New Carlsen-Caruana Clash At Grenke Chess Classic
Carlsen congratulating Grenke 2018 winner Caruana. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

New Carlsen-Caruana Clash At Grenke Chess Classic

| 44 | Chess Event Coverage

With five players from the world's top 10, the Grenke Chess Classic starts on Saturday in Karlsruhe, Germany. World champion Magnus Carlsen and last year's Grenke winner Fabiano Caruana will play their first classical game since their November title match.

Only 10 days after winning the Gashimov Memorial with a stellar performance, Carlsen will be back at the chessboard. The world number-one tops the field at the Grenke Chess Classic, traditionally held in the week around Easter.

One of the key clashes this year will be his game with second seed Caruana. The American grandmaster's extraordinary year  in 2018 included a victory at Grenke, right after he had won the Candidates' tournament. He escaped with a draw against Carlsen last year at Grenke, and would later lose the world championship match in the tiebreak, after 12 draws in the classical games.

The official trailer of the tournament.

With Vishy Anand, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian, the tournament has three more players from the current top 10 in the world.

It's no coincidence that the same names are also playing for the 13-time champion of the Bundesliga, Baden-Baden. That team and this tournament share the same sponsor, a financial service provider based in the spa town in the southwest of Germany.

In fact, there's much more Baden-Baden flavor with Peter Svidler, Arkadij Naiditsch, Francisco Vallejo and Georg Meier. The latter is also a player for the Baden-Baden Snowballs in the PRO Chess League.

"Last but not least" is a cliche that doesn't really work here. Vincent Keymer is the remarkable name all the way down the list, and he is undeniably the "least" (besides being quite talented, obviously).

Not even a grandmaster yet, Keymer will be playing his first-ever super-tournament. The 14-year-old boy from Mainz earned this unique challenge as the surprising winner of the Grenke Open last year, ahead of 49 grandmasters.

Seven players are the same as last year, while Svidler, Vallejo and Keymer have replaced 2018 participants Nikita Vitiugov, Hou Yifan and Matthias Bluebaum.

2019 Grenke Chess Classic | Participants

# Rank Fed Title Name Rating B-Year
1 1 GM Carlsen, Magnus 2845 1990
2 2 GM Caruana, Fabiano 2819 1992
3 6 GM Anand, Viswanathan 2774 1969
4 8 GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2773 1990
5 10 GM Aronian, Levon 2763 1982
6 19 GM Svidler, Peter 2735 1976
7 42 GM Naiditsch, Arkadij 2695 1985
8 43 GM Vallejo Pons, Francisco 2693 1982
9 152 GM Meier, Georg 2628 1987
10 651 IM Keymer, Vincent 2516 2004

The ratings in this table are from FIDE's April 2019 list. Carlsen's live rating is in fact 2860.8 thanks to Shamkir, 44.4 points more than Caruana's 2816.4. The American player lost 2.6 points at the U.S. championship last month.

The Norwegian chess reporter Tarjei Svensen calculated that Carlsen needs to score 8.5/9 at Grenke to beat his lifetime record of 2882.

The first five rounds (April 20-24) will be held in the Schwarzwaldhalle in Karlsruhe. After a rest day, the tournament moves to the Kulturhaus LA8 museum in Baden-Baden for rounds six to nine (April 26-29).

The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves followed by 15 minutes to finish the game, with a 30-second increment from move one. Draw offers before move 40 are not allowed.

Caruana Carlsen Grenke Chess Classic 2018
Caruana won the tournament last year. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The first round starts Saturday, April 20 at 15:00 CEST (14:00 London, 9 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Pacific). You can follow the tournament here, as part of our events portal. The games will also be relayed in Live Chess.

IM Levy Rozman will be covering the tournament on his Twitch channel, GothamChess.

Alongside the Grenke Chess Classic, the Grenke Open starts today, also in Karlsruhe. The biggest open tournament in Europe is also one of the strongest, with Anton Korobov (Ukraine), Etienne Bacrot (France), Gata Kamsky (USA) and Alireza Firouzja (Iran) as the top seeds in a fight for a spot in the 2020 Classic.

Curious about other, upcoming top chess events? Find them in our calendar.

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