Midway between London Chess Classics and World Rapid & Blitz Championships in Riyadh I’ve had some much-needed time to relax.
In the last four rounds after the final rest day in London Chess Classics many of us struggled, and generally the level of play deteriorated. Entertainment value probably went up due to many great fights and decisive games. I had very little energy, made many mistakes and things generally went south in the first 3-3.5 hours in each game. Fortunately this changed closer to the time control, except in the penultimate round loss against Ian Nepomniachtchi. I’m very satisfied with the way I managed to pull myself together against Nakamura, Adams and Aronian and not only save the lost and worse positions, but even win against the latter two.
Ian took advantage of mistakes by Adams and me and played well against Anand to win three in a row and lead before the last round. Caruana seemingly had to settle for draw by repetition against Adams when Adams decided to play on. Caruana duly won and by winning the play-off emerged as a well-deserved winner of London Chess Classics 2017 ahead of Ian, both at 6/9. I shared third with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Wesley So. As usual the organisers headed by Malcolm Pein did a good job.
I came to London low on energy with the expectation that it “would probably work out okay anyway”. That was not the case. It doesn’t really work, and especially not when you become slightly sick as well. 5/9 is not that bad, but it could have been worse, even much worse judging from my positions during the games.
My last round win was more than enough to secure overall victory in the Grand Chess Tour 2017 ahead of Maxime. This was a significant part of what we fought for in London, and in a turbulent year results-wise so far a clear highlight together with Isle-of-Man.
Next weekend we are heading to Riyadh for the much anticipated Rapid & Blitz World Championship. I don’t have any particular expectations this time, but hope I’m able to stay relaxed and enjoy the games more than I did last year.
Merry Christmas!
Magnus Carlsen, Oslo, December 19th 2017