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    Entries in 2017 Grand Prix (3)

    Tuesday
    Nov212017

    Palma Grand Prix, Rounds 3-5: Aronian Leading; MVL in a Six-Way Tie for Second

    After five rounds of nine Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is close to the lead and still has a good chance of qualifying for the Candidates, but if the event finished right now he'd be out: the tie for second place is too large. Levon Aronian has 3.5/5, while Vachier-Lagrave has 3, tied with Hikaru Nakamura, Ding Liren, Peter Svidler, Pentala Harikrishna, and Dmitry Jakovenko.

    The round 5 action was incredibly lame, with all nine games drawn, eight of them quickly. (Mostly very quickly, and MVL didn't exactly cover himself in glory with a 13-move draw, with White, against Nakamura.)

    But the flip side is that round 4 was a thriller, with six decisive games and a lot of spectacular chess. Aronian seized the lead after bludgeoning Anish Giri on the white side of an English. Nakamura outplayed Teimour Radjabov in an important game, as Radjabov, like Vachier-Lagrave, is hoping to qualify for the Candidates with a sufficiently strong result here. Ding Liren beat Ernesto Inarkiev with the black pieces; this would have been an important victory had Ding not already qualified via the World Cup. Harikrishna crushed Francisco Vallejo Pons, Jakovenko ground down Pavel Eljanov with Black, and Richard Rapport won speedily with a kingside attack against Jon Ludwig Hammer. It was really a great round.

    Round 3 was quieter, with only two victories: Hammer lost with White to Svidler, and Vallejo beat Boris Gelfand, who with Hammer is presently at the bottom of the tournament table with 1.5/5.

    The games and full standings are here. Today (=Tuesday) is a rest day; they'll resume on Wednesday.

    Friday
    Nov172017

    Palma Grand Prix, Round 2: Radjabov and Aronian Win to Join the First-Place Tie

    Day two in Palma de Mallorca had two winners: Levon Aronian, who defeated day one winner Ernesto Inarkiev, and Teimour Radjabov, who beat Francisco Vallejo Pons with the black pieces. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave drew with Anish Giri, so MVL and Radjabov - who both hope to qualify for the Candidates with a sufficiently strong result here - are tied for first, along with Aronian and Giri.

    Wednesday
    Nov152017

    The Grand Prix Finale Starts Tomorrow

    This is the final event of the Grand Prix series, of which the top two finishers overall qualify for next year's Candidates tournament. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk lead thus far, but they have already played in their full complement of Grand Prix events. Teimour Radjabov is in third place overall, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is in fifth; they are playing, and with a good result either or both could leapfrog their way into qualification. (Ding Liren is in fourth overall, and is playing, but his qualification via the World Cup takes precedence, so that even if he wound up the overall winner of the Grand Prix the Candidates slots would go to the second- and third-place finishers.)

    To guarantee himself qualification, Radjabov needs 98 and 4/7 points Grand Prix points from this last event (let's round up to 100), which he can achieve by finishing in clear first (170 points), clear second (140), clear third (110), or a two-way tie for third-fourth ([110 + 90]/2 = 100). Other combinations of ties for the top places would also work, but they're easy to figure out, so I won't bother to enumerate them. As for MVL, he's 128 and 4/7 points out of first, so he can only guarantee himself a spot by taking clear first, clear second, or tying for first and second. If Radjabov has a lousy event, then...I'm not entirely sure. MVL is 125 points behind Grischuk, and if he finishes in a two way tie for second-third he'd get 125 points on the dot. In that case it would come down to these tiebreaks, according to the Wikipedia page:

    1. Number of actual game result points scored in the three tournaments entered.
    2. Number of games played with black.
    3. Number of wins.
    4. Number of black wins.
    5. Drawing of lots.

    Let's hope it doesn't come down to #5, or really, to any of these criteria.

    More info on the Wikipedia page, TWIC, and if you're desperate, the tournament site. Play starts tomorrow, at 9 a.m. ET/3 p.m. local time in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. That's where Bobby Fischer began his great run to the world championship in 1970, when he dominated the field in the Interzonal tournament, winning with a majestic score of 18.5/23. Will Palma de Mallorca 2017 mark a milestone for Teimour Radjabov or Maxime Vachier-Lagrave?