Grand Chess Tour Resumes Weds. In Leuven

Grand Chess Tour Resumes Weds. In Leuven

| 39 | Chess Event Coverage

The Grand Chess Tour resumes on Wednesday in Leuven, Belgium with an identical tournament to the one in Paris. GMs Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley SoViswanathan Anand, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Vassily Ivanchuk and Baadur Jobava will play.

Magnus Carlsen drawing lot number three for the rapid segment. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

On Monday morning three participants of the Paris Grand Chess Tour joined the Grand Chess Tour organizers in a car to Paris Nord, a Thalys train to Brussels Midi and a taxi to Leuven city center: Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Wesley So.

Each "regular" participant plays two of the three rapid/blitz events, and for these three players, those are Paris and Leuven. (The third quickplay event will be in August in St. Louis, right after the Sinquefield Cup.)

The players are staying in Hotel The Fourth. Not fully in use yet, the hotel is owned by the sponsor of the tournament, Jan Callewaert. He is the CEO of Option, a chess enthusiast and is connected to the Kasparov Chess Foundation.

The tournament starts on Wednesday, but already today the players needed to make the short walk (it must be less than 50 meters) to the old and beautiful Town Hall on the Grote Markt. Like last year, there was a simul with the top grandmasters playing against about 40 children.


Vishy Anand is joining the Grand Chess Tour here in Leuven. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.


Baadur Jobava asking Anish Giri (not in the photo) what the king is doing on e3. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.


Ian Nepomniachtchi, playing with his last energy after traveling from Khanty-Mansiysk. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.


The oldest participant, Vassily Ivanchuk. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Last year each GM played three moves until the next would join, but this year after each move a new player came into the field for the next. Rumor has is it that this way it was avoided that Carlsen would play so many King's Gambits again.  However, with the presence of Jobava one doesn't need fancy openings to have a good time.

Before that simul, there was the drawing of lots and speeches by Callewaert, organizer Malcolm Pein and also the mayor of Leuven, Louis Tobback. He got smiles on the faces of all 10 participants, including the world champion, when he finished with: "May the best player win—but let it not always be the same!"


Carlsen listening to the mayor, but certainly not intending to follow his wishes! | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

The first round of the rapid tournament will see So vs Kramnik, Vachier-Lagrave vs Ivanchuk, Carlsen vs Aronian, Jobava-Nepomniachtchi and Giri vs Anand. spoke with Ian Nepomniachtchi, the participant who needed to travel the most to reach Leuven. He came straight from the World Team Championship in Khanty-Mansiysk.

Another player we got in front of our camera was Vassily Ivanchuk. The Ukrainian chess legend recently won a rapid match against David Navara in Prague that saw lots of interesting chess. Here is one game:

Ivanchuk mentions this match but mostly speaks about his other hobby these days: draughts. As it turns out, he played another tournament recently in Izmir, Turkey. In the interview, Chuky draws interesting parallels with chess. The big difference? Draughts has much more "Zugzwang" positions than chess.

Tomorrow the tournament starts, and it will be identical to Paris, so three days of rapid (with three rounds per day) and then two days of the blitz.

You can watch the Grand Chess Tour on, and the games at starting tomorrow from 2 p.m. CET, 8 a.m. New York or 5 a.m. Pacific.

Commentary will be provided by GM Maurice Ashley and GM Nigel Short in Leuven, and GM Yasser Seirawan, IM Jovanka Houska & GM Christian Chirilla from St Louis.

The rapid tournament is a round-robin with games played at 25 minutes with a ten-second delay from move one. The blitz tournament is a double round-robin with games played at five minutes with a three-second delay from move one. The prize fund is $150,000, with the first prize of $37,500.


14.00 Round 1 Round 4 Round 7
15.30 Round 2 Round 5 Round 8
17.00 Round 3 Round 6 Round 9


14.00 Round 1 12.00 Round 10
14.30 Round 2 12.30 Round 11
15.00 Round 3 13.00 Round 12
15.30 Round 4 13.30 Round 13
16.00 Round 5 14.00 Round 14
16.30 Round 6 14.30 Round 15
17.00 Round 7 15.00 Round 16
17.30 Round 8 15.30 Round 17
18.00 Round 9 16.00 Round 18
16.30 Playoffs/Prizegiving


The Grand Chess Tour has a total prize fund of $1,200,000. Last year Carlsen won the Leuven tournament; So emerged as the overall winner of the tour in 2016.


Mayor of Leuven, Louis Tobback: "May the best player win—but let it not always be the same!" | Photo: Maria Emelianova.


Top grandmasters are just like everyone else... | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Previous reports:

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.

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