Carlsen Wins Grenke Chess Classic, Reaches 2875 Rating
Carlsen with the trophy, congratulated by the 2018 winner Caruana as Aronian and Anand watch. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen Wins Grenke Chess Classic, Reaches 2875 Rating

| 149 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen won his last-round game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to clinch the Grenke Chess Classic with a 1.5-point margin over runner-up Fabiano Caruana, who quickly drew with Levon Aronian.

It was kind of telling that was down for several minutes after Carlsen defeated MVL today—and it wasn’t the first time this week. The tournament winner couldn’t hide a smile when Peter Leko mentioned to him this modern-day, online expression of pure fandom.

For anyone who didn't check yet, here's the answer: Carlsen will have a 2875 rating on the May FIDE rating list, which is only seven points below his highest published rating of 2882 from five years ago.

(Update May 1, 2019: the Grenke results were not included in the May FIDE rating list, probably because it missed the deadline.) 

Live ratings chess April 2019

Therefore, another question is back on the table, one that few dared to ask in the past few years. Will he ever break 2900?

Carlsen: "I don’t know. Right now I am just happy to be playing a lot better than I have. Frankly, some people have asked me privately over the last few years whether I’d ever get over 2900 and my answer has always been a pretty resounding ‘no, I don’t think I’m gonna get there.’ I still don’t particularly think so but now it’s at least a half-attainable goal. It’s something I will be looking at. But most of all it’s about continuing the process of playing well."

Magnus Carlsen 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Carlsen described breaking 2900 as a "half-attainable goal." His most dedicated fan on Twitter is more optimistic. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen will be 56 points ahead of Fabiano Caruana, who he still considers to be best of the rest.

"I don’t think he had a brilliant tournament here but he nevertheless got a very clear second place," said Carlsen, "so I don’t think there’s any reason to consider him otherwise. He’s very good."

Carlsen's dominance over the other other players isn't as big yet as in May 2014, when his 2882 was 67 points more than Aronian's 2815. 

The dominance of 13th world champion Garry Kasparov was still bigger than that. At his peak rating of 2851 (when Carlsen was nine years old), Kasparov was 82 points ahead of Viswanathan Anand (who, incidentally, had one point more 19 years ago than he will have on the new list: 2768).

January 2000 FIDE ratings (Top 10)

# Fed Name Rtg
1 Kasparov, Garry 2851
2 Anand, Viswanathan 2769
3 Kramnik, Vladimir 2758
4 Shirov, Alexei 2751
5 Morozevich, Alexander 2748
6 Leko, Peter 2725
7 Adams, Michael 2715
8 Ivanchuk, Vassily 2709
9 Bareev, Evgeny 2709
10 Topalov, Veselin 2702

Today's win against Vachier-Lagrave had just one key moment, when the French grandmaster sacrificed a pawn on move 10 in the style of the Benko gambit. Carlsen didn't like it.

Carlsen Vachier-Lagrave 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Anand checking the Carlsen vs Vachier-Lagrave game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

"I didn’t have as much energy today, but fortunately I got helped by this free pawn," said Carlsen. "Sometimes he does this; he makes these impulsive decisions. He very much likes to give up pawns for the initiative but the problem is that there is no initiative; it’s just a free pawn. After it he is just clearly worse."

The other big story of the tournament was of course the 14-year-old IM Vincent Keymer getting invaluable experience in a field of elite grandmasters. Eventually he only managed to score 2/9, but he won rating points anyway, which shows how strong these super-tournaments are.

Playing hall Baden-Baden 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Media covering the start of the round. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Today he seemed to have wanted to improve upon his main weakness, that of time management, and played much faster in the opening. However, this time around his coach Leko would have liked him to spend a bit more time on his 11th, 15th and 19th moves, which were all debatable.

The game got very complicated but it was already very difficult for Keymer after Paco Vallejo's 20...f5.

The round saw a third win (a 51.2 percent drawing percentage for this tournament was pleasantly low!) as Arkadij Naiditsch won the all-German battle against Georg Meier. The Latvian-born German grandmaster Naiditsch, who represents Azerbaijan, tied for third place with Vachier-Lagrave.

The game was absolutely wild and fits in the coffeehouse category:

Naiditsch Meier 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
1.c4 b6 was a quiet start of the wild game Naiditsch vs Meier. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The other two games were rather insignificant. About Anand and Peter Svidler's draw, Carlsen commented: "I don’t think it was pre-arranged, probably not, but everybody knows this particular one."

Anand Svidler 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Anand and Svidler followed 25 moves of a known game, after which the draw was almost unavoidable. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Caruana didn't seem too eager to try and go for a win—his last, theoretical chance to play for tournament victory in a playoff in case Carlsen would lose. The American grandmaster must have ruled out that last possibility when he decided to play the same, drawish line against Aronian's Marshall as Teimour Radjabov had done against Ding Liren in Shamkir this year.

Caruana Aronian 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Caruana vs Aronian followed an earlier game for 32(!) moves, and was also hardly a real fight. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

2019 Grenke Chess Classic | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2845 2992 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 7.5/9
2 Caruana,Fabiano 2828 2835 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 6.0/9
3 Naiditsch,Arkadij 2710 2766 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 5.0/9 19
4 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2775 2760 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.0/9 18.25
5 Anand,Viswanathan 2779 2721 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 4.5/9 19.75
6 Aronian,Levon 2761 2723 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 4.5/9 18.75
7 Svidler,Peter 2737 2726 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 4.5/9 17.75
8 Vallejo Pons,Francisco 2698 2691 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 4.0/9
9 Meier,Georg 2621 2521 0 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 2.0/9 8.75
10 Keymer,Vincent 2509 2532 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 2.0/9 6.5

Carlsen's next tournament will be the opener of the 2019 Grand Chess Tour season, the rapid and blitz tournament in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire (May 6-13). 

"I'm excited," said Carlsen. "It will probably be my only opportunity to go to Cote d’Ivoire. It’s exotic for sure. It will be the first time I or any sitting world champion plays in Africa. I specifically chose to play there.

"I'm happy to play some rapid and blitz. It’s been a long time since I’ve been part of the Grand Chess Tour. Even though classical is going so well at the moment, I am happy to do both," he said. 

Find all upcoming major chess events in's tournament calendar.

Magnus Carlsen Wins 2019 Grenke Chess Classic Trophy
Carlsen with the 2019 Grenke Chess Classic trophy. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

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