Chess Classic Retrospect: Pictures and people at Olympia

by ChessBase
12/18/2011 – Ten days at the London Chess Classic, every one filled with action and activities, with meetings and encounters with interesting people closely or less closely associated with chess. We produced two reports per round, but didn't come close to using all the material we collected. Here is the first of what is bound to be two or three retrospects, introducing you to well and lesser known personalities.

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Encounters at the Chess Classic

By Frederic Friedel

One of our great heros every year at the Chess Classic: chess legend Viktor Korchnoi

At eighty Viktor Lvovich has a number of health issues, not the least of which are his
legs – which did not prevent him from undertaking two simultaneous exhibitions...

... in which he only lost a single game. An example to all octogenarians!

Such a great commentary duo: GM Levon Aronian, number three ranked player in
the world, and Viktor Korchnoi, whose wry humour and sharp views everyone enjoyed.

English GM Jon Speelman, former World Championship candidate, and expert
on long and complicated words (like floccinaucinihilipillification, which he taught us all).

Simen Agdestein, soccer star, ballroom dancer and ... oh yes, chess grandmaster. Simen was one of Magnus' earliest teachers. Today he is rated 250 points below his former student, and played in the Open tournament.

David Friedgood is a playing FM and a Problem Solving IM. He has been a member of the British chess solving team on many occasions and has won the British Solving Championship five times. He co-authored Secrets of Spectacular Chess with GM Jonathan Levitt, now in its second edition. He was the Editor of BCM Problem World from 1995 until last August. Now for the good news: David has agreed to run a problem chess column on our news page.

David Howell, late at night, comes over to install a Fritz 13 on his notebook

This is Julia Hui-Wun Howell, 18, sister of the GM. Look at what she is reading in the VIP room! Julia studies Classics at the University of Bristol and is fluent in Latin as well. Pretty clever, huh?

Commentator GM Christopher Ward, with his brother Montgomery. The latter told us that initially he was the far better player – at the time he was a young fellow and Chris still an infant. Today of course there is no comparison.

Chess on the floor: WGM Ana Srebrnic of Solvenia, rated 2219, playing Michael White of England, rated 2214. Ana told us that she was of a humble background and the family could only afford a single 'n' in her first name (she crossed out the second one we had jotted down); and in addition that she was using ChessBase 9 because she "hated Vista". We haven't quite figured it out yet.

Just visiting: WFM from Moldova Xenia Lazo, who is studying law in Paris

Analysing after the round: Angelina Fransson of Sweden and Elise Forså of Norway. We asked the man in blue who he was and he answered Tiger Hillarp Persson. We apologised profusely to the GM for not recognising him immediately, and he said "This will come back to haunt you!"

Look what Anand got for his baby Akhil. It was given to him by Shuki Vujatovic, one of the many volunteers helping the tournament run smoothly. Shuki is a research scientist who studies how medicines work, including their side-effects. She also tutors medical students. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the piano and knitting her own designs, having learnt knitting as a young girl from her grandmother, and design skills from her mother, a retired fashion studio manager.

Chess wives: Petra Nunn, wife of the good Doctor, and Marie Laure Kramnik, wife of Vlad

Michael Nunn, 13-year-old son of the former, who played in one of the side tournaments

Garry Kasparov, IM Ali Mortazavi, Samir's father Elchin Samadov and Samir

Remember Samir Samadov, the nine-year-old from Baku, who lives in England and had to overcome some very serious health problems, which are still ongoing? Samir gave Ali Mortazavi a tough game in bullet chess, and the Iranian-British IM spontaneously offered to train the boy (for free). When Garry Kasparov arrived in London we introduced him to Samir, who got a nicely dedicated book and a keep-your-chin-up talk from his great hero.

Both from Baku: Samir and his hero Garry Kasparov

Ali Mortazavi, a strong chess IM, and we have joked in the past that he is the most successful player in the Olympia Centre – financially. Ali started work in the city in 1995 as an Investment Analyst. He then went on to start his own investment bank before deciding in 2008 to have a "strategic review" of life! "I still have business interests in finance," he writes us, "but am looking for a meaningful job. Any offers will be considered!" One of his latest career goals: to become a full GM, "which is what I should have been about 20 years ago!" We wish him luck and are very optimistic about his chances.

Vinayak P. Dravid, Professor for Materials Science & Engineering at the Northwestern University, Evanston, IL , chatting with Vishy and Aruna Anand. "Vinny" is a leading expert for nano-technology and is currently designing particles that can cruise the bloodstream searching for cancer cells. Ultimately they will carry a lethal poison and explode once they have entered the cells. He is also working on a nano cure for Alzheimers. Vinny brought along a very unusual present for the organisers of the Chess Classic and for ChessBase which we will present to you in the near future.

Dr. Nida Siddiqui and Ellen Carlsen. Nida is the only female in Pakistan who... (you should try to finish this sentence yourself). Ellen is Magnus' older sister and active in chess. Both are involved in medicine: Nida has completed her studies and is doing an internship, Ellen is still studying it. They both practice evidence-based medicine and it is a pleasure to discuss the subject with them.

Rihan Arora, seven years old, and his mother Monica. The lad lives in Fulham and has been playing chess since the age of five. He has accumulated several medals (visible on the table in in front of him) whilst playing in the school chess clubs at Fulham Prep and now his current school, The Harrodian. Monica told us that "Rihan's initial interest in chess was ignited when we bought him the Fritz and Chesster computer game, and he also enjoys playing chess on his Wii. His other interests include playing football, boxing, Taekwondo and copious amounts of reading! His favourite subjects at school are Maths and Literacy. Very bright kid.

Olivia Beckwith-Smith, a friend of the sponsor, with her twins Eleanor and Philippa

We found an old friend, IM Yochanan Afek of Israel, playing in the Open. He is a great expert in chess studies and problems, and for the Chess Classic he had been asked to provide an official puzzle. This is what he came up with:

Yochanan Afek, London Chess Classic 2011

White to play and win

Yochanan told us that he had been fantasizing about a certain final position during one of his games against a young German talent in the LGA tournament in Nürnberg last September. Eventually he won the game in a different manner – however on his way back to Amsterdam he managed to compose a study with the idea that had gone through his mind during the game. We will provide the solution here in the next week. Try to work it out yourself – for starters guess how much material will be left on the board in the final position.

Well, here's the astonishing solution...

We worked hard at the London Chess Classic, morning to night, producing two reports on each round. Apart from driving our visitor numbers to pleasing heights – at one stage we were amongst the ten thousand most frequented web sites in the world – we also received a large number of appreciative letters, some of which made it all seem truly worthwhile. Like this one from Drew Foote of California, who wrote:

Sitting here in my kitchen in Los Angeles, on the last day of the tournament in London, at the end of a rainy Monday afternoon, safe from the rush hour and all the holiday hustlers and bustlers, I went back and read one of your ChessBase reports on the tournament that I had missed: "London R7: Chess is a Cruel Game."

No other chess era has had the amazing mix of players, tournaments, reports, photographs, and chess technology that we enjoy today. When all five come together, as in this tournament and report, it's magic. It's as close to being there at the tournament hall as one could possibly be, without actually being there. And what a tournament, what players! And here I sit, half way around the world, but just a click or two away from it all, every bit of it. Yes, magic indeed!

ChessBase's online interface for these reports – and the reports themselves – just keeps evolving, and always for the better. It is the perfect vehicle for chess news, especially for tournaments and reports like this one.

Thanks for giving us the informative author bio and photography credits at the end of the piece. Mr. Saunders' writing and and Mr. Friedel's photographs really bring the tournament to life. It's tag team chess journalism at its best! Such in-depth and interesting commentary/analysis, side by side with those always captivating images, make following the games on the mobile, interactive diagrams a real pleasure.

I'm sure a lot of work goes on behind the scenes there at ChessBase to make this all happen, so thanks to everyone, for all you do!

Solution to the problem above: Nida Siddiqui is the only female in Pakistan who has a FIDE rating.


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