The first leg of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour kicked off in Paris with the rapid portion of the event. After three games, the 2016 Grand Chess Tour winner Wesley So and World Champion Magnus Carlsen are tied for first place with Hikaru Nakamura and Veselin Topalov trailing by a point. The faster time controls (25 minutes per game with 10 second delay) produced exciting and tumultuous games, making the results unpredictable. The next two days promise to bring more fast action melees, leaving the tournament open up for grabs.
The calm before the storm
The tournament started with fireworks in the all French match, as Vachier-Lagrave sacrificed a piece for initiative in an unorthodox position. The evaluation of the position changed several times due to the mistakes made by both players, but black finally came out on top when Bacrot blundered with seconds left on the clock. The other decisive game came from the battle between the 2016 and 2017 US champions. Caruana played a beautiful exchange sacrifice, but erred later not only missing the win but giving the advantage back to So, who converted it into the full point. Nakamura vs Mamedyarov, Grischuk vs Carlsen and Karjakin vs Topalov all ended in a draw.
Garry Kasparov making the first ceremonial move in Bacrot – Vachier-Lagrave
After another lucky break, Wesley So solidified his lead with a win over Bacrot. Again, the US champion found himself in trouble but his resilience helped him turn the tide when the position became unbalanced in time trouble. Magnus Carlsen scores his first victory after Mamedyarov blundered on move 28, allowing his opponent’s pieces to exploit his king’s weakness. Caruana suffered another heartbreak when he once again collapsed after ouplaying Topalov for most of the game and lost. Nakamura vs Karjakin and Vachier-Lagrave vs Grischuk both ended in a draw but with the latter being a complete rollercoaster with the evaluation changing every few moves. Both players missed countless opportunities and eventually agreed to a draw with little material left on the board.
Wesley So keeping his cool
There was a big change in the standings after Magnus Carlsen took advantage of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s blunder and scored a full point. He is now tied for first place with Wesley So who was unable to break Grischuk’s fortress. Caruana’s day kept getting worse as he lost yet another winning position, this time against his compatriot Hikaru Nakamura. Wildcard Mamedyarov was able to outplay the unbreakable Karjakin and score his first victory. Bacrot vs Topalov was a quiet affair which ended in a draw.
The World Champion won again and is now tied for second place
In the rapid the win is 2 points, a draw is 1 point and a loss is 0