Armageddon win yields Carlsen victory in Leon (VIDEO)

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Leon rapidIn a tense and balanced final on Sunday Magnus Carlsen won the Leon rapid knockout by beating Vassily Ivanchuk 4-3. After four rapid games and two blitz games the score was still even, and drawing White for the Armageddon game Carlsen had to win, and he did. Photos and video added.

ChessVibes brings on-the-spot coverage of the XXII Magistral de Ajedrez Ciudad de Leon. The rapid knockout took place June 4th to 7th and had Magnus Carlsen, Alexander Morozevich, Vassily Ivanchuk and Wang Yue playing.

One semi-final was played on Friday (Ivanchuk-Morozevich), one on Saturday (Carlsen-Wang Yue) and the final on Sunday. Each match contained four rapid games with twenty minutes on the clock, plus ten seconds increment each move. In the case of a 2-2 tie, 2 blitz games (5 minutes + 3 seconds increment) were played and if necessary a sudden death games where White has 6 minutes and Black 5.

Video of the final & press conference

Final: Carlsen-Ivanchuk

The final on Sunday started calmly despite the opening of the first game: a Sicilian Dragon. Ivanchuk went for the 9.0-0-0 line, which often leads to more quiet positions. Carlsen then avoided the main line that starts with 12...e5, but instead exchanged on d4. A few moves later Black seemed fine already so perhaps White should play like Zapata did against Clavijo, Fusagasuga 1999, with 15.h4 Rb8 16.b3. Carlsen played it as safe as possible, exchanging stuff where it was possible, and even in the rook ending where Black was better, he headed straight for the draw.

Leon rapid

Against Carlsen's 1.d4, Ivanchuk used the Queen's Gambit Declined in game 2. It didn't go too well for Black but White missed the strong move 21.f5! with the idea 21...Nxd4 22.Qg3! and Black seems to be forced to sac an exchange. In the game the players quickly reached an ending with RBN for White against RNN for Black, which was just equal.

In the third game Ivanchuk improved upon the first with 14.Bc4 which had actually been played before, by Sutovsky against Kudrin, Philadelphia 1993. White got a slight, but long-lasting advantage in the ending but it was hard to find a way to get through.

Then, at move 39, Ivanchuk suddenly allowed 39...Rd5!? and with it a change of the pawn structure. However, the resulting bishop ending (perhaps could Black avoid it with 41...Ba8) should also have ended in a draw, but Carlsen wanted more and went too far with 50...Kd6?, perhaps forgetting that the White king can stop the a-pawn and so the bishop can go pawn grabbing.

However, the ending deserves some good analysis because it seems that only Carlsen's next move was the decisive mistake. Leaving the king on d6 appears to still hold, e.g. 51...Ba6 52.Bxg6 a4 53.Kd2 a3 54.Kc1 Be2 and Black can push d5-d4.

Leon rapid

The Norwegian then had to win the last rapid game to keep the final going, and eventually he managed. After a remarkable opening choice (the Stonewall) Ivanchuk got into trouble but then defended tenaciously. However, with his king out in the open and with little time on the clock, it had to go wrong somewhere. The applause from the audience lasted a bit longer this time, as they were about to see at least two more games!

Both blitz games were a joy to watch. In the first, Carlsen missed 36.Ne4, which also eyes d6 but attacks c5 at the same time. The move was pointed out by Ivanchuk at the press conference. The second game was even better, and again it was Carlsen who could have played something strong, and beautiful: 38...Ra5!!.

The already fantastic final would have a spectacular finish as an all-deciding Armageddon game was next! Carlsen drew White and had to win, with six minutes on the clock, while for Ivanchuk, with five minutes, a draw would be enough.

Unfortunately for the spectators in the playing hall and everyone who followed the game live on the internet, the broadcast collapsed at move 13, because the digital board failed to register the moves correctly when the players both took on g4 very quickly. For a while a completely wrong position was shown on the big screen, with a black bishop still on g4, and the white king still on e1 since castling queenside had been interpreted as an illegal move by the board!

Leon rapid

Because of this situation the specators started to make some noise, and with the black rook e8, the white king on e1 and the bishop on e3, a kid's voice could clearly be heard screaming "f quatro!" (f5-f4, winning a piece). It was a nice job later that evening, "serving humanity", to reconstruct the game for the organizers and Mark Crowther, as I had the whole game on video. :-)

The nerve-racking final phase of the game, full of tactical shots and unexpected twists, was one of the best shows I've seen so far. Keep in mind that two small cameras point at the players' faces, and these videos together with the position and an analysis board can be seen from the audience, while the spectators were listening to commentary by GM Miguel Illescas and IM Michael Rahal.

When Carlsen's hand raised to take on d7 at move 47, Ivanchuk was clearly upset, and realized that he had missed something important. The Ukrainian played on a few more moves, with both players at their last seconds and just three seconds increment with each move, but he knew that he was lost.

Leon rapid

Having the advantage in all games, Carlsen scored a well-deserved victory. Both players were extremely tired at the press conference but still treated the spectators and journalists with a nice show, helped by the best host there is in the chess world, Leontxo Garcia. A video of the final and the press conference will be added as soon as possible.

Game viewer

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Leon rapid

Magnus Carlsen receives his first prize from Natalia Rodr??guez Picallo, Sports councilor of the Municipality of Leon...

Leon rapid

...a replica in bronze of the Convent of San Marcos, built in 1173 as a pilgrim hospital and resting place on the way to Santiago de Compostela - today it serves as an elegantly restored and furnished parador (government-owned historic hotel)...

Leon rapid

...while the other players took home a replica of the Leon Cathedral


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