Legends of Chess Final: Carlsen Wins Comfortably
Carlsen wins the Legends of Chess tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Legends of Chess Final: Carlsen Wins Comfortably

PedroPinhata
PedroPinhata
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71 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen won the match and the tournament as GM Ian Nepomniachtchi had an unfortunate second day in the chess24 Legends of Chess finals.

Legends of Chess finals.

Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi 2.5-0.5

Carlsen opted for the London System, an opening he knows all too well. Surprisingly, the world champion decided to castle on move six instead of the common 6.h3, inviting Nepo to play 6...Nh5 to attack Carlsen's bishop. White maneuvered his bishop around until it landed on g3.

The Russian aggressively placed his knights on g4 and h5. Magnus defended well, but at one point, Nepo seemed to have gained the initiative.

Legends of Chess finals.
Nepomniachtchi appeared to have the initiative in the first game of the match. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Black's fatal mistake came after he missed the recommended 16...gxf4 that would have kept his attack going and played 16...f5 instead, leaving his king naked. Magnus immediately pounced and gained not only a free pawn but also the initiative, which proved to be decisive.

About Nepo's blunder, Carlsen stated: "I was kind of half-hoping for f5, but I thought it was such a serious blunder that it could never happen. Before this, it was obviously a very complicated position with so many different options, so it was really hard to judge what was going on."

Legends of Chess finals.
Carlsen admitted he was surprised with Nepo's move. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

By move 22, all of Black's minor pieces were miserably placed in a passive position. Nepo resigned only five moves later after Magnus initiated a crushing attack with 27.Nd5.

The second game of the day saw a more focused Nepomniachtchi, and a real battle took shape over the board. Carlsen went for the Najdorf again, and Nepomniachtchi repeated the same opening line from Monday's blitz game with 6.h3. The position was very balanced even after Nepo went for an exchange sacrifice with 16.Rxh4—a move that was not a consensus among commentators.

Legends of Chess finals.
Nepo was much more focused for the second game of the match. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Things took a bleak turn for Nepo after he played the weak 21.Qg2. "It was only after Qg2 that I felt good. That was probably the main weakness of his game," Carlsen said during his post-match interview. After that, Carlsen displayed great precision and slowly built up his advantage to win the second point of the match.

Legends of Chess finals.

After gaining a two-point lead and having only to draw the game to win the match, Carlsen took a straight-forward approach. Nepo chose a Modern Defense (like he did in Monday's game 6 blitz game), and Magnus quickly exchanged the queens off the board on move 7.

The highlight of the game came after White sacrificed a knight with 25.Nxb7 to take advantage of his strong a-pawn. Eventually, Nepo had to give back some material to keep Carlsen from queening, and both players quickly agreed to a draw.

With this result, the world champion won the last match comfortably with a 2.5-0.5 score. Magnus also won the event and took the $45,000 first prize home.

All games finals, Day 2

The chess24 Legends of Chess ran from July 21 to August 5. The preliminary phase was a 10-player round-robin with rounds consisting of four-game rapid matches each day. The knockout consisted of three such matches per round. The prize fund was $150,000 with $45,000 for first place, while the winner also qualified for the Grand Final of the Magnus Carlsen Tour. The time control was 15 minutes and a 10-second increment.


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