Carlsen, So Early Leaders In Paris

Carlsen, So Early Leaders In Paris

| 28 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So are tied for first place after day one of the Paris Grand Chess Tour. They scored five points out of a possible six (since the rapid games count double) and are just ahead of Hikaru Nakamura and Veselin Topalov.

Magnus Carlsen (r.) playing Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in round two. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

While the heat wave continued in Paris, the Grand Chess Tour saw a heartwarming first day. In a Canal+ studio along the Seine, in the southeast corner of Boulogne-Billancourt, the chess players produced wonderful chess, watched by chess fans online and on television.

Because that's what's new for this year's tour: the first tournament, in Paris, is held in a TV studio. Shows are being produced for online audiences in English, Spanish and French, and the latter production is done by Canal+.


Garry Kasparov made the first move in Bacrot vs MVL. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Contrary to what some expected, the French show is not broadcast live on TV. The Vivendi board decided that Daily Motion, another company it owns (besides Canal+), would have exclusivity there, whereas Canal+ is broadcasting a one-hour summary program on its sports channel every evening.

And it probably makes sense. For chess to grow as a television sport, first the general audience needs be introduced to chess with a special, well-produced program that shouldn't take too long. Perhaps after that, they will be ready for live chess.

Here's a video by that gives you an idea about how things look in Paris. It has interviews with the Grand Chess Tour organizer IM Malcolm Pein and the Canal+ commentator IM Almira Skripchenko.

The chess started with a parallel of last year. Wesley So, the 2016 Grand Chess Tour winner, got a very bad position, but managed to win anyway—just like his first game in Paris last year against Magnus Carlsen. This time it was Fabiano Caruana who missed his chance:

The big battle in the first round was the all-French clash between Etienne Bacrot, who got a wildcard for Paris, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Bacrot, once the youngest grandmaster in the world, initially reacted well to MVL's creative opening play, but then he missed a tactic and from that point he was under pressure. The queen ending was probably drawn though.


Bacrot resigns his game vs Vachier-Lagrave. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Speaking of interesting opening play, what about Alexander Grischuk's 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.Bg5 against Magnus Carlsen? That was the start of a fun draw, which saw the world champ's light-squared bishop completely incarcerated on g6 early on. But it was cool to see how Carlsen used his h7-rook along the seventh rank, and eventually got his terrible bishop traded with the maneuver Bg6-e8-b5, assisted by his knight on d6.

Carlsen continued with two wins. The first, against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, kind of came all of a sudden in a position that didn't seem lethal at all. (It wasn't.) 

Accepting his pawn sacrifice wasn't a good idea, said Carlsen, as it helped Black. However, the real mistake was 28.a4, which loses on the spot. Carlsen: "A pleasant surprise."


A sudden loss for Mamedyarov vs Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Calsen's next victim was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who, nonetheless, is a serious candidate for playing the move of the day. "I had forgotten that was legal!" said Malcolm Pein about the amazing move 18...d5. MVL continued to play well, but then suddenly blundered a full piece.

So was also treated some French fortune. In a drawn endgame he decided play on for a few moves with 47.Bd4, and was rewarded: soon Bacrot, who was playing on increment there, forgot about his strategy of keep everything protected on light squares.

Especially unfortunate today was Fabiano Caruana, who started his tournament with three losses. In round three he went down against Hikaru Nakamura, who thus got his revenge over his loss against Caruana in the final round of Norway Chess. spoke with Nakamura about this game, and also their battle in Norway, which stirred up some controversy.

Here's one of the most interesting games of the first day. Yasser Seirawan said about Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Alexander Grischuk: "You could write a book on this game."


A fascinating fight between MVL and Grischuk. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Paris Grand Chess Tour | Rapid, Round 3 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2851 3061 1 2 2 5.0 3.75
2 So,Wesley 2789 3029 1 2 2 5.0 1.25
3 Nakamura,Hikaru 2792 2901 1 1 2 4.0 1.25
4 Topalov,Veselin 2725 2869 1 1 2 4.0 0.75
5 Grischuk,Alexander 2779 2807 1 1 1 3.0 3.25
6 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2784 2806 0 1 2 3.0 2.00
7 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2783 2773 0 1 2 3.0 1.25
8 Karjakin,Sergey 2776 2647 1 1 0 2.0
9 Bacrot,Etienne 2688 2487 0 1 0 1.0
10 Caruana,Fabiano 2782 1969 0 0 0 0.0

Note that for this table the rating of the Grand Chess Tour's Universal Rating System have been used.


Karjakin, Mamedyarov and Grischuk chatting outside after round three. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

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Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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