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Grand Chess Tour's Final Leg Takes Off In London
Three world champions together: Kasparov, Anand and Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Grand Chess Tour's Final Leg Takes Off In London

The London Chess Classic took off today with five draws. It's the final leg of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour where Magnus Carlsen is currently leading the standings.

The 2017 Grand Chess Tour resumes in London with its final leg, the London Chess Classic. The first round was played today, and things started peacefully: five draws.

2017 London Chess Classic | Round 1 Results

Fed Name Result Fed Name
Ian Nepomniachtchi 1/2 Levon Aronian
Magnus Carlsen 1/2 Fabiano Caruana
Mickey Adams 1/2 Sergey Karjakin
Hikaru Nakamura 1/2 Vishy Anand
Wesley So 1/2 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

The round was played at Google Headquarters on Pancras Square. There, on the eighth floor of this modern, high-tech building, the leading AI company DeepMind is situated, bought by Google in 2014.

One of DeepMind's co-founders, Demis Hassabis, is an expert on neuroscience-inspired artificial intelligence but also a very decent chess player, once FIDE-rated 2300. He happily hosted the tournament for two days; after a rest day on Saturday the tournament returns to its regular venue: Kensington Olympia.

Before today's round there was also the ProBiz event on Thursday where Hassabis himself teamed up with Michael Adams. The other teams were Levon Aronian and Justin Baptie, Garry Kasparov and Terry Chapman, David Norwood and Ali Mortazavi, Hikaru Nakamura and Lee Green, Magnus Carlsen and Chris Flowers, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Gilles Betthaeuser and the winners, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Rajko Vujatovic.

Garry Kasparov vs Magnus Carlsen in London

A rare encounter between two legends of chess. Chapman/Kasparov beat Flowers/Carlsen after a blunder by the latter.

Ian Nepomniachtchi and Rajko Vujatovic in London

The winning duo receives the prize from the British GM Nigel Short.

Sergey Karjakin, Vishy Anand, Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So did not play in the ProBiz but were involved in children's activities: they gave a simul, analyzed the games with their opponents and gave small lectures. At the end of the day Chess.com recorded two video interviews:

Chess.com's interview with Vishy Anand.

Chess.com's interview with Sergey Karjakin.

On Friday the real action started. Before discussing today's events, let's have a look at the current standings in the Grand Chess Tour, with one tournament to go.

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An outright winner gets 13 points for London; a winner after a playoff gets 12 points. Second place gets 10 points, third eight points, fourth seven points, and so on. Carlsen is obviously the favorite to win this year's Tour, and he mostly needs to keep an eye on MVL.

The participants of the London Chess Classic

The participants of the London Chess Classic with the tournament booklet.

Today the London Chess Classic started with with five draws, played in a high-standard, beautifully lit room with a giant electric screen in the background and numerous cameras hanging from the ceiling—conditions you might expect from a company like Google.

It was Hassabis who played 1.c4 for Carlsen, with Kasparov joining the photo moment, behind Caruana. The English Opening was an appropriate choice, but Carlsen nonetheless moved back the pawn and played his queen's pawn instead (without creating a London System though).

The game was the longest of the day, with the world champion pressing throughout. Caruana still has faith in his Queen's Gambit Accepted, and although it means suffering for few hours, holding the draw against the world champion meant goal achieved.

"It's disappointing, but I also have to give props to him for good defense," said Carlsen afterward.

Magnus Carlsen vs Fabiano Caruana, with Garry Kasparov

A cheerful start to a wonderful tournament. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Another interesting game was Nakamura vs Anand (or, in Kasparov's words, "a hell of a fight") where both players missed chances and neither can be too unhappy about the result. Initially Nakamura was doing well, but might have overpressed at some point. After defending well, Anand might have missed a chance to play for a win, even in the final position.

"It's a pity not to have won but I'm also relieved not to have lost," he said.

The playing hall at Google, London

The first round in action in Google's beautiful playing hall.

You'll find the other three games, which were not so eventful, in the PGN file.

Download Tournament PGN

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Magnus Carlsen vs Fabiano Caruana the London Chess Classic

After playing in the same playing hall at the Champions Showdown in St. Louis last month, Caruana and Carlsen actually got to meet in London again. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Wesley So at the London Chess Classic

MVL might have missed out on the Candidates', but he is still in the running for taking over Wesley So's Grand Chess Tour title. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen's father Henrik and Nakamura's stepfather Sunil Weeramantry

Carlsen's father Henrik and Nakamura's stepfather Sunil Weeramantry. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Garry Kasparov attended the round today; here he was interviewed by Maurice Ashley

Garry Kasparov attended the round today; here he was interviewed by Maurice Ashley. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Garry Kasparov in London

The Boss also spent quite some time in the playing hall... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Hikaru Nakamura vs Viswanathan Anand at the London Chess Classic

...looking for instance at a former pupil and a former opponent... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Garry Kasparov

...and always calculating variations. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

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