Written by CL
The Grand Chess Tour is a wonderful idea to give top 10 players a chance to make even more money. It is a classic case of the rich gets richer and the people with money can boost their massive ego. But it does little for the rest of the chess professionals or chess in general. But for the fans who like to see the same group of players drawing against each other 75% – 85% of the time, the Grand Chess Tour is made just for you.
The biggest drama of the event came at the end of the London Chess Classic where a lot was on the line for invitations to next year’s tour. 3 players, Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave tied for 1st place. The organizer decided on a playoff for the title. Fair enough. But since there was an odd number, 1 of these 3 players received the first round bye, which happened to be Carlsen. No problem.
So Vachier-Lagrave and Giri had to face off for the right to play Carlsen. The pressure got to the both of them but at the end, MVL won. By “normal” logic, this should mean that MVL and Carlsen would play against each other for 1st and 2nd place. But to the surprise of most in the chess world, this was not the case.
After Carlsen won, he was declared the Champion! Bravo! But by losing to Carlsen, MVL, who played very good chess of late, and is currently ranked #7 in the world, did not get 2nd place. He got 3rd after Giri, the same player who he just defeated in the playoff! Because of this, MVL, who had the highest performance in London, was pushed down to #4 in the overall standings and he will not be invited back next year. No one seems to be able to explain this illogical and insane rule.
Here are a few comments from some of the world class GMs:
Former world top 10 GM Kavalek:
“The world chess champion Magnus Carlsen won the Grand Chess Tour, a three tournaments bonanza played in Norway, the USA and England, and involving the world’s best players. It was loosely based on the $1,2 million 1988-1989 Chess World Cup, a series of six Grand Prix tournaments I have organized for the Grandmasters Association as its Executive Director…
Twenty-six years later, Kasparov set up the Grand Chess Tour, borrowing some ideas from the GMA’s World Cup…
Some chess fans complained about the cumbersome tie-breaking rules of the Grand Chess Tour. It is hard to find the logic behind the tiebreaks. Carlsen got the second place in Saint Louis without a playoff by having the best Sonnenborn system tiebreak . A three-way tie for first in London was decided by a playoff. Vachier-Lagrave won two games against Anish Giri, but it was not enough. A single loss to Carlsen decided the tournament and an overall Tour victory.”
You decide. Did MVL get a raw deal?
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– GM Susan Polgar