Wesley So Wins 2021 Paris Rapid & Blitz
Wesley So, the winner in Paris. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Wesley So Wins 2021 Paris Rapid & Blitz

| 72 | Chess Event Coverage

Leading from start to finish, GM Wesley So won the Paris Rapid & Blitz tournament as the best and most consistent player in the field. The American player secured the $37,500 first prize with a round to spare before beating his closest rival GM Ian Nepomniachtchi in the final round.

How to watch?
The games of the Paris Rapid & Blitz can be found here on our live events platform.

Paris Blitz | Final Standings

Rank Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts
1 So 2770 2910 11 ½1 ½½ 01 11 ½½ ½½ ½1 12.5
2 Firouzja 2759 2847 00 11 10 10 00 ½1 11 11 11.0
3 Nepomniachtchi 2792 2823 ½0 00 ½½ ½1 ½1 10.5
4 Rapport 2763 2787 ½½ 1 ½½ ½0 ½½ ½1 ½1 9.5
5 Aronian 2781 2785 10 ½1 01 ½½ 10 ½1 9.5
6 Vachier-Lagrave 2760 2768 00 01 ½0 ½½ 10 ½1 11 9.0
7 Caruana 2820 2743 ½½ 11 ½0 ½½ ½1 01 ½0 8.5
8 Svidler 2714 2734 ½½ ½0 ½0 ½0 10 1 8.0
9 Radjabov 2765 2648 00 ½0 01 ½0 10 01 10 6.0
10 Kramnik 2753 2627 ½0 00 ½0 00 ½1 10 01 5.5

After he won the tournament, So revealed that he had considered Nepomniachtchi to be the favorite going into the final day, even though the Russian player was half a point behind him. Throughout the day, Nepomniachtchi kept the pace and stayed close behind, knowing that he would still face So in the final round—a great pairing, purely by chance.

As it went, that final round didn't even matter anymore. When Nepomniachtchi lost to GM Alireza Firouzja in the penultimate round, the gap was suddenly 1.5 points and it was all over. 

Wesley So Paris 2021
After beating Kramnik, So checks on his rival Nepomniachtchi in round 24. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

This meant that So "won" the second day of blitz with a score even better than Firouzja the other day: an undefeated 7/9. As we can see from the table above, the tournament winner won the two-day blitz segment with a 1.5-point margin over Firouzja, after winning the rapid as well. In the combined final standings his winning margin is three points:

Paris Rapid & Blitz 2021 | Combined Final Standings

Rank Fed Player Rtg Rds Pts
1 So, Wesley 2770 27 24½
2 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2792 27 21½
3 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2760 27 18
4 Firouzja, Alireza 2759 27 18
5 Aronian, Levon 2781 27 17½
6 Rapport, Richard 2763 27 17½
7 Svidler, Peter 2714 27 17
8 Caruana, Fabiano 2820 27 16½
9 Radjabov, Teimour 2765 27 14
10 Bacrot, Etienne 2678 9 10
11 Kramnik, Vladimir 2753 18

So started with two draws today before beating GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. From a Symmetrical English, the game saw a knight tactic on d5 also known from the Sicilian, and from that moment, the Frenchman was on the defensive side:

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov will be added soon.

So Vachier-Lagrave Paris 2021
So playing Vachier-Lagrave, with Nepomniachtchi-Radjabov behind him. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

So lost only a single game in 36 rounds of chess in Bucharest and Paris: a blitz game yesterday against GM Levon Aronian. Today he took revenge, in the same line of the Ragozin that Aronian had played twice in Bucharest. It involved a double pawn sacrifice from White and after So won one back, Black should have been at least OK but then Aronian erred:

Wesley So Aronian Paris 2021
A quick win for So vs. Aronian. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

For completeness sake, here is So's win over Nepomniachtchi in the final round. It was clear that Nepo wanted to finish on a high note as he avoided a move repetition, but So countered all his activity with computer-like precision:

Ian Nepomniachtchi Paris 2021
Even world championship challenger Nepomniachtchi was no match for So this week. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Firouzja once again attracted a lot of attention as he played eight decisive games on the final day. This time, they were only good for a 50 percent score.

One of his wins was against GM Vladimir Kramnik, who might have wished that the tournament had lasted two additional days (as he scored his only two wins in the last two rounds). Against Firouzja, the 14th world champion was winning at some point but as soon as he got into a problematic rook endgame, Firouzja found all the winning moves with just seconds on his clock:

Firouzja Kramnik Paris 2021
Firouzja vs. Kramnik showed that the Iranian GM knows his textbook rook endgames. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

A player who did quite well in the blitz was GM Richard Rapport, who tied for fourth place with Aronian in that segment and shared fifth in the overall standings with the same player. The Hungarian grandmaster was one of the players who beat Firouzja and he did so in a wild but theoretical line in the Sicilian Four Knights where, one move out of theory, White blundered a bishop and more adventures followed much later:

Firouzja Rapport Paris 2021
Rapport accepting Firouzja's resignation. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

All games day 5

2021 Grand Chess Tour Standings
The Grand Chess Tour standings after Bucharest and Paris. Image: Grand Chess Tour.

The Paris Rapid & Blitz took place June 18-22, 2021 in Paris. The time control in the rapid was 25 minutes for each player with a 10-second increment per move, starting from move one. The time control in the blitz was five minutes for each player with a two-second increment per move, starting from move one. The rapid counted double for the final standings. The tournament was the second leg of the Grand Chess Tour and has a $150,000 prize fund with a first prize of $37,500.

Previous reports:

More from PeterDoggers
Undefeated Aronian Grabs Early Lead As Levitov Chess Week Returns To Amsterdam

Undefeated Aronian Grabs Early Lead As Levitov Chess Week Returns To Amsterdam

Aleksandar Matanovic (1930-2023)

Aleksandar Matanovic (1930-2023)