Grand Chess Tour 2017 - Paris Rapid Chess mission accomplished!

| Chess
| Paris, France

With two wins and a draw on day two as well, and another quite good day today, I scored an unbeaten 14 points in nine rounds to win the Rapid portion of the event, ahead of Grischuk at 13, Nakamura at 12 and Vachier-Lagrave and Mamedyarov at 11.

In round 7 this afternoon I got an endgame a pawn up against Karjakin after a very complicated middlegame where we both missed a promising continuation for him. Not surprisingly Karjakin defended the ending excellently and despite good chances I had to settle for a draw. Caruana has had a miserable event (3 draws, 6 losses), but against me he played reasonably well. With the black pieces in a calm 6 d3 Ruy Lopez I managed to get a slight edge in the endgame. He defended well at the critical moments, and my extra pawn and rook ending didn’t cut the mustard. The last round as white against Bacrot was highly interesting. He sacrificed a piece for two pawns and had practical compensation through my slightly exposed king and his strong pawns on d4, e5 and d6. I think I found many good moves as for instance Ne1, and when he broke with d5, the continuation favored white. I was able to neutralize his pawn storm, activate my rooks, protect the knight on h5 and win.

The time control is quite tricky. Instead of the usual increment per move, there is a 10 seconds “delay”. You cannot gain time during the game. If you don’t use the full 10 seconds on any individual move, the rest disappears when you hit the clock. Consequently, if and when your clock is down to the last second, you will be stuck with 11 seconds on the clock whenever it is your turn until the game ends or you lose on time.  This should be particularly challenging for time trouble addicts like Grischuk. All the more impressive that he won his last four Rapid games!

We are staying in a different part of Paris this year. The Radisson Blu hotel is situated 10 minutes from the Canal+ studios in Boulogne-Billancourt. It is a good hotel with a good restaurant even featuring its own vineyard in the back of the hotel, and there are many good restaurants nearby as well.

Saturday and Sunday we play nine rounds of Blitz chess each day (with a time control of 5 minutes and a 3 seconds delay per move), and I need to keep up both days to have a successful tournament.