Magnus Carlsen leads the Grand Chess Tour after the speed events in Paris and the Belgian town of Leuven. But the world chess champion will not be around for the next two established classical events in Saint Louis and London. He is leaving the competition, mainly to prepare for the world championship match against Sergey Karjakin, scheduled for November in New York City. Carlsen’s exit gives other players a chance to win it all.
The Grand Chess Tour is a brainchild of Garry Kasparov and the former world champion borrowed some ideas from the 1988-89 World Cup, a series of six Grand Prix classical tournaments I organized for the Grandmasters Association as its Executive director. For example, every player participates in four tournaments and can discard the worst result. The wild card, now used by GCT and FIDE, was an accident. It appeared that instead of the planned 24 players, one more qualified. The English grandmaster John Nunn created a new playing format. It gave us four extra spots to invite local players – the four wild cards.
Last year, Kasparov intended to have four GCT tournaments, but one event in Asia did not materialize. Carlsen won the three-event competition. This year, the Norwegian organizers, having a different view of chess sponsorship, left the GCT. But Kasparov was able to find two new spots in Paris and Leuven to stage speed tournaments, combining nine rapid and 18 blitz games in each event.
Hikaru Nakamura and Carlsen are considered the world’s top two speed chess players. When they were younger, they played an all-night friendly blitz marathon in Moscow. They compete for good money now. In the first GCT event in Paris, Nakamura edged Carlsen for first place, despite losing their rapid encounter.
Carlsen,Magnus – Nakamura,Hikaru GCT Blitz Paris 2016
The knight leaves an important defensive post. After 32…Rd7 33.c3 Re4 Black is still in the game.
Transferring the knight to g6 will create a mating threat Rh8 mate.
33…Nd6 34.Rd8 Rc7
Otherwise 35.Ng6 wins.
35.Rxd6 Black resigned.