Carlsen wins Tata Steel Chess India 2019

by Sagar Shah
11/27/2019 – Tata Steel Chess India, the penultimate event of the Grand Chess Tour 2019, came to an end with Magnus Carlsen showing his best ever GCT performance, scoring 27 points out of a total 36. He will be joined by Ding Liren, Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the tour's final event the London Chess Classic starting next week. IM SAGAR SHAH brings you the detailed report of the action on the final day from Kolkata.

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


'Magnus Opus'

The world champion dominated right from the start, reclaimed his world no. 1 position in rapid ratings and has moved to number two in blitz. Levon Aronian finished last at the event, but it was good enough to qualify for the GCT finals in London starting December 2nd. Bitter heartbreak awaited Vishy Anand and his fans where Vishy was close to qualifying for the finals, but a score of just one point out of the last five rounds, pushed him out of the top four. MVL gets the fourth spot.

Carlsen with trophy

Another impressive trophy for the world champion's collection | Photo: Amruta Mokal

This is how things stood heading into the final day of the Tata Steel Chess India and nine rounds of blitz chess:

Standings after Day 4 of Kolkata GCT with nine rounds of Blitz left to be played

Carlsen, with a lead of five points looked untouchable. As Wesley So's chances of winning the tournament were close to nil, Aronian had already confirmed his spot for the Grand Chess Tour finals in London! Ding had also booked his spot to London. The most exciting part of the day was whether Anand could make it to the finals or not. Vishy needed to finish in sixth or higher in order to become the fourth qualifier. If he finished lower than sixth, then MVL would go through.

In the first game of the day, Magnus offered a draw after just five moves which Vidit accepted | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The game between Magnus and Vidit went 1.e4 e5 2.f3 c6 3.c4 c5 4.d4 exd4 5.g5!? As he moved his knight to g5, Magnus offered a draw. Vidit was confused, smiled, and accepted the draw. Later it was revealed that the World Champion was suffering from stomach issues and hence could not continue the game.


The game began at 13:00 hours and it was over by 13:01:31 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The shortest game of Carlsen's chess career?

Giri vs Carlsen

In the next round, it was Anish who was pitted against Magnus | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Trying to better what Carlsen did against Vidit, Anish offered a draw to Magnus after just four moves in the game! Well, Magnus was perhaps already feeling better and he declined the draw offer. The game eventually ended in a draw all the same.

Giri and Vidit

Anish knows how to lighten up the mood! | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Carlsen, as could be seen, was not at all feeling well | Photo: Amruta Mokal

He would finish his game and lie down on a sofa in the balcony! In spite of this he scored three wins in the day against Harikrishna, Vishy Anand and Levon Aronian. 

Ding did not have the best event, yet managed to beat Carlsen twice in blitz! | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Ding Liren's mother trying to capture as many memories as she could from the event! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vishy Anand's narrow miss

For Anand the start to day two of blitz wasn't the best. He lost his game to Ian Nepomniachtchi, and then drew the next one against Aronian. But very quickly he found his stride when he scored two wins in as many games against Harikrishna and So. Against Harikrishna, Anand dominated the game right from the word go and gave his opponent no real chances.

Anand vs Harikrishna | Photo: Amruta Mokal 


Wesley lost all three games against Anand in the tournament | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Wesley So played the entire event well and has been in great form recently. But against Anand, he slumped to a 0-3 score by losing in the rapid as well as both blitz games!


Things were looking bright for Vishy and a couple of more wins would have cemented his qualification to the GCT finals. However, he simply overlooked one move against Vidit. 


White's last move is a blunder. Can you see why?


For Vidit, beating Anand for the first time in his chess career was a big achievement | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Even this loss didn't dampen Vishy's spirits. He came out fighting hard in the next game against Giri. Very soon he built up a winning position! This is when Anand began to lose his rhythm. He began consuming a lot of time for his moves and in the final position he was winning, but for just one problem — he had run out of time!


A loss to Carlsen was the final nail in the coffin for Anand's chances of qualification to the finals.


The blitz rematch between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand

Hikaru Nakamura suffered only one loss at the entire event | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Nakamura lost to Carlsen in the rapid and was unbeaten in the entire 18 rounds of blitz scoring 12.0/18. An excellent result for the American.

One of Hikaru's cleanest wins from the event was against Harikrishna

Although this performance was not good enough to fight for the first place and Hikaru had to settle for the second, it was good enough to retain the number one spot in the global blitz ratings.

Final Standings


The 3-0 stats

Magnus Carlsen was able to beat two opponents in all the encounters (one rapid and two blitz). They were Anand and Aronian. Nakamura managed to score three wins against Harikrishna. Nepomniachtchi beat Anand in all three games, and Anand was likewise ruthless against So.

A quick video of players' room and the food arrangements for them!

Before every round, the enthusiastic spectators gathered near the stage to take pictures of their favorite players! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Can you guess the players by their footwear? | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Wesley So played consistent chess to finish third with 18½/36 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Playing strong chess on the last day of blitz helped Anish to finish joint third with 18½/36 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Closing Ceremony

Carlsen received the glittering custom 6 kilogram champion's trophy made of Bronze from Chanakya Chaudhary, VP Corporate Services, Tata Steel Ltd, and a check for USD $37,500.

A proud father | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Watch the entire closing ceremony

The four qualifiers for the Grand Chess Tour finals to be held in London - Carlsen, Ding, Aronian and MVL | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The Grand Chess Tour finals will begin on December 2nd in London. The total prize fund for that event alone is a whopping USD $350,000. Watch ChessBase News for more info presently.

The final standings for Tata Steel Chess India 2019

The final Grand Chess Tour standings

Replay all Blitz games


Photo gallery

Graham Jurgensen, the Technical Director for Grand Chess Tour worked very hard to ensure that the quality of the organization was up to par | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The main organizers of the event were Gameplan: (L to R standing) Jeet Banerjee, Surendra Sinha, Viraj Kejriwal, Guru Ramabadhram, Supriyo Ghosh
(sitting) Sukanya Das, Roshni Adhikari, Supratim Majumdar, Pratiti Ganatra | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The Saint Louis Chess Club / Spectrum Studios team from the USA: Tony Rich, Marcus Batton and Kevin Duggin | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Three major forces who came together for this tournament to take place in Kolkata - Tata Steel, National Library and Gameplan | Photo: Amruta Mokal

It was a huge honour for the Indian fans that such a big event came at their country! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Fans cannot wait for it to be back next year!

I'll leave you with this very special video that I recorded after the event ended with Vishy Anand. The legend will turn 50 years old on December 11th, 2019.

Vishy Anand on the nine best games of his chess career


Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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