LCC Super Rapid Play Open day one

by John Saunders
12/7/2014 – The London Chess Classic is as much about the development of children’s chess as it is about super-GMs. The tournament started on Saturday with a novelty: pairings of the super-elite players (who will start playing their own closed Classic event on Wednesday) and six under-18 players from the host nation – for the amateurs, rated up to 1000 points lower, a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

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6th London Chess Classic – 6-14 December 2014

Super Rapid Play Open (rounds 1-5) – 6 December 2014

Report by John Saunders

At the halfway stage of the London Super Rapidplay Open, the six overnight leaders on 5.0/5 are Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Fabiano Caruana (Italy), Valdimir Kramnik (Russia), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Matthew Sadler and David Howell (both of England). Just behind on 4½ are Vishy Anand and Mickey Adams of the elite group, plus Simon Williams and Nick Pert of England and Eric Hansen of Canada. The final five rounds will be played on Sunday 7 December, starting at 12 noon UK time.

Some of the names on the leader board already indicate that this is the open rapidplay to end all open rapidplays. A reminder of the star names turning out...

No. Name Country
1 Fabiano Caruana Italy
2 Viswanathan Anand India
3 Hikaru Nakamura USA
4 Vladimir Kramnik Russia
5 Anish Giri Netherlands
6 Michael Adams England

The Supers: Nakamura, Adams, Anand, Kramnik, Caruana, Giri

Those are the sort of names you don’t see every day in an open competition. But for the immensely strong Qatar International – which only finished on Thursday and featured both Kramnik and Giri – you could justifiably call it unique. But in this high-stakes global Swiss tournament poker game, the London Super Rapidplay Open ‘saw’ Qatar’s Kramnik and Giri, and ‘raised’ them Caruana, Anand, Nakamura and Adams. I think that counts as a bit more than a ‘full house’.

The Rapid tournament with Super-GMs to amateurs

Given that the London Chess Classic is as much about the development of children’s chess as it is about super-GMs, the tournament started with another novelty: pairings of the super-elite players (who will start playing their own closed Classic event on Wednesday) and six under 18 players from the host nation. Of course, nobody expected any shock results, with rating differences of around 1,000 points in some cases; it was just a once-in-a-lifetime chance for promising juniors to sample the atmosphere of big-time chess, rather like the way children accompany adult players onto the pitch to take part in the formalities before the start of a big international soccer match.

The clash of top players vs amateurs in the first round

Naturally the super-GMs didn’t get where they are today without being able to dispatch sub-2000-rated players and most of the games were pretty effortless on their part. One player, Theo Slade, aged 14, who comes from the same part of the world as England’s number one player, played a steady Adams-like game to reach a minor piece endgame against Hikaru Nakamura with material equality. Not at all a bad effort but the American had the advantage of the two bishops and delivered a master class in how to exploit this positional advantage.

Elsewhere round one pairings were as per normal. There were no major surprises in the first round, except that Danny Gormally was unable to grind out a rook and knight versus rook against an English amateur, Tony Stewart.

With GMs of the strength of Jon Speelman and Jonathan Parker lurking as low down as board 40 and beyond, the second round was also a massive win for the higher rated. The only concessions of significance were Nigel Short’s draw with Johan Salomon of Norway, while Russian GM Alex Cherniaev lost to Astrit Zymberi, an untitled 40-year-old Albanian, rated 2116.

Daniel Prill, a young German player rated 2193, seemed to be fine against Vishy Anand (above) going into a rook and pawn endgame but then this happened...

[Event "London Chess Classic Rapidplay"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.12.06"] [Round "2.3"] [White "Prill, Daniel"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D04"] [WhiteElo "2193"] [BlackElo "2809"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "88"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:00:30"] [BlackClock "0:16:28"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. e3 c6 4. Bd3 Bg4 5. Nbd2 Nbd7 6. h3 Bh5 7. c3 Qc7 8. e4 dxe4 9. Nxe4 e6 10. O-O Be7 11. Re1 Bg6 12. Neg5 Bxd3 13. Qxd3 h6 14. Ne4 O-O 15. Nxf6+ Bxf6 16. Qe4 Qa5 17. Bf4 Rfe8 18. Re2 Qd5 19. Nd2 Qb5 20. Nf3 a5 21. Rae1 Qd5 22. Qb1 a4 23. a3 Ra5 24. Be5 Rea8 25. Bc7 Rb5 26. Nd2 Qf5 27. Ne4 Be7 28. Re3 Nf6 29. Nxf6+ Bxf6 30. Qxf5 Rxf5 31. Be5 Bxe5 32. Rxe5 Rxe5 33. Rxe5 Kf8 34. Kf1 Ke7 35. Ke2 f6 36. Re3 Kd6 37. Kd3 Ra5 38. f4 g5 39. Rf3 Ke7 40. c4 c5 41. d5 exd5 42. cxd5 Rb5 {[diag] Equal, says Houdini, but Black has a little bit of pressure against the pawns on b2 and d5.} 43. Rf2 (43. fxg5 fxg5 44. Rf2 Rb3+ 45. Kc4 {is OK if you are able to calculate that the white king is safe up the board.}) 43... Rb3+ 44. Kc4 $4 ({Oops. White could still be OK after} 44. Ke4 {with a bit of care.}) 44... Kd6 {Suddenly the game is over. White can't prevent 45...b5 mate.} 0-1

Round four saw the first half points conceded by the London Classic’s aristocracy. Vishy Anand was held by the appropriately-named Jacek Stopa, an IM from Poland, while Mickey Adams was the one who had to do the stopping, fighting his way to a draw against Jahongir Vakhidov, a 2560-rated GM from Uzbekistan. Further down the board order, Loek Van Wely was beaten by someone rated 222 points below himself. But this hardly rated as a surprise as the player in question was a former Candidates’ semi-finalist who was once ranked fourth in the world, namely Jon Speelman. Jon is what I like to call a ‘super-grandmaster emeritus’. He’s still got it – and is quite prepared to use it, too.

The start of an incredible game between IM Ali Mortazavi and Super-GM Fabiano Caruana

[Event "London Chess Classic Rapidplay"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.12.06"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Mortazavi, Ali"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A07"] [BlackElo "2858"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "96"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:00:50"] [BlackClock "0:00:47"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 c6 3. Bg2 Bg4 4. O-O e6 5. d3 Bd6 6. c4 Nf6 7. b3 dxc4 8. d4 cxb3 9. Qxb3 Qb6 10. Qa4 Qa6 11. Qb3 Nbd7 12. Nc3 O-O 13. Rb1 b5 14. Bf4 Bxf4 15. gxf4 Rab8 16. Ne5 Nxe5 17. dxe5 Nd5 18. e3 Nxc3 19. Qxc3 Be2 20. Rfc1 Bc4 21. e4 Rbd8 22. Qg3 Qxa2 23. f5 Qd2 24. f4 Kh8 25. Kh1 exf5 26. exf5 Bd3 27. f6 gxf6 28. Qh4 fxe5 29. Qf6+ Kg8 30. Rg1 Bg6 31. f5 Qd6 32. Qg5 Kg7 33. Rbf1 c5 34. Rf3 Qd2 35. Qh4 {[diag] Under heavy kingside pressure, the world number two goes wrong.} Rd4 $2 (35... Qd4 36. Qg5 Rde8 {is some sort of defence, though it's still tricky.}) 36. Qe7 e4 37. Rg3 Qf4 38. Rf1 $4 ({White is seeing ghosts. Just the natural} 38. fxg6 $1 hxg6 {and now the obvious tactic} 39. Rxg6+ $1 {turns out to be crushing after} Kxg6 {and now simply} 40. Qxf8 { when Black has nothing.} ({Maybe White wasted time trying to make the double check} 40. Bxe4+ {work, against which Black plays} Kh5 {when Black is winning.} )) 38... Qd6 {Black now has things back under control.} 39. Qh4 (39. Qxd6 Rxd6 40. fxg6 fxg6 41. Rxf8 Kxf8 42. Bxe4 {wins a piece but at the price of too many pawns.}) 39... e3 40. Qh5 Qxg3 $1 41. f6+ Kh8 42. Qh6 Qxg2+ $1 43. Kxg2 Rg8 44. Kf3 Re4 45. Rd1 Ree8 46. Re1 Re6 47. Rxe3 Rxf6+ 48. Ke2 Bd3+ 0-1

Michael Adams

[Event "London Chess Classic Rapidplay"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.12.06"] [Round "3.4"] [White "Cobb, James"] [Black "Adams, Michael"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A07"] [BlackElo "2808"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "118"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:00:21"] [BlackClock "0:01:00"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Bg4 3. Bg2 c6 4. O-O e6 5. d4 Nf6 6. Nbd2 Be7 7. Re1 O-O 8. e4 a5 9. c3 a4 10. e5 Nfd7 11. Nf1 c5 12. Ne3 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 Nc6 14. Rd1 Kh8 15. Qg4 Ra6 16. h4 cxd4 17. cxd4 Rb6 18. Nc2 Qc8 19. Qe2 Ndb8 20. Ne1 Na5 21. Nf3 Qc4 22. Qd2 Bb4 23. Qg5 Qc2 24. Bd2 Nbc6 25. Rac1 Qg6 26. Qxg6 hxg6 27. Bf1 Be7 28. Rc2 Ra8 29. Rdc1 Nc4 30. Bxc4 dxc4 31. a3 Rb3 32. Bc3 b5 33. Nd2 Rxc3 34. bxc3 Bxa3 35. Rb1 Ra5 36. Ne4 Kg8 37. Nd6 Bxd6 38. exd6 Kf8 39. d5 Nd8 40. Rcb2 a3 41. Ra2 exd5 42. Rd1 Ke8 43. Rxd5 Kd7 44. Rd1 Nb7 45. Rda1 Nxd6 46. Rxa3 Rxa3 47. Rxa3 Ne4 48. Kf1 Kc6 49. Ke2 f5 50. Ke3 Kc5 51. g4 Nf6 52. gxf5 gxf5 53. Kf4 Ne4 {[diag]} 54. Kxf5 $2 ({Throwing away the win (though it's not easy to see at a rapidplay time control):} 54. h5 $1 Nxc3 $5 (54... b4 55. Ra5+ Kb6 56. cxb4 {wins}) 55. Rxc3 b4 56. Rc1 $1 b3 57. Ke3 $1 $18) 54... Nxc3 55. Rxc3 b4 56. Rc1 c3 57. Ke4 Kc4 58. Ke3 $4 ({Throwing away the draw.} 58. Rg1 $1 { saves White. If} b3 59. Rxg7 b2 60. Rc7+ Kb5 (60... Kb3 61. Rb7+ Kc4 {is a draw }) 61. Rb7+ {and the black king cannot try to stop the checks by advancing his king with} Kc6 $4 {as he loses after} 62. Kd3 Kxb7 63. Kc2 {and the h-pawn cannot be stopped.}) 58... b3 59. Rg1 b2 0-1

The centrepiece of round four was undoubtedly Hikaru Nakamura’s lucky escape from the clutches of English IM James Adair after the American had lost a piece to a schoolboy error in the opening. James seemed to be cruising to victory with his extra piece but he then lost concentration and let slip first the win and then the draw. I suppose this underlines what a lottery rapidplay chess can be. One can only have the deepest sympathy for the young Englishman.

[Event "London Chess Classic Rapidplay"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.12.06"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Adair, James R"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B01"] [WhiteElo "2276"] [BlackElo "2905"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "86"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:05:07"] [BlackClock "0:14:21"] 1. e4 d5 {Hikaru is one of the few super-GMs who plays the Centre Counter, or Scandinavian, if you prefer.} 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 c6 5. Nf3 Bf5 6. Ne5 e6 ({Already a bit shaky. Hikaru has played} 6... Nf6 {here before.}) 7. g4 Bg6 8. h4 Nd7 $4 {[diag] Sound of jaws dropping all over the chess world. Does this really just lose a piece for nothing? Yup.} 9. Nc4 Qc7 10. h5 {In a blitz game I'm guessing most of us would shake our heads, laugh at our own stupidity and resign here. But Hikaru plays on...} Bxc2 11. Qxc2 Ngf6 12. g5 Nd5 13. Bd2 Be7 14. Qe4 O-O-O 15. f4 Rhe8 16. O-O-O h6 17. gxh6 gxh6 18. Ne5 f5 19. Nxd5 cxd5+ 20. Qc2 Nf6 21. Ba5 $1 {Hikaru has made no progress. If anything, his position's got worse.} Qxc2+ 22. Kxc2 b6 23. Be1 ({Why not just} 23. Ba6+ { first? The first sign that White is suffering from 'fear of success', perhaps.} ) 23... Kb7 24. Ng6 Bd6 25. Kd3 Rc8 26. Be2 Ne4 27. Bf3 Rc7 28. Rh2 Rec8 29. Bxe4 dxe4+ 30. Ke3 Rc1 31. Rxc1 Rxc1 32. Bh4 Rf1 33. Be7 Rf3+ 34. Ke2 Kc7 35. Bg5 $1 {White appears to have regained his equanimity with this strong tactic.} hxg5 36. h6 gxf4 37. h7 Rd3 {[diag]} 38. Nxf4 $4 (38. h8=Q $2 f3+ 39. Kf2 Rd2+ 40. Ke1 Rxh2 {is also not much cop}) ({however, simply} 38. Ne5 {cuts across Black's cheapo chances and leaves him as stone dead as he has been for the whole game.}) 38... Bxf4 39. Rh4 Rd2+ 40. Ke1 $2 (40. Kf1 {forces Black to settle for perpetual but the text allows Hikaru to try for more.}) 40... e3 $1 41. Rh3 Bg3+ 42. Rxg3 Rh2 43. d5 $2 f4 $1 (43... f4 44. Rg7+ Kd6 45. Rf7 e5 { wins for Black.}) 0-1

Round five, and the big guns were starting to point menacingly in each others’ directions. This was a remarkable round for the host nation, with players on the top six boards facing (in most cases) world-class opposition. This could be the nearest thing we ever see to an ‘England versus the Rest of the World’ match. With Nakamura, Kramnik, Caruana and Giri forming the nucleus of the ‘world team’, the hosts were never going to get out alive, but wins from Messrs Sadler and Howell against lesser-known names ensured the ‘match’ was only lost by 2-4. Elsewhere, Simon Williams, who himself had conceded a draw to well-known English organiser Adams Raoof in an earlier round, turned giant-killer himself, beating Alex Lenderman, who outrates him by some 200 points.

There was a real buzz around Olympia today, with 400 players taking part in this stellar tournament, many of them young children who had scarcely played a tournament before in their lives. Those of us very long in the tooth can remember when 1,000 players turned out in London-based weekenders, back in the heady days of the Fischer boom, and this came close to that. It shows we are heading in the right direction. Incidentally, even our overworked tournament director Malcolm Pein somehow found time to play three of the five rounds.

Sunday should see a tense denouement to this fascinating competition. Do follow the action on our website, and remember that there will be live chess all the way through next week, with live commentary from Wednesday when the Classic proper starts.

As is standard at the London Classic, spectators will of course be able to enjoy the action on the official website.

All photos by Ray Morris-Hill

Elite Event Schedule

Date Event Time Notes
6-7 Dec. Super Rapidplay 12.00 10 rounds, featuring the Super Six and many other GMs. The Super Six will compete against Chess in Schools and Communities schoolchildren in the first round.
8 Dec. Pro-Am &
TBC The Super Six will take part in Pro-Am and Pro-Business events to be held in the Auditorium. Times and names of guest celebrities to follow.
9 Dec. Super Six Blitz Tournament 18.15 The elite group of six players will take part in a blitz tournament. Start time 18.15.
10-14 Dec. Super Six Classic 16.00* * For rounds 1-3; rounds 4-5 start at 14.00.


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server 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.


In 1999 John Saunders gave up his job as an IT professional to become full-time editor/webmaster of 'British Chess Magazine'. During the 2000s he was also webmaster and magazine editor for the English Chess Federation, and regular webmaster and photo-reporter at Isle of Man and Gibraltar tournaments. In 2010 he became editor of the leading UK monthly 'CHESS' Magazine, retiring in 2012 but remaining its associate editor and regular contributor.


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