London Chess Classic: Three decisions in round 1

by André Schulz
12/9/2016 – Three decisive games - the London Chess Classic is on. Georg Meier shows how Vladimir Kramnik outplayed Veselin Topalov from the opening to score a quick and clean win. Hikaru Nakamura celebrated his 29th birthday but blundered in the opening and lost in 28 moves against Wesley So. Michael Adams also blundered and lost against Levon Aronian. Report, results, games...

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London Chess Classics 2016

Round 1, Kramnik-Topalov - Notes by Georg Meier


Georg Meier's commentary will be delivered with the next ChessBase Magazine #176, together with most of the games of the London Chess Classic annotated - and many more. You can find the fresh ChessBase Magazine #175 with annotations by Vladimir Kramnik, Wesley So, David Navara, Pavel Eljanov, Simon Williams, Daniel King any many other exclusive authors in our shop → here.

Round 1 Highlights by Daniel King

Fotos: Lennart Ootes

At 4 pm London time the London Chess Classic 2016 began. It is the last tournament of the "Grand Chess Tour". The tournament winner in London receives 75,000 USD, the overall winnner of the "Grand Chess Tour" receives another 75,000 USD.

After winning the Sinquefield Cup Wesley So is first in the overall standings of the Grand Chess Tour. Nakamura is the only one who can overtake So, but only if he becomes clear first and So does not finish fourth or better.

Standings of the 2016 #GrandChessTour before the #LondonChessClassic


In the first round So played against Nakamura who on this very day celebrated his 29th birthday. However, So was not willing to make presents. On the contrary. So played with Black and surprised Nakamura with a rare move in the Grünfeld - 9...e5. A few moves later Nakamura allowed So a tactical maneuver which gave Black a great advantage. So continued energetically and Nakamura resigned on move 28.

Wesley So wants to win the Grand Chess Tour

Hikaru Nakamura

With an Elo-rating of 2822 Fabiano Caruana is currently number two in the world and only 18 points behind Carlsen. If things go really, really well in London Caruana might become the new number one - or at least narrow the gap to Magnus Carlsen. In the first round Caruana played with White against Anand and drew a quiet game.

Levon Aronian and Michael Adams played an interesting game. After an Italian Opening both sides played creatively but Adams seized the initiative. He used it to grab a pawn on a2 which allowed Aronian counterplay. In a dynamically even position Adams then blundered a piece and resigned a few moves later.

Levon Aronian - creative as always

Ever since their World Championship match in Elista 2006 the relation between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov has been tense. Therefore Kramnik is perhaps glad that he managed to outplay Topalov in round one of the London Chess Classic. Kramnik was well prepared and reached a promising position after bringing a novelty on move 9. Topalov never managed to shake off the pressure and after making a mistake in a bad position (27...f5) he resigned one move later.

Kramnik and Topalov in the press conference: "It's nothing personal, as always" (Twitter translation)

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri played the shortest game. Giri, who was playing with Black, tried the Najdorf against Najdorf-expert Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The French Grandmaster opted for 6.h3 but got nothing out of the opening. After 24 moves and a repetition of moves the game ended in a draw.

Results of round 1

Bo. Title Name Country ELO Res. Title Name Country ELO
1 GM Hikaru Nakamura
2779 0 - 1 GM Wesley So
2 GM Fabiano Caruana
2823 ½ - ½   V Anand
3 GM Vladimir Kramnik
2809 1 - 0 GM Veselin Topalov
4 GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave
2804 ½ - ½ GM Anish Giri
5 GM Levon Aronian
2785 1 - 0 GM Michael Adams

Games round 1


Standings after round 1

Rg. Title Name Country ELO 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts. Perf. TB
1 GM Vladimir Kramnik
2809                 1   1.0 / 1 3560 0.00
2 GM Wesley So
2794               1     1.0 / 1 3579 0.00
3 GM Levon Aronian
2785                   1 1.0 / 1 3548 0.00
4 GM Fabiano Caruana
2823             ½       0.5 / 1 2200 0.25
5 GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave
2804           ½         0.5 / 1 2771 0.25
6 GM Anish Giri
2771         ½           0.5 / 1 2804 0.25
7 GM V Anand
2779       ½             0.5 / 1 2823 0.25
8 GM Hikaru Nakamura
2779   0                 0.0 / 1 1994 0.00
9 GM Veselin Topalov
2760 0                   0.0 / 1 2009 0.00
10 GM Michael Adams
2748     0               0.0 / 1 1985 0.00


London in the 1960s (History in Pictures)


Tournament page London Chess Classic...

Grand Chess Tour...

London Chess Conference...

Report of round one on ChessBase India by IM Sagar Shah

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


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KevinC KevinC 12/10/2016 11:37
Ironclad, that is not one sentence. It is a win, or can be used specifically in boxing. You can use decision in ANY sporting contest.
koko48 koko48 12/10/2016 09:40
@Ironclad No need to split hairs and get overly semantic...."Decision" means 'win'

In baseball there is no "decision" involved in giving the win to the pitcher...There are no judges awarding these "Decisions"....If the pitcher is on the winning side following the rules of baseball (i.e. minimum five innings for the starting pitcher, departing on the winning side, etc.), the pitcher is given the Decision...the Win

Similarly in these three chess games, according to the rules of the game, the winning player earned the Decision

@KevinC is right when he says the usage is correct
genem genem 12/10/2016 09:18
@Carl Lumma: You are right. ChessBase should stop using the digit '0' for castling, and should use the proper letter 'O'.
The PGN specification is unsatisfactory, and the people at have announced their intention to design a better format to replace PGN. I hope they are successful, and that ChessBase cooperates to everyone's advantage. A co-creator of the Stockfish chess engine, Tord Romstad, is reportedly among those spearheading the effort.
A big problem with PGN is its unwise choice to notate moves with SAN instead of with LAN. SAN is so sparse of information that absurdly more software logic is needed to parse SAN than LAN (because LAN includes origin square).
Ironclad Ironclad 12/10/2016 08:10

You are either being disingenuous in your criticism of Faceofbear, or you're too lazy to actually read the dictionary you claim to quote. Here's the full text of Webster's fourth definition of decision:

a : win; specifically : a victory in boxing decided on points <a unanimous decision>
b : a win or loss officially credited to a pitcher in baseball <has five wins in eight decisions>

Also note that in these sporting contexts, "decision" can mean "win" because an actual DECISION is involved in awarding the win, which is not the case for the three chess games discussed in the article.

Asnasium Asnasium 12/10/2016 05:34
re the interesting comments regarding the use of the word "decisions" in the headline, if faceofbear's first sentence were removed, I'd agree fully. Wins > decisions on the KISS principle. In my opinion.
KevinC KevinC 12/10/2016 03:33
@faceofbear, I am an educated 55-year-old native-English speaker, and the use is absolutely correct. While most often used in boxing, the fourth definition in Webster's is "a win".

Honestly, before you correct other people's use of the language, maybe you should use a dictionary, and make sure that YOU are not the one, who knows less English. In addition, you also need to take into account that there can be significant differences in American English and British English, which is typically taught to Europeans, and realize that this is a European web site.
koko48 koko48 12/10/2016 03:21
@yesanadam Of course I see....What I saw was that @faceofbear's comment was unnecessarily critical of the writer, who was simply trying to write a grabbing headline and use some colorful language

It doesn't have to be a 'chess term'....anybody whose native language is English (or second or third language, for that matter) should be able to understand the meaning of the word "Decision" in this context

More of the conservatism and blind traditionalism I was referring to, which seems to be endemic in the chess world
jsaldea12 jsaldea12 12/10/2016 02:20
Congrats to Aronian, Kramnik, WESLEY SO. Remember, we are behind.
bbrodinsky bbrodinsky 12/10/2016 02:05
How long are Kramnik and Topalov going to carry on their childishness. For gosh sakes it's been TEN years. Holding grudges is a losing move. They're both great players, they should bury the hatchet already.
hserusk hserusk 12/10/2016 01:13
Anand's ELO rating is "0" now? Fantastic!
yesenadam yesenadam 12/10/2016 07:39
koko48: You don't see, huh? :-) The problem is, it's not chess language, and not everyone knows boxing terms, faceofbear and me among them. (My suggestion the other day of making WC tiebreaks boxing matches notwithstanding.)

"The French Grandmaster opted for 6.h3 but got nothing out of the opening." Gee that looked so lame. Boo. The typical Carlsen win, he gets exactly the same amount of "nothing out of the opening". He then keeps playing and wins. Then people complain Carlsen doesn't play like Kasparov.
GregEs GregEs 12/10/2016 07:30
But the term *knockout* in chess have a different meaning. Knockout in chess means that the player needs to pack his things and go home, and cannot play on the succeeding rounds. In this round robin tournament, all players have fixed opponents and fixed number of rounds whether the player wins or loses his game.

Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 12/10/2016 03:54
I think that "decision" in boxing terms is to distinguish a victory/defeat by decision of the judges from a victory/defeat by KO. I do not think that it is for disinguishing a victory/defeat from a draw.
koko48 koko48 12/10/2016 03:18
"Decision" is a boxing term, I see nothing wrong with using it in chess

For some of these games, "Knockout" (or simply "K.O.") might also be apropos
Oscar Lito M Pablo Oscar Lito M Pablo 12/10/2016 02:59
Correction: Only GM Hikaru Nakamura has a chance to overtake GM Wesley So to win the Grand Chess Tour (GCT), but he has to finish sole first, when he will score 30.5, which is 0.5 more than what Wesley will score at the most if Wesley doesn't win the London Chess Classic (30.0)... GM Levon Aronian does not have an chance to win GCT, even if he wins ALL his London games and finish sole first
JohnTVian JohnTVian 12/10/2016 01:37
Wesley So Capitalizes on one of Nakamura's Kamikaze boner moves, 13. Ne2, and Nakamura is unable to recover. Great job GM Wesley!!!
Carl Lumma Carl Lumma 12/10/2016 01:11
The PGN file downloaded here uses zeros for castling, e.g. 0-0. But the PGN spec requires the use of capital letter "O", e.g. O-O. Some chess software will not parse the file as a result.

The problem has occurred before with PGNs from ChessBase.
faceofbear faceofbear 12/9/2016 11:58
I assume English is not the native language of the author of the headline. "Decisions" is not a good substitute for "decisive games". Might I suggest "Three Wins in Round 1"?
Alekhines-Cat Alekhines-Cat 12/9/2016 11:35
So really in great level this year.