The Grand Chess Tour gets underway in Paris. Carlsen and Nakamura share the lead after Day 1.
The Grand Chess Tour — a series of elite tournaments with a total prize fund of $1.05 million — was organized last year for the first time. It’s back, albeit with a couple of changes. Norway Chess (now called Altibox Norway Chess, after its main sponsor), one of the three tournaments that made up the series last year, exited the tour and has been replaced by two shorter tournaments devoted entirely to rapid and blitz chess.
The first of those tournaments, which is being held in Paris, started Thursday with the first day of a two-day rapid competition. The field includes Vladimir Kramnik of Russia; Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So of the United States; Levon Aronian of Armenia; Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Laurent Fressinet of France; Anish Giri of the Netherlands; and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
It also includes Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Champion in classical and rapid chess, which automatically makes him the clear favorite. But things did not go so well for him in Round 1 against So:
Carlsen, Magnus vs. So, Wesley
Grand Chess Tour |Paris |Round 1 |09 Jun 2016 |0-1
Qa1Carlsen lost on time in this completely winning position 59. Qxb7+!This simple human move immediately ends the game
( 59. Qh2The computer found this, but its tougher to find over the board )
Veselin Topalov playing Fabiano Caruana during Round 1. Caruana won.
Nakamura has a reputation for possibly being the best rapid and blitz player in the world (though his ranking is just behind Carlsen in both disciplines). He played very well on Day 1, including punishing an error by Topalov in Round 2:
Nakamura, Hikaru vs. Topalov, Veselin
Grand Chess Tour |Paris |Round 2 |09 Jun 2016 |1-0
Nd4?Not the best move Topalov ever made. 15. Nxd4!exd4
( 15... Bxg2This may have been Topalov's idea, but it fails to a pretty zwischenzug: 16. Ne6!fxe617. Kxg2Black's pawn structure is a disaster )
( 16... Bxd417. Qxd4 )
( 17... Qd518. Qg4g619. e4 )
18. Kxg2And White is up a pawn. Nakamura went on to win.
After four rounds, Nakamura and Carlsen were tied for first with 3 points and faced each other in Round 5. Carlsen played a shaky game, but Nakamura was not able to take advantage:
Carlsen, Magnus vs. Nakamura, Hikaru
Grand Chess Tour |Paris |Round 5 |09 Jun 2016 |1/2-1/2
12. Bb5?!This is asking for trouble 12... a613. Ba4
( 13. Be2Admitting the mistake the move earlier seems prudent )
13... b514. Bb3Re8+15. Ne2Bg416. O-OBxf317. gxf3White's pawn structure is weakened on the kingside, but with so many open lines and opposite-colored bishops, it is not really easy for Black to do much. 17... Ra718. Rc5Rd719. Nc3Rd620. Rxd5Nc621. Rxd6Qxd622. Re1And White had survived the worst of it. The game was drawn after another 13 moves.
While the tournament features rapid games, a lot of the play is still very high quality. For example, I was very impressed with Fressinet’s accurate display of both technique and calculation in a complex rook endgame with Caruana:
Fressinet, Laurent vs. Caruana, Fabiano
Grand Chess Tour |Paris |Round 3 |09 Jun 2016 |*
47. Kd7!Rb348. Kc7Rc3+49. Kb8h250. b7Ra3It looks like Black should be able to make a draw with a perpetual attack on the rook, but Fressinet has other ideas. 51. Rc1Rc352. Rxc3!h1=Q53. Kc8!And the pawn on b7 cannot be stopped from promoting. 53... Qh8+
( 53... Qe1attacking the rook allows an in-between check 54. Rc7+ )
54. Kc7Qh255. Rc5!Patient
( 55. b8=Q?Too soon 55... Qxe5+Wins the rook, and probably the game )
55... Qxf256. Rc6!Still no checks
( 56. b8=QQxc5+ )
56... Qa757. Kc8!Again threatening to queen 57... Qa458. Rc7+!And finally White ends up with an extra rook 58... Kg659. b8=QWhite escaped the checks and won without much trouble
Day 2 on Friday will feature four more rapid rounds. It will be interesting if anyone can catch Carlsen and Nakamura as they fight for first place.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 7 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
After 9 days of intense chess battles at the last leg of the World Chess Grand Prix series 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, the two winners of the series were finally determined: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, overall 340 points in the series) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 336,4 points). They qualified for the Candidates Tournament – the next part of the World Chess Championship cycle, which leads up to the Championship match.
The sole leader of the Palma de Mallorca Grand Prix Levon Aronian made a quick draw with Evgeny Tomashevsky today, inviting the group of rivals to join him at the top. But same as in the previous rounds all games on the top boards finished peacefully and not a single player came close to catching up with him.
After seven rounds Aronian is in the lead with 4,5 points. A group of 8 players is half a point behind, including Vachier-Lagrave. In order to qualify for the Candidates, the Frenchman needs to win at least one more game. Boris Gelfand defeated Alexander Riazantsev, Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer, while Teimour Rajabov outplayed Li Chao. After the victory the Azerbaijani Grandmaster still hopes to qualify, but in that case has to win both games.
Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, made the first symbolic move to start the fourth round, which turned out to be the most exciting round of the tournament so far, with six decisive games out of nine.
In the Third Round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Palma de Mallorca games between the four leaders, Vachier-Lagrave-Aronian and Rajabov-Giri, finished in a draw. Peter Svidler joined the group of leaders by beating Jon-Ludvig Hammer in the third round.
The world’s best chess players and chess establishment came together in Bellver Castle to celebrate the opening of the final leg of the FIDE 2017 World Chess Grand Prix Palma de Mallorca – a prestigious qualifier for the World Chess Candidates Tournament.
Katerina Lagno, one of the strongest Russian women-grandmasters won the historic Moscow Blitz Tournament, beating her fellow Russian Olympic team members Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya.
After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players