The eight-player 2017 Grenke Chess Classic takes place 15.-22.April with three rounds here in Karlsruhe and four rounds in Baden-Baden. The Karlsruhe part coincides with maybe the largest Open chess event in the world this year, a compact nine rounds in five days event that started yesterday. Some of my friends takes part.

In 2015, after we both reached 4,5 points in 7 rounds, I won an intense late night play-off against Arkadij Naiditsch. As in 2015 we are this year joined by Caruana and Aronian. The other players are Vachier-Lagrave, the best female player Hou Yifan and two strong German Grandmasters Bluebaum and Meier.

This time I traveled by ferry to Kiel and by car to Karlsruhe, arriving last night. Despite the more time-consuming journey, it felt convenient and it is more of an experience than the faster A to B flight plus train.

The hotel and surroundings has been a pleasant surprise so far. It all looks very nice and I enjoyed a visit to the zoo next door today.

The drawing of lots took place at the opening of the Open tournament yesterday, and amazingly I have white against my three top-10 opponents Caruana, Lagrave and Aronian, and black against the four others. The draw is quite a unique and interesting twist to the event for me.

In round one Saturday, I’ll play young Matthias Bluebaum, Germany (with the black pieces).

Magnus Carlsen, Karlsruhe, April 14th, 2017