Côte d'Ivoire: World Champion triumphs again Print
Monday, 13 May 2019 00:00

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Magnus Carlsen
dominated the first leg of Grand Chess Tour, scoring a total of 26.5 points out of 36 possible and clinching the title with two rounds to spare and three and a half points ahead of the nearest rivals. He collected $37,500 and 13 GCT points for his efforts. Côte d'Ivoire is his fifth consecutive tournament win of the year. There was a tie for second place between Hikaru Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who will share the prize money and the GCT points, earning $22,000 and 9 points each.

Participants were competing over 9 rounds of rapid chess and 18 rounds of blitz chess for a total prize fund of $150,000. Magnus Carlsen took the lead starting from the rapid tournament and after three days won the rapid portion of Abidjan. With this result, he extended his lead to three points ahead of the field (15 points) and crossed 2900 in rapid.

Hikaru Nakamura remained in second place with 12, while Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Wesley So, both of whom tied for third place, were four points behind Carlsen.

m 2019 adbijan standings RAPID
[In the rapid event, a win was worth 2 points, a draw was 1 point and a loss was 0]

After day one of the blitz, Magnus Carlsen was still the sole leader, 2.5 points ahead of his closest rival, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The Frenchman was unstoppable, winning all his games in the first half of the tournament. This result allowed him to leapfrog Hikaru Nakamura and inch closer to the tournament leader.

It turned out, starting from the blitz, the tournament was not an easy walk for the World Champion. Describing his play Magnus Carlsen said: "Frankly I thought that the Blitz would be about enjoying it and trying to, you know, win as many games as possible...but fortunately it was okay at the end."

Magnus Carlsen's results in the second day of blitz were more convincing than during day one. He lost to one his closest rivals, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in round two but bounced back quickly, scoring 5.5 points in the remaining seven games. His draw with Wesley So was enough to clinch the win with two rounds to spare, but he still went on to win the remaining two games.

After it became clear that there is no catching Carlsen, there was a tight battle for the second place. Hikaru Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave were neck and neck, leapfrogging each other several times throughout the day.

Wesley So ended the tournament in fourth place. He picked up 7 tour points and $15,000.

World No. 3 Ding Liren finished the tournament in the fifth spot. His countryman, Wei Yi, finished in sixth place, but as a wildcard, he does not collect any GCT points as he is not fighting for one of the top four qualifying spots to London.

The two Russian players, Sergey Karjakin and Ian Nepomniachtchi finished in a tie for seventh place. Former World Champion Veselin Topalov collapsed on the second day of the blitz and is on the 9th place.

The local favorite, Bassem Amin finished on the last place but nevertheless, he managed to defeat Hikaru Nakamura, Veselin Topalov both in rapid and blitz, drew against Magnus Carlsen in blitz, etc. He received enormous support throughout the event and seemed content to have an opportunity to participate in such a high-level event.

m 2019 adbijan standings

The next stop will be a classical event in Zagreb, Croatia beginning June 26.

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[The champion was congratulated by the President of the Ivorian Chess Federation Dr. Essoh Essis and by Côte d'Ivoire's Minister of Sports Claude Paulin Danho]

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[The World Champion acknowledged the enthusiasm from local people and neighboring countries and was impressed by the love of chess from the locals, noting that the country will have a bright future]

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[Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played a few extra games with local players]

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[French television was following his steps during the tournament.]

Photos by Lennart Ootes for the Grand Chess Tour official website: https://grandchesstour.org/

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