After another peaceful day in London, the rapid and blitz portion will determine who will be crowned as the new Grand Chess Tour winner. Hikaru Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave will battle it out tomorrow for all the marbles, and as neither player has won the series before, we’ll have a new champion crowned on Monday. The winner will also take home $120,000. As the top three players are automatically seeded into the 2019 Grand Chess Tour, the winner of the Fabiano Caruana-Levon Aronian match will determine the third qualifier. Tomorrow, the 2018 Grand Chess Tour will be officially concluded.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Hikaru Nakamura ½-½
The players entered a theoretical battle in the Berlin- one of the most popular openings at the elite level. Nakamura was not familiar with his opponent’s 18th move and had some serious problems to solve over the board. He showed very creative defensive skills to draw the game which were praised by the commentators, who believed the game would be featured in instructional endgame books. Vachier-Lagrave expressed regret and disappointment for playing too quickly at the critical moment and missing a key resource, which happened to be the same thing that Aronian did against him in the same opening during the semi-finals (can i make this sound better). Still, one cannot accuse him of not giving his all, as a draw was agreed upon only when only kings were left on the board.
The pre-game handshake
Levon Aronian vs Fabiano Caruana ½-½
This game ended in a quick draw in less than an hour. Levon Aronian did not seem to try too hard with the white pieces, and was comfortable entering the rapid and blitz portion with the score tied. When asked, he admitted that he’s not one to make a quick draw with the white pieces normally. As a practical player, however, he liked his chances in the faster time controls where he outrates his opponent significantly. On the other hand, Caruana did not feel as though this is a tactic his opponents use, even though he has suffered two major losses in rapid and blitz in London alone.
Fabiano Caruana playing his favorite opening, the Petroff