2016 London Chess Classic (Round #5)

2016 London Chess Classic
1 Aronian, L
ARM
½-½
Giri, A
NED
2 So, W
USA
½-½
Anand, V
IND
3 Adams, M
ENG
1-0
Topalov, V
BUL
4 Nakamura, H
USA
½-½
Kramnik, V
RUS
5 Vachier-Lagrave, M
FRA
½-½
Caruana, F
USA
Official Site

Round #5: Tuesday, 13 December 2016
Adams gets the “W” … Topalov in free fall

Michael Adams has been a national hero since becoming the youngest Grandmaster in British history at 17 years old. That may not seem like much in an era where an Indian boy named Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa is threatening to become a GM at age 11! Nevertheless, Adams was facing one of his contemporaries in Veselin Topalov.

Both had been on bad form, but this would be a battle of two opposites, a technician vs. brawler. In this game, there was an ebb and flow, but no one had a grip until Adams seized the opportunity with 15.e5! fxe5 16.Qg4. It’s another example of Adams’ efficiency in developing attacking formations. The position doesn’t look that menacing, but after Topalov predictably refused to enter a slightly worse endgame, Adams punished him. British fans went crazy and the buzz started…

… however, it wasn’t over.

Topalov banged down 29…Qg4 (diagram #1) apparently winning back a piece, but Adams played 30.Bg5! stopping mate. After 30…Rxe4 31.Qxa7 threatens mate and a certain death for the black king after 30…Bd5 31.Qa8+ Kd7. At this point, one commentator slipped saying that white simply wins after 32.Qxg8?? (diagram #2). However, black mates after 32…Re1+! 33.Rxe1 Qxg2#. Of course Adams played 32.Rxd5! and black resigned.

With two draws and now a win Adams has climbed into respectability. Meanwhile, Topalov is in absolute rating free fall. Weighing in at 2803 a year ago, he has now dropped to #20 in the world.

Aronian-Giri played a short game in which white got nothing. The Dutch player was credited with a self-proclaimed moral victory. His post-game comments cause quite a few furrowed brows.

Well.

In another bit of prepared, Twittersphere lit up when Viswanathan Anand essayed a bit of prep of his own with 10…Bxa3!!??

After all of beauty of the patterns and preparation, the game ended in a very sterile and tranquil way.

So-Anand after 30…Kxg6

So what does one make of this idea of preparation? Commentators said that the position known as #518 (RNBQKBNR) in Fischer 960 still has a lot of life. However, the chess world seems hesitant to take on another version with any vigor. Fischer 960 remains as a variant that is trotted out for a novelty tournament. Will future elite tournaments end in positions above? Time will tell.

One game that was certainly not a victim of preparation was Nakamura-Kramnik, a game ending in a stalemate. Nigel Short has gone on Twitter lately showing how horrible the stalemate rule is.

The rule states, “The game is drawn when the player to move has no legal move and his king is not in check.” (FIDE Law of Chess, Article 5.2). It is a long-standing debate and the stalemating trick remains a tremendous resource in certain position. Most will see it as a last-ditch swindle (i.e., “crazy rook”) while many beautiful examples exist to demonstrate harsh lessons of inattention by the strong side.

In this game, it appeared that three results were possible throughout the middle game. Kramnik seized the queenside, but made some inaccuracies and the action switched to the kingside with Nakamura pressing. There were a number of finesse moves involving sacrifices, but all lead to equal position be a stream of endless checks.

Nakamura tried one last idea by sacrificing a knight for two connected passed pawns. Kramnik had to find a series of only moves… and he did it. The final 60…Nf7! trick means that white cannot penetrate to the d6 square and if he tries to advance the pawns, they are blockaded and he loses!

After the game, Nakamura stated that he thought the sequence was winning and did not see the stalemating trick until the end. Indeed. Perhaps chess still has quite a bit of life and this tournament has shown some very enterprising ideas.

Round Highlights

Video by GM Daniel King

Full Broadcast (Round #5) 6:36:23

Video by CCSCSL

Despite the precise preparation, this is what resulted.

Official Site: https://www.grandchesstour.com (live games)
Live Coverage: https://live.londonchessclassic.com/grand-chess-tour-2016.php
Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2016/12/09/2016-london-chess-classic-london-england/

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