A day after stopping Boris Gelfand 2.5-0.5 for his first win in the chess24 Legends of Chess, Viswanathan Anand crashed to a stunning defeat, by a similar margin, to an otherwise struggling Ding Liren in the eighth round on Tuesday.
Surprisingly, Anand lost both his games with white pieces rather tamely. In between, he drew with black.
Highlights - Chess24 Legends of Chess Round 8, highlights: Carlsen makes it 8 wins in a row, Anand loses
In this battle involving two players out of reckoning for a place in the semifinals, Anand faltered early in the first game with a knight-retreat and soon found his castled-king on the queenside come under fierce attack. Anand saw no way of saving the position and resigned inside 25 minutes of game-time.
In the second, where Anand played black, the battle was fought on an even keel. In the third, Anand erred more than once after the opening lines of Sicilian Najdorf. His position fell apart and he lost his queen before resigning.
In the most watched game of the day, leader Magnus Carlsen let second-placed Ian Nepomniachtchi off the hook after gaining a firm grip with black pieces but crushed the Russian in the second. The third game, where Carlsen held a clear advantage, ended in a draw.
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In the remaining contests, Vassily Ivanchuk and Peter Leko bounced back from defeats in the second game to draw level with victories in the third, against Anish Giri and Boris Gelfand. Vladimir Kramnik, too, came close to levelling the match at 1.5-1.5 against fellow Russian Peter Svidler but could not convert a sizable advantage into a win in the third game.
With both Russians in contention for two available semifinal spots, the winner of this match will considerably brighten the prospects of reaching the knockout phase of the competition.
Eighth round: Game One: Viswanathan Anand lost to Ding Liren (Chn); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus) lost to Peter Svidler (Rus); Anish Giri (Ned) drew with Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr); Peter Leko (Hun) drew with Boris Gelfand (Isr).
Game Two: Liren drew with Anand; Carlsen bt Nepomniachtchi; Svidler drew with Kramnik; Ivanchuk lost to Giri; Gelfand bt Leko.
Game Three: Anand lost to Liren; Nepomniachtchi drew with Carlsen; Kramnik drew with Svidler; Giri lost to Ivanchuk; Leko bt Gelfand.
Position after Game Three: Liren bt Anand 2.5-0.5; Carlsen leads Nepomniachtchi 2-1; Svidler leads Kramnik 2-1; Giri level with Ivanchuk 1.5-1.5; Gelfand level with Leko 1.5-1.5.