It's a busy time on the chess calendar, as if the chess world is trying to make up for last year (though last year was also packed with top-level events, albeit online rapid and/or blitz events), and in addition to the Goldmoney event that finished last week (won by Levon Aronian, who defeated Magnus Carlsen in the semi-finals and Vladislav Artemiev in the final) and the Croatia Grand Chess Tour Rapid & Blitz (won by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave) there are several other important events that have either finished or are about to start.
First, in the rear-view mirror, there's the 34th Leon Chess tournament that finished over the 4th of July weekend. (Not that the 4th of July, in the sense of Independence Day, would have had any significance for the event, which took place in Spain.) It was a four-player event won by Boris Gelfand after a tiebreaker against Leinier Dominguez. As with Viswanathan Anand's performance in Croatia (but not Garry Kasparov's - ugh), it was a fine achievement by a representative of the over-50 crowd.
Second, this past weekend there was an online blitz tournament which featured four qualifiers taking on Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So, Ding Liren, and Levon Aronian in an eight-player knockout event. Carlsen won, crushing So 4.5-1.5 in the semifinal and edging Aronian 5-3 in the final, avenging the latter's semi-final win against him in the Goldmoney event mentioned above.
Third and finally, the World Cup starts tomorrow (Monday). The event is, as usual, a qualifier for the next Candidates tournament (in 2022), so I don't like that Carlsen is again permitted to play. (He participated in the last World Cup as well, fortunately getting eliminated before he could interfere with the prospects of the likely winners/Candidates.) It makes a little more sense than letting Donald Trump run for the Democratic party nomination last year, but not much. Anyway, it'll be a great event, and from a purely chess point of view Carlsen's participation will enhance the event.
For my fellow Americans: the U.S.A. is well-represented, with 14 participants: Fabiano Caruana (world #2), Abhimanyu Mishra (the newly-minted world's youngest-ever GM), Sam Shankland (unfortunately Mishra's opponent in round 2, if Mishra can defeat Baadur Jobava), Yaroslav Zherebukh, Alexander Onischuk, Elshan Moradiabadi, Robert Hungaski, Timur Gareyev, Levon Aronian, Jeffery Xiong, Varuzhan Akobian, Samuel Sevian, bullet specialist Andrew Tang, and Leinier Dominguez.
Predictions: Who will win? How many Americans will make it to round 3? If you don't think Carlsen will win, how far will he get? Will any players 25 years of age or under make it to the quarterfinals? The semifinals?