DG Magnus carlsen took the advantage against GM Ian nepomniachtchi in the chess24 Chess legends the first day of the final match. Nepomniachtchi will look to tie the game on Matchday 2, which starts on Tuesday August 4.
The games of chess24 Legends of Chess can be found here as part of our live events platform. General Manager Hikaru Nakamura and MI Levy Rozman comment daily on the Twitch Channel at 7:00 a.m. Pacific / 4:00 p.m. Central Europe.
Magnus wasted no time signing up for the scoreboard and won the first quick game of the day. Nepo played the interesting 6.Rg1 line against Carlsen’s Najdorf. He went on with 7.g4 and 8.g5?!, Offering the e4 pawn that Magnus declined with 8 … Nfd7 and a fianchetto on the king’s side.
Nepo happily continued to push his pawns to the king’s side. After Magnus kicked the king wing on move 13, Nepo initiated a series of rallies with 14.hxg6 and 15.Nxc6. Carlsen responded by giving up his powerful black-box bishop with 16 … Bxc3 + to break the pawns on the Russian queen’s side:
Nepo kept the messy position by sacrificing a pawn with 20.c4, which is difficult to cope with timing issues — after 23 … Kg7, Magnus only had two minutes against six minutes for Nepo. A series of rallies occurred after 24 … Nf4, and the position moved to a queen and pawn final where both sides were in time difficulty.
Nepo moved his king to A4 (introducing ideas of checkmate Qb5 for Carlsen), and after Nepo’s 40.Dd8, Carlsen had a huge advantage. After picking up the c6 and a3 pawns, Carlsen scored the point. An excellent start to the final phase for the world champion.
The second game saw a Grunfeld from Nepo, who played the same 11 … b5 line that he had played multiple times against GM Anish Giri. Carlsen didn’t play the critical line with 11.Bxc5 like Giri did in the semifinals, opting for the quieter 11.Be2 instead.
Carlsen went for 19.Qc6 instead of 19.Kb1 or 19.Qd4, both of which looked promising, and the position was tied. Nepo landed an octopus knight with 22 … Nc3, but after 26.axb4 Nb5 the last round of exchanges took place, and there was no real chance for either player in the queen-pawn final – a draw was agreed.
The third game was intense and mind-boggling. Nepo repeated the same 6.Rg1 continuation against Najdorf that he had played in the first game. This time, Magnus accepted the gambit pawn with 8 … Nxe4, and a model was the result:
The fourth game was a quiet affair. Carlsen played a Grunfeld fianchetto and Nepo played solid. With the exception of the bishops, all coins were exchanged by move 18, and a draw was agreed upon. This result tied the score at 2-2, moving the game towards blitz games.
Game 5 was the first blitz game and saw Nepo drop the 6.Rg1 line against Carlsen’s Najdorf in favor of 6.h3. Magnus fianchetto played on the king side again, and Nepo had a nice position after the thematic 14.e5:
Nepo stumbled with 21.Nf6 + and Carlsen was in charge for the rest of the game. The Russian traded in his queen for a rook and a knight and sailed well in the materially unbalanced endgame for a long time. Both players played this extremely difficult position with less than a minute to go, each of them dipping below 10 seconds at various times. Magnus managed to break through and claim his second win of the day.
Game six was a 92-stroke marathon. The Russian super-grandmaster had his back to the wall in an inescapable situation with the black pieces and played Modern Defense. Carlsen played normal, natural moves, and the play was relatively balanced. The game eventually reached a queen and minor play final which was apparently balanced, despite Nepo’s pair of bishops, until Carlsen had 31.e6 and 32.Bxd5. Carlsen went for 34.Ngxf5, which set the board on fire with little time on the clock for each player:
When the dust settled, Carlsen had a queen and three pawns against the queen, the bishop and the pawn of Nepo. After a long streak of checks on both sides, Nepo gave up his last pawn to activate his king (a good practical choice, since a draw equals a defeat). Carlsen was finally able to trade queens with 88.Qf5 +, and he won the game.
With this result, the world champion took Monday’s point by a score of 4-2. These two players will face off again on Day 2 of the final, which begins at 7:00 a.m. PT / 4:00 p.m. Central European Time on Tuesday, August 4. The winner of the event will take home the top prize of $ 45,000.
All game finals, Day 1
The chess24 Legends of Chess runs from July 21 to August 5. The preliminary stage was a 10-player round robin tournament with rounds consisting of quick matches of four games each day. The knockout has three such matches per round. The prize fund is $ 150,000 with $ 45,000 for first place, while the winner also qualifies for the Grand Final of the Magnus Carlsen Tour. The time control is 15 minutes and an increment of 10 seconds.