2019 GCT Tata Steel Rapid and Blitz- Day 4
After 9 rounds of blitz, chess fans got to witness some dramatic and electrifying games. Tournament leader Magnus Carlsen continued to show his dominance over the field by scoring an impressive 6.5/9. This boosts his total score to 21.5 and he maintains a 5 point lead over Hikaru Nakamura going into the final day. In an interview at the end of the day, Carlsen said “When I’m at my best, I’m a little bit better than the others.”
Nakamura and Ian Nepomniachtchi were the only other players to produce plus scores in the blitz, each scoring 5.5/9 points. Nakamura maintains a solid footing in second place with a 3 point lead over his compatriot, Wesley So. He had an incredibly solid performance today, drawing 7 games and winning 2 with victories over Harikrishna and Aronian. Nakamura still boasts the top spot in the world blitz rankings with a live rating of 2868. Carlsen is close behind at #2 in the world with living rating of 2856.4, after gaining nearly 30 points with today’s performance.
Despite having a poor start in the rapid, Nepomniachtchi found his form in the blitz. He scored victories against Anand, Vidit Giri, and Aronian and suffered losses against Carlsen and Harikrishna. When asked about if he prefers blitz format over rapid, Nepomniachtchi said, “It’s more about the amount of hours sleeping, it’s not about enjoying the format.” Certainly, physical stamina and sleep is a crucial factor for these top players to perform at their best.
As Carlsen is running away with the lead, the fight for first place may not be so nail-biting. However, there is another storyline to follow. Anand still has chances to qualify for the Grand Chess Tour finals in London in December depending on his final placing in this event. He had a somewhat topsy-turvy performance in today’s blitz games, defeating So and Aronian, and losing to Nepomniachtchi and Carlsen. In order to qualify for GCT Finals, he will need to finish in clear 6th or better to pass Maxime Vachier Lagrave in the overall Grand Chess Tour standings.