The final day of the Croatia Grand Chess Tour has certainly kept the audiences glued to their chairs today as the event continued to unfold and tournament lead was highly contested. Although it seemed clear after the last four days that Ian Nepomniachtchi would claim the Croatia Rapid & Blitz title, on the final day things took a turn for him and it was the French super GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who ended with a fabulous finish and the first place win. MVL was able to keep his cool today and played brilliantly, with a bit of luck saving him from a few difficult positions. Ultimately the French superstar secured the first place prize with an extra round to spare. He is now leading the Grand Chess Tour, just half a point ahead of Wesley So. Another amazing performance of today was by 5-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand, who scored 6.5 points and finished second. Dutch Grandmaster Anish Giri, maintained his 3rd position in the standings.
2021 Croatia Grand Chess Tour Final Standings
What a fabulous finish by the French Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who won the event with one round to spare. He was able to pace himself well in the first part of the day and scored 3/3 in the final rounds. It is no wonder that the commentators often address him as the “Tactical Wizard”. His tactical and defensive skills helped him remain unbeatable in the final round. With this win he is currently leading the overall GCT standings with 22 points, but he has already played 3 events. He remains with one event to be played and that is the Sinquefield Cup. Congratulations to the 2021 Croatia Grand Chess Tour winner, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave!
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is the Croatia Grand Chess Tour winner | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
As Maurice Ashley put it, Viswanathan Anand “remains an inspirational figure in the world of chess”. After not having played over-the-board chess in 17 months, Anand played inspirational chess throughout the competition. His fighting spirit and ambition to maintain a high level of play never ceases to amaze his fans. Today, he was the only other player not to suffer a loss.
A happy Viswanathan Anand talking to Maurice Ashley post tournament | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes
Anish Giri had a slow start in the final day of blitz, though he picked up the pace in the final rounds finishing with +1 (5points out of 9) for today’s portion of the event. He was able to maintain his 3rd place position in the standings in the Croatia leg of the Grand Chess tour. He is currently in 6th position with 10.5 points in the overall GCT standings, but will have two more events to play in to try to climb up the ladder.
Though the World Champion Challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi led the event in the first four days, he had a tough day at the office, only being able to score 3 points in today’s matchups. He had three tough losses. His strong result in the Rapid portion of the event kept him in the position to share 4th place in the overall standings. This may have been the last rapid event fans will see him in for a time he begins his preparation to challenge World Champion, Magnus Carlsen at the end of the year for the World Chess Championship.
Jan-Krzysztof Duda showed he can be a permanent member of the tour should he keep a consistent score in all forms of chess. He showed great technique in many of his games in this entire event. He finished the day with two wins against one of which was against the former tournament leader Ian Nepomnichtchi with whom he shared 4th place.
After yesterday’s tough day, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov came ready for blood. He had a spectacular start scoring 5.5 out of the first 6 games and seemed like nothing could break him. Unfortunately for him, he had a tough loss in today’s round 7 against Ukrainian Grandmaster Anton Korobov and finished todays’ portion of the event with 6 points, leaving him in 6th place in the standings of this leg of the Grand Chess Tour. With two events to go, has accumulated 18 points so far and is currently in 3rd place in the overall standings of the GCT.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov making his move | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Bryan Adams
Alexander Grischuk started the day with two wins, but lost some steam as the day continued. He ended up scoring 5 points and finishing in 7th place. He is currently in 5th place in the overall GCT standings. He will have to score well in his remaining two events to climb up the ladder.
Though he only scored 4 points today it was Anton Korobov that took down the unstoppable Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a beautiful attacking game. He is a very enthusiastic and inspired chess player and it is always fun to watch him play even when he may not be in his top form.
Jorden Van Foreest
Being a wild card competitor in this event Jorden Van Foreest has certainly shown why he belonged among the tournament field. As the winner of the latest edition of Tata Steel, Jorden has a lot to offer in the years to come. He may lack a little experience, but he is fearless and we will be surely seeing more of him in top level tournaments.
Everyone was rooting for former World Champion Garry Kasparov to find strength to come back in this second day of blitz. He did start the day with a win and scored two other draws, but unfortunately as he has stated himself in the end of the event, not having played enough over-the-board blitz, and only playing online has kept him from having a good time management. Overall it was a somewhat tough showing for Garry Kasparov but we look forward to seeing a stronger side of the legendary World Champion later this year in Saint Louis for Chess 9LX.
Garry Kasparov promises a come back in Saint Louis | Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour, Lennart Ootes