Tata Steel Rapid & Blitz: Carlsen Cruises; London Bid Possible For Anand
Magnus Carlsen continues to shine in the Tata Steel Rapid & Blitz with a near-3000 performance rating. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Tata Steel Rapid & Blitz: Carlsen Cruises; London Bid Possible For Anand

| 19 | News

Magnus Carlsen extended his lead to five points at the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid & Blitz with nine rounds of blitz remaining.

With the world champion nearly assured the first place prize, the audience kept a close eye on Viswanathan Anand to see if he could secure his position in December's London Chess Classic. Anand, a former world champion, is currently tied for fifth place and needs just a sixth-place finish or better to qualify.

The Tata Steel Chess India Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour games start each day at 2 p.m. local time, which is 9:30 CET, 3:30 a.m. Eastern and 12:30 a.m. Pacific. You can follow them here as part of our live portal. Commentary is provided by Wouter Bik and GMs Roeland Pruijssers, Aman Hambleton and Simon Williams at

Carlsen did not need much time to score in the event's blitz portion, beating Vidit Gujrathi in the day's first round with the Black pieces:

Carlsen Vidit Tata Steel 2019
Carlsen started the day with a convincing win against India's rising star. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Meanwhile, Anand lost in the opening round to Ian Nepomniachtchi, who was looking to recover from a slow start to the event. The Russian grandmaster took the advantage shortly after he traded off Anand's dark-squared bishop in the middlegame:

Anand Nepomniachtchi Tata Steel 2019
1. e4! A young audience member gets to make Anand's first move against Nepomniachtchi. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

After beating Gujrathi, Carlsen was able to extend his in-tournament unbeaten run to 13 games, which included eight wins. Carlsen, buoyed by his massive score, seemed quite confident in his play during a post-game interview:

Anand began to stabilize in the fourth round when he beat Wesley So with the White pieces. While the two will play again tomorrow, this game could prove to be critical, as they are directly competing for a bid in the London Chess Classic.

The day's fifth-round brought a rematch of the summer's Sinquefield Cup final. Carlsen dispatched Ding Liren yesterday in rapid, but this time the Chinese grandmaster got his revenge, capitalizing on a few key errors to secure the point:

Ding now has a plus-score against Carlsen in their last 10 rapid and blitz games, dating back to the summer's Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz. The Chinese grandmaster will have a chance to secure his position this March in the Candidates' Tournament.

Ding Liren Tata Steel 2019
Ding Liren will be one of the favorites in this spring's Candidates' Tournament. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Hikaru Nakamura has given this event an interesting wrinkle, given that his performances in Croatia and Paris have mathematically eliminated him from winning another Grand Chess Tour title this year. Playing the role of spoiler, the American continued to solidify his second-place position by beating Levon Aronian in the fifth round:

Hikaru Nakamura Tata Steel 2019
Nakamura might not be able to win the Grand Chess Tour this year, but that will not stop him from ending his tour on a strong note. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

While Nakamura will not be able to qualify for London, his massive score in Kolkata will make it much more difficult for his rivals to score Grand Chess Tour points, setting up for an intriguing final day tomorrow.

Tata Steel Rapid & Blitz 2019
The standings after the first day of blitz. Image: Spectrum Studios.

With nine rounds to go, it's hard to see anyone but Carlsen winning the event. Nakamura has solidified his position in second, but the race for third has big Grand Chess Tour implications, as So, Anand, and Ding are all fighting for a spot in London. 

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who is not playing in this stop of the tour, will have to wait until tomorrow to see if he can hold his third-place standing in the Grand Chess Tour.

All nine rounds available for replay and download:

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