first leg of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour kicked off in Paris with the
rapid portion of the event. After three games, the 2016 Grand Chess Tour
winner Wesley So and World Champion Magnus Carlsen are tied for first
place with Hikaru Nakamura and Veselin Topalov trailing by a point. The
faster time controls (25 minutes per game with 10 second delay) produced
exciting and tumultuous games, making the results unpredictable. The
next two days promise to bring more fast action melees, leaving the
tournament open up for grabs.
tournament started with fireworks in the all French match, as
Vachier-Lagrave sacrificed a piece for initiative in an unorthodox
position. The evaluation of the position changed several times due to
the mistakes made by both players, but black finally came out on top
when Bacrot blundered with seconds left on the clock. The other
decisive game came from the battle between the 2016 and 2017 US
champions. Caruana played a beautiful exchange sacrifice, but erred
later not only missing the win but giving the advantage back to So, who
converted it into the full point. Nakamura vs Mamedyarov, Grischuk vs
Carlsen and Karjakin vs Topalov all ended in a draw.
another lucky break, Wesley So solidified his lead with a win over
Bacrot. Again, the US champion found himself in trouble but his
resilience helped him turn the tide when the position became unbalanced
in time trouble. Magnus Carlsen scores his first victory after
Mamedyarov blundered on move 28, allowing his opponent’s pieces to
exploit his king’s weakness. Caruana suffered another heartbreak when he
once again collapsed after ouplaying Topalov for most of the game and
lost. Nakamura vs Karjakin and Vachier-Lagrave vs Grischuk both ended in
a draw but with the latter being a complete rollercoaster with the
evaluation changing every few moves. Both players missed countless
opportunities and eventually agreed to a draw with little material left
on the board.
was a big change in the standings after Magnus Carlsen took advantage
of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s blunder and scored a full point. He is now
tied for first place with Wesley So who was unable to break Grischuk’s
fortress. Caruana’s day kept getting worse as he lost yet another
winning position, this time against his compatriot Hikaru Nakamura.
Wildcard Mamedyarov was able to outplay the unbreakable Karjakin and
score his first victory. Bacrot vs Topalov was a quiet affair which
ended in a draw.
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 Paris to interview players and will be joined by
GM Romain Edouard. Watch live.
Photo credits: Chess Club and Scholastic Center/Kevin Duggin/Spectrum Studios/Lennart Ootes