ChessBase Logo Shop Link
Language :
Search :
OK

London Classic: Carlsen – probably the best chess player in the world

12/5/2011 – If Magnus Carlsen kept a diary... “Got up. Had breakfast. Looked at some chess games. Had lunch. Played chess with Hikaru. Beat him (again). Went to a football match. Fulham won 1-0. Nice day.” John Saunders admits he's putting words in the young man's mouth, but that pretty much summarises his day in the manner that he often presents to the world. Round three annotations.
 

London Chess Classic 2011

The 2011 London Chess Classic is taking place in the Olympia Conference Centre from Saturday, December 3rd until Monday, December 12th, starting at 14:00h London time each day (final round 12:00h). Time controls are classical forty moves in two hours, then twenty moves in one hour and thirty minutes for the rest of the game. A win is counted as three points, a draw as one, and a loss zero. Tiebreaks: 1) number of wins, 2) number of wins with Black, 3) result of the individual game between the tied players. In the unlikely event that there is still a tie then: 4) 2 x 15'+2" games, and if necessary then 5) an Armageddon game: 6'+2" vs 5'+2" with draw odds for Black. If there is a tie involving more than two players then the Rapid games will be conducted as a double round all play all. The total prize fund is €160,000 before tax.

Carlsen – probably the best chess player in the world

Round three report by John Saunders

Round 3: Monday, December 5, 2011
Levon Aronian
1-0
Nigel Short 
Magnus Carlsen
1-0
Hikaru Nakamura
Michael Adams
0-1
Luke McShane 
Vishy Anand
½ ½
David Howell 
Vladimir Kramnik (bye) – assisting commentary

If Magnus Carlsen kept a diary... “Got up. Had breakfast. Looked at some chess games. Had lunch. Played chess with Hikaru. Beat him (again). Went to a football match. Fulham won 1-0. Nice day.”

OK, I’m putting words in the young man’s mouth but that pretty much summarises his day in the matter of fact manner that he often presents to the world. He does what he knows best and he doesn’t try to hype it or conjure up an air of mystery about himself. The December issue of CHESS magazine (out any day now – please forgive the blatant plug) has a fascinating interview with Magnus. The interviewer, Italian chess journalist Janis Nisii, succeeds in getting Magnus to relax and reveal more of his inner thoughts than before.

Even Magnus’s reticence was revealing! What do I mean? Here’s an example from the interview. Asked who his heroes were, Magnus couldn’t come up with a name. Asked why this was, given that everyone has heroes, he said “I understand that, but it’s not my approach to life at all. I’ve often been asked to name the persons I admire the most and I don’t know, I never thought about that at all. I’m more interested in what people have achieved rather than the people themselves and that also remains true in chess.” Maybe that’s part of his secret. He concentrates on what is useful and simply doesn’t bother with pointless daydreams. He is not intimidated by ‘big names’ and just focuses on the moves they make. Maybe when I say that ‘this is his secret’, I really mean ‘that’s where the rest of us are going wrong’...

Let’s get down to the third round action: on behalf of everyone watching and following, I want to say ‘well done’ to all the players, who served us up another absolute feast of chess. There were three decisive games out of four games today and, as we shall see, it came close to being four out of four. That makes it five decisive encounters out of twelve games played so far. I don’t want to tempt fate, and it is very wrong of me to make odious comparisons, but I can’t resist: that’s a much better percentage than the ten decisive games out of 45 played in Moscow recently.

Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura (above) have developed quite a rivalry over the past year or two and their every meeting creates a real frisson. It’s a healthy rivalry, expressed not in words but in blows exchanged across a chessboard. That said, it is looking rather one-sided at the moment, with Carlsen scoring three wins in classical games against Nakamura in 2011 before they sat down in London (he also won their game here last year, of course). As usual, Magnus’s opening strategy was designed to avoid too many theoretical questions and to reach a position where he can prod and bully his opponent and show off his refined technique.

Nothing much happened in the opening or early middlegame but Magnus maintained his slight grip as far as a position where he could sacrifice the exchange to tighten his control still further. Hikaru didn’t quite know where to put his rooks and that was all the encouragement the world number one needed to step in and exploit his opponent’s indecisiveness. After the game Hikaru was left wondering where he had gone wrong. Meanwhile an elated Magnus Carlsen headed off to watch Fulham beating Liverpool at football (yes, I wasn’t kidding about that bit – that’s soccer to US readers).


Magnus Carlsen and GM Chris Ward analysing after the game

Prior to today, Mickey Adams had only lost one game in three London Classic tournaments but he succumbed to Luke McShane in a rather strange encounter. Adams was unhappy with his 16th move and three moves later, when McShane played a speculative piece sacrifice, capturing a pawn on h3 with his bishop, Mickey declined to accept the sacrifice and was left a pawn down for nothing. Probably just an off day for the England number one but much credit to Luke McShane for completing the job as efficiently as he did, since Mickey Adams is highly tenacious in defence and loses few games.


Michael Adams after one of his rare losses, to...


... fellow Brit Luke McShane

The youngest of England’s four competitors wasn’t too far away from his best scalp ever. David Howell had Vishy Anand in an uncomfortable position for a while in the middlegame. Vlad Kramnik in the commentary room thought it was close to winning had Howell played 32...Rb2, and Vishy Anand later concurred with his predecessor as world champion. Once again David was short of time, with just four seconds remaining when he played his 40th move. By then Vishy had dug himself and was defending. His long run of draws continues but he would have been glad of this one. David will be disappointed with only drawing but can reflect on a well-judged defence of his king earlier in the game (22...h5!).


David Howell and Vishy Anand in the postmortem session after their game

Aronian-Short featured a Queen’s Indian Defence, with Aronian characterising Short’s black set-up as “kind of solid but also kind of extravagant”. In particular he mentioned 14...g6 (where he preferred 14...h6) and 16...Na5 (where his preference was 16...Nb8. The position at move 22 most of us would adjudge as “slightly better for White” (which is what most engines say) but Aronian and Kramnik thought it was practically winning. I must admit I find that very hard to swallow but there is no question that Aronian is as consummate an initiative player as Carlsen.

This was a very good day for both Aronian and Carlsen. Vlad Kramnik in the commentary room foresaw a great future for Levon, predicting that we will see a world championship match between him and Magnus Carlsen in the not too distant future. I’ve a strong feeling he is right.

Andrew Martin: Round 3 Game of the Day London Chess Classic 2011


Standings after three rounds (London scoring)

Standings after three rounds (traditional scoring)

Schedule and results

Round 1: Saturday, December 3, 2011
Vladimir Kramnik
½ ½
Hikaru Nakamura
Levon Aronian
½ ½
Luke McShane 
Magnus Carlsen
1-0
David Howell 
Michael Adams
½ ½
Vishy Anand 
Nigel Short (bye) – assisting commentary
Round 2: Sunday, December 4, 2011
David Howell
½ ½
Michael Adams 
Luke McShane
½ ½
Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura
1-0
Levon Aronian
Nigel Short
0-1
Vladimir Kramnik 
Vishy Anand (bye) – assisting commentary
Round 3: Monday, December 5, 2011
Levon Aronian
1-0
Nigel Short 
Magnus Carlsen
1-0
Hikaru Nakamura
Michael Adams
0-1
Luke McShane 
Vishy Anand
½ ½
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

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.


Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client and get immediate access. Or you can get our latest Fritz 13 program, which includes six months free premium membership to Playchess.

Links

Feedback and mail to our news service Please use this account if you want to contribute to or comment on our news page service

See also

Rules for reader comments
    Not registered yet? Register