HIKARU NAKAMURA is the winner of the Grand Chess Tour.
Analysis by GM Joel Benjamin
The final event of the 2018 Grand Chess Tour decided the ultimate winner, Hikaru Nakamura. It made 2018 a remunerative year for Nakamura, as he took home the Tour first prize of $120,000, and a total of $225,000. Not bad for a year that did not go well at all in Classical Chess for Hikaru.
Nakamura’s first-round opponent was Fabiano Caruana, fresh off his frustrating loss in the World Championship match. Caruana, showing a different approach than against Magnus, nearly got the jump with a spirited attack in the first (Classical) game:
Unsurprisingly, Hikaru became more dominant as the games got faster. Though Fabi surprised him with a win in the first blitz game, Nakamura reeled off wins in the last three to comfortably advance.
Vachier Lagrave cruised in the other first-round match against Levon Aronian, dominating in Rapid and Blitz. That set up a final between the two players generally considered to be the best players at all three rates of play, not named Magnus Carlsen.
Perhaps a bit surprisingly, the match produced draw after draw until the final game, a near miniature win for Hikaru, when MVL got his queen into big trouble.
The fantastic four are going to battle over $300,000, with the 2018 GCT champion taking home a first prize of $120,000, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
London, UK, will host the final leg of the Grand Chess Tour. Play starts December, 11 at 9 AM EST (15:00 CET, 14:00 GMT)
After the Sinquefield Cup, St. Louis Rapid and Blitz, Paris GCT and Your Next Move, the first four are going to compete for the 2018 GCT title.
The format is as follows:
there are two semi-finals, in which Fabiano Caruana plays Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian plays Maxime Vachier-Lagrave;
after two Classical games on December 11-12, play switches to Rapid & Blitz on Dec. 13;
the winners then go through to the 3-day Final, held at the traditional Olympia London venue on December 15-16 (Classical) & 17 (Rapid & Blitz);
there will also be a Third Place Playoff.
Should the players be tied after Classical, Rapid and Blitz play, they go on to play the always nail-biting Armageddon Game.
The London Olympia
Most of the fans are wondering how Fabiano Caruana will react after the World Championship Match. He faces the Rapid and Blitz specialist Hikaru Nakamura in the semi-finals, and again, Fabiano needs to move the result in the Classical part of the match. Fabiano is known for being a very calm person, but will he be able to recover after the nerve-wracking match he lost with Magnus Carlsen?
One interesting fact is that Fabiano may overtake Magnus at the top of the FIDE list, breaking 102 uninterrupted months of dominance by the Norwegian chess genius. Of course, if Nakamura allows him!
The Internet Chess Club will relay the games LIVE.