Rd. 1 - GM Wesley So vs. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Written and annotated by GM Alejandro Ramirez.

So’s greedy approach in the opening was severely punished. Despite having an extra pawn, his position was simply terrible. Black’s pieces were too active and controlled the board. After White had to give up his light-squared bishop for the opponent’s knight it was clear that So was just trying to survive. He was unable to do so, and MVL took his extra exchange to victory.

Rd. 1 - GM Levon Aronian vs. Fabiano Caruana

Written and annotated by GM Alejandro Ramirez.

This was the first game to finish and was brilliant to watch. Aronian smashed Caruana’s position when there was a tremendous amount of tension in the center. Caruana released it too early; the Armenian saw his opportunity and sacrificed a full rook! His devastating continuation with a quiet move, Rf1, was sufficient to topple the American’s defenses and Caruana lost soon after. 

Rd. 1 - GM Magnus Carlsen vs. GM Veselin Topalov

Written and annotated by GM Alejandro Ramirez.


We witnessed a spectacular series of fireworks in the Carlsen-Topalov game. Carlsen sacrificed a piece for two pawns and an initiative, but the Bulgarian was unfazed. Topalov defended well, Carlsen continued to be aggressive, but it was to no avail. The attack never crashed through, and the pawns were not enough compensation for the extra piece. In a big time scramble Topalov won with his extra material.