Carlsen beats Anand | Legends of Chess Round 2
The 2nd Day of the Chess24 Legends of Chess was markedly different from the first. All 5 mini matches were decided without an Armageddon, and Nepo didn't even need 4 games - he managed to dismantle Ding Liren's weak play in 3! Magnus Carlsen outlasted Vishy Anand, Anish Giri made a comeback by beating Vladimir Kramnik, though not without fuss. Peter Svidler continued his excellent run by winning bad positions against Peter Leko, and Gelfand's decisive Alpha Zero attack got him a clutch 4th game win against Ivanchuk, ensuring the same 3 players lead after Round 2 - Carlsen, Svidler and Gelfand. A comprehensive report by Tanmay Srinath.
With 7 rounds to go in the Legends of Chess Group phase, it is still too early to call out the 4 qualifiers, but the surprise packages Svidler and Gelfand have certainly made a case for themselves with a strong start. Magnus Carlsen's success is to be expected, given his godly speed chess skills, but Ding's utter collapse in his two matches is a slight cause for concern, given how strong he is as a player. In fact, his fellow Asian Anand seems to be struggling in his 4th games, something that can be attributed to the fact that the last games are played deep in the night in India. One hopes the two superstars recover so as to cause complete mayhem in a level playing field!
As noted journalist Tarjei Svensen explains, this tournament has already had quite a few interesting tales:
With this background, let us move to the chess!
Carlsen 2.5-1.5 Anand:
If one just looks at the scoreline, it might seem that Carlsen had it easy, winning one game and drawing the rest to coast home. However, this was not the case. As the World Champion himself explained:
The endgame Magnus is speaking about is presented below, but before that there is an instructive opening mistake that I would like to point out:
Carlsen was definitely not pleased with his play, which can explain his dubious attempt to win with Black in the next. Instead he got into a position where Anand had correctly assessed as better for White, and had to suffer for a long time to gain the half point. The third game was also drawn by Vishy without much fuss. Just when it seemed like the match would be taken to an Armageddon disaster struck for Anand after good opening play:
Magnus later explained his strategy for the 4th game, and how he was happy to find Bxa2+!:
Nepo 2.5-0.5 Ding:
This tournament has not started well for Ding Liren. Yesterday he lost twice with White, which in itself is an Earthquake inducing shock. Today however it got even worse for the Chinese No.1 - he lost both game 1 and 2, and was dead lost in game 3 when Nepo forced a draw to take the match.
Game 1 was a Scotch Disaster, not too rare, but still uncommon for a tactical beast like Ding:
The next one however was a shocker:
People could not believe that Ding is playing this badly:
Things went from bad to worse in the 2nd game - Nepo played the Leningrad Dutch, got a fantastic position and kept pressing till Ding finally broke down on move 52:
The third game followed the previous two, but this time Nepo simply forced a draw from a winning position, securing the match and ensuring he is within a hair's breadth from the leaders. A solid performance by the Russian No.1.
Giri 2.5-1.5 Kramnik:
This match was not bereft of chances for both sides, as both Kramnik and Giri went all out to win! In the end Anish triumphed, but in an alternate universe it is not hard to imagine Kramnik winning it with the same margin! The games were full of ups and downs, and both sides missed numerous wins, but at the same time they played the most uncompromising chess, so this is to be expected! One should also commend big Vlad for playing this strongly and staying competitive despite retiring from chess more than a year ago!
Game 1 should have be the first point for Kramnik:
Game 2 was the cleanest of the 4, and unsurprisingly decided the match:
Game 3 should have decided the match in Giri's favour quite beautifully, but Anish missed a cute tactic:
The 4th game went all wrong for Anish. Kramnik essayed a weird KID and was completely winning, until his 38th move completely turned the tables:
Svidler 2.5-1.5 Leko :
Peter Svidler seems to be riding Caissa's deepest blessings, as he is managing to win despite getting really bad positions! As he himself explained after the round:
Svidler played the King's Indian Attack in game 1, but chose an incorrect plan against the Botvinnik Setup that Leko used, and was soon seriously worse. He would have come close to losing had Leko found the correct riposte late into the middlegame:
Game 2 was truly a one sided win for Leko, played in a pleasing aggressive style:
Game 3 however showed how quickly momentum can shift. Svidler played the Reversed Accelerated Dragon as White, and objectively was worse out of the opening. However, the position was extremely complex, and the players soon entered a dynamically balanced position where Leko surprisingly allowed a strong Greek Gift:
Game 4 saw Leko suffer the same fate - in a worse position he fell prey to a sudden attack:
Gelfand 2.5 - 1.5 Ivanchuk:
This match was not as exciting as others, but it was still a slug-fest, decided by Gelfand's enterprising play in the final game:
Replay all the games of round 2