Grand Chess Tour Finals: Carlsen Wins, MVL Escapes
Carlsen defeated Aronian on Friday. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Grand Chess Tour Finals: Carlsen Wins, MVL Escapes

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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34 | Chess Event Coverage

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave escaped from a lost position vs. Ding Liren in the first game of the Grand Chess Tour final that had four queens on the board. Magnus Carlsen won his first game against Levon Aronian in the fight for third place.

Ding and Vachier-Lagrave are competing for the $150,000 first-place prize and the title of Grand Chess Tour champion, while Carlsen and Aronian are playing for the third-place qualifying spot to the 2020 GCT in addition to a $60,000 prize.


The last two days of the Grand Chess Tour playoff start at 15:00 CET, which is 9 a.m. Eastern and 6 a.m. Pacific. You can follow the games here as part of our live portal. Commentary is provided by GM Robert Hess and IM Danny Rensch at Chess.com/TV.


The finals of the Grand Chess Tour began on Friday after the players participated in the traditional corporate day on Thursday. They were paired with entrepreneurs in friendly games to raise money for the U.K. charity Chess in Schools and Communities.

Grand Chess Tour action resumed on Friday, and it was not bad day at all. In the end only Carlsen won his game, but Ding got very close as well.

The Chinese grandmaster used his trusted Closed Spanish, to which Vachier-Lagrave answered with the modern 6.d3 variation. For 16 moves the players followed Carlsen-Ding, St. Louis 2017, when MVL brought a novelty to the game.

The Frenchman's homework didn't work out well, and he soon was slightly worse. This escalated shortly before the time control when he missed a way to keep the balance, and then Vachier-Lagrave got in big trouble.

Ding Liren Vachier-Lagrave fist fight
During the Pro Biz Cup Ding and Vachier-Lagrave tried to decide the Grand Chess Tour in a different way. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

MVL traded the minor pieces to try his luck in a queen endgame, but in the process he gave his opponent a strong passed pawn that promoted. However, Ding made the mistake of allowing his opponent to promote to a second queen as well—he thought it was a forced win, but it wasn't.

For more than 20 moves, four queens were on the board, something very rare in chess.

Ding was disappointed but also saw something positive. "At least I played a very good middlegame," he said.

"The play I showed today is unworthy of finals," said Vachier-Lagrave. "Of course, it’s good news not to have lost this game, but that’s probably the only positive I can take from it."

Ding Liren MVL. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.
Time for 6.d3, time to take off the jacket. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

For his first game with Aronian, Carlsen played the London System, which has seen an increase in popularity recently. The world champ kept a slight edge out of the opening, but Black was always solid.

The game exploded on move 32, when Aronian decided to sacrifice a pawn to activate his pieces. However, he was already low on time and soon missed important details.

The Armenian GM did manage to reach an opposite-colored bishop endgame, but having to play "on delay" was too tough, so the ending was practically impossible to hold for him.

Carlsen 2019 Grand Chess Tour final
Carlsen played his 106th consecutive standard game without a loss. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

On Saturday and Sunday the games start two hours earlier—at 15:00 CET, which is 9 a.m. Eastern and 6 a.m. Pacific.

2019 Grand Chess Tour finals day 1
The scores after day 1. Image: Spectrum Studios.

In the Grand Chess Tour playoff, each match consists of:

  • two standard games with six points for a win, three points for a draw and 0 points for a loss;
  • two rapid games with four points for a win, two points for a draw and 0 points for a loss;
  • four blitz games with two points for a win, one point for a draw and 0 points for a loss.


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