London R6: Friday Early Closing

12/10/2011 – After a positive glut of decisive results during the first five rounds, there were four draws in round six, all in under 40 moves. One of them was fairly uneventful but there was some interesting play on offer in the other three, especially with bye player Magnus Carlsen providing insightful commentary. Hikaru Nakamura remains in the lead, but three players have the chance to leapfrog over him on Saturday.

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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.

Friday Early Closing

Round six report by John Saunders

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


Spectators in the commentary room listen to the players after their games

After three straight defeats, Mickey Adams could be forgiven for heading for something solid against Levon Aronian. It was a Berlin Defence, and Mickey headed for a line with a lot of exchanges and a balanced pawn structure. It came down to a rook and pawns endgame and a repetition.


Nigel Short in the post morten in the commentary room after his game against...


... the youngest participant, David Howell

David Howell responded to Nigel Short’s Sicilian with 2 c3. Retired English GM Michael Stean (who paid the tournament a visit a few days ago) once suggested that 2 c3 against the Sicilian should be outlawed for being dull or cowardly or something of that sort. I hesitate to agree with him, mainly since I spent about 30 years playing it myself. It transposed into an Exchange French which also tends towards the draw. White enjoyed a slight edge for a while but Black responded positively and a draw resulted. Magnus Carlsen looked at some interesting variations from the game. Here is the final phase.

The current world champion, Vishy Anand, and the man he dethroned, Vlad Kramnik, started with a Queen’s Gambit and the queens soon disappeared from the board. However, what ensued was an interesting cut and thrust in which both players tried to create winning chances, or at least to stay active, fearing their opponent’s relentless technique once they had established a stranglehold.


Anand in cheerful discussion after his game against...


Vladimir Kramnik, who is joint second in the tournament

Vishy Anand played an exchange for pawn sacrifice in a position where he might have been expected to steer for a draw (as Levon Aronian commented in the VIP room) and then Vlad Kramnik opted for a piece for pawns sacrifice, which had the spectating GMs scratching their heads until they managed to figure out what he was up to. After a liquidation it came down to Vishy’s bishop and knight for Vlad’s rook but with just three pawns each on one side of the board, a draw was to be expected.


Hikaru Nakamura, still in the lead in the 2011 Chess Classic


Magnus Carlsen, who had a bye in round six, chats with GM Danny King (left)

McShane-Nakamura was perhaps the game of the round, and mightily enhanced by the commentary of Magnus Carlsen, who did stints in both the VIP and main commentary rooms (both of which were packed out). Asked about his intentions as regards the world championship, Magnus expressed a similar opinion about it to the one in the recent interview with Janis Nisii: “The only time I think about it is when someone asks me about it.” And, to emphasise his cool attitude towards it: “right now I’m thinking more about the London Classic than the World Championship” – a comment which elicited a round of applause from the audience.

Looking forward...

Three rounds remain, with most of the players now having just two games left. Hikaru Nakamura now sits out round seven and may see as many as three players (Carlsen, Kramnik and/or McShane) leapfrog over him. But when he returns to the board in round eight, he has two more games with the white pieces to look forward to, against Adams and Short, while Magnus Carlsen finishes with two Blacks. Hikaru may be the slight favourite to win but anything can happen, especially under the 3-1-0 system.

FIDE Open

Leaders: The two top seeds, Abhijeet Gupta and Gawain Jones, are among the five players in the lead on 6/7 and meet in round eight (Gupta has White). The other three on 6 are Peter Wells, IM Bjorn Thorfinsson and IM Jovanka Houska, with the latter two having very good GM norm chances.

Korchnoi Simuls

In the second of his two simuls, the great Viktor Korchnoi scored 18 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss. Here is his loss:

All photos by Pascal Simon

Game of the Day – annotated by Andrew Martin


Standings after six rounds (London scoring)

Standings after six 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 
  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.

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