London Chess Classic closing dinner and simul

by ChessBase
12/16/2012 – As every year, this premium chess event ends with a magnificent dinner for special guests at the traditional Simpson's-in-the-Strand. Apart from prizes, speeches, a charity raffle and the dinner itself, the main attraction is a simultaneous exhibition with all the Classics players pitted against the guest tables. We include GM Jonathan Rowson's commentary on his game in our big pictorial report.

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Closing ceremony at Simpson's

The 2012 London Chess Classic took place in the Olympia Conference Centre from Saturday, December 1st until Monday, December 10th. A win was counted as three points, a draw as one, and a loss zero. The tournament was won by Norwegian star Magnus Carlsen with 18/8 (London scoring) or 6.5/8 (FIDE) with a performance of 2994, gaining him 13 rating points. With that Magnus shattered the all-time record of Garry Kasparov, who had a rating of 2851 in 1999. In the January 1st FIDE ratings Magnus Carlsen will be listed at 2861. In second place in the 2012 Chess Classic was former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik with 16/18 or 6.0/8 FIDE, and a rating performance of 2937.

The event ended on Monday, December 10, a day on which the round started two hours earlier than usual. This in order to allow the participants to attend the Gala Dinner at Simpson's-in-the-Strand (above). This is one of London's oldest traditional English restaurants, known as the Grand Cigar Divan when it opened in 1828. It developed from a smoking room to a coffee house, and finally achieved dual fame for its traditional English food, particularly roast meat, and as the most important venue in Britain for chess in the nineteenth century.

In the 19th century Simpson's was the Wimbledon of chess. Almost all the top players visited the restaurant, including Wilhelm Steinitz, Paul Morphy, Emanuel Lasker, Johannes Zukertort (who had a fatal stroke while playing there), and Siegbert Tarrasch. It was in Simpson's in 1851 that one of the world's great games, the famous "Immortal Game", was played between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky.

World Champion Vishy Anand arriving at Simpson's with wife Aruna

Judit Polgar, the strongest female player in history, at the reception

GMs Levon Aronian, Luke McShane and Gawain Jones are ready to party

The superb Simpson's cuisine is enjoyed by the players and specially invited guests

As the start tournament director Malcolm Pein awards the trophy to Magnus Carlsen

The Norwegian superstar has achieved the highest rating in the history of chess

A raffle for signed pictures, chessboards and books, with the proceeds going to the charity
Chess in Schools.
Katharine Walsh, Head of Communications for Delancey, drew the winners

During the dinner a special simultaneous event is staged. Each table has a chessboard, and the participants in the Chess Classic move around, one at a time, to play against the guests at the table.

The reigning World Champion does the honors...

The former and 14th World Champion making the next moves (yes, that is Daniel
King on the right – the Classic players had stiff GM opposition on most tables)

Michael ("Mickey") Adams at one of the boards...

Followed soon by Levon Aronian, who makes the next move

Hikaru Nakamura of the US is followed by...

... the tournament winner Magnus Carlsen

English GM Gawain Jones is followed a few moves later by...

Luke McShane, with Magnus in the background ready to take up any slack

The above pictures – and many others in our reports on the LCC 2012 – were taken by Ray Morris-Hill, a London based professional photographer specialising in Chess, Portraits, Sports, Fashion and Wildlife. He has published pictures in The Times, The Guardian, "Коммерсантъ", Digital Photographer, Esquire, Time Out, Drapers, 220 Triathlon, Peón de Rey, Chess Life, British Chess Magazine and of course, Chess and His main career has been as a marketing consultant for home shopping companies in the UK. However, in the last three years, as his photography business has grown rapidly, more of his time has been taken up behind the camera. "I have been fortunate to combine my camera skills with my love of chess," he says. "I play Board one for Battersea Chess Club in the London League Division Two, and my latest FIDE rating is 2005.

Photographer Ray Morris-Hill, whose works you can find here

Ray's photos are taken with Nikon Digital SLR cameras, specifically the D3S and D300 bodies with an array of Nikon Professional lenses. You can contact him at for further information.

GM Jonathan Rowson on the Close of the London Chess Classic

Congratulations to Tournament Director Malcolm Pein for another wonderfully organised buzz-fest at The London Chess Classic. The inclusive and accessible event’s highlight was Norway’s Magnus Carlsen becoming the highest rated player of all time, eclipsing 2860 and sniffing out the stratospheric 2900. For those who don’t know the chess rating system, let’s just say that a celebrated Tina Turner lyric comes to mind.

Scottish GM Jonathan Rowson playing in the London Classic Open

Your scribe didn’t disgrace himself in the open tournament, but my most memorable game was played at the Closing Dinner at The Simpson's in the Strand Divan, the historic chess venue of ‘The Immortal Game’ between Anderssen and Kieseritzky in 1851.

My table companions were Jonathan Hinton, Russell Picot, Chris Clark, Olivia Gregory, Natasha Reagan and Katherine Walsh, plentiful wine and good food, including a lip-licking lobster bisque.

Our opponents were Elite Grandmasters from the Classic, playing several boards throughout the cosy and animated room simultaneously. They arrived at our table in no particular order or tempo, usually with a smile on their face, and often with a glass in their hand. Even so, I felt the game, in which we went from three pawns up to three pawns down, had a romantic quality befitting of the venue.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.12.10"] [Round "?"] [White "Chess Classic Elite"] [Black "Table Sixteen"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C21"] [Annotator "Rowson,Jonathan"] [PlyCount "84"] 1. e4 e5 2. d4 $5 ({Carlsen thwarts our cunning plan to play the Elephant gambit after} 2. Nf3 d5 $6 {I told you, he's good.}) 2... exd4 3. c3 {Nakamura} dxc3 4. Bc4 $5 {McShane} cxb2 5. Bxb2 d6 6. Qb3 Qd7 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. Nf3 Na5 9. Qb4 Nxc4 10. Qxc4 b6 11. e5 $1 {Aronian} Bb7 12. O-O-O $5 {Nakamura. Adams later joked that it was standard practice for White to castle queenside in the Danish Gambit.} O-O-O 13. Nb5 d5 14. Qb3 (14. e6 $5 dxc4 $6 15. Nxa7+ Kb8 16. Rxd7 $1) 14... Kb8 15. e6 fxe6 $6 16. Ne5 Qe8 17. Kb1 Nf6 18. Rc1 Bd6 19. f3 $1 {Anand. Despite being three pawns down, Vishy still found value in controlling the e4 square. I joked with the table that this was indicative of how a world champion thinks, but Vishy smiled and shot back: "Actually this is how one of the few people in the room who hasn't been drinking heavily thinks"...} Nd7 20. Qa4 a5 21. Nxd6 cxd6 22. Nc6+ Ka8 $2 (22... Bxc6 23. Qxc6 Ka7 {is fine, but felt scary.}) 23. Nxd8 Qxd8 24. Ka1 $5 {Adams. Mickey later wished the king was back on b1 to have another easy decision to make.} Nc5 $6 {I advised against this loss of flexibility.} 25. Qg4 e5 26. Rhd1 Qe7 27. f4 d4 28. fxe5 dxe5 29. Qg3 (29. Ba3 $5) 29... Qe6 $2 {To avoid Ba3.} 30. Re1 $1 {Adams.} Ne4 $2 (30... Re8 $1 31. Bxd4 $2 Ne4 $1) 31. Qxg7 Rg8 32. Qxh7 Nf6 (32... Qg6 $1) 33. Qc7 {We lost two pawns for nothing, morale was hit, and a blunder followed: } Be4 $2 34. Rxe4 $1 {(Jones) We saw this, but didn't have time to figure it out.} Nxe4 35. Rc6 Qd5 36. Rxb6 Nc5 37. Rc6 {Aronian reached to play 37.Rb5, but I stayed his hand, and as a gesture of goodwill he played something only slightly less decisive.} Qd8 $1 {Tenacious, by Russell Picot.} 38. Qxd8+ $2 Rxd8 39. Rxc5 d3 40. Bc3 d2 41. Bxd2 Rxd2 42. Rxa5+ Kb7 {Here we asked the proximate Kramnik about the theoretical status of the ending with two extra rook pawns after 43.Rxe5 Rxg2. "Good question, it's not clear...let's see..." He briefly checked it was best play, said it should be winning and suggested advancing the h-pawn to h5, the a-pawn to a5 and bringing the king to the kingside. Awestruck, we didn't offer resistance, but Carlsen came by (it sounds like a dream...) and wondered what happens if Black just goes "check, check check"...and White struggles to escape with the king without losing a pawn. Alas, in the midst of all this fun, the result was not established, but in the spirit of old gentleman's club, we'll graciously award a victory to the World Elite.} 1-0

The original column appeared in the Saturday (December 15, 2012) print edition of The Herald Scotland.


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