Grand Slam Final, Sao Paulo, round 1-3.

The 5th Final Chess Masters takes place September 24 . October 13. The first part (five rounds) in Sao Paulo, and then Bilbao for the final leg (another five rounds). The field is very strong this year, with 5 of the top 9 ranked players in the world present.
I arrived in Brazil at the 20th to have a few days to get acclimatized before the start the 24th. We stay at the comfortable Hotel Melia Europa in the lovely Itaim district. The weather hasn.t been great this year, but a few of the chessplayers have had some tough basketball matches, to warm up before the tournament.
As last year I have had a slightly difficult start. In the first round I faced the Italian Fabiano Caruana, and trying to be creative, I got myself into trouble in the opening. As my opponent didn.t take his chances, the game turned and I got serious winning chances. I pressed for about 50 moves, but low on time I miscalculated and actually lost. Difficult to imagine a more painful start. Luckily I managed to compose myself and win quite easily against Vallejo in the second round.
I had my first white game in the third round against Karjakin from Russia. He played precisely in the opening, and the game was quite even for a long time. He then made a few inaccuracies and I had a dream position in the ending, with a strong knight vs. a bad bishop. I should be winning, and I.m kicking myself for not being able to convert such a huge advantage.
4 points, (the football score is used), after all a better start than last year. And it.s absolutely possible to defend last year.s tournament win, even though Caruana is three points ahead at this point.

Magnus Carlsen
September 27th, Sao Paulo