Grand Chess Tour - Leuven: The Magnus Carlsen Show

by Alex Yermolinsky
7/2/2017 – With a three point lead over Magnus Carlsen after the rapid games, and two over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley So had to have though it would at least carry him over until Sunday. However, he could not have predicted the Magnus Carlsen Show that lasted throughout the day, with the World Champion in scintillating form, finding inspired and many-times clear best moves grandmasters might find challenging even in classical games. Full report by GM Alex Yermolinsky.

The Leuven tournament of the Grand Chess Tour is running from June 28 to July 2 in Leuven, Belgium. It is a combination of Rapid and Blitz games. The ten participants are Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Viswanathan Anand, Wesley So, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Vassily Ivanchuk, and Baadur Jobava. They will play nine rapid games, three a day, from June 28–30. Each day the games will start at 14:00h, 15:30h and 17:00h European Standard Summer Time. The Blitz tournament is on July 1-2, with nine rounds on each day, starting at 14:00h. The total prize fund is $150,000!

Note that the event is using the Bronstein mode: the players have 25 minutes for all the moves of a rapid game, and a ten second delay per move. This means that the clock does not run for ten seconds – the point is that you cannot accumulate time by playing very quickly in the Bronstein Mode.

Day four

All photos by Lennart Ootes

Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri were visibly in good spirits before the start. That said, play blitz all day and get paid for it... What's not to like?

I sort of felt Wesley So's lead of three points over Magnus Carlsen wasn't exactly safe, but to see it evaporate over just nine games was surreal. It's not like So played poorly either, since he actually started with two wins and ended up on 50%, which is a marked improvement over his disastrous showing in Paris. The problem is, it wasn't enough, not with the way Carlsen was playing.

Over the years I have watched Carlsen finishing first in tournaments against the best of the best, and I saw him winning the Candidates and beating Anand twice, but I swear I have never seen Magnus as dominating as he was today.

At the start he needed a bit of help from his opponents who couldn't seem to hold their own in the endgame.

Both Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen have given us many a great battle

Vishy Anand - Magnus Carlsen

[Event "Your Next Move GCT 2017-Blitz"] [Site "Leuven"] [Date "2017.07.01"] [Round "1"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2786"] [BlackElo "2832"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "108"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. O-O Qe7 7. Nbd2 Bg4 8. Nc4 Nd7 9. a3 a5 10. Be3 f6 11. Bxc5 Nxc5 12. Ne3 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 O-O 14. h4 Ne6 15. h5 a4 16. g3 Qd7 17. Qg4 Rad8 18. Rad1 c5 19. f4 exf4 20. gxf4 {[#]} f5 $5 {An interesting decision.} ({Apparently Carlsen wasn't happy with allowing Vishy's build-up after} 20... Kh8 21. Rd2 b5 22. Rg2 {although Black's position remains solid.}) 21. Nxf5 Nd4 22. Nh6+ Kh8 23. Qxd7 Rxd7 24. Ng4 Nxc2 25. Rc1 Nd4 26. Rxc5 {[#]} Kg8 $2 {Strange hesitation.} ({I'm sure Magnus' original intention was to get back his pawn,} 26... Ne2+ 27. Kh2 Nxf4 {What did he see for White here?}) 27. Ne5 $2 {This only hangs White's pieces.} ({ Instead, the natural} 27. f5 {would secure the decisive material and positional advantage.}) 27... Re7 28. Kg2 ({Too late for} 28. f5 {because of} Nb3 29. Rb5 c6) 28... Ne6 $1 29. Ra5 Nxf4+ 30. Kh2 Nxh5 $17 {Black has received a nice return on his investment.} 31. Rxf8+ Kxf8 32. d4 (32. Nf3 Nf4 33. Ne1 Rd7 34. Rf5+ Rf7 35. Ra5 Ne6 36. Kg2 g5 37. Rxa4 h5 38. Nf3 Kg7 { The connected passed pawns look menacing.}) 32... Nf6 33. Rxa4 Nxe4 34. Kg2 Nd6 35. Rb4 g5 36. a4 Kg7 37. a5 Kf6 38. Nd3 g4 39. Nc5 c6 40. Rb6 Re2+ 41. Kf1 Rc2 42. Nxb7 Nc4 43. Rxc6+ Kg5 44. Rc5+ Kf4 45. Nd6 Ne3+ 46. Ke1 Rxb2 47. Nc4 { [#] Vishy did everything he could, yet his position is lost.} Ra2 $2 {Carlsen played this by the book - rook behind the pawn.} ({However, in this sharp endgame time is the decisive factor, and therefore} 47... Nxc4 $1 48. Rxc4 g3 49. Kf1 h5 {was the right choice. Of course, in time trouble it was next to impossible to calculate} 50. d5+ Kf3 51. Rc3+ Kg4 52. d6 h4 53. d7 Rd2 54. a6 Rxd7 55. Ra3 Rd1+ $1 56. Ke2 g2 {and Black wins.}) 48. Nxe3 Kxe3 49. Re5+ $2 ( 49. Kf1 {saves the day for White, as after} Kf3 50. Rf5+ Kg3 51. Rh5 {he gets the h-pawn.}) 49... Kf4 50. Rh5 Kf3 $2 (50... g3 $1 51. Kf1 (51. Rxh7 Ra1+ 52. Ke2 g2) 51... Kf3 52. Rf5+ Kg4 53. Rf7 h5 54. d5 h4 55. Rg7+ Kf4 56. Rf7+ Ke4 57. Re7+ Kxd5 58. Rh7 Ke4 59. Rxh4+ Kf3) 51. Rxh7 g3 52. Rf7+ Kg2 53. d5 Rxa5 { [#]} 54. d6 $4 {In blitz it's always about the last mistake.} ({A draw was still there:} 54. Rd7 Kg1 55. Ke2 $1 {King to the rescue.} (55. d6 $2 g2 56. Re7 Rh5 57. d7 Kh1 58. d8=Q g1=Q+) 55... g2 56. Ke3 Kf1 57. Rf7+ Ke1 58. Rg7 $11) 54... Re5+ {White now loses his pawn, leaving Black with a routine win.} 0-1

Keep in mind that Vishy didn't play badly today. His score halfway through the blitz is 5.0/9, and that is after starting 0/2.

While Vachier-Lagrave's excellent performance last week in Paris gave reason to expect more of the same. It just didn't happen for Maxime today. I guess, being away in the remote foreign country of Belgium is not the same as home in France.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was unable to hold off Hurricane Carlsen

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Magnus Carlsen

[Event "Your Next Move GCT 2017-Blitz"] [Site "Leuven"] [Date "2017.07.01"] [Round "3"] [White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2789"] [BlackElo "2850"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "120"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Be7 6. Re1 Nd6 7. Bxc6 dxc6 8. dxe5 Nf5 9. Qxd8+ Bxd8 10. Bg5 Bxg5 11. Nxg5 Nd4 12. Na3 h6 13. Ne4 Bf5 14. c3 Ne6 15. Rad1 Ke7 16. Ng3 Bh7 17. Nc4 Rad8 18. Na5 Rxd1 19. Rxd1 Rb8 20. Ne2 c5 21. f3 Rd8 22. Rxd8 Nxd8 23. Kf2 Bb1 24. a3 Ke6 25. Nc4 g5 26. Ke3 Nc6 27. f4 Ba2 28. Nd2 Bd5 29. g3 b6 30. Ne4 Ne7 31. g4 Bc6 32. fxg5 Kxe5 33. N2g3 Nd5+ 34. Kd2 Nf4 35. Ke3 Ng2+ 36. Kd3 Bxe4+ 37. Nxe4 c4+ 38. Kxc4 Kxe4 39. gxh6 Nf4 {[#]} 40. h4 ({Maxime calculated} 40. h7 Ng6 41. Kb5 Kf4 {as lost for White.}) ({The subtle} 40. h3 $3 {was near impossible to find.} Kf3 41. h7 Ng6 {The trick is, the white king now switches direction to give support to the h-pawn.} 42. Kd5 $1 Kg3 43. Ke4 Kxh3 44. Kf5 Kh4 45. Kf6 Kxg4 46. Kxf7 Kg5 47. Kg7 c5 48. c4 Kh5 49. b4 Kg5 50. b5 Kh5 51. Kf7 Kh6 52. Kg8 {and Black cannot make progress.}) 40... Ng6 41. h5 Nf8 42. g5 c6 43. b4 Kf5 44. g6 fxg6 45. hxg6 Nxg6 46. b5 Ne5+ ({Magnus misseda win after} 46... c5 $1 {because it's difficult to see Black switching his knight to attack and leaving the king to take care of the h-pawn.} 47. Kd5 (47. h7 Ke4 48. Kb3 Kd3) 47... Nf4+ 48. Kc6 Kg6 49. Kb7 Nd5 50. Kxa7 (50. c4 Ne3 51. Kxa7 Nxc4 52. a4 Kxh6) 50... c4 $1 {and only Black will queen.}) 47. Kd4 Ke6 48. bxc6 Nxc6+ 49. Kc4 a6 50. h7 Ne5+ 51. Kd4 Nf7 52. a4 Kd6 {[#]} 53. c4 $6 ({A fairly routine draw was available in} 53. Kc4 Kc6 54. Kb4 a5+ 55. Kc4 Nh8 56. Kd4 b5 57. axb5+ Kxb5 58. c4+ Kc6 (58... Kb4 59. c5 $11) 59. Kd3 {even this} Kc5 60. Kc3 a4 61. Kb2 Kxc4 62. Ka1) 53... a5 54. Kd3 Kc5 55. Kc3 $4 {The opposition game can only end in Black's favor because he has unlimited supply of tempo moves with the knight.} ({The salvation was to be found in counterattack:} 55. Ke3 Kxc4 56. Kf4 b5 57. axb5 Kxb5 58. Kf5 a4 59. Kf6 Nh8 60. Kg7 a3 61. Kxh8 a2 62. Kg8 $11) 55... Nh8 56. Kd3 Kb4 57. Kd4 Kxa4 58. Ke5 Kb3 59. Kf6 a4 60. Kg7 a3 0-1

With 6.0/9, Vladimir Kramnik was the second highest performer in the first salvo of blitz games

Having received some donations in the early going, Magnus flexed his shoulders and started beating people for real. He got to 5.5/6, with only one draw surrendered to Vladimir Kramnik.

Magnus Carlsen - Vassily Ivanchuk

[Event "Your Next Move GCT 2017-Blitz"] [Site "Leuven"] [Date "2017.07.01"] [Round "4"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "2850"] [BlackElo "2755"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "43"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 c5 3. d5 b5 $5 4. c4 g6 5. cxb5 a6 6. e3 {[#]} Bg7 ({The position of Bf4 is somewhat unusual for the Benko, so the direct approach with } 6... Bb7 7. Nc3 Qa5 {was worth looking at.}) 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Nf3 d6 ({Again,} 8... Qa5 9. Nd2 axb5 10. Bxb5 Nxd5 11. Nxd5 Qxb5 {was a better idea.}) 9. Nd2 Nbd7 10. e4 Ne8 11. a4 $1 {Magnus doesn't mind classical structures, as long as they're good for him. Here Vassily failed to force bxa6, so his Benko setup is ineffective.} Nc7 12. Be2 axb5 13. axb5 Rxa1 14. Qxa1 f5 {Nothing else left to do.} 15. exf5 Rxf5 16. Be3 Nb6 (16... Bxc3 17. bxc3 Nxd5 18. Bh6 Nf4) 17. Qa5 $1 Bxc3 18. Qxb6 Bxb2 19. O-O {[#] Only now, already on move 19, White takes time to castle.} Rf8 (19... Qd7 20. Bg4 Nxd5 21. Qa5 Nxe3 22. Bxf5 Nxf5 23. Qa2+) 20. Qa7 Bf5 $2 {In blitz blunders are near impossible to avoid when you have loose pieces and insecure king.} (20... Bg7 21. Bc4 Bf5 22. b6) 21. b6 Nxd5 22. Qa2 1-0

Ian Nepomniachtchi was dispatched even quicker, and was being mated by Magnus after a mere 19 moves.

Ian Nepomniachtchi - Magnus Carlsen

[Event "Your Next Move GCT 2017-Blitz"] [Site "Leuven"] [Date "2017.07.01"] [Round "5"] [White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C22"] [WhiteElo "2767"] [BlackElo "2850"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "38"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. e4 e5 2. d4 {I just don't understand this opening.} exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 Bb4+ 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O Re8 8. Qf4 $6 {[#] Ian's preparation for the tournament.} Bxc3 $1 {Natural and strong has always been the trademark of Carlsen's chess. Here he correctly saw no reason not to take the pawn.} ({ Earlier, in Round 3, Aronian restricted himself to} 8... Ne5 $6 9. f3 Ng6 10. Qg3 {and White actually stood well.}) 9. Bxc3 Rxe4 10. Qg3 d5 11. f3 Re8 12. Ne2 a5 13. Nf4 $2 {Possibly, a decisive mistake.} ({Ian had to stop Magnus's plan with} 13. a3 $1 {and then} Bf5 {isn't so effective on account of} 14. Qf4 Bg6 15. Bxf6) 13... Nb4 $1 14. Bxf6 (14. Bc4 c6 15. Bb3 Bf5 16. Rhe1 a4 $1 { with raging attack.}) 14... Qxf6 15. a3 Bf5 $3 {[#]} 16. axb4 ({The only way to prolong this hopeless fight was} 16. Bd3 Bxd3 17. Nxd3 Re2 $1 18. Rhe1 Rxc2+ 19. Kb1 Nxd3 20. Kxc2 Nxe1+ 21. Rxe1 $19) 16... axb4 {That's all she wrote - White is getting mated right out of the opening.} 17. Nxd5 (17. Nd3 c5 {etc.}) 17... Ra1+ 18. Kd2 Qxb2 19. Qxc7 Rxd1+ 0-1

It took a little more effort in the next game, but Levon Aronian played the obligatory part in another rook endgame butchery.

Magnus Carlsen - Levon Aronian

[Event "Your Next Move GCT 2017-Blitz"] [Site "Leuven"] [Date "2017.07.01"] [Round "6"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "2850"] [BlackElo "2787"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "119"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 c5 3. d5 d6 4. Nc3 e5 $6 {The old Benoni is a difficult opening one extra tempo might not fix.} 5. Bd2 Be7 6. e4 O-O 7. Be2 {[#]} Nbd7 $2 (7... Ne8 8. Nf3 Bg4 9. O-O Bxf3 10. Bxf3 Bg5 {is about the only playable idea for Black.}) 8. Nf3 Ne8 9. a4 g6 10. Bh6 Ng7 11. Nd2 Kh8 (11... Bg5 12. Bxg5 Qxg5 13. h4 Qe7 14. h5) 12. h4 Nf6 13. h5 Nfxh5 $5 {A pretty radical decision, but otherwise Black is strategically busted.} 14. Bxh5 Nxh5 15. Bxf8 Qxf8 16. g3 Nf6 17. Qe2 Kg7 18. Nc4 b6 19. a5 Ba6 20. axb6 axb6 21. O-O h5 {[#] } 22. Rxa6 $1 Rxa6 23. Nxd6 Ra8 24. Nc4 Qb8 25. Rd1 $2 {Strange oversight.} ( 25. Nb5 $16 {suggested itself.}) 25... b5 26. d6 (26. Nd2 c4 {followed by Bc5 and Ng4. Black might take over the game.}) 26... bxc4 27. dxe7 Qc7 28. Qxc4 Qxe7 29. Nd5 Nxd5 30. Rxd5 Qf6 (30... Ra1+ 31. Kg2 Qg5 32. Qc3 Qc1 {would guarantee Black a draw by perpetual.}) 31. Qc3 h4 32. Qxe5 hxg3 33. fxg3 Ra2 34. Qxf6+ Kxf6 35. Rxc5 Rxb2 36. Kf2 {[#] Is Magnus going to win another drawish rook ending?} Ke6 37. Ke3 (37. g4 Kd6 38. Rc8 Rb1 39. Ke3 Rg1 40. Kf4 f6 41. Rg8 Rf1+ 42. Ke3 g5 $11 {White's extra passer isn't remote enough to stretch Black's defenses.}) 37... f5 $4 {I cannot explain this.} (37... Rb1 { has to be a draw, because the black rook is never going to run out of targets.} ) 38. Kd4 $2 {Never could Magnus, who clearly didn't expect such a gift.} (38. exf5+ gxf5 39. Kf4 Rb4+ 40. c4 $18) 38... fxe4 39. Kxe4 Rb4+ $6 {Only helping White.} (39... Kf6 40. Kf4 Rb1 41. Rc6+ Kg7 42. g4 Kh6 43. Rc4 $1 Re1 44. Rd4 $18) 40. c4 Rb3 (40... Rb1 41. Kf4) 41. g4 Rg3 42. Rc6+ Kf7 43. Kf4 Ra3 44. Kg5 Ra5+ 45. c5 Ra4 46. Rf6+ Ke7 47. Rxg6 Rc4 48. Rc6 Kd7 49. Rd6+ Ke7 50. Rd5 Ke6 51. Rf5 Ke7 52. Kh4 Ke6 53. Kh5 Rd4 54. Rf1 Rd5+ 55. g5 Rxc5 56. Kh6 Rc2 57. g6 Rh2+ 58. Kg7 Rg2 59. Kh7 Rh2+ 60. Kg8 1-0

Then came the only blemish in Carlsen's magnificent day – he got beat by Anish Giri. The game was actually quite good, and I hope the readers will forgive me for omitting it, but I don't want to spoil my Magnus show.

Anish Giri was the second best performer with 5.5/9 and inflicting Magnus Carlsen's only defeat of the day

Instead, how about this one.

Baadur Jobava - Magnus Carlsen

[Event "Your Next Move GCT 2017-Blitz"] [Site "Leuven"] [Date "2017.07.01"] [Round "8"] [White "Jobava, Baadur"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B25"] [WhiteElo "2706"] [BlackElo "2850"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "58"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. Nge2 Nf6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. d3 Nc6 7. O-O O-O 8. h3 e5 9. f4 Nd4 10. f5 b5 11. Nxd4 cxd4 {[#]} 12. Ne2 {From this moment on Magnus never looks back.} ({I wonder what was wrong with} 12. Nxb5 {On} d5 {White has} 13. fxg6 hxg6 14. Bg5 dxe4 15. Bxe4 $1 Bxh3 16. Qf3) 12... d5 $1 13. g4 dxe4 14. Ng3 (14. dxe4 Qb6 15. Kh2 Bb7 16. Ng3 Rfc8) 14... Rb8 15. g5 e3 $3 { Some concept.} 16. gxf6 Bxf6 17. Be4 Bg5 18. b4 Rb6 19. a4 Kh8 20. Bb2 Bf4 21. Qg4 h5 22. Qf3 gxf5 23. Nxf5 Qg5+ 24. Qg2 Rg8 $1 25. Nxd4 Qxg2+ 26. Bxg2 Rbg6 27. Rxf4 Rxg2+ 28. Kh1 exf4 29. axb5 Kh7 {This game fits the definition of crushing victory. It must have been a terrible experience for Baadur. No one ever wants to look this bad.} 0-1

They might be separated by only 12 Elo in classical games, but in blitz Magnus Carlsen is the clear king

There was still one more game to win, and that was a head-to-head with Wesley. In response, Magnus saved his best for last.

Magnus Carlsen - Wesley So

[Event "Your Next Move GCT 2017-Blitz"] [Site "Leuven"] [Date "2017.07.01"] [Round "9"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "So, Wesley"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D00"] [WhiteElo "2850"] [BlackElo "2781"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. d4 d5 2. Bf4 c5 3. e3 Nc6 4. c3 Qb6 5. Qb3 Nf6 6. Nd2 c4 {I dislike this move because it gives White a clear plan of e3-e4.} ({I prefer} 6... g6 7. Qxb6 axb6 8. Bc7 Nd7 9. Bb5 Bg7 10. Ngf3 O-O {Ponomariov-Rublevsky, 2010}) 7. Qc2 Nh5 (7... g6 8. e4) 8. Bg5 $1 h6 9. Bh4 g5 10. Be2 $1 Ng7 (10... gxh4 11. Bxh5 e5 12. Ne2) 11. Bg3 Bf5 {[#]} (11... Nf5 12. e4 {Gareev-Petkov, 2015}) 12. Qc1 {Magnus was not in the mood for adventure.} ({Otherwise he might have chosen} 12. e4 Bg6 13. b3 ({or even} 13. Ngf3 dxe4 14. Nxe4 Bxe4 15. Qxe4 f5 16. Qc2 f4 17. Qg6+) 13... cxb3 14. axb3 dxe4 15. Nc4 Qd8 16. d5 Qxd5 17. Nb6 Qd8 18. Nxa8 Qxa8) 12... e6 13. Ngf3 Qa5 14. e4 Bh7 15. O-O Be7 16. Re1 O-O {[#] How does White improve his position? I'm not sure I'd find the answer even in a long time control game.} 17. Ne5 $1 {Piece of cake for Carlsen. In one move he removes the threat of dxe4, clears out for his f-pawn and opens some venues for his Be2.} Nxe5 18. Bxe5 f6 19. Bg3 Rfe8 20. h4 b5 21. b4 $1 Qd8 22. a4 a5 $1 {Wesley fights on.} (22... a6 23. Bf3 $16) 23. axb5 axb4 24. Rxa8 Qxa8 25. exd5 exd5 26. Bf3 Qd8 ({Even the relatively best} 26... Bd3 27. cxb4 {is no picnic for Black, as} Bxb4 28. Rxe8+ Nxe8 29. Nxc4 Bxc4 30. Qxc4 dxc4 31. Bxa8 {demonstrates.}) 27. hxg5 hxg5 28. b6 $1 {I don't know how it's possible to find best moves in a blitz game, but Carlsen had been doing it all day.} bxc3 29. Qxc3 Qxb6 30. Bxd5+ Kf8 31. Nxc4 Qb5 32. Ne3 Rd8 33. Qc7 Qd7 34. Qa5 Nh5 35. Bc7 Rc8 36. Bh2 Nf4 37. Bxf4 gxf4 38. Nc4 Qf5 39. Qa7 Qxd5 40. Qxe7+ Kg8 41. Nb6 1-0

Carlsen's powerhouse performance left other games and results a sideshow. I will mention, however, good play by Kramnik (6.0/9, with no losses) and Giri (5.5/9 points), in the latter case a stark contrast with Anish's horrible result in the Norway Blitz.

Nepo also managed a plus score, but it isn't saying much, not with Ivanchuk joining the Great Jobava Points Giveaway. We already saw his disaster game with Magnus, but Ian's Round 6 loss to Wesley from a promising attacking position was also a great disappointment.

The audience was treated to analysis by Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short

There will be more jockeying for prize money and Tour points tomorrow, but I'll hazard a prediction that Magnus Carslen will run away with his second Grand Chess Tour victory. (Ed: As a matter of fact, the evening before the Blitz games, Yermo predicted in private 16/18 for Carlsen).

Final rapid crosstable

(Click for full size)

*Note: All rapid games are worth double
**Note: FIDE Rapid ratings are used in crosstable.

Blitz crosstable after nine rounds

(Click for full size)

*Note: FIDE Blitz ratings are used in crosstable.

Combined standings


You can use ChessBase 14 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to replay the games in PGN. You can also download our free Playchess client, which will in addition give you immediate access to the chess server

Yermo is enjoying his fifties. Lives in South Dakota, 600 miles way from the nearest grandmaster. Between his chess work online he plays snooker and spends time outdoors - happy as a clam.
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malfa malfa 7/2/2017 10:12
Yermo had decided in advance to write about a Great Carlsen's Show, but to be fair one should mention that he dropped a whole rook to Giri after playing horribly.
eyal01 eyal01 7/2/2017 11:28
"Anish Giri was the second best performer with 5.5/9 and inflicting Magnus Carlsen's only defeat of the day" - wrong; the second best performer was Kramnik with 6/9 (he was also the only other player who didn't lose to Carlsen).

And Carlsen's game vs. Jobava was indeed very good overall, but not so perfect as Yermolinsky claims; after 20...Bf4? White had a chance to turn things around with 21.Rxf4! exf4 22.Ne2 instead of 21.Qg4?? which loses by force.
diegoami diegoami 7/2/2017 12:10
"I hope the readers will forgive me for omitting it, but I don't want to spoil my Magnus show." Not sure if this is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but I will not forgive you ! A good game is a good game, there is never a good excuse to exclude it.
Atherton Atherton 7/2/2017 02:09
I agree with diegoami
TheSame Wastrel TheSame Wastrel 7/2/2017 05:12
It's a fair point that a good game should not be excluded, but Mr. Yermolinsky had a theme for his article -- "The Magnus Show"-- and he stuck to it. And, yes, I do believe that comment was an insincere, tongue-in-cheek apology. Besides, there are 7 games here, enough for any article. Yermolinsky's annotations are right on target, or else he has a comment like "1. e4 e5 2. d4 I just don't understand this opening." I had to chuckle.
Malcom Malcom 7/2/2017 06:26
You "Internet watching wieners" should just shut up, sit back and enjoy the show! It is clear that you DO NOT analyse like a crazy all possibilities in a blitz game and to criticize this amazing article is ludicrous. Yes Rxf4!! would have been an amazing rejoinder but without a program you sir would not even consider clam it!!! I personally find Yermolinsky's goal to pay tribute to Magnus amazing performance an excellent idea and I don't even like Magnus. I'm a Kramnik guy but one must just enjoy in awe the schooling Magnus displayed over the weekend.
RayLopez RayLopez 7/2/2017 07:02
Good article by the Yermolator, and it's clear Magnus having a girlfriend has not effected his play...maybe the opposite is true!
Bertman Bertman 7/2/2017 07:15
@raylopez - Magnus has a girlfriend? Who?
Boye Boye 7/2/2017 08:09
Girl friend, if you read norweigian look here:
eyal01 eyal01 7/2/2017 08:58
@Malcom - It's a good thing that you mention you're a "Kramnik guy", otherwise I could have easily mistaken you for a Carlsen fanboy. I said myself that the game vs. Jobava was very good and of course Carlsen's performance as a whole was very impressive - taking into account the second day of blitz I'd say of historical proportions, Fischer Herceg-Novi 70 caliber. Does this mean that when analyzing his games, critical moments where he made mistakes and the game could have turned around shouldn't be pointed out?! Yermolimsky himself, Of course, mentions several such mistakes in other games, where he noticed them - should he have censored the fact that in the game vs. Anand, 26...Kg8 was a mistake by Carlsen that could have led to a lost position after 27.f5? And btw, 21.Rxf4 is far from being some random/crazy computer move - it's quite natural, and during the live broadcast Seirawan pointed it out immediately.
Hamsuns Hamsuns 7/2/2017 10:35
Spot on Malcom!
mythiclott mythiclott 7/2/2017 10:53
I wonder if the Worlds Champions victory was "smooth" enough for Mr Ashley.