Legends Of Chess SF: Giri Evens The Score, Carlsen Advances To Finals
Giri was able to level the match score with Nepomniachtchi today. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Legends Of Chess SF: Giri Evens The Score, Carlsen Advances To Finals

ColinStapczynski
ColinStapczynski
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23 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen won his chess24 Legends of Chess semifinal match against GM Peter Svidler and moves on to the final. In the other match on Saturday, GM Anish Giri defeated GM Ian Nepomniachtchi in their armageddon game to even the match score at 1-1. Giri and Nepomniachtchi will battle for the last spot in the final on Sunday.

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.

Legends of chess semifinals

Carlsen – Svidler 2.5-0.5

Carlsen came out of the gates swinging and won the first game convincingly. An interesting Sicilian Najdorf was played, where Svidler went for a quick d5 break before castling, and then recaptured on d5 with his bishop instead of his knight. The fireworks began with 13.Bf4.

After 14...0-0-0, Svidler was down to only 3:47 on the clock while Carlsen had over ten minutes. Svidler's time trouble remained a constant issue throughout the rest of the game, and he was down to only 28 seconds while staring at a miserable position after 19...Bd6. Carlsen transitioned into an endgame with the bishop pair and an extra passed a-pawn, and Svidler resigned. 

In game two, Carlsen opted for a Slav-like setup versus Svidler's Reti opening. Carlsen offered a pawn with 11...0-0, and it appeared that Svidler had a pleasant position with the bishop pair and an extra pawn on move 14:

Svidler grabbed a second pawn, and Carlsen's compensation was questionable. Svidler erred with 19.f3 and then blundered with 28.Rf2—after these moves, Carlsen had a commanding lead and cruised to victory. Game three was a quick and quiet draw, where an opposite-colored bishops endgame left little to no chances for either side. 

This 2.5-0.5 result means that Carlsen has moved onto the finals. He will face the winner of the Nepo-Giri match that continues tomorrow. The Legends of Chess final starts on Monday, August 3.

Legends of chess
Carlsen comfortably moves on to the Legends of Chess Final. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Giri – Nepomniachtchi 4-3

The other match of the day was far more exciting than the Carlsen-Svidler match, as Giri won in the armageddon game to even the match score. The first game ended in a draw, where the Dutchman had an extra pawn in the endgame but also had two sets of doubled and isolated pawns.

The real fight began in game two, where Nepo employed an unusual Qa5-h5 manouver early in a Symmetrical English. Giri countered with a novelty, 10.Rg1, and had a pleasant position out of the opening. Nepo sacrificed a pawn with 15...b5, which Giri accepted. Then an unusual situation occurred, where Giri offered to repeat moves despite being up a pawn—GM Hikaru Nakamura disapproved of this idea:

Nepo declined the opportunity, and the game continued in an exciting fashion:

legends of chess semifinals
Ian Nepomniachtchi took an early lead in the match. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Nepomniachtchi won this great game and took a one-point lead. It did not take any time for Giri to strike back, as he won game three in a nice Sicilian struggle (you can see the game below in the "all games" section).

Game four saw a repeat of the Grunfeld line that was played twice yesterday and ended in a draw. They followed the same moves until Nepo deviated with 17...Na6, who played a quick exchange sacrifice on c6. It never felt like Giri had any real chances, and eventually gave back the exchange while the game fizzled into a drawish heavy piece endgame. 

This peaceful result left the score at 2-2, which meant that two blitz games would be next. Nepo drew first blood in the blitz games and won with the White pieces against Giri's Najdorf, who found himself in time trouble again.

Giri came right back again in the second blitz game and played an energetic pawn sacrifice with 9.d4. After accepting the pawn sacrifice, Nepo invited further complications with 12...f6 and things got messy. After 15...f5, Giri had three pieces en prise but had a dominating position after 16.Nd6+:

After the smoke cleared, Giri was up a healthy pawn in a heavy piece endgame and had the more active pieces while Nepo's king had difficulty finding shelter. Giri eventually won a second pawn and converted the game. This win for Giri again leveled the score, this time at 3-3, and forced an armageddon game.

Nepomniachtchi chose the White pieces for the final game of the day, and played an anti-Berlin Ruy Lopez. The game was relatively balanced and somewhat calm until Giri made the first misstep with 29...f5:

Giri must have overlooked or underestimated the exchange sacrifice with 29...Rxc3, or he underestimated Nepo's reply to 29...f5 which gave White a large advantage after 30.Ne2. Luckily for Giri, Nepomniachtchi immediately returned the favor by blundering with 31.f3 and the tables were turned. 

After a long tactical sequence, the queens were off of the board after 38...Rxf4 and Giri was up an exchange. Nepo resigned a few moves later, meaning that Giri had won today's match by a 4-3 score to even the overall match 1-1.

Nepomniachtchi and Giri will face off again on Saturday to see who will play Carlsen in the final and a shot at the $45,000 first prize.

Legends of chess semifinal
Giri evened the match score today by winning the armageddon game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

All games Semifinals, Day 2

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.


Earlier posts:

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