Yes, it has been a while and we're on to the next big event. But think about this way: the Grand Prix tournament in Beijing hasn't yet been covered in a ChessBase Magazine, an issue of New in Chess Magazine or Yearbook, the Informant, Chess Life or any of a host of print periodicals. So it's still timely...ish. Without any further ado then, some thoughts on and facts about the Beijing tournament and the overall Grand Prix.
* First things first: the tournament was won by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, with seven points in 11 games. He lost two games, which is a bit much for the average tournament victor, but five wins overcame and it and were enough to finish half a point ahead of Alexander Grischuk.
* The biggest winner was Veselin Topalov. Thanks to his last round win over Alexander Morozevich, he finished tied for third (with Peter Leko), and that guaranteed him overall victory in the Grand Prix series. That means he is automatically seeded into the next Candidates. Right now Mamedyarov is second overall, but he isn't playing in the final Grand Prix tournament and can be caught. If either Grischuk or Fabiano Caruana wins that last tournament, that player will leapfrog Mamedyarov and take the second automatic qualifying spot in the Candidates.
* There were some unusual occurrences in the tournament. One is that with the almost mandatory exception of Peter Leko (who scored a very Lekovian +1 =12) everyone in the tournament won at least one game and lost at least one game. Also unusual: the distance from 3rd place to 11th was all of one point. Topalov won in the last round and tied for third; had he lost he would have been tied for next-to-last.
* Sergey Karjakin shot out of the gate with three consecutive wins. Intriguingly, he said in an interview that he wasn't in good form, and either he was very astute or he was adept at making self-fulfilling prophecies. He drew in rounds 4 and 5, and then lost three in a row to fall to 50%, where he stayed the rest of the way.
* Boris Gelfand's tournament was very similar, but in reverse. He lost in rounds 1, 3 and 4 (the first two games with White), but held things together and made a comeback. He won in rounds 8 and 10 and missed at least two clear-cut wins in round 9. It wasn't a great tournament for him, but it was a good comeback.
* Another surprising feature of the tournament was the number of miniatures. In tournaments of this level it's rare that there are any decisive games of 25 moves or fewer; this time there were three, and two other games that didn't miss by much.
* It was an impressively hard-fought tournament. The Sofia rules were in effect as usual, but they had little real deterrent effect. Players who wanted to draw found ways to repeat or swap the relevant pieces as speedily as possible. Despite this, a good competitive spirit prevailed, and 30 of the 66 games had a winner, while the average game went a respectable 45-46 moves.
Here are some of the more interesting games and moments from the tournament. Enjoy.