2009 London Chess Classic

2009 London Chess Classic

Tomorrow will kick off the highly anticipated London Chess Classic with a marquee lineup including former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik and the world’s #1 rated player in Magnus Carlsen.

The field will also include current U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura and one of China’s top guns in Ni Hua. The British will trot out their top brass with super-GMs Michael Adams and Nigel Short along with Luke McShane and top British junior in GM David Howell.

The tournament has added significance due to the legendary flavor and the number of subplots, surrounding age vs. tradition, but there is also the idea that we may be seeing a future rivalry of chess. Nakmura beat Carlsen in a recent blitz match. Carlsen will be looking for redemption.

Carlsen and Kramnik draws lots. The two will meet in round #1!

Carlsen and Kramnik draws lots. The two will meet in round #1!
Photo by Frederic Friedel.

Main Site: https://www.londonchessclassic.com/
TWIC: https://www.chess.co.uk/twic/chessnews/events/london-chess-classic-2009
Videos: ICC/Chess.FM, ICC/YouTube


  1. Wah!! Carlsen played a GREAT game. Don’t know the last time I saw Kramnik fall victim to a positional crush. He had no constructive moves for more than half the game. This boy is something!

    Nakamura looks to have messed the endgame…he was winning(?)…let’s see what happens.

  2. Round #1: Tuesday December 8, 2009

    Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Kramnik, Vladimir
    David Howell ½-½ Michael Adams
    Luke McShane 1-0 Nigel Short
    Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ Ni Hua

    I looked at Nakamura’s game and he was totally winning throughout. I’m not sure how the endgame got away from him. I like how McShane keep playing until Short gave up. To play 163 moves in round #1 is brutal, but he got the full point! I should actually say three points since they are using the 3-point for a win, 1-point for a draw system. 🙂

    Hikaru Nakamura couldn't quite put his Chinese opponent away.

    Hikaru Nakamura couldn’t quite put his Chinese opponent away.
    Photo by Frederic Friedel.

    Games from Round #1

  3. Mcshane likes playing these long drawn out technical positions. Let’s hope he now doesn’t let Carlsen simply steamroll over the ‘weaker’ players (now that Kramnik is ‘out of the way’).

  4. Gee… I thought McShane was one of the “weaker” players at 2615. That was the longest game I’ve seen in a long time. Another player who enjoys these endings is Amon Simutowe. He’ll simply maneuver his pieces around either until you get tired and make a mistake or allow him to get in a zugzwang. I heard him say, “You just keep moving until your opponent gives up.”

    I remembered this lesson and took it to heart against one of my opponents… good knight vs. bad bishop. I think I must’ve touched every single square with my knight. He got the arbiter to make sure I was making progress. He didn’t understand what I was doing and I finally got his bad bishop overextended. He was zugzwanged and suddenly losing a pawn… then another. I won in 125 moves and the game went until 1:10am.

    Lots of exciting chess ahead!

  5. Knowing Short’s ego (was on display here in Nairobi when he crushed all top Kenyans something like 25-0 in blitz few years back) this one must have hurt him real bad. Oh he must be feeling terrible. Too bad chess does not have paparazzi involved coz that would be interesting to see!

  6. I’ve met Short on one occassion in Turin, Italy. It was after a testy history I have with reporting on his activities. I respect his chess knowledge and accomplishments, but I believe he gets beside himself on some issues. The FIDE campaign in Africa (after Kenya) was not one of his high points, but he still plays good chess and I believe he wants what’s best for the game. He visits this site and will post an occassional comment.

  7. Round #2: Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Luke McShane
    Michael Adams ½-½ Hikaru Nakamura
    Kramnik, Vladimir 1-0 Ni Hua
    Short, Nigel D ½-½ David Howell

    Carlsen-McShane Press Conference

    Video courtesy of ICC (Macauley Peterson).

  8. Carlsen is becoming stronger by the month. By end of next year he may have a rating that is plus 2850. I don’t see anyone who can stop him from becoming the World Champ. Is he in the running for the cycle that picks 2012 challenger? He could break Kasparov’s record of youngest world champion.

  9. I am looking forward to the Nakamura-Carlsen clash. I don’t think Nakamura is on Carlsen’s level at classical time controls but this one is going to be interesting.

  10. I doubt it Mehul. I think he is experiencing a burst like most players do. He’ll go below 2800, I can assure you. He will not be able to lose a game to stay at 2800… and he will lose some games. Both Anand and Topalov went under 2800 after their initial ascendancy. It would take Carlsen quite a long time to get 50 ELO points. That’s a lot! It is especially true when everyone is below you. He even alluded to that on his blog.

    My current official (November 1) rating is 2801, and depending on the opposition I may win 2-5 or lose upto 5-8 points in each game. Today victory would yield 2.6 points, and draw or loss a 2.4 / 7.4 rating loss respectively.

    Becoming World Champion is a lot trickier than we can imagine. First of all, you have to hope the cycle runs smoothly and that FIDE can draw sponsors. He may get there, but there may even be someone to get it in the next cycle after the Anand-Topalov match.

  11. David Held. I thought Carlsen was going to be up with a hat trick- 3 out of 3. Good draw. Now lets brace for the anticipated Carlsen VS Nakamura tomorrow. Any predictions people. Come on guys lets be bold here. I will say Naka but with the way Carlsen is playing , I dont know what to say about this one. Its hard to predict.

  12. Round #3: Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Kramnik thoroughly crushes McShane… inches closer to lead!

    David Howell ½-½ Magnus Carlsen
    Hikaru Nakamura ½-½ Nigel Short
    Ni Hua ½-½ Michael Adams
    Luke McShane 1-0 Vladimir Kramnik

    Vladimir Kramnik strikes a classic pose. Photo by Frederic Friedel.

    Vladimir Kramnik strikes a classic pose. Photo by Frederic Friedel.

  13. Nakamura-Carlsen on Saturday… should be a good battle. Carlsen will be looking for revenge and Nakamura will be looking to quiet all naysayers who remark that he cannot beat Carlsen in classical chess. I’m personally not looking for a decisive result this time.

    Round 4: Saturday, December 12, 2009

    Vladimir Kramnik – Michael Adams
    Nigel Short – Ni Hua
    Magnus Carlsen – Hikaru Nakamura
    Luke McShane – David Howell

  14. Carlsen’s career trajectory thus far has been more or less perfect. +2800 ELO, No.1 rating, Kasparov as trainer, youth etc. But yesterday’s missed win can today give Nakamura an opportunity to puncture a hole into the Carlsen phenomenon. I am not saying this will seriously dent the Norwegian’s drive toward ultimate world championship glory but I think a Nakamura win today will create some small doubts about the whole Carlsen thing and will give Nakamura a lot of psychlogical fire-power.

    I will be cheering for Nakamura today!

  15. I think a small setback will be good for Carlsen. People are expecting a bit too much right now. On one blog, someone pointed out than in a ChessBase article they posted 21 photos and Carlsen was in 16 of them!

  16. I am delighted to see four of Nigeria’s Olympiad veterans taking part in the FIDE Open section of the London Chess classics :
    Sylvia Chidi, Kenneth Odeh, Chiedu Maduekwe and Odion Aikhoje.

  17. Odeh told me he was going to play at the classics and wanted me to come along too. I also saw Chiedus name but didn’t know Chidi and Odion are playing in the tourney. Thats good. We shall give them some coverage soon.

  18. I think in game 2 against GM Hebden, after move 39…….Kg6, Odion should have been looking for a draw right there with the way the position was and not attempt to win at all cost haven went out with a powerful king side attack which was defended well by Hebden. This I think is the reason he lost this game not because his king was exposed even after his assault on the king side. Even with his exposed king, one can see that he was still okay until he continued with 42…..Rb2 for some more activity that his king was then left isolated. Good game though. He recovered quickly after this loss and went on to win his last 4 games with the last 2 games against higher rated players with 2400s. His game today against GM Wells of England should be interesting.

  19. Odion outplayed Hebden in the first 30 moves, but started to lose his way. He was in danger after 34.Rf5 and has to play 34…Qg6. His position is no longer tenable after 37.Nd2 and the loss of two pawns. Any GM… even regular Master… can win that position.

  20. Odion Missed the win against GM Hebden on move 33. instead of 33…… Bd3 he should have taken 33 … BxN .Either way 34)KxB Rf8 or 34RxB Rf8 and exchange the white rook 35) RxR KxR
    Queen give a check on 36)Qh8+ and black excape the checks via the black quares and the C pawn is deadly with whites king cut off from that side of the board.

  21. Right Umoh, but Hebden can’t play 34.Kxf1 because of 35…Qd1 mate! So on 34.Rxf1 black has to be careful since it’s hard to stop the white pieces from attacking the black king. There are so many entry points.

  22. Round #5: Sunday, December 13, 2009

    David Howell ½-½ Vladimir Kramnik
    Hikaru Nakamura 0-1 Luke McShane
    Ni Hua 1-0 Magnus Carlsen
    Michael Adams ½-½ Nigel Short

    Video by Europe-Echecs.

  23. I was also delighted yesterday to see Femi Adebajo (taking part in the rapidplay section), Paul Obiamiwe (who couldn’t show up earlier due to personal reasons and therefore opted for the blitz events) and Gbenga Onanuga, at the London Chess classics

  24. I was wondering why Femi Adebajo was not playing at the classics since he is an active chess player but happy that he is indeed playing. I will look them all up soon. I miss Sylvia Chidis name in my earlier release but will make up for it next time. She has the same point as Odeh.

  25. Round #6: Monday, December 14, 2009

    Vladimir Kramnik 1-0 Nigel Short
    Magnus Carlsen ½-½ Michael Adams
    Luke McShane 0-1 Ni Hua
    David Howell ½-½ Hikaru Nakamura

    Video by Chess.FM.

  26. I just found this blog, I should say (and I really like it). Excuse my newbie chatter. I thought the London Classic was a blast, especially with commentary. Worth waking up early every morning with the Java to guess who was going to move where next. Work be damned. You could see the games being played live on one channel while hearing the ICC commentators on another (the games didn’t show well on ICC). Although the ICC commentators were often wrong (no surprise at this level), it was interesting.
    I was surprised and impressed by Luke Mcshane. My advice to Luke: Go professional. Give it a shot for at least a year. Use your great talent while you are in your 20s. Don’t wait. You can always go back to Goldman-Sacks. Chess at the grandmaster level is fleeting. Day jobs last forever. Study up and go roll a few super grandmasters. Make money later. I was hitchhiking in Reading, England when I was 22. A 27 year-old stopped to give me a ride and asked if I was working or studying. I said I was done studying and now worried about job prospects. He just laughed about my being worried. “Plenty of time”, he said. Plenty of time, Luke.
    — stuck in a day job in Northern California

  27. Luke McShane had a promising career and was no doubt heading to a high level (upper 2600s or low 2700s) when he broke away for a banking career. However, the economy has fallen on hard times that he may have been a casualty… not sure. Your adage, “plenty of time” is true in many respects. If there is a dream, then it makes sense to go forth.

    It’s good you found the blog… it has been up for maybe two years, but the website (http://www.thechessdrum.net) has been up since 2001. Chess coverage has come so far in the past 15 years. The ability to follow games real-time and with commentary has taken chess to a new level. Blogs, YouTube and Twitter help as well as other game interfaces like the ICC and playchess. Audio like Chess.FM has also been popular. Of course other developments like DGT boards and Monroi have helped. Perhaps the increased interest will produce more innovation.

  28. I want to add that I admired the fighting chess from everyone in that tournament. Not just McShane. Bravo to Nigel short, even tho he’s probably not happy with his outcome. I’m happy to see that he is coming back up. And David was a revelation as well.
    We more or less knew what to expect from Carlsen, Kramnick, Nakamura: chess at a very high level, tactically and positionally.

  29. I think Rowe had a great tournament considering the fact that he is not very active and works such long hours. However there are some traits that are visible in many of his games: Commital moves, positional concessions especially with pawn moves and the under estimation of the opponent’s possibilities-case in point against Pupier he missed a retreat.However these experiences are priceless and he needs them before the Olympiad.He also demonstrated a lot of resilience in putting bad games behind him and building up an impressive score.He will do his performance review and Iam sure build on this.Often promising players do not build on their good performances with long absences.

  30. Rest assured Daaim, thats an issue we spoke about last night. He will be doing his performance review and he is “fully loaded” with the software and materials. We have devised a certain way to do it.
    He is very serious about what he wants. The fact that he left Jamaica to seek this experience is one step in the right direction. More experience will help him.

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