Grand Chess Tour - Paris Express: Magnus Carlsen beats Vachier-Lagrave in playoff

6/25/2017 – It was a thrilling finish on day five, with everyone expecting it to come down to a race between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, but the chess gods had other plans. In an amazing last day surge, showing nothing was decided, French player Maxime Vachier-Lagrave surged, while both Carlsen and Nakamura faded, and ended tied with the World Champion in the overall standings. Once again Magnus Carlsen showed his pressure play chops and won the playoff and title. Express report.

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The Paris tournament of the Grand Chess Tour is running from June 21-25. It is a combination of Rapid and Blitz games. The ten participants are Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Alexander Grischuk, Sergey Karjakin, Veselin Topalov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Etienne Bacrot. They will play nine rapid games, three a day, from June 21–23. The games start at 14:00h, 15:30h and 17:00h European Standard Summer Time. The Blitz tournament is on June 24 and 25, 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 five

Full report with grandmaster analysis to follow...

Replay blitz games


Replay playoff games


Of particular interest in our Live Broadcast screen above (maximize for full enjoyment) is that the games of the round have been analysed and annotated by a very powerful computer – in real time. The machine analysis included didactic opening notes, tactical analysis, threats, better lines – all given in natural language. This is what our Live Broadcast page looked like at 5:20 p.m., with the second tiebreak game under way (click to enlarge):

At the bottom of the notation window on the right there is an evaluation bar which indicates how the game went for the two players. You can simply click on the bar to jump to the position where things came to a head. There are also buttons for editing (delete, promote, cut lines, unannotate, undo, redo) save, play out the position against Fritz or tweet it to others. Hovering the mouse over any button will show you its function. The Live Book section shows you the moves that have been played in the current position, by what level of players and with what results. The Live Book is the most comprehensive and up-to-date openings key in the world.

You can maximize the replayer, auto-play, flip the board and even change the piece style in the bar below the board. You can access the live games at any time during the round. To the right of our news page you have the live tournament navigation.

Final Rapid standings*

(click for full-size)

*Note: All rapid games count double in combined standings

Final Blitz standings

(click for full-size)

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

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Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 6/26/2017 01:26
"Carlsen, although not the best at the faster formats (...)" (Rambus)

Yes, clearly, Carlsen isn't so good as that in fast formats : he is "only" World n° 1 in Blitz and Rapid, and "only" with a 49 points advantage (in Blitz) and a 69 points advantage (in Rapid). Quite ordinary, in fact...
Mark S Mark S 6/26/2017 10:32
Sometimes the performance on a certain tournament depends on the body and psychological condition of the player too. If Carlsen is on good condition both physcially and mentally, he can dominate all players at classical time control too.
Mark S Mark S 6/26/2017 10:29
@Rambus In computer analogy, it is like having a fast CPU but low on RAM which means you can be very good at blitz/rapid. While if you have very huge RAM but an average CPU speed, you can store many variations and many stored games in your RAM (concious memory) and can play accurately. Slow but very accurate and can see very deep lines. Fast but you can't store a lot of the lines you've seen (typical of Carlsen when he missed a mate in 3 against Giri and game ended in draw).

With rapid and blitz at GCT-Paris, all of their games have weak moves but most of those weak moves cannot be taken advantage of by their opponents because it requires a lot of calculation to see the winning line.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 6/26/2017 05:51
Magnus, in a relative manner, as of now, is more dominant in Rapid Chess and in Blitz Chess than in Classical Chess.

Thus, a strategy for the next Challenger in the next Championship of drawing in Classical with the hope of pulling it off in the Tiebreaks is a very bad idea. Assuming the next Challenger is fully aware of that, as most probably will be the case, it will make the Classical part of the next tournament (which could be the only part) most exciting.

But of course, the next Challenger may draw not because drawing is the objective, but because it is less worse than losing. Or, even if there is an important number of decisive games, it can still be equal after the Classical part.

Maybe I am prematurely excited about the next Championship - currently, the only certain participant for the Candidate's tournament is Sergey.
Rambus Rambus 6/26/2017 02:46
How can someone be so strong at classical, and so weak at rapid/blitz? I'm referring to So. Even stranger is Caruana, who's strong in classical and blitz, and so weak at rapid. Carlsen, although not the best at the faster formats, is at least strong in all formats.
libyantiger libyantiger 6/25/2017 10:27
magnus loses when he completely bored and out of form ....and wins easily when he not bored and not in very good form and crushs people when he in form and so excited
Rudakov123 Rudakov123 6/25/2017 09:10
Congratulations MVL, back to the top
Congratulations Carlsen, the king still wear the crown
KevinC KevinC 6/25/2017 07:59
@Brian Smith, I have to agree, but more than that, why did MLV go into a line that draws in 16 moves with white against Karjakin in the penultimate round? He had to know there was a good shot at putting Carlsen away right then, or that he would end up in a playoff. Hmm, would I rather play white against Karjakin, or a mini match against Carlsen, who even when he has a bad day, is still fighting for first? I think the answer is obvious, and MLV has second place due to his bad choice.
SambalOelek SambalOelek 6/25/2017 07:55
great to see Magnus bounce back after Norway chess tournament... now the extra pocket money can serve to invest in a new trainer for his classic chess and in improving his repertoire as black... :)
Brian Smith Brian Smith 6/25/2017 06:19
It is what I would have expected: the two at the top don't exert themselves, unless they see the one closest to them really playing well....while the dark horse with nothing to lose, goes 'all out'.
But why on earth did Maxim play to allow a drawish Marshall? Burt all his brain cells in the lead up to that game I guess...