2012 London Chess Classic
Despite last year’s accomplishment of fielding four 2800-rated players the London Chess Classic begins and will boast its strongest tournament ever in its 2012 edition. Magnus Carlsen will headline the field and be accompanied by Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik and World Champion, Viswanathan Anand. It gets better.
US Champion Hikaru Nakamura and Judit Polgar will present a challenge as both are uncompromising fighters. Also the strong trio from England in Michael Adams, Luke McShane and Gwaine Jones with defend home turf.
The average rating in 2751 making it the strongest British tournament in history. Each player will receive a bye during which they will provide commentary during the round. A novel approach which was been quite popular.
The tournament is a single round-robin with time controls of 40/2 then 15 minutes with 30-second increment. “Sofia Rules” are in effect and will include the scoring system of three points for a win and one point for a draw.
December 1-10, 2012 (London, England)
It looks like Carlson is 3 points from tying Kasparov’s record elo!
They said he tied the record at 2851.
Vladimir Kramnik 1-0 Judit Polgar
Hikaru Nakamura 0-1 Levon Aronian
Luke McShane 0-1 Magnus Carlsen
Gawain Jones 0-1 Michael Adams
Viswanathan Anand bye
Levon Aronian has been in a mini-slump lately. He was routed in his first game against Hikaru Nakamura. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.
Games (Round #1): https://www.thechessdrum.net/palview5/london12-1.pgn
Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Levon Aronian
Hikaru Nakamura 0-1 Vladimir Kramnik
Viswanathan Anand ½-½ Luke McShane
Judit Polgar ½-½ Gawain Jones
Michael Adams bye
Magnus Carlsen broke the all-time rating record of Garry Kasparov scoring a convincing win over rating rival Levon Aronian. He now tips the scales on the live chart at 2856. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.
After two years of speculating when Garry Kasparov’s rating record of 2851 would be broken, Magnus Carlsen vaulted over the mark by appropriately beating the number two player Levon Aronian. This was a struggle in which Carlsen literally squeezed a half-point from Aronian.
In Kramnik-Nakamura the Russian continued his dominance over the American with a 87-move win in a difficult queen ending. Polgar-Jones was a fierce game as the Brit unleashed his fire-breathing Dragon. The game did not enter its usual themes with a white kingside attack, but Polgar appeared close to converting her extra pawn. She was even able to promote the pawn and gain an extra rook on the board. Unfortunately, her king was caught in a checking net and the black secured a draw.
The last game was the longest, an 108-move draw featuring a well-known rook ending. Viswanathan Anand was actually on his heels as Luke McShane tried to convert his extra pawn, but the game descended into the famous Lucena Position and an easy draw followed.
Games (Round #2): https://www.thechessdrum.net/palview5/london12-2.pgn
Magnus Carlsen ½-½ Vladimir Kramnik
Gawain Jones ½-½ Hikaru Nakamura
Levon Aronian ½-½ Viswanathan Anand
Michael Adams 1-0 Judit Polgar
Luke McShane bye
If there is one thing that has stood out in this London Classic it has been the fighting spirit of the games. The day after four grueling battles, fans were set for a mammoth battles in Carlsen-Kramnik and Aronian-Anand. Carlsen had won his first two games and was looking to continue against Vladimir Kramnik.
Viswanathan Anand trying to find his form.
Photo by Ray Morris Hill.
However, the Norwegian fell into trouble quickly and before move 20, had failed to equalize. Kramnik kept grinding away with his extra pawn, but could not covert it. Levon Aronian has gotten off to a rocky start and wanted to avoid another goose egg on the crosstable. While Viswanthan Anand found a way to snatch a slight advantage, this game was hardly in doubt and a draw was reached after a technical rook ending.
Jones-Nakamura was the longest battle of the round with Nakamura trying to seize an advantage of his passed pawn. For 20 moves, he got nowhere and decided to ditch the pawn to attack white’s king pawns. While he was able to win a pawn, white set up a fortress and black could not make further progress.
Judit Polgar has played sparingly in the past few years and faces a stiff test in London. She would play hometown favorite in Michael Adams and would fall into trouble right from the opening. Adams was able to establish a dangerous passed d-pawn and white’s pieces dominated the board as black’s pieces were tied down to stop of the pawn. In the end, the pawn would win the day.
Games (Round #3): https://www.thechessdrum.net/palview5/london12-3.pgn
Vladimir Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen 2½/3 for 7 points; Michael Adams, 2/2 for 6 points; Hikaru Nakamura, 1½/3 for 4 points; Gawain Jones, 1/3 for 2 points; Viswanathan Anand, 1/2 for 2 points; Levon Aronian, ½/3 for 1 point; Luke McShane, ½/2 for 1 point; Judit Polgar, ½/3 for 1 point. (Note: Scoring is 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss)
Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Gawain Jones
Viswanathan Anand ½-½ Vladimir Kramnik
Hikaru Nakamura ½-½ Michael Adams
Luke McShane 0-1 Levon Aronian
Judit Polgar bye
Carlsen would pad his rating record with a thrilling win
over Gawain Jones’s queen sack.
Photo by Ray Morris Hill.
Getting right into the breaking news, Magnus Carlsen notched another win on his belt with a scintillating win over Gawain Jones after surviving an ambitious queen sacrifice. In the postmortem, both players worked through the dizzying variations leading up to the sacrifice.
The critical position was 17.Nb5 axb3 18.axb3 Qxa3!? (diagram #1) which Carlsen stated he had considered this and cited another game from the British Championship. Carlsen stated that after 22.f4 he felt happy to get some safety for his pieces, but it appears that black still has menacing threats after 27…Nd3! (diagram #2) instead of 27…h4? 28.Bd7 and then …h4! with the idea of 29.Qh2 Nf2+ and 30…Rxe3. Carlsen admitted that he missed the tactical variations which would have given black adequate play.
Instead Jones actually played 27…h4? 28.Qf2 Nd3 29.Qg1 and white is safe. After 29…Nf5 30.Bxf5 gxf5 32.Nf3 Rc3 32.c5! (diagram #3) Carlsen stabilized his position and was able to exchange off a couple piece minimizing dangerous. He then ended with the nice coup de grace in 38.Qe1! (diagram #4)
Funny game in Anand-Kramnik, the game ended up in a very closed position where there were no pawns exchanged and only the bishop for the knight on move five. Nothing else about such a game. The final position was absolutely deadlocked with no possible pawn breaks.
Levon Aronian got into the winning column with a win over Luke McShane after the Englishman sacrificed his queen to avoid a winning initiative. McShane was able make things interesting with four passed pawns, but Aronian created a passed pawn of his own and ultimately had two queens! So it was two queens versus a rook and two knights. Aronian literally used the fleet-footed queens to conjure up a mating attack around the clumsy knights and flat-footed rook. Exciting game!
Nakamura-Adams had its moments, but the American got all that he could out of the position which was not enough to snatch a full point. Both he and Adams remain at the top half of the chart.
Games (Round #4): https://www.thechessdrum.net/palview5/london12-4.pgn
Magnus Carlsen 3½/4 for 10 points; Vladimir Kramnik, 3/4 for 8 points Michael Adams, 2½/3 for 7 points; Hikaru Nakamura, 2/4 for 5 points; Levon Aronian, 1½/4 for 4 points; Viswanathan Anand, 1½/3 for 3 points; Gawain Jones, 1/4 for 2 points; Luke McShane, ½/3 for 1 point; Judit Polgar, ½/3 for 1 point. (Note: Scoring is 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss)
Carlsen played my pet line 4.Qxd4 which is why he won. 😉
Analysis by IM Andrew Martin
Michael Adams 0-1 Magnus Carlsen
Gawain Jones 0-1 Viswanathan Anand
Judit Polgar 0-1 Hikaru Nakamura
Vladimir Kramnik 1-0 Luke McShane
Levon Aronian bye
Fire on Board in London as boards sizzle!
“Kill them with a smile.” There was nothing friendly about Kramnik’s brutal treatment of McShane. Two exchange sacrifices and then a bishop.
Today’s games at the London Classic were explosive as there were all decisive results on the board. Kramnik play a gem of the round with a dismantling of Luke McShane. Here is a recap by Daniel King.
What was so instructive about the game was not only the first exchange sacrifice (the second was easier to spot), but the relentless pressure on the light squares and the king chase! Vladimir Kramnik appears to be in rare form. He readies for a date with Levon Aronian in a battle for the #2 spot on the ELO list.
… and Nakamura showed his resourceful play by weaving a nice little mating net around Polgar’s king. Photos by Ray Morris Hill.
Nakamura ends the game with a nice mating net here on 45…Rf4! with a strong attack. White made a final error with 46.Nc3 Rg4! and was mated after 47.Nd1 Bf1.
Hikaru Nakamura is attempting to get back on form after a rough patch earlier in the year. He has played credible chess. His game with Judit Polgar featured two of the toughest fighters in chess today. He knew he would be in for a serious fight. This Ruy Lopez started out sharply from the beginning as Polgar built up an attacking formation early. However, she dithered a bit and Nakamura was able to equalize and beat back her pieces. After 33.g4, Nakamura played 33…Qa7! consolidating his advantage. With the white pieces clustered offside on the queenside, black slowly weaved a web around the abandoned king and suddenly mate was imminent.
World Champion Viswanathan Anand finally got into the winning column as much has been made about him going winless in the past several tournaments. Now that streak is over. Gawain Jones was again on the losing side of a beautiful game as Anand beat up his host in his own house. Anand played his pet Grunfeld and sacrificed a pawn for activity and to gain time on white’s centralized king. Soon black’s pieces were swarming all over the board like bees. White was forced to donate an exchange… then another. The game was finished on move 29 with a snappy 29…Rxf1!
The better you are, the luckier you are. Magnus Carlsen got an early gift today from Michael Adams as this game was on the brink of a draw when the Britisher unraveled. Carlsen continues the jugganaut, but will get ready for a date with nemesis Nakamura on Saturday.
Games (Round #5): https://www.thechessdrum.net/palview5/london12-5.pgn
Magnus Carlsen 4½/5 for 13 points; Vladimir Kramnik, 4/5 for 11 points Hikaru Nakamura, 3/5 for 8 points; Michael Adams, 2½/4 for 7 points; Viswanathan Anand, 2½/4 for 6 points; Levon Aronian, 1½/4 for 4 points; Gawain Jones, 1/5 for 2 points; Luke McShane, ½/4 for 1 point; Judit Polgar, ½/4 for 1 point. (Note: Scoring is 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss)
Levon Aronian ½-½ Vladimir Kramnik
Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Judit Polgar
Viswanathan Anand 0-1 Michael Adams
Luke McShane 1-0 Gawain Jones
Hikaru Nakamura bye
Interesting commentary by Hikaru Nakamura highlighted round six at the London Classic. The U.S. Champion gave enlightening commentary on today’s opening phase of the game. He was spot on when predicting a Magnus Carlsen win over Judit Polgar when the Hungarian’s position fell on the passive side. He articulated that Carlsen had a knack for finding the strongest continuation when their are pieces on the board.
GM Hikaru Nakamura (left) with GM Chris Ward and GM David Howell at the commentary booth.
Polgar certainly did not obtain the usual dynamism in her play. Carlsen sacrificed the e-pawn… Polgar traded her dark-squared bishop to snatch it, but soon the dark squares around her king became prey to a brutal invasion. Carlsen was relentless in attack and while Polgar avoided getting mated, white ended up getting a nice zugzwang position.
Michael Adams may be the last of the classical players at the elite level. Nakamura pointed out that while Adams’ repertoire is limited, he gets the most out of the depth of his knowledge. Photo by Ray Morris Hill.
Viswanathan Anand has been struggling the past two years and he has primarily been a championship match player. In the last round, he won an impressive game from Gawain Jones, but fell backwards after blundering against Michael Adams in a drawn position. The Britishman is holding serve in his home court and sits on +2.
The last game was a sibling rivalry as Luke McShane and Gawain Jones squared off. Both were coming off of painful losses where both were mauled. This game followed Kramnik-Carlsen from round three, but Jones deviated early. Commentator David Howell was critical of 15…f6, but Jones had other ideas. He soon sacked an exchange after 20…Bxc4 and tried to mix it up later with 36…Bf5, but ended up tossing a piece to a nice intermezzo.
Games (Round #6): https://www.thechessdrum.net/palview5/london12-6.pgn
Magnus Carlsen 5½/6 for 16 points; Vladimir Kramnik, 4½/6 for 12 points; Michael Adams, 3½/5 for 10 points; Hikaru Nakamura, 3/5 for 8 points; Viswanathan Anand, 2½/5 for 6 points; Levon Aronian, 2/5 for 5 points; Luke McShane, 1½/5 for 4 points; Gawain Jones, 1/6 for 2 points; Judit Polgar, ½/5 for 1 point. (Note: Scoring is 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss)
Hikaru Nakamura ½-½ Magnus Carlsen
Judit Polgar ½-½ Viswanathan Anand
Michael Adams ½-½ Luke McShane
Gawain Jones ½-½ Levon Aronian
Vladimir Kramnik bye
The match everyone had anticipated… clearly the game of the round. The game lived up to its billing. Photo by Ray Morris Hill.
Exciting day after a marquee matchup between Hikaru Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen. The game started in an improbable c3 Sicilian and ended up in a tense positional game before Nakamura played 16.Ra2?! after which Carlsen uncorked a piece sacrifice with 16…Ndxb4! After 17. axb4 Nxb4 18. Rad2 Rxd3 19. Rxd3 Nxd3 20. Qxd3 Rd8 21. Qe2 Rxd1+ 22. Qxd1 Bxf3 23. gxf3 Qxe5 black had three pawns for the piece with the a- and b-pawns posing a potential avalanche.
After 24. Qd7 black played 24…Bf8 (instead of 24…Qd6) allowing white to conjure up threats on the bishop. This would be the deciding moment. After white was able to tie down the black queen to the bishop, he was able to simultaneously attack and win the pawns. With a a piece for two pawns, white could not break the black pawn fortress and a draw was agreed.
Judit Polgar still looking for her first win to get out of the tournament cellar. Photo by Ray Morris Hill.
Polgar-Anand was a theoretical match that had all the makings of an epic battle, but actually turned out to be a “damp squib” and was drawn after a few parries and jousts. Gawain Jones earned a draw against Lev Aronian’s Grunfeld and Michael Adams missed a chance against Luke McShane and grinding him for 84 moves.
Mickey Adams could not make anything of his positional advantage, but is still in a good position to make a run for the 2nd spot. Carlsen is on top with 17 points with only one game remaining. Kramnik can catch him with two wins as can Adams. However Carlsen can clinch a tie for first with a draw and win outright with a win.
Games (Round #7): https://www.thechessdrum.net/palview5/london12-7.pgn
Magnus Carlsen 6/7 for 17 points; Vladimir Kramnik, 5/7 for 12 points; Michael Adams, 4/6 for 11 points; Hikaru Nakamura, 3½/6 for 9 points; Viswanathan Anand, 3/6 for 7 points; Levon Aronian, 2½/6 for 6 points; Luke McShane, 2/6 for 5 points; Gawain Jones, 1½/7 for 3 points; Judit Polgar, 1/6 for 2 points. (Note: Scoring is 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss)
Vladimir Kramnik 1-0 Gawain Jones
Levon Aronian ½-½ Michael Adams
Viswanathan Anand ½-½ Hikaru Nakamura
Luke McShane 0-1 Judit Polgar
Magnus Carlsen bye
Things got a bit more interesting after the 8th round of the London Classic. While Magnus Carlsen was giving commentary, Vladimir Kramnik was grinding down tailender Gawain Jones to move within striking distance of the lead. It was another instructive win for Kramnik as he stated that he “has his form back” after many years of trying to reformulate his style. Nigel Short was in the booth discussing a variety of topics including the ELO records of Carlsen and stating that it is very difficult to compare them across different time eras. Some of the fans took this as a knock at Carlsen, but no offense was taken. It was a lively exchange.
Along with Magnus Carlsen and IM Lawrence Trent, Nigel Short kept things lively with his usual biting commentary. Photos by ChessBase.
In the other marquee matchup, Anand-Nakamura was a very entertaining battle as Nakamura trotted out the Najdorf variation and the game entered a very complicated phase after 22…f4 23.Ndxf4 Bxb3 24. h4 Qg4 25. f3 Bxc2 26. fxg4 Bxd3 27. Nxh5+ Kg8 28. Rxd3. White ended up with two pieces for the rook and a menacing cluster of pawns. Nakamura harassed white’s king enough so that the white pawns got little momentum.
Meanwhile black’s pawns begin to roll up the board and one did eventually queen after the two black pieces fell on the sword. With the lone queen against a rook and a cluster of pawns, black had nothing more than a perpetual, but it appeared as if black had chances with 60…Qe3+ instead of 60…Qd3+. Nakamura has had a decent tournament while Anand is still struggling with his form.
Hikaru Nakamura celebrated his 25th birthday.
Photo by ChessBase.
Judit Polgar got on the board with a nice win against Luke McShane and moved from the cellar of the tournament charts. There is a lot to be said about “the strongest woman in history” but it must be noted that Polgar is simply a strong player… period. Of course there is no woman in sight who will ever duplicate her long list of feats. Other women players are still mired in much weaker women’s tournament, fare poorly in the strongest tournaments and the current World Champion (now GM) Anna Ushenina is not in the top 25 on the women’s charts.
Adams-Aronian was a thriller and the Britisher almost corralled the full point against his formidable opponent. Aronian played a lackluster game provoking Nigel Short to say he is playing “vegetarian chess” to imply he is playing without aggression. Of course this is a false notion on many levels not the least that vegetarian species are amongst the most powerful and agile in mammalian kingdom. One of them includes Viswanathan Anand. 🙂 Nevertheless, Aronian has had another lackluster tournament and he will be looking to draw even in the last round.
Games (Round #8): https://www.thechessdrum.net/palview5/london12-8.pgn
Standings after Round #8
Magnus Carlsen 6/7 for 17 points; Vladimir Kramnik, 5½/7 for 15 points; Michael Adams, 4½/7 for 12 points; Hikaru Nakamura, 4/7 for 10 points; Viswanathan Anand, 3½/7 for 8 points; Levon Aronian, 3/7 for 7 points; Luke McShane, 2/7 for 5 points; Judit Polgar, 2/7 for 5 points; Gawain Jones, 1½/8 for 3 points. (Note: Scoring is 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss)
Wishy Anand is no longer a true vegetarian:-( He started eating seafood many years ago. While in most of the world 1-3 percent of all residents are pure vegetarian (meaning no chicken or fish), in India the ratio is around 33 percent due to cultural and religious reasons. Jains and strict Brahmins have a particular affinity to vegetarianism.
Unfortunately, while vegetarianism and veganism in the western world are booming and very trendy (Bill Clinton, Mike Tyson, Ricky Williams and Tony Gonzalez come to mind as famous recent converts), in India the opposite is happening as more people become “westernized” and “trendy”. In another 30 years, India will think its trendy to be vegetarian when they see that the west is becoming much more vegetarian. Why do we have to copy THE west when it comes to trendiness?!?
Coming back to chess….Magnus has become a monster is the only chess related thought I have had in the past week.
OK… he has started eating fish. Maybe that is why he is not winning much any more. He should have kept his vegetarian diet! 🙂 All kidding aside, there is a false notion that a vegetarian lifestyle means that one cannot be aggressive for some reason. It is a ridiculous notion held by many who know nothing about the lifestyle.
I have been a vegan for 16-17 years, but I do wear leather goods and drive a gas-burning Acura. No shame in that. I eat for health reasons, not animal rights or ecological reasons although I am a supporter of both. However I’m as aggressive as ever at the chess board and love gambits, wild attacks, sacrifices and martial arts combat. I know Nigel was simply making a tongue-and-cheek reference to Levon’s lack of aggression, but to equate that characteristic with vegetarianism is quite presumptuous and misinformed.
I have read that some vegetarian activists have helped perpetuate this notion too. I read that a judge in India rejected a petition by Indian prisoners to increase the incidence of meat in their meals. His stated gounds were that it might increase their violence.
There are many theories about ingesting animal flesh and taking on some of the behavioral characteristics. However, what makes animal carnivores so tough and mean is simply the fact that they have to chase, catch and kill their prey. On the other hand, the human eater of meat has no reason to be any tougher since they don’t catch their food. They simply go to the market or grocer and pick it from the freezer. Nothing mean and tough about this. Thus, the only other reason for the behavioral differences are the cells, adrenaline, blood, and other organic matter that human meat eaters ingest (from animals) that may impact their mood. Saying that vegetarians can be just as mean and tough.
Michael Adams ½-½ Vladimir Kramnik
Judit Polgar ½-½ Levon Aronian
Magnus Carlsen ½-½ Viswanathan Anand
Hikaru Nakamura 1-0 Luke McShane
Gawain Jones bye
Carlsen wins the 4th London Chess Classic!
Aronian-Polgar was an uneventful Marshall Gambit, if such a thing exists. During the press conference, Aronian joked that the Marshall Gambit was a forced draw unless white didn’t know all the intricacies. They went through some of the tricks and indeed white snatches a pawn for undeveloped pieces and having to defend a black onslaught. Fortunately Polgar knew the lines and a draw was agreed quickly.
Adams-Kramnik ended rather placidly after the Berlin Ruy Lopez yielded nothing. The game was theoretically a draw after move 20, but the two players played another 18 moves before shaking hands. Magnus Carlsen knew he had won the London Classic after the Adams-Kramnik draw. Nevertheless, Carlsen continued to battle with World Championship Viswanathan Anand in a position rich with ideas and possibilities.
A prequel to something greater?? 🙂
Photo by ChessBase.
Anand has a slight initiative before he went awry with the optimistic 28…c5. Carlsen snatched the pawn and black was soon struggling to find counterplay for the sacrificed pawn. Nevertheless, all types of traps and minefields were lurking in the two rooks and knight ending. However, nothing would become of it and the two agreed to a draw officially ending the tournament.
Hikaru Nakamura ended his birthday tournament on a high note with a win over Luke McShane. Nakamura had obtained space and got a good initiative after 17.Nb6! forcing Adams to donate an exchange. Despite this, black was able to corral a pawn for the exchange and establish a Godzilla knight on e5.
During the post-mortem, both players had agree that black had reached a sort of dynamic equality. That was until McShane was blindsided by his blunderous 32…Kg7?? A shocked Nakamura immediately played 33. Qxe5+ and black resigned in lieu of 33…Qxe5 34.Rxe5 Rxe5 35.Rxd7 netting a piece. A beleaguered McShane came to the press conference in a very calm mood and offered no excuses for his -4 performance, yet he won a lot of fans with his demeanor.
While the win was good for Nakamura, it was hard to fathom another loss for McShane, a crowd favorite. Photo by Ray Morris Hill.
Games (Round #9): https://www.thechessdrum.net/palview5/london12-9.pgn
Standings after Round #9
Magnus Carlsen 6½/8 for 18 points; Vladimir Kramnik, 6/8 for 16 points; Hikaru Nakamura, 5/8 for 13 points; Michael Adams, 5/8 for 13 points; Viswanathan Anand, 4/8 for 8 points; Levon Aronian, 3½/8 for 8 points; Judit Polgar, 2½/8 for 6 points; Luke McShane, 2/8 for 5 points; Gawain Jones, 1½/8 for 3 points. (Note: Scoring is 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss)
Wow Daiim did not know you were vegan. I hated soy cheese the one time I tried it. I get a sense that Nigel Short often makes controversial points just to make the broadcast interesting and have people laugh. The usually gentlemanly Vishy made a rare controversial point himself yesterday when he mentioned “doing a Gary”! Audience loved it and I was surprised everyone knew what he was talking about.
The meat and cheese substitutes have improved, but of course they will never taste like the original. However, ice cream has been perfected. 🙂 Yes… vegetarians/vegans get the most ridiculous comments… “where do you get your protein” kind of business. That’s like me asking, “Where do you get your phosphorous or selenium?” We have learned to laugh at these notions. However, I wish people would become more informed.