From London to Qatar
Flying via Doha many times in 2013/14 to other destinations, my first real visit to Doha was for a training camp prior to Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir, Azerbaijan in April this year. That turned out to be one of my best tournaments ever so going back to Doha for the Qatar Maters
Open 2015 brings forth fond memories and pleasant feelings.
Having struggled tremendously in Stavanger and to some extent also in Sinquefield Cup it was a huge relief and highly satisfactory for me to win London Classics and also the Grand Chess Tour last week! As most chess-pundits know by now, things went my way on the last day. Trailing the leaders by half a point I had to win. I outplayed Grischuk in the early middle game but it was hard to make progress. I lost control and we both blundered in the complications that arose. Fortunately he missed his one chance for a clear advantage, and later missed the draw. Instead he went for a perpetual that just wasn’t there, leaving him without any more options. He resigned a rook down. As expected both leaders (Anish Giri and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave) drew with black and play-offs followed. Having beaten Nakamura and Grischuk (and not tail-enders Anand and/or Topalov as the others had done), I had the best SB correction giving a bye in the first rapid play-off round. By the time Maxime had returned from the abyss and won against Giri in the armageddon I felt calm and very confident (as opposed to earlier in the day against Grischuk). In game one, Maxime somehow managed to escape from a precarious middle game but failed the last study-like rook-ending test. In the second game he threw light punches at me throughout the game, and all I needed to do was to spend enough time to refute the challenges. When he sought a repetition in a lost ending that was fine with me. 1,5-0,5.
The stay in London was overall very pleasant and the playing conditions at the London Chess Classics very good. The organizer did a good job, although the Grand Chess Tour does need to review regulations and their communication for 2016 as much can and should be improved upon. Three such top-level events with great merits on their own can’t afford any lack of professionalism when brought together to bring mutual benefits for all.
I look forward to starting over in Stavanger in April, but first there is Qatar Masters Open 2015! After two days in Oslo we flew directly Oslo-Doha yesterday and has settled in excellent The Torch Doha close to the playing venue here in the Aspire zone in Doha. I drew the white pieces in round one and look forward to getting started tomorrow!