Zagreb GCT, Final Round: Carlsen Wins Again, and Again, and Again... (UPDATED)
Sunday, July 7, 2019 at 11:49PM
Dennis Monokroussos in 22019 GCT Zagreb, Magnus Carlsen

The Zagreb leg of the Grand Chess Tour is over, and once again it's a success for Magnus Carlsen, who has won his eighth straight tournament and pushed his rating back to 2882, equalling his all-time (official) high. He defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave with surprising ease in the last round, thanks to a combination of his fine play and a dubious opening decision by the Frenchman. His score of 8/11 was very impressive (his TPR was 2948 - he has been making a habit of putting up absurdly high TPRs lately), and he could quite possibly have won two other games as well, against Viswanathan Anand in round 2 and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in round 4. Had *that* happened he would have managed to break even his live rating peak of 2889.2, but of course one never knows if everything else would have come out the same way. Regardless, it was a great performance, and once again the possibility of Carlsen's breaking the 2900 mark looks like a real possibility.

Wesley So finished in a strong second place, a point behind Carlsen after his (So's) last round draw with Levon Aronian. Where Carlsen was a bit unlucky in two games (or more precisely, his opponents were lucky in two games), So was the recipient of two very big pieces of luck. Still, it was a very good event for him: lots of GCT points, money, and 19.5 rating points to push him to 2783 (rounding up) and #4 in the live ratings.

That spot had belonged to Ian Nepomniachtchi for most of the tournament, but his bumpy finish after a 3-0 start relegated him to sixth on the rating list and, more importantly, a placement in the middle of the tournament pack after his last round to Anish Giri. Nepo had the white pieces, but thanks to some terrible prep he lost badly.

The remaining three games finished in draws. In the case of the game between Hikaru Nakamura and Viswanathan Anand, it was the proper result, with neither player enjoying a serious advantage at any point. The same cannot be said of the other two games: Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov were both winning against Fabiano Caruana and Ding Liren, respectively, though neither managed to convert their advantages.

The games (with my comments to most of them) are...on my computer, but my attempts to upload them have proved unsuccessful. (I'll try a reboot, and if the problem is on ChessBase's end I'll give it another shot in the morning.)

**UPDATE**: The games are here.

Meanwhile, here are the final standings:

1. Carlsen 8 (of 11)
2. So 7
3-4. Aronian, Caruana 6
5-7. Giri, Ding, Nepomniachtchi 5.5
8. Karjakin 5
9-11. Anand, Mamedyarov, Vachier-Lagrave 4.5
12. Nakamura 4

Finally, go here and scroll down a little to see the current Grand Chess Tour standings after the first two legs. Carlsen leads by a country mile with 33 points, So is in a very clear second with 22, and after that six players are within three points of each other, bunched from 10 points to 13. (Recall that the top 4 overall, by the end of the Tour's regular season, qualify for the final event in London.)

Article originally appeared on The Chess Mind (
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