Legends Of Chess SF: Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi Take Lead
Giri vs. Nepomniachtchi at the 2020 Candidates. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Legends Of Chess SF: Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi Take Lead

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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16 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen took the lead in his chess24 Legends of Chess semifinal match with GM Peter Svidler. The other Russian player did better: GM Ian Nepomniachtchi beat GM Anish Giri. The second batch of matches will take place on Saturday.

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 at 7:00 a.m. Pacific / 16:00 Central Europe.

Carlsen – Svidler 2.5-0.5

Svidler took an interesting approach today: he played what is known as the "Carlsen line" in the English. The world champion has more experience than anyone with it from White's perspective.

Although he lost both his white games (with Carlsen going for a different setup in the second), Svidler afterward said that his concept was alright, but not the execution. And indeed, he got a chance in the first game but failed to spot it.

To the human eye, Carlsen's last move 15...g5 looked impressive and he explained that if he would put a knight on c5 instead, White would go 16.g5 himself. "It sort of felt that even though I'm a pawn up and probably I am doing pretty well, I didn't see how to clarify the position," Carlsen said.

Svidler correctly took on g5 and after 16...Qxg5 the computer points out that White can get the upper hand with both 17.Nf5 or the immediate 17.h4. Svidler had actually looked at the first move, saying "I think I even saw this and somehow I couldn't believe it's any good. I am more upset I didn't see 17.h4."

Carlsen about meeting 17.Nf5: "I thought 17...Ne5 and hope for the best, that was my calculation!"

After a good draw in game two (where Svidler played a thematic ...Rxc3 sacrifice even after the queens were traded; see below) he was again outplayed as White in game three. 

Peter Svidler legends
Svidler: "The right concept, the wrong execution." Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Giri – Nepomniachtchi 0.5-2.5

Giri and Nepomniachtchi started with a draw, where the Dutchman got a big advantage out of the opening but failed to use it properly. Eventually, more than 60 percent of this game was a rook ending with two against one on the kingside.

Nepo then won a nice one where he met Giri's hyper-aggressive play on the kingside with a positional queen sacrifice:

Ian Nepomniachtchi
Ian Nepomniachtchi. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

"I don't think I made any good move because it was not necessary, especially in the last game," Nepomniachtchi said. He had the chance to check his opening line (as he mixed up the moves in game one) and this time the position was balanced but extremely sharp in the early middlegame.

He then played a very direct move which should have lost, but Giri was down to just two minutes there (against 15 for his opponent), failed to find the right answer, and then quickly lost:

Anish Giri legends
With more time on the clock, Giri could have won this one. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

All games Semifinals, Day 1

The chess24 Legends of Chess runs July 21-August 5. The preliminary phase was a 10-player round-robin with rounds consisting of four-game rapid matches each day. The knockout has 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.


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