After a full day of rapid and blitz chess, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France and American Hikaru Nakamura qualified to the finals by defeating Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana respectively. The two finalists will slug it out for the title of “Grand Chess Tour Champion” as well as $120,000, while the loser of the final will receive $80,000 for his efforts. Caruana and Aronian will be vying for third place and a total prize fund of $100,000. The format will be the same as in the semifinals, starting out with two classical games followed by a day of rapid and blitz. The event will resume on Saturday at the Olympia Exhibition Center in London.
Hikaru Nakamura vs Fabiano Caruana
Nakamura took the early lead by defeating Caruana in game two of the rapid, earning four points after his opponent seemed to have forgotten his preparation. Caruana made a comeback in the first blitz game, bringing the score to 4-2. However, Nakamura once again proved to be one of the best blitz players in the world by winning the rest of the blitz games and securing his qualification with one round to spare.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Levon Aronian
The Armenian had a big edge in the first rapid game, but due to little time on his clock was unable to convert. In turn, when Vachier-Lagrave had the advantage, he was far less forgiving and his opponent’s Berlin simply didn’t hold. Maxime was ruthless in the next two games, winning both and guaranteeing his spot in the finals with two rounds to spare. As icing on the cake, the even score in the remaining games allowed him to capture the number one spot on the live blitz rating list, leapfrogging none other than current World Champion Magnus Carlsen.