London Classic Rd7: Carlsen, Kramnik, and McShane leap into the lead

12/10/2011 – Things settled back into their normal rhythm as once more three of the four games ended in wins, with Anand-Aronian being the only uneventful draw. Carlsen won after Adams made a mistake, while Short played a King's Gambit against McShane that backfired. Kramnik overpowered Howell and also won. Here is the postgame commentary, and Nakamura discusses his work with Kasparov.

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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.

Round seven

Round 7: Saturday, December 10, 2011
Nigel Short 
0-1
Luke McShane 
Vladimir Kramnik 
1-0
David Howell 
Levon Aronian
½-½
Vishy Anand 
Magnus Carlsen
1-0
Michael Adams 
Hikaru Nakamura (bye) – assisting commentary

After a round of tranquility, things got back to speed with a round of...you guessed it... three wins in four games. Aside from the quick clash between Vishy Anand and Levon Aronian, ending in a draw, the favorites had their way.

Anand and Aronian were the first to shake hands, with a lackluster draw which seemed to leave both wanting more. Sadly, the position left little choice, and neither felt like falling on his sword for the sole entertainment of the spectators.

 
Anand and Aronian discuss their game

Vladimir Kramnik made sure of his option in the leaderboard by essentially overpowering David Howell and chalking up a win. His fluency was clear in the post mortem, and without deliberately attempting to take over the post-game analysis Howell had little to correct or object to after the Russian's explanation on his ideas and what he perceived were his opponent's plans.


Kramnik's presentations leave even the quite animated commentators quiet

Though Mickey Adams is the strongest player from the British Isles, he has been having a dismal tournament, and was not able to shake it off in his game against Magnus Carlsen. For much of the game he seemed to be doing fine, but in the final phase he made a mistake, and suddenly Magnus's threats were unstoppable. A few moves and a piece later it was all over.

 
Magnus Carlsen presents his game against Michael Adams

Though one can hardly talk about easy points in such a tournament, on paper some are easier opponents than others. McShane has had a fantastic tournament, and clearly something about the London Chess Classic inspires him. His seventh round opponent was Nigel Short, who, on top of it all, has also been having a very rough time. Nigel did what others love so much about him as a player: he brought up some of the romanticism he longs for, and a King's Gambit was in order. The only problem with his choice of openings was not so much the objective validity of the setup at such a high level, but his approach. Hikaru Nakamura, who was the guest player commentator of the day, thought that Nigel failed to play in the spirit of the opening, and was overly positional in his view. As it were, things soon got ugly for White as he failed to drum up enough initiative, and eventually the tide turned.

 
Short and McShane discuss their King's Gambit

The last rounds will be decisive and thus the pairings are significant. McShane will face fellow leader Kramnik in the penultimate round tomorrow, and a great deal will hinge on how it turns out. His last-round opponent will be Anand. Carlsen will face Anand, with whom he typically draws, and will face Howell in the last round. Kramnik's last-round opponent is Aronian.


During his stay in the commentator box, GM Daniel King took advantage of the moment, as he has done with other players, to inquire about important elements in their careers. In Nakamura's case, the topic of the day was his recently announced work with Garry Kasparov.

Daniel King – Tell us a little more about working with Garry Kasparov. You enjoy those sessions?

Hikaru Nakamura – There is something to be gained. Mainly it’s the opening preparation he did with his team over the past 20-25 years of his chess career. That’s really the strength of working with someone like Kasparov. It’s his opening preparation because a lot of his wins came just out of getting good positions out of openings as a player. So it’s mainly looking at openings and working from there. There are other things like studies and endgames, but it’s pretty much the openings.

Right, so he doesn’t look at particular middlegames that much with you, or…?

No, like I said, his strength was in openings. I mean you look at middlegames or endgames and I’m quite convinced there are other players who are better than he was, but he was able to get advantages out of the openings so that was his main strength.

Ok, right.

And when he wasn’t able to do that, that’s why he lost his title to Kramnik.

Simple as that?

Well, pretty much.

Right… interesting. And your training sessions are continuing anyway?

Uh…. We’ll see.


Nakamura discusses his work with Kasparov 



Standings after seven rounds (London scoring)

Standings after seven 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
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik 
Michael Adams
0-1
Nigel Short 
Vishy Anand
0-1
Hikaru Nakamura
David Howell
0-1
Luke McShane 
Levon Aronian (bye) – assisting commentary
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 Rest day
Round 5: Thursday, December 8, 2011
Hikaru Nakamura
1-0
David Howell 
Nigel Short
0-1
Vishy Anand 
Vladimir Kramnik
1-0
Michael Adams 
Levon Aronian
½-½
Magnus Carlsen
Luke McShane (bye) – assisting commentary
Round 6: Friday, December 9, 2011
Michael Adams
½-½
Levon Aronian
Vishy Anand
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik 
David Howell
½-½
Nigel Short 
Luke McShane
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura
Magnus Carlsen (bye) – assisting commentary
Round 7: Saturday, December 10, 2011
Nigel Short 
0-1
Luke McShane 
Vladimir Kramnik 
1-0
David Howell 
Levon Aronian
½-½
Vishy Anand 
Magnus Carlsen
1-0
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.

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