Raymond Keene

We still have Paris

We still have Paris
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The second leg of this year’s Grand Tour was contested in Paris, almost immediately after Leuven. For Paris, Anish Giri was replaced by the former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, increasing the overall strength of the competition.

Final results and top prizes in Paris were as follows: Hikaru Nakamura 13 ($37,500), Sergei Karjakin 10 ($25,000), Wesley So 8 ($20,000), Lev Aronian 7 ($15,000). The overall standings after completion of the first two elements of the circuit are: Wesley So 21, Hikaru Nakamura 20, Sergei Karjakin 19 and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 15.

It can be seen once again that the world title challenger, Fabiano Caruana (who has a total of just four points in the Tour), who will face Magnus Carlsen for the championship in London this November, has an Achilles heel: playing at non-classical faster time limits.

This week, some highlights from Paris. Viktor Korchnoi notoriously accused Magnus Carlsen of hypnotising his opponents. If there is a hypnotist at large in world chess, this week’s extracts point the finger at Nakamura, so egregious were the blunders in Paris which his rivals fell over themselves to commit.

Grischuk-Nakamura: Paris Blitz 2018

(see diagram 1)

Grischuk has made an imaginative piece sacrifice and should now continue 24 Rh1 with interesting complications. Instead he came up with the following howler. 24 Qd3 At best, this should constitute a horrible loss of time. 24 ... Bf5 25 Rh1 An extraordinary blunder. 25 Qf3 was forced but after 25 ... Kg7 Black stands much better 25 ... Bxd3 White resigns Presumably White had intended 26 Rxh6+ Kg7 27 Rh7+, forgetting that the bishop can capture (27 ... Bxh7).

Mamedyarov-Nakamura: Paris Blitz 2018

(see diagram 2)

Nakamura is again on the receiving end of an imaginative piece sacrifice. White should now play the very obvious 22 Bf5, threatening the c8-rook and Be6+ when he stands better. Instead he played the nonsensical 22 Nd7 and after 22 ... Ne4 Black was a piece up for very little. Nakamura wrapped up easily: 23 f3 Ng5 24 Qh5 Re3 25 Ne5 Rxd3 26 Nxd3 Qf5 27 d5 Nxc4 28 Ba1 Bxd5 29 Kh1 Rc6 30 Nf2 Qg6 31 Qg4 Ne3 32 Rxc6 Nxg4 33 Rxg6 Nxf2+ White resigns