Since there's no round for my tournament this week, I'll do a quick review of the elite tourneys that took place lately (since after the WCC).
Which is an abreviation for London Chess Classic. It was part of the quite recent "Grand Chess Tour", but is a long existing event. Wesley So won it in style, though in his victories his opponents happened to play somewhat poor chess. In the case of Nakamura it was to be expected, since the two of them were also battling for the first place of the overall Tour (which Carlsen couldn't really take part in because of the WCC).
All in all though, So had a tremendous year. Not only him, actually, but american chess as a whole, winning the olympiad as a team, while So and Caruana finished the year 2d and 3d in ranking, behind Carlsen only. So was even awarded "2016 player of the year", which I still find surprising given that Carlsen won as much tournaments as him while keeping his world champion title. But well, we're accostumed to him being at the top so So's accomplishments holded more value in many minds.
WCC - Blitz and Rapid
The big story here is that EVERYONE said Carlsen played really subpar chess compared to his usual self. And indeed he didn't win any of the two competition. He managed to perform in both cases above 2900 (around his rating, higher than anyone else's rating ever for any time control), and to finish with AS MANY POINTS as the winner, in both instance. In the blitz section, Karjakin showed it wasn't a fluke if he qualified for the WCC, and even took some revenge from the match itself by beating Carlsen :
Vassily Ivanchuk won the rapid tournament, which is great, for he's the best player from the previous era (the ones who emerged in the 90s) not to play any WCC match.
Tata Steel 2017 "the Wimbledon of chess"
This one's always a treat, with many world class players mixed up with upcoming talents and/or some of the weakest but most aggressive "A+" class players. The line up is always 14 players for the A group. In the meantime there's a B group with the winner qualifying for the next year's A group as a reward (on of my favorite chess streamers - yeah it's a thing -, Eric Hansen, played in that B group, and fared quite well.
Enough about the B group though : In the A group Wesly So continued his rampaging and won yet anbother tournament ! There was a sad story here though, as Richard Rapport could have ended Wesley's non losing streak, had he followed correctly with his wonderfull attack :
Meanwhile, Carlsen missed a mate in 3 (?!??) against Giri, who was considering (and rightly so) to give up until Carlsen blew up his chances :
(Here's Giri's comment after the game : <This is really the most embarrassing moment of Magnus Carlsen’s chess career, because no-one cares about me, but the guy, you know, is kind of a legend, so I feel very bad for him. I feel really bad for him…
He’s a very, very strong player, and if he’s at his best he’s impossible to deal with, but against me he just does it all by himself. He outplayed me many times, but he has difficulty… I don’t really know why, but it’s his problem!> Anish Giri after the game.)
Had I been in Carlsen's shoes after this game, I would have been completely unable to recover, with a consuming rage : he had played a perfect game up to the 56th move. And apparently Carlsen is as emotional as I am, since the following day, this happened :
Which is self-destruction at its best
Of note during that tourney was also Wei Yi (the best junior in the world) doing very well. He played this neat game for example :
As for the winner of the tourney, here's a nice game from him during the tournament :
Another tournament that happened around the same time as the previous one was The Gibraltar open, featuring more than a hundred players, of which not less than 12 were "A+" class player (2700+ elo). The favorites to win this were in that group of course, the "biggest names" being Caruana, MVL and Nakamura. Caruana didn't have the greatest tournament, and with him going somewhat down in the ratings while So was going up, they exchanged their respective spots as world n° 2 and 3.
Nakamura ended up winning the tournament in play-offs : http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?tid=88764
Notable games from this tournament include
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1860756 (MVL vs Adams (2700+))
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1860894 (Naka vs Caruana)
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1860351 (Naka vs Iturrizaga, that Naka had to win in order to be in the play offs)
First Grand Prix tournament
Last but not least, the next WCC cycle has begun. I won't go into the details but basically, 8 players are to be selected to play a close tournament, the winner of which playing the current WC (Carlsen) in a match in 2018. The players are selected this way :
1. Loser of the last WCC - Karjakin
2-3 Winner and 2d place of the Grand Prix Series
4-5 Winner and runner-up of the Chess World Cup
6-7 The 2 best according to elo that didn't qualify by the previous means
8 A wild card chosen by the organizer : must be in the top 25 of the world
So this tournament is part of the qualification process for the WCC 2018.
It was quite disappointing. MVL started with a roll, winning 2 games early. But then he went on a 7 draws streak. WHich meant that after the 9 rounds, 3 players finished with 5.5/9.
Just so that you get the idea, there are 24 players in the GP series, 4 of these GP tourneys, with 18 players in each tournament (which means that each players plays in 3 tournaments). A player is awarded with points after each tourney based on his ranking in that tournament, and in the end the 2 players with the most points qualify.
Here's one of my favorite games of this tourney :
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1863239 (Nepo's such a fun player really)
I could have many more stories to tell, and there's one about so many youngster rising up (from USA and Iran mostly) that was written in my head, but at some point I need to stop. Maybe next time, stay tuned