London Chess Classic 2009 – starts today

12/8/2009 – The tournament, the strongest in London in a quarter century, began with a press conference, the drawing of colours, and a first match – a sharp encounter between Magnus Carlsen and Pat Cash, the 1987 winner of Wimbledon. In tennis. Cash won. The chess games start on Tuesday, with Carlsen playing Kramnik in the first round. Watch it with audio commentary from London on Playchess.

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The London Chess Classic 2009 is the highest level tournament in London for 25 years and will be the first in a series of events designed, according to the organisers, "to increase enthusiasm for chess in the UK and promote the game and its undoubted educational benefits in schools and communities." It is also their objective to bring the World Chess Championship to London in the Olympic year 2012.

The arrival of the players in London worked out fairly smoothly – after some complicated visa problems had been solved for Vladimir Kramnik. The players have been put up in a comfortable hotel very close to the playing venue – five walking minutes from door to door. On the first evening they were treated to a cosy dinner in a London restaurant.


Henrik and Maguns Carlsen, David Howell, Michael and Tara Adams, Nigel Short,
Vladimir Kramnik, Malcolm Pein enjoy wine, coffee and tea at the end of the dinner


On Monday the press conference: Malcolm Pein, standing in the middle explains that
this event is a dry run for bigger things: a World Championship in London in 2012


Tournament arbiter Albert Vasser, Pein, Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik


Hikaru Nakamura, USA, Ni Hua, China


The Brits: David Howell, Luke McShane, Michael Adams, Nigel Short


Drawing of colours: top seed Magnus Carlsen picks the c2 pawn...


...and for the third time in consecutive tournaments (Nanjing, Tal Memorial) gets the 1


Second seed Vladimir Kramnik is next and gets the 8, so the two face each other in round one


Ni Hua, Nigel Short, Michael Adams, David Howell, Luke McShane


All the player line up for the photographers, sorted by rating, in front of their portraits

Pairings of the London Chess Classic

Round 1: Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Vladimir Kramnik
Luke McShane 
1-0
 Nigel Short
David Howell 
½-½
 Michael Adams
Hikaru Nakamura 
½-½
 Ni Hua
Games – Report
Round 1: Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Vladimir Kramnik 

-

 Ni Hua

Michael Adams 

-

 Hikaru Nakamura

Nigel Short 

-

 David Howell

Magnus Carlsen 

-

 Luke McShane

Games – Report
Round 1: Thuesday, December 10, 2009

Luke McShane 

-

 Vladimir Kramnik

David Howell 

-

 Magnus Carlsen

Hikaru Nakamura 

-

 Nigel Short

Ni Hua 

-

 Michael Adams

Games – Report

Friday, December 12, 2009

Rest day

Round 1: Saturday, December 12, 2009

Vladimir Kramnik 

-

 Michael Adams

Nigel Short 

-

 Ni Hua

Magnus Carlsen 

-

 Hikaru Nakamura

Luke McShane 

-

 David Howell

Games – Report
Round 1: Sunday, December 13, 2009

David Howell 

-

Vladimir Kramnik

Hikaru Nakamura 

-

Luke McShane

Ni Hua 

-

Magnus Carlsen

Michael Adams 

-

Nigel Short

Games – Report
Round 1: Monday, December 14, 2009

Vladimir Kramnik 

-

Nigel Short

Magnus Carlsen 

-

Michael Adams

Luke McShane 

-

Ni Hua

David Howell 

-

Hikaru Nakamura

Games – Report
Round 1: Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hikaru Nakamura 

-

 Vladimir Kramnik

Ni Hua 

-

 David Howell

Michael Adams 

-

 Luke McShane

Nigel Short 

-

 Magnus Carlsen

Games – Report

Photo shoot


The press and photographers are particularly eager to shoot the top seed from Norway


What a 19-year-old really enjoys: photographers pressing for one more shot


Like Susanna here, who wanted him from many different angles

An encounter with tennis star Pat Cash

In the evening Magnus Carlsen was invited to Wimbledon to meet the former (1987) winner Pat Cash, who hails from Australia and now lives in London. Pat has family connections and friends in Norway. He gave us a "three dollar" tour of the world famous tennis club.


After showing us the different areas and facilities he took us to the holiest of holies...


The Centre Court, where the greatest matches in history have been played


Pat Cash tell us about his doubles matches against John McEnroe. He is learning
chess with a Norwegian cut-down version known as Chess Attack


Then it was off to one of the indoor courts for a session of tennis against Magnus


First Magnus gets a special chess headband for their match

The headband was the trademark of Pat Cash, who then went on to play Magnus and gave him tips of his technique. Pat was surprised that the young Norwegian was quite talented and was scoring occasional points against a top professional.


He even subjected Magnus to his famous fast serves...


... and was surprised that Magnus returned a number of them


"I could have gone on for hours," said a happy Magnus at the end of the session. The encounter gave him a feel for what it feels like for amateur opponents to play chess against him.

Frederic Friedel in London

Tournament Schedule

Monday 7th December Press Conference + blindfold display  

Tuesday

8th December

Round 1

2.00pm

Wednesday 

9th December

Round 2

2.00pm

Thursday

10th December

Round 3

2.00pm

Friday 11th December Rest day and Community / School events  

Saturday

12th December

Round 4

2.00pm

Sunday

13th December

Round 5

2.00pm

Monday

14th December

Round 6

2.00pm

Tuesday

15th December

Round 7

12.00pm

The events below will run in conjunction with the London Classic, 7-15 December. Details of entry fees and prizes are now available on http://www.londonchessclassic.com/festival_events.htm. Online entries can now be made by clicking here a form suitable for download will be available soon as well.

Tickets

The London Chess Classic 2009 will offer free admission to children for the duration of the event which runs from December 8th to 15th. Adult tickets are just £10 per day or just £50 for all seven rounds. Adult and junior ticket holders receive admission to the tournament, plus a guaranteed seat in the auditorium and access to the commentary room where some of the UK’s leading Grandmasters will give insights into the play and answer questions. You can buy tickets here or call +44-207-388-2404.


Links

The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!


Monday 7th December 2009

London Chess Classic: Press conference and drawing of lots

Today was the day when the much-anticipated London Chess Classic tournament opened its doors to the press. The conference kicked off with an upbeat address from organiser Malcolm Pein. Most of us were already pretty impressed by the line-up and playing arrangements at the Olympia Conference centre – but Malcolm tells us that this year’s tournament – the biggest London has seen for 25 years – is just for starters. He has even bigger and better plans on the horizon, working towards a possible World Chess Championship match in 2012 (the World Chess Federation has already given London its option for the title match, in London’s Olympic year). He also stressed the importance of the charity that is to emerge from the event: Chess in Schools and Communities has been set up to get youngsters interested in the game and its first activity would be to bring lots of schoolchildren to Olympia to soak up the palpable excitement of a really big chess tournament.

The eight grandmasters themselves played their part in some PR activities staged around the landmarks of England’s capital city. Nigel Short and Luke McShane went off to the London Eye to play blindfold chess while Magnus Carlsen stayed at the plush Hilton Hotel to play a game with Guardian journalist Stephen Moss. Despite the small matter of 1,100 rating points that separate Magnus and Stephen, the Guardian man gave the Norwegian wunderkind quite a good pre-tournament work-out. We’ll return to this in due course.

Back at the press conference: next on the agenda was the drawing of lots. For this the organisers had provided a beautiful giant wooden chessboard. Underneath each of the eight white pawns was a hidden number. Each player was asked to step forward, choose a pawn and hold it up for all to see. The honour of being the first player to uncover his pairing number went to the man with the highest rating – at 2801, this was 19-year-old Magnus Carlsen. Magnus didn’t hesitate – he went straight to the c2 pawn, picked it up and – yes, it was the number one. The audience laughed but the serene look on Magnus’ face seemed to say “of course!”. Vladimir Kramnik shook his head and exclaimed “exactly the same as in Moscow!”. He then stepped forward to choose a pawn – it was the number eight. Knowledgeable members of the audience knew immediately that it meant he would Black in round one against Magnus Carlsen.

After the players had all drawn their lots, and arbiter Albert Vasse had read out the first-round pairings for Tuesday, they proceeded to the photo-call. As the players lined up in front of their images on the wall, some paparazzi were perplexed at the large difference in height between the very tall Kramnik and players flanking him. One even dared suggested Vlad stoop or kneel so that his head was in line with some of his colleagues. But Vlad is not for bending and he politely demurred. This recalled to mind a similar occasion in London more than nine years before, when the newspaper snappers wanted Vlad to smile. “Russian grandmasters do not smile!,” exclaimed the then world title challenger. Then, after a pause: “well, perhaps after I win the title!” Which he did, of course – he is still the only chessplayer in history to win the world championship title in London (though we must not forget that Kasparov made a couple of successful defences here).

Once the photographers had their fill of pictures, the players returned for an open question session. Malcolm Pein pointed out that Vladimir Kramnik’s recent “double happy event” (birth of a child and victory in Moscow) bucked the trend. Usually, said Malcolm, paternity led to an inevitable loss of rating points. Nigel Short felt that evidence that consisted of nothing more than one newly-born child and one tournament success didn’t really add up to much. The look he gave Vlad seemed to say “wait till you have two children!”. Magnus Carlsen, not much older than Nigel Short’s eldest child, looked off into space whilst this fatherly badinage was being exchanged but, when called upon to answer a few questions which came his way, he did so poise and confidence.

For the record, the draw was as follows: 1 Carlsen, 2 McShane, 3 David Howell, 4 Hikaru Nakamura, 5 Ni Hua, 6 Michael Adams, 7 Nigel Short, 8 Vladimir Kramnik. The first four named get an extra white, of course; quite an advantage in such a short tournament. Magnus Carlsen, as number one, starts with two whites, which means that if he exploits his first-move advantage twice he has already taken a big step towards winning the tournament. But Vladimir Kramnik is a very large obstacle. One of the photographers had earlier tried to get Vlad to move to one side when composing his shot because “you are blocking your own picture”. Vlad retorted: “wherever I go, I will be blocking!”. And, he might have added, this is especially true in London, as Garry Kasparov will know only too well.

John Saunders
Chess Press Chief, London Chess Classic


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