Around lunchtime the day before the opening ceremony, I got a late call up to the London leg of the FIDE Grand Prix substituting for Peter Svidler for that one event only. Despite the lateness of the invite, openings-wise I fared quite well, but was tired towards the end of the event and felt I should have picked up a few more half points from the positions I had.
The rules were the usual FIDE mishmash: it’s not clear why Sofia rules are used during this event when they aren’t during the World Championship match when they would actually be useful. The event was also unusual for unintentionally employing two different time controls; we started with 40/2 followed by 20/1 but now things got confusing as in the first couple of games you were only credited with your additional 15 mins plus 30 seconds once your regular time had elapsed rather than on move 60. The additional increment would have been welcome in my first game with Wang Hao. To remedy this flaw from round 3 onwards, we received the increment on move 60 as is the norm.
This event was the first to be organised by Agon although it is clear that they won’t have time to implement their main ideas until at least the London Candidates. Obviously they are serious about chess and I was impressed with their concepts concerning branding and presentation of the game several of which were new to me. I hope they can be successful with the big problems of finding sponsors, and creating a proper World Championship cycle.

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