Leon Chess 2017

The traditional Leon Chess festival saw 9-time winner Anand face it off with Wesley So in the final. In order to get there both favourites had to dispatch of promising young talents, Jan-Kryzstof Duda and Jaime Santos. And the going wasn’t easy.

I would like to take a look at several uncharacteristic moments from the matches. They were rapid matches, 20’+10” so even though the time-control was faster it is difficult to explain some of these lapses.

The first one happened as early as game 1 in the first match So-Duda.



To So’s credit, he managed to win the 3rd and 4th game of the 4-game match to win by 2.5-1.5.

Anand’s way to the final wasn’t smooth either. Against young Spanish talent Santos he managed to lose this position:



Anand also showed his character by getting back into the match – he won the next game to level the match. The fourth game was drawn and then Anand won the tie-break confidently, 2-0.

The final was dominated by So, even though he needed the tie-break to win the match. The first 4 games were drawn, but Anand had to show his legendary defensive skills to keep it like that. This is from game 2:



Anand spoiled a wonderful position in game 4 and was again facing defeat both in the game and in the match:



This draw forced a tie-break. In the first game Anand mixed up the move-order in a position he successfully played twice recently.



In the final game Anand again spoiled good chances and the draw gave So the title. In spite of all the mistakes, the chess was interesting and the format of pitting young talents with elite players in knock-out matches is one that deserves wider application.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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