The second leg of the Grand Chess Tour, Your Next Move, wrapped up today in Leuven with a complete domination by Magnus Carlsen. The World Champion earned thirteen tour points (one bonus point for winning clear first) and $37,500 for his efforts. He is now leading the tour with twenty-five points. The next stop will be the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis from August 2-12, followed by the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz. The Sinquefield Cup will be the first classical event of the tour. The Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz is the newest stop added this year.
Magnus Carlsen continued his winning streak by winning four games in a row after drawing his first round game. He gave away several more draws in the second half, but after round seven he was two and a half points ahead of the field, making it mathematically impossible for anyone to catch him. Even so, the champion did not slow down and won his round eight game but only drew Wesley So in the last round. His final score was 7/9, a half point less than yesterday but without any losses.
Wesley So was tied for first place with Carlsen before the start of the second day and even won the first game which gave him the lead of the event, but was not able to match Carlsen’s brilliant performance. Whereas Magnus was outplaying his opponents, Wesley was simply too solid, drawing six games, only winning one and losing two. Normally, being solid pays off but when one player is simply cruising through the field, a more dynamic approach is required. The U.S. champion finished in second place earning ten tour points and $25,000.
The third place finisher was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. His day was opposite of So’s: he only had one draw and eight decisive games. Unfortunately, too many of those decisive games were losses to keep up with So’s score, who started the day two points behind the leaders. The Frenchman finished in third place, collecting eight tour points and $20,000.
The players are intrigued by Yoko Ono’s all white “Play It by Trust” chess set
There were no other changes in the standings for the rest of the field, except for Levon Aronian who climbed to fifth place from the eighth place. The next stop on the Grand Chess Tour will be Saint Louis, Missouri for the Sinquefield Cup August 2 - 12.
All information is available on GrandChessTour.org. Live commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Cristian Chirila, and IM Jovanka Houska will give online spectators even more opportunity to experience the tournaments. As last year, GM Maurice Ashley will be on-site in Leuven to interview players and will be joined by GM Nigel Short. Watch live.
Photo credits: Chess Club and Scholastic Center/Kevin Duggin/Spectrum Studios/Lennart Ootes