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On Chess: World Champion Continues His Dominance On Grand Chess Tour In Croatia

Norwegian Magnus Carlsen holds the 2019 Croatia Grand Chess Tour Trophy.
St. Louis Chess Club

Magnus Carlsen continued his domination of the Grand Chess Tour and the chess world overall with yet another win. This time, the world champion clinched the Croatia Grand Chess Tour, marking his seventh consecutive tournament victory this year.

The Norwegian won the tournament with a performance rating of 2948, extending his undefeated streak to 79 games. This performance will put his rating at 2882, the peak rating he achieved in 2014. He earned $90,000 and 20 tour points for his efforts.

Croatia GCT, the first classical stop of the tour, was a contentious event. All 12 participants gathered in the Croatian city of Zagreb to battle over 11 days for a whopping prize fund of $325,000 and tour points. For the first half of the tournament, Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia was leading, a full point ahead of Carlsen.

Finishing in style

The world champion took the reins after their highly anticipated matchup in Round 7, defeating his rival in 31 moves with the black pieces. After taking the lead, Carlsen never let go of his top position in the standings, finishing the tournament in style with a last-round win and a full point ahead of the field.

The second-place finisher was 2016 GCT winner Wesley So. The American’s result would normally be sufficient to take the title home, but Carlsen has simply been in a league of his own. So earned $60,000 and 15 tour points. Third and fourth place went to Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian, respectively, with each collecting $35,000 and 11 tour points.

The next stop on the tour will be a rapid and blitz event in Paris. As per regulations, the tour players can only play in three out of the five rapid and blitz events, so Magnus Carlsen chose to sit this one out. The field will consist of Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Anish Giri and Viswanathan Anand with the three wild cards, Alexander Grischuk, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Daniil Dubov.

Two debuts

While Grischuk is a familiar face at the GCT, Duda and Dubov will be making their debuts. Dubov made headlines in 2018 when he won the World Rapid Championship, ahead of Carlsen. It was later revealed that he was also part of Team Carlsen during his world championship match against Caruana in 2018.

Duda, on the other hand, was a half-point short of being crowned the world blitz champion, yielding the title to Carlsen himself. Nonetheless, the 20-year-old, known for his creative chess and blitz skills, had a phenomenal performance. The combination of experience and young talents in the wild card choices promises to make Paris GCT an exciting and unpredictable event.

American Wesley So took second place at the Croatia Grand Chess Tour.
Credit St. Louis Chess Club
American Wesley So took second place at the Croatia Grand Chess Tour.

The first round of action will kick off at the Vivendi head office at 9 a.m. CST July 27, with a corporate day scheduled on July 30. In addition to the online English commentary team of Peter Svidler, Alejandro Ramirez, Maurice Ashley and Jennifer Shahade, French language commentary will be provided by Laurent Fressinet and Romain Édouard. All commentary will be viewable at grandchesstour.org or on the St. Louis Chess Club’s YouTube channel.

Tatev Abrahamyan, a woman grandmaster, started playing chess when she was 8 years old, after her father took her to the 1996 Chess Olympiad in Yerevan, Armenia. Abrahamyan has represented the U.S. in four Olympiads, two World Team Championships since 2008, and has played in every U.S. Women’s Championship the St. Louis Chess Club has hosted.

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