Legends Of Chess: Nepomniachtchi Catches Carlsen As Ivanchuk Forces Armageddon
Ian Nepomniachtchi. Photo: Peter Doggers/

Legends Of Chess: Nepomniachtchi Catches Carlsen As Ivanchuk Forces Armageddon

| 17 | Chess Event Coverage

On Saturday GM Ian Nepomniachtchi caught GM Magnus Carlsen in first place at the chess24 Legends of Chess tournament. While Nepomniachtchi beat GM Peter Svidler 3-1, Carlsen faced stiff opposition from GM Vasyl Ivanchuk and only won in the armageddon. Meanwhile, GM Viswanathan Anand also lost his fifth match.

How to watch?
The games of the chess24 Legends of Chess can be found here as part of our live events platform. GM Hikaru Nakamura and IM Levy Rozman are providing daily commentary on Nakamura's Twitch channel starting from 7:00 a.m. Pacific / 16:00 Central Europe.

Carlsen – Ivanchuk 3-2

The admiration for Ivanchuk continues. Yesterday one of our members wondered why the Ukrainian genius isn't invited to top tournament more often. The answer is that sponsors tend to focus on rankings. In Ivanchuk's case, that's rather unfortunate indeed but the good news is that the older he gets, the more likely he'll be invited again as a Korchnoi-like age curiosity.

Ivanchuk, now 51, started with a win as the first player to beat Carlsen in this tournament. That it was him was not surprising; Carlsen has struggled before against this particular opponent, for instance at the 2013 London Candidates or at the 2012 and 2016 world rapid championships—in the latter event, Ivanchuk was on his way to winning the title.

Chuky's win didn't come easily. He was dominating the game but in time trouble, and faced with Carlsen's resilience, he lost the thread until he was lost himself. Then came an incredible blunder from Carlsen in a round that saw two more howlers from other players (more on that later).

Carlsen leveled the score in game three (after another blunder from Ivanchuk in an equal position) and then won the armageddon, after a third blunder from Ivanchuk.

It cannot be denied that Carlsen was put under severe pressure in this match. That he won anyway was not just because of the opponent blundering. The world champion is an amazing defender and tends to keep a high level of concentration so that he blunders rarely himself, which are enormous qualities in speed chess.

Magnus Carlsen
Note that Carlsen starts his next match, against Ding, four hours earlier (3 a.m. Pacific / 12:00 Central Europe) so he can watch football as it's the final weekend in England and therefore the decisive phase for Fantasy Premier League, where he is currently in fourth place among over seven million participants. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Nepomniachtchi – Svidler 3-1

Nepomniachtchi was trailing Carlsen on tiebreak because a win over four games yields three match points, while an armageddon victory gives two to the winner and one to the loser. Now, both Carlsen and Nepo have one armageddon victory and four regular wins.

Svidler lost his second match in a row after winning three. On Saturday, two solid draws were followed by two losses. Game three saw a remarkable knight "sac" on f2, where it didn't even take a pawn and could be captured by two pieces.

Ding – Kramnik 1.5-2.5

GM Vladimir Kramnik is now in third place after beating GM Ding Liren. Like with Ivanchuk, it has been a joy to watch the 14th world champion, who rarely plays these days but still brings his highly interesting style of chess to the board.

The start of the match was unfortunate. Around the same time when Carlsen blundered into a mate, Kramnik threw a full rook, probably expecting his opponent to take on h6:

The second game was sadly decided by yet another disconnect on Ding's part; the Chinese firewall keeps hindering the country's top player. After a draw in the third, Kramnik won a good game four to decide the match in his favor.

The game of the day, however, was their draw. It was rather special and not just because Kramnik played Bobby Fischer's favorite Sozin attack!

Vladimir Kramnik Legends
Vladimir Kramnik. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Anand – Leko 2-3

We've seen Carlsen's 74.Qb3 and Kramnik's 52.Rxe3 but those weren't the only blunders in the first round. GM Peter Leko joined the party in a "+1000" position, as he noted himself:

You could argue that by now, GM Vishy Anand deserved a bit of luck but at the end of the day, Caissa still chose Leko's side. After two draws, Anand made a mouse slip in game three and resigned right away (where his position was bad anyway) when he ended up losing the armageddon as his clock was running down in a drawn position. 

Viswanathan Anand Legends
Anand: when it rains, it pours. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Gelfand – Giri 1.5-2.5

GM Anish Giri defeated GM Boris Gelfand in the fourth game after three draws. It was an excellent game from Giri, who could play the typical pawn break ...g5 twice in one game:

Preliminary Phase | Round 5 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 BP MP
1 Magnus Carlsen 2881 2895 . . . 3 3 2 . 13 14
2 Ian Nepomniachtchi 2778 2937 . 2 3 . . . 12½ 14
3 Vladimir Kramnik 2756 2817 . 2 . . . 11 10
4 Peter Svidler 2742 2755 . 1 . . . 10 9
5 Anish Giri 2731 2773 1 ½ . . 1 . 2 8
6 Boris Gelfand 2702 2732 0 . . . 3 . 6
7 Vasyl Ivanchuk 2686 2764 2 . . . 2 . 5
8 Peter Leko 2710 2780 . 2 . 2 . 2 4
9 Ding Liren 2836 2637 . ½ . 1 . . 7 3
10 Viswanathan Anand 2751 2891 . ½ 2 . . 2 . 2

All games round 5

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

Earlier posts:

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