Recap Article

2016 Paris GCT Recap Day 1

The 2016 Grand Chess Tour kicked off in Paris with a rapid tournament and it was everything the fans could have asked for. The games were full of blunders, missed opportunities, brilliancies, subtleties and remarkable precision. The top players in the world battled it out on a beautiful stage at Maison De La Chimie and it was clear that they came to play. Maybe the dark and mysterious stage had inspired the players to prove why they are the absolute best in the world and give the Parisians a worthy show. As the dust settled after the first round of Rapid play, Magnus Carlsen (Norway) and Hikaru Nakamura (United States) sat atop of the leader board with seven points apiece.

Round 1

The tournament began with a very surprising turn of event as world champion Magnus Carlsen ran out of time in a completely winning position against the American Wesley So. The commentators were under the impression that So had resigned, only to realize that in fact the quite opposite had happened. Magnus Carlsen noticed that he had ran out of time and had to resign. It was hard to tell who was more surprised, him or Wesley. Magnus was able to brush it off later as “complete lack of clock awareness". Interestingly enough, Magnus also ran out of time in a winning position in the first round of the 2015 Grand Chess Tour. The current US champion, Fabiano Caruana, completely demolished Veselin Topalov, who got a little too adventurous with his queen, then later wasn't able to rearrange his pieces and stop Fabiano’s powerful attack. The rest of the games ended in a peaceful draw. The two Frenchmen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Laurent Fressinet, met in the first round. Former world champion Garry Kasparov opened the tournament by playing the first move of the game. However, the players were not too inspired by Kasparov: after playing a long theoretical line the game fizzled down into a drawn endgame. Anish Giri and Levon Aronian also had an eventful draw. Anish admitted that with little time on his clock he wasn't able to figure out the subtleties of the position. Hikaru Nakamura against Vladimir Kramnik was a dynamic game, but with little time on the clock, the players took the more practical approach and agreed to a draw.

Round 2

After the heartbreaking loss, Magnus Carlsen quickly recovered with a powerful win with the black pieces against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. “Angry Magnus”, as many were calling him on social media, was not about to let his first round game destabilize his mental state. Hikaru Nakamura converted his extra pawn against Veselin Topalov, who seems to be struggling to find his form lately. Levon Aronian was able to capitalize against the wildcard and lowest rated player, Laurent Fressinet, by proving that two minor pieces are stronger than a rook. Wesley So played quite poorly against Vladimir Kramnik but managed to survive yet again, except this time he had to settle for half a point. Fabiano Caruana and Anish Giri played an interesting rook endgame, where the American had good chances to win but a few inaccuracies later, Giri found the correct path to a draw.

Round 3

The most surprising result of the round was Fressinet beating Caruana. After two tough losses the Frenchman proved that he belongs in the tournament by playing extremely precise moves in an endgame to take home the full point. Magnus Carlsen continued his recovery by squeezing out a win against Levon Aronian from a position that looked very equal. In a typical Carlsen- esque fashion, he was able to create something out of nothing until his opponent could no longer take the pressure. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was also able to rebound after a quick loss in round 2 by beating Wesley So, who despite having 1.5/2 had been playing quite poorly. The Frenchmen definitely made their fans happy! Veselin Topalov suffered his third loss in a row against Vladimir Kramnik. The two men have a complicated history and don’t even shake hands at the beginning of the game. The only peaceful game was between Giri and Nakamura, who traded off pieces until there was nothing to play for anymore.

Round 4

This was the bloodiest round of the day with 5 decisive results! The first result was the most unexpected one: Veselin Topalov won quite effortlessly against the extremely solid Anish Giri. In a postgame interview Giri admitted that seeing Topalov’s face after his game against Kramnik, he couldn’t imagine losing to him, until he got to a position where he could not make any moves. Next, Fabiano Caruana lost his second game in a row to Magnus Carlsen. Fabiano made a very simple blunder and Magnus had no trouble converting his advantage. This was Magnus third win in a row, proving that there is a reason why he’s a world champion and an undisputed world number 1. Nakamura won a pawn against the bottom seed Fressinet and converted in a long game. The most dramatic game of the round was between Kramnik and Vachier-Lagrave. It looked like the Russian was in control the entire game and was very close to a win but allowed his opponent to regroup his pieces and find counter play. He later blundered in what seemed like a panic move. The Frenchman did not miss his opportunity. Last to finish was the game between Aronian and So. Arguably, this was the American’s best played game in the tournament by far. He simply out played the Armenian and won a very clean game.

Round 5

It was as though the players gave their all in round 4 and were out of energy. Carlsen and Nakamura, the two leaders, met in in this round. Historically, Nakamura has an atrocious score against Carlsen, so a draw with the black pieces is not something he should be unhappy about. Fressinet vs Topalov, So vs. Caruana, and Vachier-Lagrave vs. Aronian were all uneventful draws. Anish Giri pressed for a long time against Kramnik in a rook endgame, but the latter defended perfectly. After 5 rounds, Anish Giri is the only player who hasn’t won any games and Nakamura is the only player who hasn’t lost a game! The shorter time controls yield a lot more exciting and fun games full of mistakes, which fans seem to enjoy. Tomorrow is day 2 of the rapid with 4 more rounds of games.


View All News
GM Gukesh D & GM Viswanathan Anand
The best have history here.View 2024 Tour

Welcome to Grand Chess Tour!

Please choose your language: