Anand, So, Aronian Lead Paris Grand Chess Tour Day 1
The Eiffel Tower is part of the backdrop in the Canal+ studio. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Anand, So, Aronian Lead Paris Grand Chess Tour Day 1

| 31 | Chess Event Coverage

The second leg of the 2018 Grand Chess Tour took off today in Paris. After three rounds of rapid, Viswanathan Anand, Levon Aronian and Wesley So are on plus-one.

The Paris Grand Chess Tour is again sponsored by Vivendi, owner of Canal+. The tournament is being held in the company's TV studio in Boulogne-Billancourt in southwest Paris, along the Seine.

This means that again we have a trade-off: on the one hand, the tournament cannot host local spectators but on the other hand there is a professional production team that produces a high-quality, one-hour show of the action every day with Almira Skripchenko, Yannick Pelletier, and Jean-Baptiste Mullon. It is shown on TV in even better time slots than last year, and now also in some French-speaking African countries, as the view numbers were promising.

Nakamura vs Aronian Paris Grand Chess Tour 2018

The players have returned to the Canal+ studio. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Anish Giri, a wildcard in Leuven, is "replaced" by Vladimir Kramnik, but the other nine players are the same as last week. MVL took a train on Sunday, so he could stay home in between the tournaments. Kramnik came directly from Switzerland (where he lives), and Sergey Karjakin actually flew back home in between the events.

The other players and accompanying people travelled to Paris by train on Tuesday, but things didn't go as planned. They missed the train they had tickets for (and reserved seats!), due to a combination of heavy traffic and possibly leaving the hotel a little too late.

As Vishy Anand explains in our interview below, the train was still there, and they pushed the buttons, but the doors wouldn't open and then it left. 

Anand Paris Grand Chess Tour 2018

Anand: "My wife asked me: 'What did they think, putting seven chess players in charge of their own trip?', which I thought was a nice touch!" | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Everyone arrived in time for today's first round of rapid, which saw two decisive results. First, there was Levon Aronian, who continued using the Closed Sicilian ("It's not good, but we're having fun!" he remarked) to beat Alexander Grischuk

Aronian, Grischuk Paris Grand Chess Tour 2018

Aronian on the Closed Sicilian: "We're having fun." | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Wesley So, the winner in Leuven, started with a win right away. Fabiano Caruana would have liked to do better here, after a disappointing tournament last week, but he only scored 0.5/3 today. So still looked good in this game:

Wesley So Paris Grand Chess Tour 2018

With a fresh haircut (at an Armenian barber, he noted!), Leuven winner Wesley So started with a win today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The eighth blitz game was So's first loss in Leuven, but in Paris he already went down in the second rapid game, against the same opponent: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The Azerbaijani GM played a splendid endgame:

Vishy Anand moved to plus-one with an exciting win against Vladimir Kramnik. At first, it seemed that the latter's early Nf4 wasn't working, but the position contained hidden resources for Black, and later also for White.

Kramnik said he missed 33.Rb1 ("Such a nice move to make" —Anand), after which his king got in trouble. 

Don't miss's interview with Anand and the story about the train. 

In round three, So bounced back from his loss with a second win. He beat MVL, who played a bit of a careless move in a totally drawn position, and suddenly the white queen entered his queenside. Then So made a great assessment of the position where a rook and a bishop were stronger than a queen.

So vs MVL Paris Grand Chess Tour 2018

So vs MVL. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Kramnik got back to 50 percent with a vintage Kramnik victory over Mamedyarov. The 14th world champion has almost perfected his Réti repertoire, and from the moment his opponent missed the equalizer 26...Bd7, he kept pressing and pressing until victory.

Kramnik-Mamedyarov Paris Grand Chess Tour 2018

Vladimir Kramnik, back behind the board for the first time since the Candidates'. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Grischuk found a strong exchange sacrifice to beat Caruana with the black pieces.

The game between Karjakin and Nakamura was the longest of the round, and saw a very complicated endgame, where both players had less than 30 seconds on the clock (plus a 10-second delay). 


Karjakin vs Nakamura Paris Grand Chess Tour 2018

A tense and interesting endgame in Karjakin-Nakamura. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Paris Grand Chess Tour 2018 Round 3 Standings

Games via TWIC.

Earlier posts:

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