Carlsen wins London Classic…GrandTour!

World Champion Magnus Carlsen won the final leg of the Grand Chess Tour by winning the London Chess Classic on tiebreaks. It was a rather austere series for Carlsen garnering an efficient +1 over the three events. He was helped by his high-scoring performances in Sinquefield and London.

Indeed there were some disgruntled fans and players commenting on the tiebreak system. It appeared that there was a point about Maxime Vachier-Lagrave winning his match against Anish Giri, but only getting third place behind Giri. In addition, it seemed quite ironic that Carlsen won the Grand Chess Tour (27 games) with +1 and Giri came in second with +5.

Magnus Carlsen receiving both Grand Chess Tour Cup and London Chess trophy. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

Magnus Carlsen receiving both Grand Chess Tour Cup and London Chess trophy.
Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

There is no reason to call Carlsen “lucky” although his opponents did miss opportunities. Perhaps Alexander Grischuk thought he would somehow get mated and didn’t play 30…Rxg4! in the last round in London. Perhaps Giri saw Thor’s shadow when he had his chance to play 21.f4! There is no understating the tension at this level. Carlsen stated that he was nervous in the game versus Grischuk, but it was the Russian who habitually entered zeitnot.

There is no understanding why opponents let Carlsen wiggle away so frequently, but that is the intrigue of chess… a war of nerves. Carlsen will be watching carefully when the Candidates tournament takes place in March. Many of these players will be participating. For future Grand Chess Tour events, there should be adjustments… certainly in the tiebreak system and perhaps in variety of players and more tournaments. There are the same players for several tournaments… not to mention Tata Steel and opens like Qatar Masters and Millionaire Chess. We shall see.

1st: Veselin Topalov, 6½; 2nd-3rd: Viswanathan Anand, Hikaru Nakamura, 6; 4th: Anish Giri, 5½; 5th-6th: Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 4; 7th-8th: Magnus Carlsen, Alexander Grischuk, 3½; 9th-10th: Levon Aronian, Jon Ludwig Hammer, 3.


1st: Levon Aronian, 6; 2nd-5th: Anish Giri, Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, 5; 6th-7th: Veselin Topalov, Alexander Grischuk, 4½; 8th-9th: Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, 3½; 10th: Wesley So, 3.

St. Louis:

1st-3rd: Carlsen, Giri, Vachier-Lagrave, 5.5; 4th: Aronian, 5.0; 5th-7th: Caruana, Adams, Grischuk, 4.5; 8th: Nakamura, 4.0; 9th: Anand, 3.5; 10th: Topalov, 2.5.


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  1. “letting him wiggle away do frequently” is a good way to put it. 3 mistakes in a row by Grischuk??? This is such a common theme with Carlsen that I can’t help but look at his body of work and declare him truly the representative of HUMAN-STYLE CHESS ONLY. I really wonder what maximum level of computer software is capable of losing a match against Carlsen. All those bad positions would get converted! I think Kasparov versus the computers was compelling not only because the super-software was fledgling, but because Kasparov, at his best, was better equipped to dominate computers.

    1. Grischuk was completely hexed by time pressure (zeitnot).

      Carlsen is the top player and I like his universal style to the game. He’ll play 1.e4, 1.d4 and 1.Nf3 with equal comfort. However, I believe he has lost some motivation. He gets far too many bad positions for a player of his ilk. I don’t remember neither Fischer, Karpov nor Kasparov making this many mistakes. Of course Fischer’s …Bxh2? is famous, but he rarely got into trouble in his games. Karpov and Kasparov the same.

      I believe one of the upstarts like Giri, Wei Yi or Ding Liren may be a threat. If Hikaru gets one win under his belt, I believe it changes everything. Aronian would be dangerous in a match with the weight of the Armenian Chess Federation behind him. I cannot see Anand or Topalov coming back. Grischuk is unstable and Caruana is still adjusting to his move. The Candidates should be interesting.

      1. Oh hey Daaim Bh2 wuz just an ole trick he used in that match when u look at it from an Ultramodern point of view, actually Fischer wuz the Greatest Trickster of the 70’s just study his chess Seriously and its clear! lol

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