Conclusion from the Paris Grand Chess Tour
Hikaru Nakamura won the Paris Grand Chess Tour after a spurt of three wins in four games gave him the title with two rounds to spare. Magnus Carlsen described his own performance as “a good old fashioned meltdown”, but he could at least claim the bragging rights of having beaten the winner in both blitz games. We take a look at some of the other highlights of the event, including Mr 50% finishing on 50% and Vladimir Kramnik showing what a meltdown really looks like.
Nakamura’s speed chess reputation is deserved
Hikaru Nakamura first built his reputation on phenomenal internet blitz and bullet play, but since he became a fixture of the classical chess elite he hasn’t quite won the blitz or rapid titles you might have expected. In Paris, though, he played well from start to finish, losing no rapid games and only three blitz games in the whole event, two against Magnus Carlsen and one to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Our commentary team noted his play was by far the best on the final day even before he’d opened up a lead. He avoided blunders and showed fantastic tenacity and drive to save bad positions and win drawish ones.
Carlsen is human
Magnus Carlsen’s Paris Grand Chess Tour performance will perhaps be remembered above all for his singing about Dimitri Payet… but he was neck-and-neck with Nakamura for the whole event. In fact, when he won the first game of the final day, to Wesley So, it was his 6th win in 7 and brought him level with Hikaru. In hindsight, though, as our commentators pointed out, it wasn’t really a sign of good form but a somewhat fortuitous turnaround in a bad position.