MVL wins GCT Paris Rapid

Photo of MVL taken by Nikki Riga

Final standings

Official website: grandchesstour.com​

The players were understandably tired on the 3rd day of rapid chess, and we saw more shorter draws and inexplicable blunders than we are accustomed to. MVL held the lead going into day 3, and made keeping his lead look very easy. He drew a couple games rather quickly, and beat his closest pursuer, Duda, in crushing fashion with the black pieces. Grischuk agreed to a very short draw against Giri, but he won his other two games to jump into 2nd place by the end of the day. Anand had a poor day with one loss and two draws, but he still tied for 3rd with Nepo, who won two of his three games. Let’s see how the final day of the rapid unfolded.

Round 7

Naka out prepared MVL on the black side of a Berlin, and the players agreed to a quick draw when an opposite bishop endgame was reached. Dubov couldn’t break through against Duda’s stonewall, and offered a draw in a position with few prospects for either side. Fabi avoided a repetition against Giri in suspicious fashion, but nothing really came of it, and the American succumbed to a repetition a few moves later. Anand was playing an excellent game against Shakh, who took extreme risks in the opening that seemed to have backfired. The position remained incredibly complex, however, and Vishy blundered a piece when both players were low of time. Grischuk outplayed Nepo in the middlegame, and won a pawn for his troubles. He converted in straightforward fashion once a rook endgame was reached.

Grischuk played a fine game in round 7 to make his move on the leaders

Round 8

Grischuk decided to take a game off against Giri, and allowed a repetition in a known position. Anand pressed Dubov hard all game, and got to a promising bishop ending. Vishy missed a couple chances, but overall the young Russian defended quite well, and he eventually forced a draw. Fabi played a Benoni against Shakh, and got everything he could have dreamed of from the opening, with his queenside pawns storming up the board. He secured a pawn on b2, and won the game in short order. MVL all but sealed his victory in the rapid portion with a crushing victory as Black against Duda in a Sicilian. The young Polish player made a couple inaccuracies that were ruthlessly punished. Nepo got into a pawn up double bishop ending against Naka, but it looked like winning it would be extremely difficult. Eventually he outmaneuvered the American player, however, and forced resignation by securing a clear path for his h pawn to queen.

Nepo had to use every trick in his arsenal to grind out a bishop endgame against Naka

Round 9

Giri-Nakamura was drawn quickly after they reached a drawish position out of the opening. MVL clearly wanted to sew up the rapid portion of the tournament, and played very safely against Anand, agreeing to a draw in an Open Ruy endgame. Dubov picked up his first win of the event, beating an out of sorts Mamedyarov in smooth fashion. Duda’s day three woes continued as Black against Nepo. He found himself down a pawn in an opposite bishop and knight endgame, and while it looked as if he should hold a draw with best play, it was never an easy task. He lost another pawn when his clock got extremely low, and Ian took home the point without further difficulties. Grischuk played an excellent attacking game to defeat Caruana in the final game of the day. As is often the case he was behind on the clock, but he conducted the attack beautifully in a game he later called one of the best he’s ever played.

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