Paris Rapid & Blitz: Anand, Caruana Lead After Day 1
The Paris Grand Chess Tour on day one. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Paris Rapid & Blitz: Anand, Caruana Lead After Day 1

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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21 | Chess Event Coverage

On Saturday the Grand Chess Tour resumed in Paris, France, with the annual rapid and blitz tournament. After three rounds of rapid, Vishy Anand and Fabiano Caruana top the standings.

The third tournament of the tour this year, it follows the Côte d'Ivoire Rapid and Blitz and the classical tournament in Zagreb, both won by Magnus Carlsen, who is not playing in Paris.

The 12 main GCT participants all play just three of the five rapid and blitz events (and both the classical ones; the second is the Sinquefield Cup next month). At the end of the regular 2019 GCT season, the four players with the most tour points will proceed to the GCT Tour finals in London in December.

2019 Grand Chess Tour standings
The 2019 Grand Chess Tour standings after two tournaments. | Image: Spectrum Studios.

Because cooperation with Canal+ has ended, this year the location for the Paris Rapid & Blitz is the headquarters of long-time sponsor and Canal+ owner Vivendi, only a stone's throw from the Arc de Triomphe. As a result, players may get a glimpse of the final stage of the Tour de France tomorrow, which traditionally finishes in this area of Paris. 

Duda, Dubov and Grischuk Paris Grand Chess Tour
Duda, Dubov and Grischuk walk towards the venue of the players' meeting on Friday. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

As in previous years, participants will compete over nine rounds of rapid chess (July 27-29) and 18 rounds of blitz chess (July 31-August 1) for a total prize fund of $150,000.

Vivendi playing hall Paris Grand Chess Tour
Vivendi itself is the venue of the playing hall this year. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Comfortably swimming among nine younger sharks, Anand had an excellent start today. The five-time world champion won two games and drew one, a score only Caruana made as well.

Our annotator especially liked Anand's convincing win against Ian Nepomniachtchi in a 6.g3 Najdorf. It was an ideal outcome of the standard plan after castling kingside: Nc3-d5, exd5 and playing for the pawn majority.

"Essentially I am executing the typical plan," said Anand. He mentioned that playing the pawn to h6 by Black was slightly inaccurate when all pawns have to be pushed forward later. Also, the f5-f4 break was probably played a bit too early.

Vishy Anand Paris Grand Chess Tour
Vishy Anand started well at the Paris Grand Chess Tour. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Caruana scored a nice win in the second round against Polish rising star Jan-Krzysztof Duda. For 12 moves the players followed a game of the 2018 world championship match where Caruana was playing this Petroff with the black pieces. Now, as White, he played a novel approach and won one of the very interesting games of the day.

"It helps that your opponent is low on time," said Caruana about the moment he sacrificed his knight. "If it works, you're just gonna crush him."

Fabiano Caruana Paris Grand Chess Tour
Fabiano Caruana, also with 2.5/3. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Like the two tournament leaders, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave started with two wins before losing in round three to Nepomniachtchi. The Frenchman got a small revenge for his loss in the Riga Grand Prix final by beating Shakhriyar Mamedyarov:

Mamedyarov Vachier-Lagrave Paris Grand Chess Tour
Mamedyarov and Vachier-Lagrave swing inside the Vivendi office space during the players' meeting on Friday. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Always a favorite in faster time-control tournaments, Hikaru Nakamura surprisingly started with two straight losses. In round two he lost to Alexander Grischuk, who had eliminated him from the Moscow Grand Prix when they played last.

Nakamura's 7...b6 deviated from 7...b5 in that game, but also here Grischuk was the one having all the fun:

Alexander Grischuk Paris Grand Chess Tour
Alexander Grischuk. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Grischuk's loss to Duda in round three deserves extra attention as well. It follows the spectacular game of Hillarp Persson vs. Hector in 2014 quite a bit—check that one in the annotations as well.

Paris Rapid & Blitz standings after day 1
The Paris Rapid & Blitz standings after day one. | Image: Spectrum Studios.

The Paris Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour takes place July 27-August 1 in Paris, France. After three days of rapid (nine rounds), two days of blitz will follow with nine rounds on each day.

The first four days start at 3 p.m. local time (GMT+2), 6 a.m. Pacific. The last day starts an hour earlier.

Chess.com is providing daily coverage on Twitch.tv/Chess and Chess.com/TV. (See also our press release.)

Paris Rapid & Blitz 2019 Chess.com coverage

Day 1 coverage:

All games rounds 1-3 for replay/download:


You can find all games here as part of our live portal. More photos from the event can be found here. The official site is here.

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