Quite a busy chess schedule at the end of the year. London Chess Classics started this weekend, and between Christmas and New Year I’ll play the World Rapid and Blitz in Riyadh.
In the Champions Showdown in St.Louis three weeks ago, Ding Liren and I played the Blitz part alone as the other three matches had finished already. The combination of jetlag and several losses from good positions must have been frustrating for Ding. He struggled also on day 3 and the match was decided in my favour with one day left. He played better on the last day of 5 minutes Blitz, and I was satisfied overall having played a decent match and bringing my Blitz rating tantalizingly close to 3000.
The following week I enjoyed some rest and played the two next stages of chess.com Speed Chess Championship. I didn’t play as well as in St.Louis, but won both matches to qualify for the final against the winner of Nakamura and Karjakin.
Today is rest in London Chess Classics, and we have played only one day! It is of course not as crazy as it sounds. Apart from the first round taking place in Google Deep Mind offices and the organizer having to move all the equipment over to the regular London Olympia venue, I have been in London for 4 days already with the technical meeting and the World Championship match 2018 (taking place in London!) announcement event Wednesday and the Probiz chess at Google on Thursday.
In round 1 yesterday all games ended draw which is maybe slightly surprising taking into account all the decisive games in St.Louis in August with a nearly identical field and the same time control etc. After an innocuous opening Caruana made a couple of inaccurate moves and I was better as white. I couldn’t find a decisive breakthrough and combined with playing slightly indecisive and his good defense I had to settle for draw after 5,5 hours play.
For my first move, Deep Mind founder Demis Hassabis suggested the English opening. I didn’t indulge him but appreciates UK traditions, drink tea in the evening and attended the very exciting Arsenal – Manchester United match-turned-robbery tonight :)
Magnus Carlsen, London, December 2nd 2017