Vishy Anand Joins Field As Leuven Grand Chess Tour Takes Off

Vishy Anand Joins Field As Leuven Grand Chess Tour Takes Off

| 23 | Chess Event Coverage

The Your Next Move Grand Chess Tour was officially opened on Thursday by the mayor of Leuven. Viswanathan Anand, who played in Leon (Spain) last weekend, has now joined the tournament and plays instead of Laurent Fressinet.

The second leg of the 2016 Grand Chess Tour takes off on Friday in Leuven, a city 25 kilometers east of Brussels that has existed since the early middle ages. It is the home of the world's oldest Catholic university and of the headquarters of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer.

The location of the tournament is arguably even more stunning than in Paris: Leuven's historic town hall. 

In the very same building a nice afternoon of chess was held on Thursday, with all participants present. Most of them had travelled to Leuven last Monday in a comfortable bus. Anish Giri, who turned out to be an excellent impersonator, made the four-hour ride a rather fun affair!

Both Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who lives in Paris, and Vladimir Kramnik, who used to live there (with his French wife), stayed in Paris for a few more days before coming to Leuven. Magnus Carlsen also went his own way and chose a remarkable location. On Tuesday he suddenly posted photos on his personal Facebook account, taken in...Wijk aan Zee! 

Asked why he went there, Carlsen told “I just wanted to see what it's like in the summer. But mostly...because of the joke!” You certainly cannot deny that the world champ has a sense of humor!

Carlsen paid a quick visit to Wijk aan Zee(!) before joining his colleagues again.

The Your Next Move Grand Chess Tour was opened today in the town hall with speeches by Jan Callewaert, the head of Your Next Move (the main sponsor of the event) and Louis Tobback, the mayor of Leuven. The latter noted that kings, queens and even a pope and a Duke of Canterbury had been in the same building, but never people this smart.

Louis Tobback, the mayor of Leuven, gave a fine speech in fluent English.

After the speeches the players all received a special Grand Chess Tour jacket, again. In Paris they got one with a special Paris Grand Chess Tour logo (made in Paris); here they all had a general GCT logo (made in the U.S.). For chess players who are spending three weeks abroad, increasing their wardrobe is not a bad idea!

After the drawing of lots for the blitz (the rapid will simply be the reversed colors of the Paris rapid), the main event of the day began: a simul — but not an ordinary one. To give the amateur players (mostly kids) a chance to play against everyone, it was decided that every grandmaster would only make a few moves. Carlsen started with five moves on each board, then Giri took over for the next three moves, followed by Anand and the other seven players.

Carlsen started off the simul.

The final score was 29 wins, three draws and three losses. Here's a game by one of the amateur winners (thanks to Chess24):

Here's a video with footage from the simul and a brief interview with Anand. He notes, among other things, that Carlsen put a few King's Gambits on the boards.  

The Grand Chess Tour in Leuven is identical to the Paris one won by Hikaru Nakamura last Sunday: five rounds of rapid (25 minutes + 10 seconds increment) on Friday, four on Saturday, nine rounds of blitz (5+3) on Sunday and nine rounds of blitz on Monday. 

Like in Paris, the total prize fund is U.S. $150,000 (133,636). The Tour also includes the Sinquefield Cup in August and the London Chess Classic in December, both with a $300,000 (€267,373) prize fund.

Leuven Rapid & Blitz | Schedule

17 June - Rapid Day 1 19 June - Blitz Day 1
Start: 14.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 1-5 Start: 14.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 1-9
18 June - Rapid Day 2 20 June - Blitz Day 2
Start: 14.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 6-9 Start: 12.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 10-18
Start: 16.30 (GMT+2) Playoffs (If Required)
Start: 20.30 (GMT+2) Prize Giving

The official promo video.

The Leuven Grand Chess Tour takes place June 17-20 in the Town Hall in Leuven, Belgium. First there are two days of rapid (Friday and Saturday, nine rounds), then two days of blitz (Sunday and Monday, 18 rounds). In the rapid, a win yields 2 points and a draw 1 whereas in the blitz it is the regular 1 for a win and ½ for a draw. The Tour also includes the Sinquefield Cup in August and the London Chess Classic in December.

You can watch the action in Leuven at with live commentary by grandmasters Yasser Seirawan, Eric Hansen and WGM Jennifer Shahade streaming from the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis with Grandmasters Maurice Ashley and Alejandro Ramirez reporting directly from Leuven. chesspawn.png

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

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