Legends of Chess (2/2)

Day 1

PC: Chess.com

Kramnik and Nepomniachtchi tossed the ball back and forth, as did Leko and Ivanchuk. Nepomniachtchi, in the decisive Armageddon match, offered an early queen trade, managed to forge a winning position in the endgame with passed pawns along the a- and h-files, and eventually won the match. 

Ivanchuk, in his must-win Game 4 against Leko, went for the King’s Gambit, one of the finest openings in all chess, and went on to convincingly refute Leko’s Becker defence (something he has used earlier, against Morozevich). The genius has previous used this (King of) openings to victory against Nakamura, Karjakin, and others in the past. The Game 5 tiebreaker was a long (79-move) struggle, both sides having winning chances until White blundered in a drawn endgame. 

PC: theweekinchess.com

Svidler won his match (after three draws against Anand) when Black blundered (?) his Bishop move on move 35, edging above Anand with 2 ½ points. In the drawn games, we saw a Grunfeld, a King’s Indian, and a Giuoco Piano, with Svidler successfully employing the King’s Indian in the fourth and final. 

Gelfand secured 3 points against Ding with two decisive victories as Black and no less exciting draws  (worth mentioning is the exciting Game 3 where he supported a kingside attack pushing a pawn all the way to h6).

The Giri-Magnus match (apparently fought across land and water) included a famous missed mate-in-4 starting with a rook sacrifice (Game 2, which he won anyway). All-in-all, Giri drew twice as White, Magnus drew twice as Black, and two decisive victories meant Magnus won this time, with 3:1. And so the rivalry continues…