Thursday, May 13News For London

Magnus Carlen wins Grand Chess Tour after triumphing in Chess Classic

Magnus Carlsen has conquered the Grand Chess Tour, after he won the Chess Classic in London yesterday. For a long time it didn’t look like the World Champion would win the Tour, but a strong final run ensured his triumph. 

Magnus Carlsen with his trophy picture Fiona Steil-Antoni
Magnus Carlsen with his trophy                                                                                   picture Fiona Steil-Antoni

Magnus Carlsen has won the grand Chess Tour, after beating Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a playoff.

All the excitement seemed to be kept for the final day of the Chess Classic in London. There were more than nine hours of chess in the famous Kensington Olympia Hall. The tournament, which was dominated by a lot of draws so far, ended in a three-way tie between Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. After the three players ended level in the table, a rapid playoff had to be played, in which Carlsen emerged as the eventual winner.

According to Lennart Ootes, chess expert and broadcaster of the London Chess Classic, that was quite surprising. “Carlsen drew the first six games of the Classic, and the way he played wasn’t that spectacular. But then he won the seventh match against Hikaru Nakamura, which brought him back in the tournament. Nevertheless he was still one win behind Anish Giri and Vachier-Lagrave, but yesterday he managed to close that gap by winning against Alexander Grischuk, while Giri and Lagrave drew. Subsequently there were extra playoff games, and Carlsen won.”

It was the Norwegian’s fourth triumph in the Chess Classic in London, which is one of the three tournaments of the Grand Tour.

The Chess Classic was founded by Malcolm Pein seven years ago, partly to help promote the charity Chess in schools & Communities, which encourages children to immerse themselves in the board game. Pein, who is the CEO of the charity, explains: “With the charity, we teach 25000 children on 300 schools throughout the UK. With the Chess Classic, we invite 400 to 500 children every day, who can play and watch matches.”

Magnus Carlsen plays with a young chess player, prior to one of his matches at the Chess Classic picture: Fiona Steil-Antoni
Magnus Carlsen plays with a young chess player, prior to one of his matches at the Chess Classic                        picture: Fiona Steil-Antoni

Another reason to create the Chess Classic was to bring a big chess tournament to the UK. The event in London is part of the inaugural Grand Chess Tour, which comprises three tournaments. In June, the first of the series was played at the ‘Norway Chess’ in Stavanger. In September the competition moved to the States, where St. Louis hosted the ‘Sinquefield Cup’.

Although it’s a private championship, it is regarded as quite a prestigious event, as eight out of 10 players are in the current top-10 of the world. Pein: “It’s one of the major tournaments, like Wimbledon with tennis.” Pein adds that the Classic acts independently. “We operate on ourselves, but we are obviously connected with the organisation of the Grand Tour competition.”

With Carlsen the Tour has a World Champion as a winner. Ootes tells the Norwegian changed an important element of his game in the end. “A lot of games at the Chess Classic had Berlin openings, which are not the most attractive starts. Carlsen changed his opening in his last three games, which increased his chances. In the end, he won two out of his last three matches, and conquered the title.”