of the chess24 Legends of Chess on Saturday.
Displaying his class, Carlsen won the first two games in quick time and then easily drew with white pieces to end Svidler’s resistance. In the first set, too, Carlsen has posted a comfortable victory with the same margin. In the second set, Carlsen needed just 99 moves spread over three games to end the challenge of the eight-time Russian champion.
In the other semifinal, Anish Giri staged a stunning comeback to beat Ian Nepomniachtchi 3-2 and forced Sunday’s deciding set. Twice in arrears, Giri drew level by winning the third rapid game and the second blitz encounter. Thereafter, in the Armageddon game, where Nepomniachtchi chose to play with white pieces, Giri emerged stronger.
Carlsen, playing white, did not allow Svidler the freedom to free his pieces once the game moved into the middle-game. Svidler’s decision to castle on the queenside made matter tougher for him as Carlsen promptly launched a fierce attack and won in just 26 moves. On Friday, Carlsen won two games, lasting 27 moves, with black pieces.
In the second game, Carlsen exploited a error from Svilder on the 28th move. Svidler chose to give up with rook for a knight to continue but soon realised the futility in continuing and resigned after 32 moves.
Needing just a draw to close the match, Carlsen gave nothing away in the third game and with positional game ended in 41 moves with the players armed with a bishop and five pawns each.
The Nepo-Giri clash turned out to be far well-contested. After the opening game ended in a draw, Nepomniachtchi sacrificed his knight on the 40th move to expose Giri’s castled king. He launched a decisive attack with the queen and the rook-pair to weave a checkmating net to win in 54 moves.
HIGHLIGHTS | Legend of Chess semifinals
Undeterred, Giri hit back in the very next game to draw level. Giri gained from a dubious queen-move from his rival on the 35th move. That allowed Giri to unleash a kingside offensive and advance a pawn-pair.
Nepomniachtchi defended the position until the 65th move before giving up.
After the fourth rapid game ended in a draw, Nepomniachtchi won the first blitz game with his queen and rook. Since Nepomniachtchi’s king was safe behind the pawn-fortress, Giri could not have any counter-play.
Again, Giri proved he was not intimidated by Nepomniachtchi and punished the Russian to force the decider.
In the Armageddon game, Nepomniachtchi started well and got a chance to exploit Giri’s mistake. But the Russian not only overlooked the winning continuation but also, almost immediately, handed over the advantage to Giri. Thereafter, Nepomniachtchi tried in vain to save the game.
Semifinals (after two sets): Magnus Carlsen (Nor) bt Peter Svidler (Rus) 2-0; Second set: Carlsen bt Svidler 2.5-0.5 (Carlsen bt Svidler; Svidler lost to Carlsen; Carlsen drew with Svidler).
Anish Giri (Ned) tied with Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus) 1-1;
Giri bt Nepomniachtchi 3-2
Rapid: Nepomniachtchi drew with Giri; Giri lost to Nepomniachtchi; Nepomniachtchi lost to Giri; Giri drew with Nepomniachtchi.
Blitz – Game One: Nepomniachtchi bt Giri; Game Two: Giri bt Nepomniachtchi; Armageddon: Nepomniachtchi lost to Giri.