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On Chess: Tough Battles And High-Quality Chess At The Grenke Classic In Germany

Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen of Norway claimed victory at the 2018 World Chess Championship in London on Nov. 28.
Eric Rosen | St. Louis Chess Club

The Grenke Chess Classic, one of the top chess events in the world, is underway in Germany. The tournament runs April 20-29.

The event is a round-robin, all-play-all event, with 10 of the best players in the world competing. The most notable competitor is current world champion Magnus Carlsen, who is well-known in St. Louis and a regular participant of the Sinquefield Cup.

So far, the Norwegian has been having a phenomenal 2019. After a nail-biting title defense against St. Louis’ own and world number two Fabiano Caruana, Carlsen opened 2019 with a victory at Tata Steel in the Netherlands and went on to win the Shamkir tournament in Azerbaijan with a two-point margin.

Carlsen, who is back to a rating of 2860, has created a tangible lead in the world rankings, reminding all of his wonderful results back in 2013 and 2014. Meanwhile, Caruana is back to compete at the highest level after a solid campaign at the U.S. Championship.

The American, who by all accounts is the main rival of the world champion, has consistently shown solid performance in 2019.

Fabiano Caruana of St. Louis did not leave the match empty-handed. As runner-up he won $495,000 in prize money at the 2018 World Chess Championship.
Credit Eric Rosen | St. Louis Chess Club
Fabiano Caruana at the 2018 World Chess Championship. He is among the top-tier players at the 2019 Grenke Classic.

The two top players are joined by legendary former world champion Vishy Anand of India. The five-time world champion started his campaign for the world title before Caruana was even born.

The field is completed with other members of Baden-Baden chess team (the dominant team in Schachbundesliga in Germany), including elite players like Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian. It is noteworthy to mention that both Caruana and Anand also play for Baden-Baden.

The first five rounds saw competitive battles and a lot of close, decisive games. The world champion had his debut with two back-to-back wins with black pieces, promising another dream performance. But his streak of wins (following three in Shamkir) stopped when the Norwegian genius failed to convert his winning position against Anand.

Anand, who is having a tough time against Carlsen with black pieces in 2019 (losing both occasions he played Carlsen in a drawish position), managed to not only hold his ground against Carlsen but win a classical game in round four against Spain's number one, Francisco Vallejo-Pons, in an illustrative demonstration of deep defensive skills.

Thus, after five rounds, Anand and Carlsen are leading with 3.5 out of 5. The two players are closely chased by four others: Aronian, Peter Svidler, Vachier-Lagrave and Caruana.

Caruana has been showing the same solid performance: The American is trailing half a point behind the leaders, with a good chance of catching up in the next four rounds.

Elshan Moradiabadi is a chess grandmaster from Iran.