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London Chess Classic – Arrival, press conference, Twitter game

12/3/2011 – All the participants of the Chess Classic have arrived safely in London, After a welcome dinner on Thursday evening, the next afternoon saw them attending the press conference, after which there was an interesting novelty: a Twitter game of the Category 20 field against "The World", led by tennis star Boris Becker. Guess who won. Big pictorial report from London.
 

London Chess Classic 2011

Pictorial report by Frederic Friedel and John Saunders


A welcome dinner given by the sponsor, with Kris Littlejohn (Nakamura's second), Hikaru Nakamura,
Andrew Finan (organiser), Luke McShane, Levon Aronian, Peter Davis, Henrik Carlsen, Magnus Carlsen


On the opposite side: Malcolm Pein (organiser), Kyvelli Short, daughter, Nigel Short,
Vladimir Kramnik, Vishy Anand, Tara Adams, IM Ali Mortasavi, Michael Adams

Incidentally Vladimir Kramnik has a very dry sense of humour, and is one of the very few Russian players with a repertoire of genuinely good jokes – good as opposed to jokes that leave you staring at the teller in bafflement. At the dinner he treated us to the following example which had everyone cracking up – and at least one 2800+ player close to hysterics. It goes like this: A kid is asked how he would like his life to end. "I would like to die like my grandfather," he said, "peacefully in his sleep – and not like all those people in the bus he was driving, yelling and screaming in terror." It took a some of us a couple of tellings before we all caught it. But typical Vlady.


On Friday the press conference at the Olympia Centre: David Howell, Luke McShane, Michael Adams,
Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand, Malcolm Pein, Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Hikaru Nakamura, Nigel Short

The players were asked questions, both from the people assembled in the room and spectators on the Internet who had sent their questions earlier. Elite GMs can often be reticent about saying too much before the tournament and this was no exception, but they responded well to a few of the light-hearted questions. One of this year’s innovations is to have an odd number of players. OK, not totally unprecedented in itself but the novelty is to require the ‘bye’ player to join the commentary team for the day. It so happens that Nigel Short will have the bye in the very first round, so he will be the elite commentator to start the tournament. He is also scheduled to play a fun game with star guest, former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker.. Boris has ‘form’ as a chessplayer, having played Garry Kasparov, opening 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5!?. “Ah, he hits the ball over the net,” the former world chess champion is alleged to have said. Today a questioner suggested that, since Boris has a broken foot, Nigel ought to take the opportunity to play him at tennis as well.

Mindful of what was coming next in proceedings, a questioner asked the panel about their attitude to Twitter, Facebook and other social websites, with Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian being the only players in the line-up to tweet so far. Mickey Adams took the microphone to answer: “You haven’t done your research properly,” he replied. “I joined Twitter this morning!” He acknowledged the technical support of his wife in so doing. So, as well as the website, followers of the tournament might like to make a note of the players’ Twitter sites, to see if they make any comments as the London Classic unfolds - @magnuscarlsen, @GMHikaru, @LevAronian and @MickeyAdamsGM.


Chief organiser Malcolm Pein between the Big Four 2800+ players


Three of the four "Brits": David Howell, Luke McShane and Michael Adams


Two players who need no introduction – their name cards are perfectly aligned

Video recording of the press conference

Watch live streaming video from londonchessclassic at livestream.com


So how do you fell about Moscow? Anand answering questions


Top seed Magnus Carlsen, who turned 21 two days ago


Levon Aronian, who is battling Anand over place two in the world


Vladimir Kramnik, a former World Champion and fourth seed


Vladmir Kramnik and his wife Marie Laure, with their daughter Daria


Daria speaks French and is reluctantly learning a little Russian

Twitter game

After the press conference came a new departure - a chess game on Twitter. Billed as London Chess Classic versus the World - the strongest chess game ever held on the medium (and it would be to argue with all those 2800 ratings), it was really just a bit of funny. Nobody quite knew how it would work out but in fact it was great fun. At least, it was good fun for the grandmasters, who entered into the spirit of the thing and bantered happily together as they plotted world destruction. A very good ice-breaker: perhaps all tournaments should start with this pleasant diversion, allowing the players to warm up a bit with the crowd. Maybe they should do this at tennis too – invite people from the crowd to knock up with the players for a few minutes. We can ask Boris Becker what he thinks tomorrow.


The Twitter game is under way, after Boris Becker had made the first move (1.e4)


The super-strong team of GMs ponder the next move

[Event "LCC 2011"] [Site "Kilkenny"] [Date "2011.12.02"] [Round "?"] [White "The World, A."] [Black "London Chess Classic, A."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Pein,Malcolm"] [PlyCount "46"] [EventDate "2011.11.??"] [EventCountry "IRL"] [SourceDate "2011.12.02"] 1. e4 {First serve, Boris Becker. He wasn/^t there in the room but is alleged to have started the game. It is unclear to the extent that the great German tennis star participated thereafter.} g6 {The GMs were taking it in turns to make moves, but there were some discussions between them about plans. It was all very informal and the strict laws of the game were not being adhered to. At one point I was shocked to hear what sounded like an arbiter giving advice to a player. Well, to be honest, I was not so much shocked that an arbiter should break the rules in this flagrant manner as incredulous that he should imagine that someone rated about 700 points above him would take his advice in a million years.} 2. d4 Nf6 {A whim of Nigel Short's, designed to tease Magnus Carlsen. It elicited a large guffaw from the knowledgeable super-GMs when Nigel suggested it. Magnus was game for a laugh and agreed to Nigel's whim.} 3. e5 Nh5 {Why did the GMs laugh? This is a line once played by Tony Miles that Magnus took up but with which he lost to Michael Adams at the 2010 Khanty-Mansiysk Olympiad. First psychological blow to the English GMs - but they may pay for it later.} 4. Be2 d6 5. Bxh5 gxh5 6. Qxh5 dxe5 7. Qxe5 Rg8 { The GMs have good play for a pawn here. Whatever White does, Black will soon gain a tempo - and with four 2800s leading the debate, one tempo is going to hurt a lot.} 8. Nf3 Nc6 9. Qh5 Nxd4 {Vishy Anand asked Luke McShane why he hadn't snaffled a pawn with 9...Rxg2 around here. But of course the enquiry was made in the mildest tone. There were no recriminations amongst the GMs. In fact, the game acted as a pleasant ice-breaker after the press conference. By now they were fully absorbed in the chess game, discussing its nuances in the most affable, relaxed terms - and, of course, utterly confident of a successful outcome. Levon Aronian showed himself to a natural chairman, summarising the various ideas and plans.} 10. Nxd4 Qxd4 11. O-O Qe4 12. g3 Bg7 {Kramnik's idea. Black has the edge with development and weak white squares to aim at.} 13. Nc3 Bxc3 14. bxc3 Bd7 15. Ba3 $6 Bc6 16. f3 Qe3+ 17. Kg2 O-O-O { Black is now piling the pressure on White's king. Unless a few thousand of them had Rybka switched on, they were in big trouble.} 18. Rae1 $2 Qxc3 {The massed ranks of GMs can't see what your analysis engine sees instantly:} (18... Rxg3+ $3 19. hxg3 Rd2+ 20. Kh1 Bxf3+ 21. Qxf3 Qh6+ $1) (18... Rd2+ 19. Kh1 Bxf3+ 20. Qxf3) (18... Rxg3+ 19. Kxg3 Rg8+ 20. Kh3 Bd7+ 21. Kh4 Qf4+) 19. Bxe7 Rd2+ 20. Kh1 Rf2 $1 21. Qf5+ Kb8 22. Rxf2 Qxe1+ 23. Kg2 Qxe7 {At this point Nigel Short suggested to Malcolm Pein that the GMs offered the World "resigns" since White is a bishop down with no hope of salvation. "And if that doesn't work, we offer them a draw," suggested a smiling Vladimir Kramnik, who was prepared to trade a half point in favour of an early return to the hotel with his wife and daughter. He is unlikely to be so generous from tomorrow onwards. But Malcolm took the hint and brought the curtain down on the Twitter crowd's game.} 0-1

The end of the Twitter game captured in the final moves:

The timetable of the 2011 London Chess Classic

Friday December 2nd
Press Day

Saturday December 3rd
Classic round 1
1st Weekender
Open round 1

Sunday December 4th
Classic round 2
1st Weekender
Open round 2

 
Monday December 5th

Classic round 3
CSC Schools 1
Open round 3

Tuesday December 6th
Classic round 4
CSC Schools 2
Open round 4

Wednesday December 7th
Classic free day
Chess Cultural Festival
Open round 5

Thursday December 8th
Classic round 5
CSC Schools 3
Open round 6

 
Friday December 9th

Classic round 6
CSC Schools 4
Open round 7

Saturday December 10th
Classic round 7
2nd Weekender
Open round 8

Sunday December 11th
Classic round 8
2nd Weekender
Open round 9

Monday December 12th
Classic round 9
CSC Schools 5
Charity Fundraising Dinner

Pairings of the London Chess Classic 2011

Round 1: Saturday, December 3, 2011
Vladimir Kramnik
  Hikaru Nakamura
Levon Aronian
  Luke McShane 
Magnus Carlsen
  David Howell 
Michael Adams
  Vishy Anand 
Nigel Short (bye) – assisting commentary
Round 2: Sunday, December 4, 2011
David Howell
  Michael Adams 
Luke McShane
  Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura
  Levon Aronian
Nigel Short
  Vladimir Kramnik 
Vishy Anand (bye) – assisting commentary
Round 3: Monsay, December 5, 2011
Levon Aronian
  Nigel Short 
Magnus Carlsen
  Hikaru Nakamura
Michael Adams
  Luke McShane 
Vishy Anand
  David Howell 
Vladimir Kramnik (bye) – assisting commentary
Round 4: Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Magnus Carlsen
  Vladimir Kramnik 
Michael Adams
  Nigel Short 
Vishy Anand
  Hikaru Nakamura
David Howell
  Luke McShane 
Levon Aronian (bye) – assisting commentary
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 Rest day
Round 5: Thursday, December 8, 2011
Hikaru Nakamura
  David Howell 
Nigel Short
  Vishy Anand 
Vladimir Kramnik
  Michael Adams 
Levon Aronian
  Magnus Carlsen
Luke McShane (bye) – assisting commentary
Round 6: Friday, December 9, 2011
Michael Adams
  Levon Aronian
Vishy Anand
  Vladimir Kramnik 
David Howell
  Nigel Short 
Luke McShane
  Hikaru Nakamura
Magnus Carlsen (bye) – assisting commentary
Round 7: Saturday, December 10, 2011
Nigel Short 
  Luke McShane 
Vladimir Kramnik 
  David Howell 
Levon Aronian
  Vishy Anand 
Magnus Carlsen
  Michael Adams 
Hikaru Nakamura (bye) – assisting commentary
Round 8: Sunday, December 11, 2011
Vishy Anand
  Magnus Carlsen
David Howell
  Levon Aronian
Luke McShane
  Vladimir Kramnik 
Hikaru Nakamura
  Nigel Short 
Michael Adams (bye) – assisting commentary
Round 9: Monday, December 12, 2011
Luke McShane
  Vishy Anand 
Hikaru Nakamura
  Michael Adams 
Nigel Short
  Magnus Carlsen
Vladimir Kramnik
  Levon Aronian
David Howell (bye) – assisting commentary

For clarification: As the lowest rated player has pairing number 7, according to the tournament regulations, the round this player has the “bye” has been moved to be played as round 9.

All games start at 2 p.m. or 14:00h British time = 15:00h CET, 17:00h Moscow, 7:30 p.m. Chennai, 22:00h Beijing, 01:00 a.m. Melbourne, 03:00 a.m. Auckland (sorry Murray!), 6 a.m. San José, 9 a.m. New York. You can check your location here. Naturally the games will be covered live on the official web site (below) and on Playchess. Stand by for further details on Saturday. The games of the final round start two hours earlier.


Malcolm Pein (IM)
Tournament Director
Chess Promotions Ltd
44 Baker Street, London, W1U 7RT
Email: chesspromotions@gmail.com

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