The Not-So-Grand Recap: Paris 2017 Grand Chess Tour
Now that the Paris leg of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour has drawn to a close, let's have a look at the results and the interesting chess personalities that have provided us once again, with their exciting and entertaining display of chess mastery.
Its only fitting that the reigning World Champion, "Faen-tastic" Magnus Carlsen took the honors yet again, beating back all challengers with devlish tactics and diabolical strategy to add yet another first-place tournament finish to his lengthy resume.
( Magnus Carlsen was in faen form as usual. Pictured here with Jan Timman from 1978 )
In close second place was "The Grave Digger", Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who buried the rest of the field during the blitz portion, rolling over opponents like a monster truck. His tiebreak final with Carlsen was too much of an undertaking even for Maxime, however, and the Frenchman ended up conceding first.
(MVL played the second half of Paris in maximum overdrive)
Hikaru "Mama Say Nak You Out" Nakamura blasted through the rapid portion like a Hiroshima bomb, and followed up on the first blitz day like a Nagasaki explosion, but he apparently ran out of nuclear fuel on the second blitz day, dropping a couple of games to the lower half of field. In the aftermath, he had to settle for a respectable third place.
Alexander "The Grinch" Grishuk was poised to steal Paris but he too ran out of steam on the last day. One commentator speculated at the very end that it seemed like "his heart for blitz was two sizes too small". He ended up settling for fourth place.
Shakhriyar "Shakh Black" Mamedyarov started off the tournament by taking his opponents to the school of rapid, but he also faltered late in the tournament. The rest of the field played "hack-a-shakh" with the Azerbaijani GM in the blitz session where he finished in seventh place, dropping him to fifth overall.
Sergey "The Car Jacker" Karjakin stalled out during the rapid session, but he got his motor running in the blitz, stealing a few games to help him race to sixth place in the final standings.
(Sergei's hopes for a Paris victory were "gone in sixty seconds" according to most experts)
"The Methodist" Wesley So played most of the tournament without divine inspiration. Lacking spirit during his mediocre rapid and blitz performances, he was usually unable to convert. Against this extremely strong field, he didn't have a prayer of finishing among the leaders. He took seventh place in the event.
(Back to the books for Wesley)
After the rapid portion, Fabiano "Frodo" Caruana probably wished he could crawl into a Hobbit hole and hide. His opponents ran rings around the American GM and at the halfway point of the journey, he found himself in dead last. But the resilient Super-GM bounced back in the latter half taking third in the blitz session and ascending to eighth place.
("Even though I didnt play my best, I always enjoy the fellowship I have with this group", said Fabi)
"Slick" Veselin Topalov's play seemed to lack intensive care throughout the tournament. Far off the form of his glory days as world champion, Topalov made many slips in his rapid and blitz games. "His opening choices were not particularly topical, and thats been a real fly in the ointment for him", said one expert commentator. The Bulgarian GM ended up ninth in the field.
(New sponsorship possibilities on the horizon for Topalov?)
"The Crow", Etienne Bacrot had a less than stellar tournament. Though he did enjoy an occasional win against the big boys, he spent most of this event eating crow, rather than karate chopping his opponents.
(Etienne looking a bit worse for wear after the tourney)
Additional note: I asked the event organizers why Anand was not present at the tournament and they advised me that he had been denied an invitation. Apparently, the French government has staunchly refused to allow any representatives from the Vishy Regime.
("On ne passe pas! ")