Carlsen, So Win, Catch Nepomniachtchi In Grand Chess Tour
Nothing brings a broader smile to Carlsen's face than a well-played and hard-won victory. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour.

Carlsen, So Win, Catch Nepomniachtchi In Grand Chess Tour

NM SamCopeland
60 | Chess Event Coverage

Both Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So won important and impressive games today to catch Ian Nepomniachtchi in first place as the Russian GM found his king netted in dangerous central waters against Ding Liren.

In a tournament that has proved quite exciting throughout, round six may well have been the most electrifying so far as five of six games were decisive. Levon Aronian beat Sergey Karjakin and Fabiano Caruana won as Black against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Our game of the day is Carlsen's 14th classical win over Hikaru Nakamura. Although Nakamura has recently stabilized his once dismal record against the Norwegian world champion, Carlsen's long-term score is excellent. Even in their draws, Carlsen has regularly applied pressure. In this game, Nakamura initiated massive (and fairly favorable) complications with 17...Nd4!, but it was he who sank in the ensuing maelstrom.

Our other co-leader's victory was far less chaotic but no less inspiring. So took advantage of the most imperceptible inaccuracies to secure a win against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. gave So a 99.6 accuracy score for his play, and we invite our readers to find improvements!

After dazzling the chess world in 2016, So has struggled to regain his awesome form. He may currently be returning to that pinnacle because he gained 12 rating points (up to 2775) and moved up to fifth in the world.

Most pleasing and instructive was So's tempo-gaining pawn sacrifice 20.c6!

Wesley So, Gand Chess Tour Croatia
Confident and composed, just like his moves. | | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour.

Liren was relentless in his pursuit of Nepomniachtchi's king. The moves 14.f3!, 24.d5!, 25.a4!, and 27.b4! made a vivid impression as Ding fired his pawns like cannonballs into the shaky stoneworks surrounding Nepo's king in the center. Aspiring attackers would do well to study Ding's play in this game.

Ding Liren, Grand Chess Croatia
After a first-round loss, Ding has garnered two wins. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour.

The messiest game of the round was Caruana's win with the black pieces against Vachier-Lagrave. In Norway Chess, the French number one had teased Caruana over a missed win by offering lessons on request. Today the world number two responded to this off-the-board banter with aggressive over-the-board moves. In a game with action similar to two boxing champions in a ring giving and taking punches unflinchingly, Caruana landed the haymaker when he weaseled his rook into Vachier-Lagrave's back rank.

Fabiano Caruana, Grand Chess Tour Croatia
Caruana sports a wide smile after a chaotic win. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour.

A beautiful White win against the Berlin Defense? Aronian secured what many top players seek and few find with a powerful exchange sacrifice against Karjakin. Even without the exchange sacrifice, Karjakin's position had looked shaky for some time. Although there were adventures along the way, Aronian was always the one pushing. Once his pieces (especially his advancing king) found their best squares, he forced the win of material and the game.

Levon Aronian, Grand Chess Tour Croatia
No missed wins today! | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour.

The lone draw of the round was a rook endgame that was fought to "bare" rooks by Anish Giri and Viswanathan Anand.

2019 Croatia Grand Chess Tour | Round 6 Results and Standings
Croatia Grand Chess Tour Results
Croatia Grand Chess Tour Results 6
Graphic: Spectrum Studios.
The 2019 Croatia Grand Chess Tour takes place June 26 to July 8 at the Novinarski Dom in Zagreb, Croatia. This is one of the two classical events on the tour this year. The time control is a new one with 130 minutes for each player with a 30-second delay from move one.

The games start at 4:30 pm local time (CEST), which is 10:30 a.m. Eastern and 7:30 a.m. Pacific. You can follow the games here as part of our live portal with daily commentary by GM Robert Hess.

Watch GCT Croatia Round 6 Commentary from GMHess on

Round six coverage by GM Robert Hess.

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