Chess24 Legends of Chess semifinals, highlights: Carlsen into final, Nepomniachtchi leads Giri

Catch the updates of the Chess24 Legends of Chess semifinals, the penultimate event of the million-dollar Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour

File Photo: Magnus Carlsen will take on Peter Svidler in the semifinals.   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES

Catch Friday's action:

Semifinal line-up: Carlsen vs Svidler; Nepomniachtchi vs Giri.



Continuing their irrepressible form, Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi needed just three games to race past Peter Svidler and Anish Giri in the first set of their semifinals of chess24 Legends of Chess on Friday.

Carlsen won the first and third games with black pieces while Nepomniachtchi battled long to save a draw before winning the next two to post 2.5-0.5 scorelines.

On Saturday, Svidler and Giri face a must-win situation to force Sunday's deciding set.

In the opening game, Carlsen exploited Svidler’s mistake in the middle-game by bringing his queen into active play. With the knight-pair ready to unleash serious damage, Carlsen was looking to add to his three-pawn advantage when Svidler resigned.

After the second game ended in a draw with Svidler denying Carlsen any advantage with white pieces, the World champion managed to shut out the Russian by gaining a two-pawn advantage, with more than
four-minute time-advantage after just 27 moves.

The other semifinal saw Giri and Nepomniachtchi sign peace in their first game in a marathon lasting 131 moves. Giri, playing white but down to less than 30 seconds as against his rival’s five-and-a-half minutes, managed to maintain the balance of the position. On the 48th move, Giri gained a pawn and started playing for a win in the rook-and-pawn ending. Nepomniachtchi defended accurately to draw in 64 minutes.

In the second game, Nepomniachtchi bravely sacrificed his queen for a rook and a bishop and went on to convert the advantage in great style. This was really a brilliant execution by Nepomniachtchi who showed superior preparation and squeezed out a win by stifling Giri’s pieces, including a hapless queen.

In the third, where Nepomniachtchi let go of a bishop on the 21st move, Giri blundered with a knight-retreat on the 26th move. Thereafter, Nepomniachtchi needed just seven more moves to leave Giri’s king defenceless. The Russian launched a fierce attack with the queen and a rook before trading the other rook for a bishop. At this stage, Giri gave up.

The results

Semifinals: Set One - Magnus Carlsen (Nor) bt Peter Svidler (Rus) 2.5-0.5; Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus) bt Anish Giri (Ned) 2.5-0.5.

The format

A 10-player round-robin league. Each match will witness the best-of-four rapid games. Each player gets 15 minutes of starting time on the clock and 10 second for every move. If tied 2-2, the tie will be decided by a Armageddon game, where White has five minutes to Black’s four, but a draw means Black wins the match. Three points awarded to a victory without Armageddon.  If the match goes to Armageddon, the winner gets two points and the loser one.

Following the league, the top four will advance to the semi-finals and the final that follows the best-of-three set format. Each set comprises a four-game rapid match. The only difference to the preliminary stage clashes is that if a match is locked at 2-2, there will also be two blitz games (five minutes each for both players plus three-second increment per move) before the Armageddon, if needed.

Schedule: Round 1 to 9 (from July 21 to 29); Semifinals: July 31 to August 2; Final: August 3 to 5.

Prize-money break-up

Winner: $45,000; Runner-up: $30,000; Losing semifinalists: $17,500 each; 5th place: $10,000; 6th place: $8,000; 7th place: $7,000; 8th place: $6,000; 9th place: $5,000; 10th place: $4,000.