Can Magnus Carlsen be stopped?
The final four in the $150,000 chess24 Legends of Chess event got underway today with World Champion Magnus Carlsen in frightening form.
Having won nine matches on the trot in the prelim stage, the Norwegian picked up where he left off after yesterday's rest day by taking a swift first set lead in his semi.
Carlsen rattled off a 2.5-0.5 win against eight-time Russian champ Peter Svidler and just needs to win again tomorrow to reach the final.
Carlsen, who earlier this week likened his play to the misfiring Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino, was typically harsh on himself afterward.
"I think the games were of a sort of dubious quality," he said.
Asked what when he is satisfied with his performance, Carlsen said: "I always aim for more, that's my take-away."
In the other semi, the Svidler's fellow Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi and the Dutchman Anish Giri got their semi off to a marathon start - but it also ended quickly.
The pair, who finished second and third in the prelim after Carlsen, played out a 131-move draw in the opening game.
In the second, the in-form Nepomniachtchi - hoping to avenge his loss to Giri in the Chessable Masters tournament - went ahead with a win.
Nepo then finished off the set 2.5-0.5 with a game to spare as Giri crumbled in a worse position and under time pressure.
Like Svidler, Giri now needs to win tomorrow to take the contest to a third set or face elimination.
Today was the first day of the Legends of Chess semi-finals. The final four stage is a best-of-three sets contest with the third set being played on Sunday if needed.
The event, the fifth leg of the $1 million Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, runs until August 5 and will carry a $150,000 prize fund.
The winner will scoop a top prize of $45,000 and the last of the coveted spots in the tour’s Grand Final in August.
Carlsen, Anand and Kramnik are the last three undisputed world champions together in one tournament.
Anand is the man Carlsen wrestled his world title from seven years ago, while Kramnik ushered in a new era in chess in 2000.
Commentary is provided by Jan Gustafsson, Judit Polgar, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Erwin L'Ami, and Tania Sachdev and special guests.
Tomorrow chess legend Garry Kasparov will join the team.
The event is also be broadcast in 10 languages by chess24.com.
The official tournament social media hashtag is #ChessLegends.
- The 16th, and current, World Champion Magnus Carlsen;
- The 15th World Champion Vishy Anand;
- The 14th World Champion Vladimir Kramnik;
- Blitz and Rapid Champion Vasyl Ivanchuk;
- Eight-time Russian champion Peter Svidler;
- World title challenger in 2004: Peter Leko;
- World Cup winner and 2012 world title challenger Boris Gelfand;
- Netherlands No.1 and 2020 Candidate Anish Giri;
- Russian No.1 and 2020 Candidate Ian Nepomniachtchi;
- China’s No.1 and 2020 Candidate Ding Liren.
Tournament rules and schedule
The time control will be a rapid 15m + 10s from move 1 played in the chess24 Playzone. There will be two stages starting with a 10-player round-robin (July 21-29) with each round consisting of 4-game matches and Armageddon tiebreaks if needed.
The top four will advance to the knockout semi-finals (July 31-August 2) and two will go through to the final (August 3-5). July 30 is a free day. All sessions will begin at 16:00 CEST.