The second half of the Grand Chess Tour Finals kicked off today at the Olympia Exhibition Center in London. The two finalists, Hikaru Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, drew in an endgame after 50 moves. In the battle for third place, the game between Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian ended in a perpetual in less than 30 moves. Tomorrow, the final classical game of the 2018 Grand Chess Tour will be played before the players move on to rapid and blitz.
The stage for the finals
Hikaru Nakamura vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave ½-½
With the white pieces, Nakamura played into Vachier-Lagrave’s favorite opening, the Grunfeld. A theoretical battle ensued, where Nakamura was not familiar with his opponent’s 15th move. He chose what he thought was a safe continuation, but it was based on miscalculation. He had the option of sacrificing a pawn to go into a sharp variation, but did not want to take too many risks in game one. He found himself in a pawn down endgame, but defended it adeptly, securing the half point in a swift manner .
Making the ceremonial first move
Fabiano Caruana vs Levon Aronian ½-½
Levon Aronian unknowingly played a novelty on move 10 because he could not remember his preparation. Up until that point, they were following Caruana’s game against Sergey Karjakin from last year’s Sinquefield Cup. Fabiano had some problems to solve over the board, as he couldn’t quite finish his development or get his king to safety. As they exchanged more pieces, Aronian’ advantage fizzled out and the game ended with a perpetual check. So far in the tournament, Aronian has had a superior position in every classical game, but hasn’t been able to score a full point. He’ll get one final chance tomorrow, as he will have the white pieces against Fabiano in the last classical game of their encounter.
Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana