Catch Saturday's action:
Despite playing some good chess, Anand finds himself on the wrong side of the scoreboard. Rakesh Rao discusses the one option Anand has to better his chances in the tournament - winning. Watch here:
WHAT HAPPENED ON FRIDAY?
Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand suffered his fourth straight defeat in the USD 150,000 Legends of Chess online tournament, going down 2-3 to Anish Giri of the Netherlands.
The former world champion Indian and Giri played out four draws before the Dutch player pulled off a win in the Armageddon game (a tie-break) late on Friday.
Anand, however, picked up his first point of the event. He remains at the bottom of the table. He had earlier lost to Peter Svidler, Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik.
The Chennai-based Anand, who is making his maiden appearance at the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, settled for a 82-move draw in the opening game of the best-of-four contest.
The second game was a 49-move affair while the third and fourth games were drawn, setting the stage for the Armageddon.
Giri grabbed the decider with black pieces to secure victory and two points.
Anand meets Hungary’s Peter Leko in the fifth round later on Saturday.
Russia’s Peter Svidler, who was in joint lead with Magnus Carlsen, lost to Ding Liren of China 1.5-2.5 to hand the sole lead to the Norwegian world No.1. Carlsen has 12 match points and is followed by Ian Nepomniachtchi (11).
It was Liren’s first win in the tournament.
Carlsen had no troubles, thrashing veteran Israeli Boris Gelfand 3-0.
All the round-robin games are best-of-four game contests.
Legends of Chess is a unique event where Carlsen, Liren, Nepomniachtchi and Giri, semifinalists at the Chessable Masters (part of the Magnus Carlsen Tour), received an automatic invite and are up against six legends aged 40-52, who have been at the top of world chess at various points in their career.
The tournament is part of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour. The winner of this event will qualify for the USD 300,000 Grand Final scheduled from August 9 to 20.
Without being among the favourites, six seasoned practitioners bring in a fresh flavour to the penultimate event of the million-dollar Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour.
Such being the scenario on the eve of the $150,000 Chess24 Legends of Chess event, the point of interest will be whether at least one of the ‘legends’ deny the four younger players monopolising the semifinal spots.
If Magnus Carlsen (aged 29), Anish Giri (26), Ding Liren (27) and Ian Nepomniachtchi (30) advance following a nine-round preliminary phase, it will be a repeat line-up of the Chessable Master held earlier this month.
Even if one, among Viswanathan Anand (50), Vladimir Kramnik (45), Boris Gelfand (52), Vassily Ivanchuk (51), Peter Svidler (44) and Peter Leko (40) makes it to the semifinals, it will be big news.
This being an online event, the younger players obviously have a distinct comfort-level, having learnt the game by moving more pieces on-screen with the help of a mouse, than physically placing the pieces on the desired squares.
With several players from the pre-computer era around, expect more cases of ‘mouse-slip’ over the next 10 days than the number recorded in the last three events of the Tour.
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On the brighter side, none of the veteran is under any pressure of expectations. Therefore, one can expect them to play more freely and cause a few upsets. However, the four-game format in every encounter tilts the scales in favour of the younger lot.
After many years, Anand will not be the oldest participant in a round-robin event. Moreover, the 2017 World rapid champion has always been a force to reckon with in the shorter time-format. No wonder then, he has a good chance to gatecrash into the semifinals.
In fact, in the Nations Cup in May, Anand stunned Nepomniachtchi in just 17 moves to let the chess world know that he could still recreate some of his old magic.
It is also good for Anand that he starts his campaign against Peter Svidler, against whom he holds a favourable head-to-head record in classical time-format.
Svidler has been commentating in all tournaments so far on the Tour.
That should give him some edge since he has analysed threadbare most those games with several new ideas.
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Kramnik could find it a touch difficult to get past the league phase.
Following his retirement in January 2019, Kramnik has spent most of his time in coaching and being involved in fund-raising activities in Russia in these times of pandemic.
The trio of Gelfand, Ivanchuk and Leko are well equipped to win a few games but going beyond the league appears difficult.
Among the three, Ivanchuk can inject lots of excitement with his style of play. Original and innovative ideas were the hallmarks of his play during his prime. The 2016 World rapid champion has it in him to grab the attention with some truly brilliant play.
On the first day, much of the focus will be on the most-anticipated Carlsen-Giri clash. Besides their form, the other factor that gets them all the attention from the chess world is their much-followed battle of wits on social media. In what promises to reproduce the thrills seen in the final of Chessable Masters earlier this month, a fast-improving Giri will be looking to avenge the loss.
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