London Super Sixteen Starts

by Alejandro Ramirez
12/12/2013 – The London Super Sixteen is the crown jewel of the London Chess Classic. This rapid tournament brings the top rapid players of the world and the best British players in an exciting event. The games were certainly not dissapointing as the fans saw many blunders, traps, crazy and wild games and very few solid draws. Group stages continue tomorrow and the day after while the knockout begins on Saturday. Round one and two reports.

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The London Super Sixteen rapid tournament has started. The main event of the London Chess Classic takes place from December 11th to December 15th at the Olympiad Conference Center in London, England. The tournament brings together many of the best players of the World as well as two qualifiers from the Open section of the London Chess Classic.

Players were divided into four groups initially, to play a double round robin between them and determine two qualifiers to the knock out stages.

A guitar performance opened the event

The groups are as follows:

Group A

Name Rating
Vishy Anand 2775
Michael Adams 2761
Andrei Istratescu 2709
Luke McShane 2697

A very close group. Despite Anand having focused so much energy in the recent World Chess Championship, it is cear that he is a magnificent rapid chess player and he has excellent chances of making it out of the group stage. Luke McShane will have to prove that he is not rusty to be able to have a chance of second, while it seems that more realistically the second place will be a toss-up between Adams and Istratescu.

Group B

Name Rating
Vladimir Kramnik 2794
Peter Svidler 2746
Matthew Sadler 2646
Jonathan Rowson 2573

Despite Sadler's unquestionable talent and his magnificent return to chess with an over 2900 performance in a recent tournament, it is unlikely Rowson or him have a chance against Kramnik and Svidler. Surprises are always fun but it's hard to expect one here.

Group C

Name Rating
Hikaru Nakamura 2772
Boris Gelfand 2764
Judit Polgar 2696
Gawain Jones 2633

Gelfand and Nakamura come as the favorites in this group, unquestionably, but unlike Group B this one is rather dangerous. Polgar is an experienced tactician who has defeated Kasparov in rapid time controls, so she is a force to be reckoned with. Further Gawain Jones is very talented and he can take away a key half or even full point from the favorites to make the group interesting.

Group D

Name Rating
Fabiano Caruana 2779
Nigel Short 2684
Emil Sutovsky 2663
David Howell 2644

Probably the hardest group to call. Caruana has a nice rating advantage over his opponents but rapid and blitz have never been his strong suit. On the other hand there is Nigel Short who can always play amazing chess if he feels like it, Sutovsky who is very experienced and Howell who is still young and talented.

Round 1

Young players checking out who is in the Super Sixteen

Round 01 – Group A: Wednesday December 11th, 14:00
Luke McShane 2697
0-1
Vishy Anand 2775
Andrei Istratescu 2709
0-1
Michael Adams 2761
Round 01 – Group B: Wednesday December 11th, 14:00
Vladimir Kramnik 2794
1-0
Peter Svidler 2746
Jonathan Rowson 2573
1-0
Matthew Sadler 2646
Round 01 – Group C: Wednesday December 11th, 15:30
Boris Gelfand 2764
1-0
Judit Polgar 2696
Gawain Jones 2633
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura 2772
Round 01 – Group D: Wednesday December 11th, 15:30
Nigel Short 2684
½-½
David Howell 2644
Fabiano Caruana 2779
1-0
Emil Sutovsky 2663

This English duel ended in a fought draw

Relatively few surprises were seen on round one. What we did see was a flurry of decisive results. Istratescu's English Opening against Adams was more than shady, and the highest rated English player played a nice technical game to win with Black.

Istratescu (left) qualified from the Open Section, as did Sutovsky

Luke McShane's game however was very different. He valiantly sacrificed a pawn in the opening and soon obtained a winning position as Anand had to surrender an exchange. Unfortunately for McShane his followup was less than stellar and his technique was atrocious, so much so that Anand even got a winning endgame being down the exchange...

Gelfand doesn't seem to approve of such aggression on move one

Svidler essayed one of those novel opening ides with the knight on the rim against Kramnik and his position was actually rather playable out of the first few moves. A miscalculation left Kramnik down a rook and a pawn against two pieces and Black was certainly looking like he had good chances to win. Carelessness however tied Black's pieces down to each other and a nice tactical coup with the king spelled disaster for Svidler's position.

Caruana won a nice tactical melee:

[Event "5th London Chess Classic Rapid"] [Site "London"] [Date "2013.12.11"] [Round "1"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Sutovsky, Emil"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A48"] [WhiteElo "2782"] [BlackElo "2657"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2013.??.??"] [EventCountry "ENG"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bf4 d6 4. h3 c5 5. dxc5 Qa5+ 6. Qd2 Qxc5 7. Nc3 {An unusual opening. White has a relatively nice central control and the game would resemble the Sicilian if White ever plays e4, which looks natural.} Bf5 $5 {Bur Sutovsky will have none of that. Caruana however really wants to play e4.} 8. Nd4 Ne4 $5 9. Nxe4 Bxe4 10. f3 Bc6 11. e4 e5 $2 {Based entirely on a miscalculation.} (11... Bg7 12. Be3 Qe5 13. Bc4 O-O 14. O-O Nd7 {was playable for both sides, even though the awkward bishop on c6 might mean that White has a slight edge as he will be able to target it while preparing f4-f5 type of ideas in the long run.}) 12. Be3 {Caruana has seen further in this position:} exd4 13. Bxd4 Bh6 14. Qf2 Qa5+ 15. Bc3 $1 {The bishop keeps the double attack on the rook on h8 and the queen.} Qd8 16. Bxh8 f6 {a last ditch attempt to trap the bishop on h8, which would give Black a pleasant position. However Caruana will not give Sutovsky that kind of time.} 17. Qh4 Bg5 18. Qxh7 Qa5+ 19. c3 Nd7 20. Qxg6+ Ke7 {Maybe in a normal game Sutovsky would have resigned, but this is rapid chess!} 21. h4 Be3 22. Bxf6+ $1 {A beautiful finish} (22. Bg7 Qb6 23. Rb1 Bf2+ {is winning for White but counterplay is the only way that Black can get back into this game.}) 22... Nxf6 23. Qg7+ Ke6 24. g3 {Cold blooded calculation. The problem for Black is that he cannot prevent Bh3+ with devasting consequences.} Bf2+ $1 {very resourceful} 25. Kd2 $1 (25. Kxf2 Qb6+ 26. Kg2 Qxb2+ 27. Kh3 Qxc3 {leaves White with a lot of extra material, but his position is somewhat uncomfortable and far from immediately winning.}) 25... Be3+ $1 26. Kc2 $1 {The kamikaze bishop has been avoided and White's king is surprisingly safer on c2 than on h3.} Bxe4+ 27. fxe4 Qa4+ 28. b3 Qxe4+ 29. Kb2 (29. Bd3 $4 Qg2+ {spoils absolutely everything.}) 29... Qf3 30. Bh3+ Kd5 {A very pretty game full of resources. Caruana made it look easy!} 1-0

Hikaru Nakamura held on by the skin of his teeth against Gawain Jones but he was able to set up a fortress and hold a draw. Meanwhile Gelfand convincingly beat Polgar. Finally the Short-Howell game was spectacularly weird but it somehow ended in a draw.

Kramnik won a game he probably should not have against Svidler

Round 2

Round 02 – Group A: Wednesday December 11th, 18:00
Vishy Anand 2775
½-½
Michael Adams 2761
Luke McShane 2697
1-0
Andrei Istratescu 2709
Round 02 – Group B: Wednesday December 11th, 18:00
Peter Svidler 2746
½-½
Matthew Sadler 2646
Vladimir Kramnik 2794
1-0
Jonathan Rowson 2573
Round 02 – Group C: Wednesday December 11th, 19:30
Judit Polgar 2696
0-1
Hikaru Nakamura 2772
Boris Gelfand 2764
1-0
Gawain Jones 2633
Round 02 – Group D: Wednesday December 11th, 19:30
David Howell 2644
1-0
Emil Sutovsky 2663
Nigel Short 2684
0-1
Fabiano Caruana 2779

Anand and Adams played a "real game" instead of a rapid and played some theory, exchanged some pieces and solidly drew. McShane's game against Istratescu was complicated, wild and razor sharp, and the Englishman took it in the end with a beautiful finishing checkmate.

Svidler misplayed horribly his white side of a French against Sadler and had to resort to some tactics to force a perpetual. Kramnik just steamrolled over Rowson from a Reti opening.

Polgar had the advantage all throughout the game against Nakamura, probably a winning advantage too, but she misplayed the position badly and the American was able to convert an endgame that should have been harder than it was. Gelfand always had a nagging edge against Jones who blundered in an endgame which might have been held.

Howell took advantage of a blunder by Sutovsky to win an exchange and the game. Nigel Short played a ridiculous opening against Caruana (1.b4), proceeded to play in consistent ridiculous fashion and was promptly checkmated.

The Lawrence Trent and Danny King duo are doing a fantastic job doing the live analysis of the games

Daniel King's highlights of the day

Standings

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Schedule

Round 01 – Group A: Wednesday December 11th, 14:00
Luke McShane 2697
0-1
Vishy Anand 2775
Andrei Istratescu 2709
0-1
Michael Adams 2761
Round 01 – Group B: Wednesday December 11th, 14:00
Vladimir Kramnik 2794
1-0
Peter Svidler 2746
Jonathan Rowson 2573
1-0
Matthew Sadler 2646
Round 01 – Group C: Wednesday December 11th, 15:30
Boris Gelfand 2764
1-0
Judit Polgar 2696
Gawain Jones 2633
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura 2772
Round 01 – Group D: Wednesday December 11th, 15:30
Nigel Short 2684
½-½
David Howell 2644
Fabiano Caruana 2779
1-0
Emil Sutovsky 2663
Round 02 – Group A: Wednesday December 11th, 18:00
Vishy Anand 2775
 
Michael Adams 2761
Luke McShane 2697
 
Andrei Istratescu 2709
Round 02 – Group B: Wednesday December 11th, 18:00
Peter Svidler 2746
 
Matthew Sadler 2646
Vladimir Kramnik 2794
 
Jonathan Rowson 2573
Round 02 – Group C: Wednesday December 11th, 19:30
Judit Polgar 2696   Hikaru Nakamura 2772
Boris Gelfand 2764   Gawain Jones 2633
Round 02 – Group D: Wednesday December 11th, 19:30
David Howell 2644
 
Emil Sutovsky 2663
Nigel Short 2684
 
Fabiano Caruana 2779
Round 03 – Group C: Thursday December 12th, 14:00
Gawain Jones 2633   Judit Polgar 2696
Hikaru Nakamura 2772   Boris Gelfand 2764
Round 03 – Group D: Thursday December 12th, 14:00
Fabiano Caruana 2779
 
David Howell 2644
Emil Sutovsky 2663
 
Nigel Short 2684
Round 03 – Group A: Thursday December 12th, 15:30
Andrei Istratescu 2709
 
Vishy Anand 2775
Michael Adams 2761
 
Luke McShane 2697
Round 03 – Group B: Thursday December 12th, 15:30
Jonathan Rowson 2573
 
Peter Svidler 2746
Matthew Sadler 2646
 
Vladimir Kramnik 2794
Round 04 – Group C: Thursday December 12th, 18:00
Judit Polgar 2696   Boris Gelfand 2764
Hikaru Nakamura 2772   Gawain Jones 2633
Round 04 – Group D: Thursday December 12th, 18:00
David Howell 2644
 
Nigel Short 2684
Emil Sutovsky 2663
 
Fabiano Caruana 2779
Round 04 – Group A: Thursday December 12th, 19:30
Vishy Anand 2775
 
Luke McShane 2697
Michael Adams 2761
 
Andrei Istratescu 2709
Round 04 – Group B: Thursday December 12th, 19:30
Peter Svidler 2746
 
Vladimir Kramnik 2794
Matthew Sadler 2646
 
Jonathan Rowson 2573
Round 05 – Group A: Friday December 13th, 14:00
Luke McShane 2697
 
Michael Adams 2761
Vishy Anand 2775
 
Andrei Istratescu 2709
Round 05 – Group B: Friday December 13th, 14:00
Vladimir Kramnik 2794
 
Matthew Sadler 2646
Peter Svidler 2746
 
Jonathan Rowson 2573
Round 05 – Group C: Friday December 13th, 15:30
Boris Gelfand 2764   Hikaru Nakamura 2772
Judit Polgar 2696   Gawain Jones 2633
Round 05 – Group D: Friday December 13th, 15:30
Nigel Short 2684
 
Emil Sutovsky 2663
David Howell 2644
 
Fabiano Caruana 2779
Round 06 – Group A: Friday December 13th, 18:00
Michael Adams 2761
 
Vishy Anand 2775
Andrei Istratescu 2709
 
Luke McShane 2697
Round 06 – Group B: Friday December 13th, 18:00
Matthew Sadler 2646
 
Peter Svidler 2746
Jonathan Rowson 2573
 
Vladimir Kramnik 2794
Round 06 – Group C: Friday December 13th, 19:30
Hikaru Nakamura 2772   Judit Polgar 2696
Gawain Jones 2633   Boris Gelfand 2764
Round 06 – Group D: Friday December 13th, 19:30
Emil Sutovsky 2663
 
David Howell 2644
Fabiano Caruana 2779
 
Nigel Short 2684

Photographs by Ray Morris-Hill

Links

The games will be 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 there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.



Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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