The line-up for the $350,000
Grand Chess Tour Finals at the London Chess Classic, starting next Monday,
2nd December at Olympia, has been revealed as Maxime
Vachier-Lagrave squeezed into the fourth qualifying place after the
dramatic elimination of Vishy Anand.
Anand narrowly lost out on his ticket to London after going down in the
penultimate blitz game against Magnus Carlsen at the
Tata Steel India Rapid & Blitz in Kolkata. Missing a one-move opportunity (for
a brilliant rook sacrifice (48…Rh6+!!) meant that the Indian former World
Champion, playing in front of a heartbroken home crowd, was not going to the
Grand Chess Tour Finals.
MVL, who was not playing in India due to already having played in his
allotted five GCT qualifying events, thus squeaked through - setting up a
Semi-Final clash with the Norwegian World Champion in London next Monday.
The timing is problematic for the Frenchman, however, who must now play two
tough matches in London on December 2-4 and December 6-8, just two days before
starting his challenge at the final
FIDE Grand Prix event in Jerusalem.
At that knockout tournament, which runs from December 10-24, MVL is bidding to
qualify for the first time for the World Championship Candidates tournament.
Magnus Carlsen will be most pundits’
strong favourite to win the Grand Chess Tour first
prize of $150,000 in London after an impressive victory in Kolkata.
After four days of dominating the super-strong field, Magnus was laid low by a
stomach bug early on the fifth and final day, and was forced into taking some
unprecedented quick draws before recovering and winning the Rapid & Blitz a full
4 points ahead of the second-placed player, American Hikaru Nakamura.
Ding Liren, while not challenging for
first place in Kolkata, had the distinction of beating Carlsen twice in blitz
there – setting up the mouth-watering prospect of a possible Ding-Carlsen Final
in London. The Chinese star became the first player to beat Carlsen in a playoff
for a dozen years this summer at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis in August, so
a Final between the two at London Olympia would promise a brilliant end to the
2019 Grand Chess Tour – and be a foretaste of a potential challenge by Ding
Liren for the World title next year.
Levon Aronian, the ever-popular Armenian,
qualified for the London GCT Finals by dint of his overall 3rd place finish in
the Tour events, but he will be desperate to recover his form after finishing
last in Kolkata.
Whoever gets to lift the Grand Chess Tour trophy in London on Sunday 8th
December, chess fans can be assured of a brilliant and fitting climax to the
biggest Grand Chess Tour to date, thanks to its
expanded roster of
tournaments in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Alongside the Grand Chess Tour Finals, the London Classic will also play host
to the British Knockout Championship
Semi-Finals and Final, which take place simultaneously with the GCT Finals. A
strong line-up includes England Open Team members
Mickey Adams, Luke McShane, David Howell
and Gawain Jones.
spectator tickets now for the Grand Chess Tour Finals at the London Classic
at Olympia to avoid disappointment. Play starts at 4pm on weekdays (Monday 2nd
to Wednesday 4th, & Friday 6th), and 2pm on the final weekend (Saturday 7th and
A season ticket costs £80 – a saving of £70 on buying individual day tickets.
The London Chess
Classic Box Office is open here.