World Champion Magnus Carlsen ushered in the bloodletting with a relatively quick 23 move win over his frequent Twitter “banter pal” Anish Giri. Carlsen took a chance on move seven, playing something he felt would tilt his unflappable opponent, and after inaccuracies on Giri’s sixteenth and nineteenth moves, Carlsen cashed in the full point.
Giri-Carlsen (Lennart Ootes / GCT)
Magnus Carlsen (Lennart Ootes / GCT)
Kasparov makes the ceremonial first move (Lennart Ootes / GCT)
Carlsen talks with Kasparov (Lennart Ootes / GCT)
Carlsen’s play was lauded up and down by his former coach, Garry Kasparov, who was on hand for most of the day’s action. He praised Carlsen’s practical instincts, and compared his current run of form with Fischer’s in the run-up to the 1972 Championship and with his (Kasparov’s) best days.
Carlsen’s 2018 Challenger, Fabiano Caruana, also started well, defeating his countryman Hikaru Nakamura in a theoretical Queen’s Gambit. Nakamura essayed his favored variation beginning with 10. … Re8, but something went wrong after Caruana offered a new idea with 19.Qf5. Nakamura’s decision to grab the a-pawn with 24. … Qxa3? was (per their post-game conversation) in his preparation, but White is much the better after 25.Rh4! and Caruana converted his advantage without much difficulty.
Hikaru Nakamura (Lennart Ootes / GCT)
Fabiano Caruana (Lennart Ootes / GCT)
Caruana-Nakamura (Lennart Ootes / GCT)
Caruana and Maurice Ashley (Lennart Ootes / GCT)
Wesley So-Ding Liren (Lennart Ootes / GCT)
Wesley So (Lennart Ootes / GCT)
The third American in the field, Wesley So, managed to squeeze out a victory after the usually-solid Ding Liren allowed his bishop to become trapped.
In other results, Ian Nepomniachtchi defated Viswanathan Anand in a sharp line of the Italian Game, while the Mamedyarov-Karjakin and MVL-Aronian games were drawn.
The Croatia Grand Chess Tour will be contested from June 26th-July 8th, with rounds played at 4:30 local time / 10:30 EDT. There is one rest day on July 2nd.