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General Feb 21, 2018 | 8:01 PMby Colin McGourty

Carlsen returns for GRENKE Chess Classic

Magnus Carlsen heads the field for the 2018 GRENKE Chess Classic, which starts on March 31, just 3 days after the Berlin Candidates Tournament ends. He’ll try to wrestle back the title from Aronian, though Anand joins fellow stars Caruana and MVL in what is now a 10-player tournament. Before the Candidates we’ll see more super-tournament action in the Tal Memorial rapid and blitz event, featuring the likes of Mamedyarov, Kramnik, Nakamura and Anand. Other recent announcements include confirmation that Nakamura, Caruana and So will play the US Championship in April.

chess24 will again be producing the GRENKE Chess live show - last year Aronian finished a full 1.5 points ahead of Carlsen and Caruana | photo: Lennart Ootes 

The always formidable Aeroflot Open is in full swing, with a heady mix of established stars (Fedoseev, Vidit, Andreikin...) and top juniors (Artemiev, Esipenko, Firouzja, Sarin, Praggnanandhaa, Abdusattorov...). The winner will compete in the Dortmund supertournament in July, but we don’t, of course, have to wait that long to see the elite in action. Some are likely to feature in the Chess Bundesliga this weekend, while before the Candidates Tournament on March 10th we have the recently announced Tal Memorial, taking place from March 2-5 in Moscow.

Victory in the 2016 Tal Memorial was a career-best performance for Ian Nepomniachtchi | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, Russian Chess Federation

From its first edition in 2006 onwards the Tal Memorial pioneered the current supertournament norm: 10-player single round-robins featuring the very best players. In recent years, though, it’s been held intermittently, as a blitz tournament in 2014 and in the old classical format in 2016. This edition will be rapid and blitz, and has managed to tempt Mamedyarov, Kramnik and Karjakin to use it for a Candidates warm-up:

PlayerFEDWorld rankingRating (Feb 2018)
1Shakhriyar Mamedyarov2nd2814
2Vladimir Kramnik3rd2800
3Hikaru Nakamura8th2781
4Viswanathan Anand9th2779
5Alexander Grischuk12th2767
6Sergey Karjakin13th2763
7Peter Svidler14th2760
8Ian Nepomniachtchi16th2751
9Boris Gelfand45th2697
10Daniil Dubov47th2694

Special mention goes to Daniil Dubov, who bounced straight back from disappointment in the final round of the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters to crush the field in the 4-player qualifier held to determine the final invitation. He rode his luck at times, but fortune favoured the bold as he beat all his rivals in the first round of rapid games to end with double the score of his nearest pursuers:


Check out the games:

Dubov continued his rise at the 18th February qualifier | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, Russian Chess Federation

The full details of the event in Moscow’s Museum of Russian Impressionism haven’t yet been published, but the first three days will be a rapid showdown among those 10 players, while on the final day other players will join for a blitz tournament.

The Berlin Candidates is of course the great chess event looming on the horizon, and we’ll be covering it live here on chess24 with a team that won’t disappoint! More on that later, though…


There won’t be much oxygen left for other events during the Candidates, but the GAMMA Reykjavik Open (6-14 March) has Pavel Eljanov and Richard Rapport as top seeds, while the European Individual Championship in Batumi, Georgia (17-28 March) so far has seven 2700+ players…

No. NameFEDRtg
1GMNavara DavidCZE2745
2GMJakovenko DmitryRUS2744
3GMWojtaszek RadoslawPOL2735
4GMIvanchuk VassilyUKR2731
5GMMamedov RaufAZE2709
6GMMatlakov MaximRUS2709
7GMNaiditsch ArkadijAZE2705

…and 67 (!) 2600+ players, all hunting not so much European glory as World Cup places.

There won’t be much time for a top-level chess hangover after the Candidates, since it’s recently been announced that the GRENKE Chess Classic returns this year as well… and we could potentially see World Champion Magnus Carlsen taking on his newly crowned challenger, since 2017 GRENKE Champion Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana both play. In fact, the field is the same as in 2017, except that it just got bigger, with Vishy Anand and 2017 GRENKE Open Champion Nikita Vitiugov increasing the number of players to 10:

PlayerFEDWorld rankingRating (Feb 2018)
1Magnus Carlsen1st2843
2Levon Aronian5th2797
3Maxime Vachier-Lagrave6th2793
4Fabiano Caruana7th2784
5Viswanathan Anand9th2779
6Nikita Vitiugov26th2732
7Arkadij Naiditsch41st2705
8Hou Yifan96th2654
9Georg Meier109th2647
10Matthias Bluebaum138th2635

That’s great news for chess fans, as it means two more rounds, with the first three rounds held, as before, alongside the GRENKE Chess Open in Karlsruhe, before the action switches to Baden-Baden for the last six rounds. Once again chess24 will be producing the live show, which makes it a good bet Jan Gustafsson will again be leading the commentary team.

We can’t go into full detail about the rest of the year – that’s what our 2018 Chess Calendar is for – but let’s end this brief preview with the recently announced line-ups for the 2018 US Championships, taking place in St. Louis from April 18-30. The good news is that the Big 3 of Caruana, Nakamura and So will again fight for a $50,000 first prize in the 12-player Open section: Caruana, Nakamura, So, Onischuk, Robson, Shankland, Akobian, Xiong, Zherebukh, Izoria, Lenderman, Liang

The women’s section is also at full strength, with Dorsa Derakhshani a new face after she switched federation from Iran to the US: Krush, Zatonskih, Abrahamyan, Paikidze, Foisor, Yu, Wang, Feng, Sharevich, Derakhshani, Gorti, Goletiani

Wesley So and Sabina Foisor are both back to defend their titles | photo: USChessChamps

If you don’t want to miss out on any chess action keep checking our Live Broadcast page!

See also:


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