Champions Chess Tour, Round 9 - Results and standings

by ChessBase
10/4/2021 – Teimour Radjabov and Levon Aronian won in the last round of the Champions Chess Tour Finals to secure second and third places behind tour champion Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen beat Wesley So, leaving the Filipino-born grandmaster in fourth place. | Results, games and standings. Full report to follow shortly.

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Time control

The time controls for for all events are:

  • Rapid: 15 minutes per player, plus a 10 second increment for every move
  • Blitz: 5 minutes per player, plus a 3 second increment for every move
  • Armageddon: 5 minutes for White, 4 minutes for Black, no increment; Black wins the tie in case of a draw.


Players earn 3 points for a match win in the games (the loser earns 0 points. A match win after tie-breaks earns the winner 2 points (1 point for the loser).

In addition to these points, the players start off with bonus points based on their Tour rankings coming into the Final. The player with the fewest Tour points gets 0 bonus points, and the other players are awarded half a point for every full 10 points they have more than the player with the least number. For example, if Player A has the fewest Tour points with 86, a Player B with 143 Tour points will be awarded 2.5 points, since they exceed Player A's total by 57 (no rounding). (Quoted from Wikipedia)

The player with the greatest sum of bonus points and points won in the finals will be crowned the Tour Champion.

Results of round 9

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals 2021

Final standings

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals 2021



Live commentary - GMs Peter Leko and Simon Williams


Tournament page...

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Rules for reader comments


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Masquer Masquer 10/5/2021 02:27
Leavenfish is on the right track. The idea is to devalue and thus discourage too many draws by rewarding them LESS, and/or rewarding wins MORE (in terms of point total and thus prize $). You will still get the fighting draws, but the incentive to draw without a fight will be greatly reduced.

This sort of idea is suggested from time to time, but it hasn't caught on despite making the MOST sense.
SunriseK SunriseK 10/5/2021 12:51
I dislike a lot the "bonus" they used in this tournament. It should have been at least reduced 3 or 4 times.
Only because such a bonus Carlsen won the tournament, even getting less points than his bonus (this means there is something wrong with that bonus, I think)!
I believe even Magnus himself feels uncomfortable with such a thing and maybe even a bit shameful now.
On the other hand, Radjabov played a superb tournament, winning 6 out of 9 rapid matches and drawing the other 3 (losing those matches just at tie-breaks), only undefeated player in the "normal" part of the games! And in the process he even beat Carlsen, So and Aronian!
Such astounding performance would have deserved by far the 1st place in my humble opinion.
Instead Carlsen lost 3 rapid matches and won 3 other just with tiebreaks.
With my suggestion about reduced bonus, Carlsen would have been second (and So 5th or 6th), which I believe is a more fair final result, even considering the past tournaments of the series.
MauvaisFou MauvaisFou 10/4/2021 08:23
Radja also won MVL 2,5 - 0,5 !
MauvaisFou MauvaisFou 10/4/2021 06:24
It is difficult to realize it, but actually Radjabov has won the event with one round to spare, and he (before last round) has won his last five matches without tie-breaks, after losing the first three after tie-breaks !
hansj hansj 10/4/2021 06:19
The match Petrosian – Botvinnik 1963 was real chess.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/4/2021 12:48
@Leavenfish interesting idea. It might result in more fighting chess. Also, maybe the audience could vote for the best games that would receive a prize. It would be a question about prestige for top players to win the favor of the audience. And, at the same time, the audience would have a small say into the event, which would make the tournament slightly more interactive. It would also create some opportunities for debating and comparison.
bernie1010 bernie1010 10/4/2021 08:57
the news seem to say Carlson is champion? but according to the table he is not?
Leavenfish Leavenfish 10/4/2021 01:24
The pocketbook is really the only way to avoid draws.
At the end of a tournament, divide up the payout by # of wins. The overall tournament can have SMALL place prizes based on traditional points 1, 1/2, 0...maybe 25% of the overall fund. But let the 75% balance then be divided up based on wins.
This way...everyone has something tangible to fight for even in the later rounds.
Portlyotter Portlyotter 10/3/2021 05:55
Agree again @lajosarpad. If we change chess to avoid certain circumstances within the game then it is actually not chess.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/3/2021 01:24
@fgkdjlkag It takes two to play a game. If both of them are comfortable with playing that line, then sure, let them play it. If someone plays consistently uninteresting draws, then his/her rating will drop and he/she will be out of the top and will no longer be invited to top tournaments. My solution for a tied classical world championship is very very simple: champion retains. Then there is always at least a person who is uncomfortable with an all draws match. First it is the challenger. If the challenger gets into the lead, then the champion will want to win games. So there is always at least one of the players who would do wise to play aggressively. And it is in line with my idea that the challenger should beat the champion in order to take his title.
Theochessman Theochessman 10/2/2021 10:14
These recent events don't catch my interest at all. I'm looking forward to the match between Carlsen and Nepo though. And hopefully some more classical chess tournaments with actual boards and pieces coming up one day soon. Maybe include some 2600 guys too. It's indeed always the same top guys playing eachother.
Zagliveri_chess Zagliveri_chess 10/2/2021 08:11
The business take is that faster time controls and shorter events (in number of days, not number of games) attracts more sponsors. Soviet Union and its satellites offered state support to elite players who, inevitably, dominated the world stage, with only few 'anomalies' here and there (e.g. Fischer). With state support largely gone, you either rely on sponsors who dictate the rules or expect a serious reduction of membership in the elite classes (2750+).

Enthusiasts of classical chess emphasize that faster time controls lead to games of inferior quality. They are dismayed by the frequency of blunders. Those who like the dramatization and sensationalism of rapid and blitz games do not appreciate, likely do not understand, the beauty behind a complex, hard-fought draw. You can put in front of me two glasses of wine. One from a 10 Euro bottle, the other from a 1000 Euro. The chances that I will like the cheap wine better are very high because I have no basis to evaluate quality, in part because I have never tasted an expensive vintage. I can understand both sides and opinions although, I am afraid, they do not matter much. What does matter is appeal to sponsors.
Zagliveri_chess Zagliveri_chess 10/2/2021 08:11
The important question is how the evolution of rapid and blitz tournaments affects the development of chess. Honestly, I am worried. When growing up, my club organized a few internal tournaments every year and we would also play in the national championship cycle. The best players would participate in a tournament or two somewhere in the Balkans, rarely further away, every year. They would come back and play against everybody in the club and the country, passing along their experience. That is no longer the case. In the national club championship 90% of the players are GMs from other countries. They will arrive the day before the tournament starts, leave on the last day, and get paid from a bank in a remote country that the sponsor uses. Local players have no access to championship games. In the 80s until the mid-90s Greece hosted two Chess Olympiads and got 10 GMs. The best of them got close to 2650. The youngest of them are now in their late 40s. In the last 20 years Greece got a few more GMS but none of them got consistently over 2550 because they never get the chance to play and learn from 2700+ players. On the other hand, the number of active players in the 2100-2350 has increased dramatically. As far as I know, most of them train with an engine. The benefits from doing that are obvious but I guess there is a limit to how good you can get with an engine alone.
Zagliveri_chess Zagliveri_chess 10/2/2021 08:11
Recently the richest football clubs in Europe attempted to have their own league. The argument was that the TV audience of a game between Read Madrid and Ghent is in the tens of thousands, while a game between Read Madrid and Bayern is viewed by tens of millions. That initiative has failed, at least for the moment, opposed by various national leagues. Nobody argues that games between elite clubs are usually more exciting. However, if you look at the quality of football in lower divisions you will notice that for most countries it has gone down the drain. The top national clubs do not give development opportunities and time on the pitch to younger talents. They want players of proven quality so that they can have a chance at the championship. Not to mention the opportunities of buying and selling scores of international players every year using financial institution in obscure international locations. I think the parallels to chess are obvious. The market dictates the event, whether we like it or not.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 10/2/2021 07:29
@lajosarpad, I agree with you regarding short draws, that wasn't my point. Rather I was referring to the 30-moves of memorisation by each side in a Berlin and then they agree to a draw not more than a few moves outside of opening theory. The players were not looking for a quick draw to save energy, because then would have done it after a few moves. They are looking to test the opponent's memory, nothing more. A single move slip-up and you could be lost. I've seen it happen with top grandmasters.

What is the point of my watching that? If I was interested in such things I would consult a database.

If you say draws are not problem, what's your solution to a tied classical world championship match? Are you okay with rapid/blitz tiebreakers? You can't say draws are not a problem without putting forth a solution to that scenario.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/2/2021 05:20
@fixpont your question is a loaded question. It implies that chess is a trivial draw, like tic-tac-toe, but you also know that it's certainly not a trivial draw for the large community of chess players, it's not a trivial draw for super GMs, who regularly win and lose classical games and it's not a trivial draw for computers either, which also beat each-other. As a matter of fact, we do not know whether the perfect chess game is a draw at all. It could be a win for White because of the extra tempo and it also could be a win for Black due to some zugzwang that is far deeper than our ability to see it. Chess is a complicated game and we lose the hope of seeing many unprepared deep ideas played over the board if the GMs cannot afford the time to think them through. These quicker time controls induce errors and drama into the game at the cost of precision and quality. It even changes the playing strategy of players, they will easily play incorrect lines that are not deep at all in the hope that they can capitalize on a time pressure blunder. See Carlsen's gamble against Artemiev. I felt sad by seeing that. If you want drama, you can always watch a movie. Why taking out deep thought from a sport that is all about deep thought? It's like playing tennis without rackets. Yes, more errors and drama will be seen that way, but it doesn't remotely resemble the sport we like.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/2/2021 05:11
@Ajeeb007 Totally agree.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/2/2021 05:09
@fgkdjlkag the Berlin is actually a very interesting opening that leads to an interesting positional struggle. If players avoid a fight and agree to an early draw, that's fine by me. There is always competition somewhere and even short draws can be interesting for those who did not memorize them. I'm not particularly a fun of short draws, but I would choose to see a well-played short draw over these hasty games any day. This is because I like chess and am interested to see good play. I'm not a GM, but these short time-control games are not much better than my own games. So I lose interest in top level chess if it cannot produce better games than me. "Who can say draws are not a problem?" For me they are not a problem. For me the draw phobia is THE problem.
fixpont fixpont 10/2/2021 07:05
if you dont see why so many draws is a problem in modern chess ask yourself, why humanity dont play tic-tac-toe competitively?
Ajeeb007 Ajeeb007 10/2/2021 02:25
Speed chess with funky scoring. Not interested. Trivializes the game. Same names over and over every tournament too. Yaaawwwnn...
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 10/1/2021 11:54
I repeat: Carlsen is the Kasparov of the 2020s and 2010s , what a drive, what a stamina, what a will to win!
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 10/1/2021 10:57
Who can say draws are not a problem? Do you want to see a 3rd world championship match with all draws in the classical segment so it can be decided by blitz/rapid tiebreaks? Whether the tiebreaks are before or after, they are blitz/rapid nevertheless. Alternate scoring systems don't help even for non-matches, you can't get a win out of a drawn position without taking undue risk.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 10/1/2021 10:53
@lajosarpad, I suspect you would agree with me that Berlin draws are a problem. Who wants to see 30 memorised moves by each side followed by a draw agreement?

@Portlyotter, if Tal and Fischer were playing today, they could not get the attacking positions they liked without playing dubious openings, and then they would get punished for it. Fischer himself came up with Fischer Random chess, as did a long line of variants by esteemed names like Bronstein, Capablanca, Browne, Seirawan/Harper, etc.
Portlyotter Portlyotter 10/1/2021 09:06
What’s wrong with a draw? Part of chess. If you want to be brave then be brave. We don’t need rapid times to make a player brave. Petrosian was regarded as a draw specialist long before computers came along. However he played some of the greatest attacking chess games ever played.

Was chess finished then? No because there were those eg Tal and Fischer who took risks and played according to their feelings for the game.

I repeat my earlier assertion that art is not about speed but about the quality of the output- painting, music or chess all the same.
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 10/1/2021 08:38
Carlsen is the Kasparov of the 2020s and 2010s , what a drive, what a stamina, what a will to win!
Jacob woge Jacob woge 9/30/2021 06:21
All this said, I prefer fast food over starvation. And Leko commenting is just brilliant. Competent, generous, and genuinely interested. There was an interview, when he was barely in his teens: “My ambition is to become World Champion”. Well, he got within a hair’s breath, making him one of a select few. King isn’t bad either commenting, and he’s definitely got the right name for the job, but Leko’s bank of knowledge is just vastly superior. Together, they form an excellent team. None of them has anything left to prove, and they never seem to go neither in exclam mode nor off-topic so you can relax and listen. By the way, the long awaited WC match is coming up soon. Now this is something I might leave work early for. Depending on who’s got the microphone ...
Portlyotter Portlyotter 9/30/2021 03:19
@lajosarpad. 100% agree with you.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/30/2021 02:53
@fgkdjlkag I would rather watch a grandmaster draw in classical chess than cheap tricks by a world champion against a super GM in the hope that the opponent will make the blunder of a 5-year-old. Draws are not the problem. They are part of the game. The phobia of draws is the problem. Yes, these tournaments are the direct results of draws and COVID, but we should stand up for normality if we want quality chess to stay.

The cheapo played by Carlsen against Artemiev was a sad sight. And the worst is that it was justified: the tournament conditions raise the chance of making childish blunders.
Stupido Stupido 9/30/2021 12:40
Faster time controls are made to create entertainment. Games are fast and people follow them with an eye on stockfish or sesse and yell "blunder!" when the evaluation bounces up or down - which happens quite a lot more than in standard time control of course. A draw or win doesn't change anything to the show in these conditions.
Btw "suspicions about Zurich 53" are about as worthy of consideration as "suspicions about moon landing".
MauvaisFou MauvaisFou 9/30/2021 07:14
Also, Zurich was a double-round tournament with 15 (!) players, if I remember correctly, with players of very different levels. 30 rounds of classical chess ! It lasted almost two months. Tiredness must have played a role, even with rest days. There were 8 or 9 Soviet players, who did not draw all their games between them ; but there are suspicions.

Maybe the fundamental problem of chess, is that a correctly played game should end in a draw ? And that we follow the games live ? In the old days, only the best games were given in rare newspapers, two or three days later ...
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 9/30/2021 03:40
What the commenters here fail to appreciate is that these fast time control events is a direct result (although there are other causes) of the high percentage of draws in high-level classical chess. Zürich 1953 had plenty of decisive games and much about chess was unknown.

I would say the players today are only partially using their skills to earn money, much more they are using their memory to earn money (look at all these Berlin games), unlike Zürich 1953.

Everyone here is clamoring for high-level classical events, but you've all seen the overwhelming comments on those events regarding the number of draws and lack of fighting chess. There is no simple way of solving that with the current level of opening theory.

@lajosarpad, I predicted the decline of chess here, in the comments, probably years ago now.

I agree with karavamudan, new challenges are needed for the players. But not no castling chess, which just kicks the can down the road.
Zagliveri_chess Zagliveri_chess 9/29/2021 11:34
@ Denix: Valid points. News outlets have entire teams continuously evaluating impact on and public interest to the reports they circulate and what spin to put on them to maximize their profits. Big names attract more attention. That is not objective journalism though. I would expect the readership of a chess outlet to have higher standards compared to those of, say, Tik-Tok. Perhaps it is a coincidence that the article titled "Champions Chess Tour: Setback for Carlsen" appeared minutes after I posted my comment. An objective editor would have used "Champions Chess Tour: Artemiev clearly defeats leader". The same applies to articles for Kasparov. As if the two of them own half the shares of Chessbase.
Stupido Stupido 9/29/2021 10:41
The games have entertainment value, especially with live comments by Leko. The event itself is rather pointless with the "bonus" system.
Btw the So-Nakamura games show how bad is the blitz/armageddon tie-break. It's also overused by Carlsen, as dragging tight matches to shorter time-controls is his favorite strategy.
Denix Denix 9/29/2021 08:44
@Zagliveri_chess, I also noticed that, but in my understanding, Chessbase news are classical so they are all about positivity, meaning, if somebody else won a game, the winner's name is on the headlines that's why we seldom see articles mentioning that a particular chessplayer lost, unless that particular chessplayer has been leading for most of the time and his loss is the defining moment in the standings. Again, the headline might still be about the winner. Carlsen hardly losses so we can not avoid seeing his name on the title, because in matches if you do not lose, you win. What do you think?
Zagliveri_chess Zagliveri_chess 9/29/2021 06:20
I have noticed that when Carlsen wins a match (or a game under classical time controls) Chessbase has an article or page out reporting the event in a couple of hours if not faster. Carlsen's name is always part of the article's title. When Carlsen loses, there is either no article or it appears very late without mentioning his name in the title. Is this objective journalism?
karavamudan karavamudan 9/29/2021 04:54
How do these tournaments with faster time controls advance chess? Or chess has saturated thanks to artificial intelligence? If GMs are playing by rote deep into the middle game so that there is no room for creative thinking then perhaps it is time for variants like Fischer random chess or even chess with no castling wherein theory goes out of the window and literally the players have to think on their feet and minds
twamers twamers 9/28/2021 12:42
My view is similar to many already expressed here. I am aware of the various faster limits - blitz, rapid etc. but do not really understand them all. I have little interest in anything other than Classical Chess. I study from lots of books I own and very rarely do I look at a game played with speed controls - in fact I think the only ones I really have looked at are those played by Bobby Fischer at Herceg Novi in 1970 I think. More Classical chess please.
fixpont fixpont 9/28/2021 12:38
"Dumkof, I am afraid the players use their skills to earn money, then retire (early). Do they really love chess, like Alekhine, Fischer, Korchnoi or Bronstein ?? "

Because Fischer did not retire early right? :DDD
Werewolf Werewolf 9/28/2021 12:37
I hate the new point system, I hate the new time controls. Bring back proper chess.
Portlyotter Portlyotter 9/28/2021 08:49
Interesting to see the unanimous lack of enthusiasm for these events. I do not even know who is playing in them so the desired spectator draw does not exist-quite the opposite.

Like some of the others here I would rather play through and study the games of the old masters than feast on the “fast food chess” on offer here.

It is correct that the top players should respect the game and not just their bank balance. Picasso, Matisse and others didn’t paint faster and more often so we could see speed art.

Chess too is an art as well as a game. It’s very essence is being eroded by the very people who should cherish and protect it.