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    Entries in 2019 Abidjan (6)

    Thursday
    May162019

    Catching Up on Games: Ivory Coast Blitz, Part 2

    Bit by bit, we catch up. Here's the second installment of day two of the blitz portion of the Grand Chess Tour event in Abidjan, covering rounds the games of rounds 14-18 - many with annotations.

    Wednesday
    May152019

    Catching Up on Games: Ivory Coast Blitz, Part 1

    Bit by bit, I intend to do some catching up. Here's a first installment, with some highlights from the first half of the second day of the blitz at the Abidjan leg of the Grand Chess Tour. The games from rounds 10-13, most with annotations, are here. Enjoy, and stay tuned!

    Sunday
    May122019

    Abidjan Concludes: Carlsen Wins, Nakamura and MVL Share Second and Third

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was the coming man on Saturday, riding an eight-game win streak at one point to put some pressure on Magnus Carlsen and the significant lead he build up in the rapid portion of the Grand Chess Tour event in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Could he come even closer on Sunday?

    In a word: no. In a few more words: he did manage to defeat Magnus Carlsen once again in their head-to-head matchup, but Carlsen played well the rest of the day. He scored 6.5 points from his other 8 games, outscoring Vachier-Lagrave by a point today and finishing three and a half points ahead of MVL and Hikaru Nakamura. His form was more impressive today, and with four dominant days out of the five he was a very deserved winner with 26.5 points out of 36.

    MVL played extremely well on days 3 and 4 and deserved his high placement, as did Nakamura. Vachier-Lagrave wound up the overall winner of the blitz, finishing half a point ahead of Carlsen and a point ahead of Nakamura. (He did end up a hair behind Carsen in the blitz ratings though - 1.4 points behind Carlsen, which will be two points when their ratings are rounded off at the end of the month.) Aside from his entirely unnecessary loss to Bassem Amin on day 2 he performed extremely well in the rapid, and while the first day of the blitz was a disaster by his standards he played very well in the second day of the blitz. He started today with 6.5/8, including a victory over Vachier-Lagrave in the day's third round, and was only stopped by Magnus Carlsen in the last round.

    The next finisher, Wesley So, was another three and a half points behind Nakamura and MVL. 19.5/36 is a very good score in such a field, even if it left him a full seven points behind Carlsen. Ding Liren finished another point behind, and everyone else finished with a minus score. Here are the final, combined standings:

    1. Carlsen 26.5 (out of 36)
    2-3. Nakamura, Vachier-Lagrave 23
    4. So 19.5
    5. Ding Liren 18.5
    6. Wei Yi 16.5
    7-8. Nepomniachtchi, Karjakin 15.5
    9. Topalov 11.5
    10. Amin 10.5

    Sunday
    May122019

    Abidjan: Day 1 of the Blitz: MVL on Fire

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won his last three games to close out the rapid portion of the Grand Chess Tour event in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, but even so he entered the first day of the blitz four points behind Magnus Carlsen.

    Not for long. Carlsen got off to a slightly disappointing start, surrendering a draw to Bassem Amin in round 1 while MVL defeated Wesley So to close the gap to 3.5 points. Round 2 was an even bigger deal, as Vachier-Lagrave won with Black against Carlsen himself to come within two and a half points. Nor was the Frenchman finished after this, either: he continued by defeating Hikaru Nakamura, Amin, and Wei Yi to make it a grand total of eight in a row! When Carlsen drew with Ding Liren in the third round, his lead slipped to two points, but that was as close as MVL got, as Carlsen also won in rounds 4 and 5 (against Veselin Topalov and Sergey Karjakin). Both players drew in round 6 (Carlsen against Nepomniachtchi, MVL against Ding), and both players slowed down after that, going winless the rest of the day. Unfortunately for Vachier-Lagrave, one of his non-wins was a loss to Topalov in round 7, and the players' other five games were drawn. Thus Carlsen leads MVL by two and a half points going into the last day. (Incidentally, MVL's performance leapfrogged him ahead of Carlsen in the blitz ratings; for now, he is #1.)

    While the focus of the preceding paragraph was on Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave, it was Nakamura, not MVL, who started the day in second place. Unfortunately for the American, he had a poor day by his standards, starting with a draw with Wei Yi in round 1 and a loss to Amin in round 2 and, as noted, to MVL in round 3. He made it back to 50% on the day with wins over Ding in round 4 and Wesley So in round 8, but that still meant that he lost half a point on the day in his pursuit of Carlsen.

    After Nakamura there's a further gap of 1.5 points to Ding and 2 points to So, which suggests that barring a collapse from one of the top three or an amazing comeback from someone in the trailing group, the podium places are set - particularly if Carlsen and Nakamura play more like their usual selves in Sunday's games. Still, all the places are important, as the ultimate aim of the Grand Chess Tour events is to finish in the top four overall, in order to qualify for the final when the finalists fight for first starting with a clean slate. All the players therefore have something to play for; money, pride, and rating points, of course, but also to stay in the hunt for the Tour final.

    Saturday
    May112019

    Abidjan (Ivory Coast) Rapid Completed (Blitz to Come); Carlsen Crushing

    What's especially remarkable is that Magnus Carlsen isn't even playing his best chess, and he still managed to win the rapid portion of the first Grand Chess Tour event of the year by a point and a half, scoring 7.5/9 (or rather, 15/18, as the rapid games count double compared to the blitz, which transpire on Saturday and Sunday). He went undefeated, went 2.5/3 every day, and never seemed to face any particular challenge.

    Hikaru Nakamura is his closest pursuer with 6/9 (12/18). He was somewhat unfortunate in that his one loss was to the bottom seed and tournament tailender Bassem Amin, especially since he enjoyed a serious to winning advantage for significant chunks of the game, and should have managed at least a draw up until almost the very end. Had he won that game, it's very possible that he would have trailed by just a single point (on the double scoring).

    Wesley So and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave are a further half (full) point behind. Both lost to Carlsen, and MVL also lost to Nakamura, but both were efficient against the lower half of the table.

    Ding Liren also performed well, finishing on +1 despite a loss to his countryman Wei Yi. Speaking of the latter, he is on 50%. He started well with 2.5/3, but went winless the rest of the way, losing to MVL in round 4 and to Carlsen in the last round.

    Veselin Topalov and Sergey Karjakin were well back, finishing on -3, while Amin and - very surprisingly - Ian Nepomniachtchi were both -4.

    The next two days are all blitz: nine rounds (a full round-robin) tomorrow and another nine rounds (with colors reversed) on Sunday. Those games will count for a point each, meaning there will be a total of 36 points available. Here are the current standings (based on 2-1-0 scoring):

    • 1. Carlsen 15 (of 18)
    • 2. Nakamura 12
    • 3-4. So, Vachier-Lagrave 11
    • 5. Ding Liren 10
    • 6. Wei Yi 9
    • 7-8. Topalov, Karjakin 6
    • 9-10. Amin, Nepomniachtchi 5

    The event website is here, and if you want to watch the video replays you can find them here, here, and here.

    Sunday
    May052019

    2019 Grand Chess Tour Kicks off This Week with Rapid & Blitz in the Ivory Coast

    The event is listed as starting tomorrow, but those are the preliminaries. The first event of the 2019 Grand Chess Tour sees play begin on Wednesday, May 8 at 3 p.m. GMT in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast. The 10 players will have a single round-robin in rapid, with three games a day, and then they'll contest a double round-robin in blitz over the course of two days.

    Here's the lineup, with the players' rapid & blitz ratings in parentheses:

    1. Magnus Carlsen (2869, 2954)
    2. Hikaru Nakamura (2824, 2934)
    3. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2800, 2933)
    4. Sergey Karjakin (2781, 2816)
    5. Wesley So (2801, 2744)
    6. Ian Nepomniachtchi (2785, 2778)
    7. Ding Liren (2760, 2773)
    8. Veselin Topalov (2781, 2682)
    9. Wei Yi (2698, 2641)
    10. Bassem Amin (2617, 2662)

    Can anyone stop Magnus Carlsen? (Can? Yes. Will? Probably not.)