Caruana wins London Classic, but Carlsen takes the Tour

by Macauley Peterson
12/12/2017 – Ian Nepomniachtchi made a quick draw with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in under 30 minutes giving him a share of first place. But he had to wait nearly six hours to find out that Fabiano Caruana had equaled his score. The pair played an exciting blitz duel, which ended with Caruana as the London Chess Classic champ, while Magnus Carlsen took the overall Grand Chess Tour. Games annotated by GM Daniel Fernandez | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Round 9

At the start of the final round, organiser Malcolm Pein gave his usual pitch for Chess in Schools and Communities, the charity for which the London Chess Classic has been an annual showpiece since its inception eight years ago. The audience in the auditorium at the Olympia Conference Center was scant as it was noon on a normal Monday, and the myriad festival side events had all wrapped up the day before. That was the price for hosting the magnificant first round at the Google DeepMind headquarters, invited by the team that has brought us AlphaZero — a fair trade-off.

At the end of his remarks, however, Pein added a new line:

“Please don’t come back tomorrow. It’s horses.”

That's a reference to the Olympia Horse Show, which kicks off Tuesday, has traditionally been held in December, and long predates the London Classic. It may have been lost on the international webcast audience, but in some ways the last round resembled a horse race, with players neck and neck for both the tournament victory and the Grand Chess Tour prize.

When Ian Nepomniachtchi shook hands with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in less than 30 minutes after the start of Round 9, it was a calculated move to the pole position. The 27-year-old Russian knew he might have to face a playoff with Fabiano Caruana should the American manage to defeat Michael Adams. But at a minimun, he would have several hours to rest and prepare for such an eventuality. It might have been a brilliant move.

Ian Nepomniachtchi's immediate reaction following his ninth round draw

Ian Nepomniachtchi ½-½ Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (annotated by GM Daniel Fernandez)
 

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Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Malcolm Pein with his back to Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave | Photo: Lennart Ootes

But that was just the beginning of the story of Round 9. The rest of the day would take several unexpected turns before the last move was finally played a little over nine hours later.

Players and results

No. Name Rtg
1 Carlsen Magnus 2837
2 Aronian Levon 2805
3 Caruana Fabiano 2799
4 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2789
5 So Wesley 2788
6 Anand Viswanathan 2782
7 Nakamura Hikaru 2781
8 Karjakin Sergey 2760
9 Nepomniachtchi Ian 2729
10 Adams Michael 2715

Click or tap a player name in the starting list to access the Playerbase

Name Result Name
Nepomniachtchi Ian ½ - ½ Vachier-Lagrave Maxime
Anand Viswanathan 0 - 1 So Wesley
Karjakin Sergey ½ - ½ Nakamura Hikaru
Caruana Fabiano 1 - 0 Adams Michael
Aronian Levon 0 - 1 Carlsen Magnus

The game that would have the least bearing on the tournament or Grand Chess Tour outcome was Sergey Karjakin vs. Hikaru Nakamura. Both would have been glad for a win, but practically speaking thet had little to play for.

Sergey Karjakin ½-½ Hikaru Nakamura (annotated by GM Daniel Fernandez)
 

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Hikaru Nakamura vs. Sergey Karjakin

Nakamura finished with nine draws. Karjakin seven, with two losses. | Photo: Pascal Simon

Karjakin was circumspect after the game. "Well of course it was very bad for me but strangely enough I made all draws with [black] and with White I was trying to do something."

He'll next play in the World Rapid and Blitz in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, looking to defend his blitz title there.

Nakamura took a mild ribbing for his tournament of 100% draws, drawing parallels to Anish Giri, who has accomplished the same feat. Giri was on the ball in congratulating him:

Twists and turns

The next game to finish started slowly, and the players might have also headed for an early peaceful exit. Viswanathan Anand was celebrating his 48th birthday at the bottom of the tournament standings, and with white played a fairly bland variation of the Italian. Fortunately for So, it was one he had been recently working on for a forthcoming ChessBase DVD!

Wesley So's remarks right after beating Vishy Anand

Viswanathan Anand 0-1 Wesley So (annotated by GM Daniel Fernandez)
 

So added on the live webcast:

"I play well on my opponent’s birthday. Last year I beat Hikaru, and I think some other players. So it’s not a nice feeling to have to play on their birthday, when they want to celebrate and they put too much extra pressure."

Viswanathan Anand

A disappointed birthday boy — it was not Anand's day...or week | Photo: Pascal Simon

Anand opts to forget his chess troubles by doing some holiday shopping for his son Akhil.

The Magnus bounce

The World Champion, after a troubling performance yesterday, appeared once more to be on the brink of defeat with the black pieces against Levon Aronian. Carlsen was considerably worse in the middlegame, but it took just a couple of inaccuracies from Aronian for the World Champion to completely turn the tables. He went on to win, despite knowing that a draw would be enough to clinch first place in the Grand Chess Tour standings.

In fact, Aronian offered Carlsen a draw, right after the time control, which Magnus refused, as he was already much better in the position. It was the 11th time in 17 tries that Carlsen came back with a win immediately following a loss, since 2015.

Levon Aronian 0-1 Magnus Carlsen (annotated by GM Daniel Fernandez)
 

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Magnus Carlsen

A grizzled Carlsen comes out on top despite illness | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Here were his closing remarks following the game:

Magnus Carlsen in a substantially better mood today | Source: Saint Louis Chess Club on YouTube

Carlsen was presented with the Grand Chess Tour trophy for the overall first place on the year, and netted a total prize for the series of more than USD $245,000.

Taking the Mickey

"Mickey has to be the most unlucky player in this entire tournament," Yasser Seirawan opined on the live webcast. "Think of all the things that have gone wrong — I mean including this game itself. I thought he made a very clever strategical pawn sacrifice. He had ample compensation, great activitiy, and that one miss Rf3 and suddenly he’s suffering and he’s suffering big time."

This game dragged on for six hours, as Caruana battled fatigue for a share of first place. All the while, Nepomniachtchi could sit in the hotel with his feet up, watching and waiting.

Fabiano Caruana 1-0 Michael Adams (annotated by GM Daniel Fernandez)
 

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Williams main teaching method behind this set of two DVDs is to teach you some simple yet effective set ups, without the need to rely on memorising numerous complicated variations.

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Caruana's clutch performance set up a blitz tiebreak match with Nepomniachtchi, from which the American eventually emerged victorious. We'll take a closer look at those games in a follow-up post tomorrow.

All Games of Round 9

 

Commentary webcast

Commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan, WGM Jennifer Shahade and GM Cristian Chirila, with GM Maurice Ashley reporting from London | Source: Saint Louis Chess Club on YouTube


Final standings

Click or tap to enlarge

Tiebreak


Links



Macauley is Editor in Chief of ChessBase News in Hamburg, Germany, and producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast. He was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.
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Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/13/2017 09:53
@ Raymond Labelle :

I rather fear that I am too late writing this post, and that you will not found it !... but I will still write it, in case you (or other persons interested by this theme) should come back to this page sometime...

I thought a little more about your last idea about the 3 - 1 scoring system.

I think there is a possible further consequence : with the 3 - 1 scoring system, I think that the motivation for "not-losing" a game (and thus, for accepting more easily a draw, rather than to take risks to try to win the game) is at its utmost when the two opponents, in a given game, are approximately of the same level.

Why ? Because, precisely, the main motivation for "not-losing" isn't, as in the 1 - 1/2 scoring system, to gain a half-point, but to prevent one's opponent to win the 3 points that winning the game would give him.

So, when two participants in a tournament are widely separated in level, to lose isn't an important problem, because you will not compete with your opponent of the day for the global standings.

But when, for example, you have Carlsen playing Aronian, even at the beginning of a tournament, they both know that they will very probably compete for the first place in the global standings. So if one of them loses the game, yes, he directly loses only 1 point, but this isn't the end of the story : he also gives 3 points to his opponent, and it can have very negative consequences for him, as for the global standings.

And the problem is : 1) that the 3 - 1 scoring system has been thought up as a means to avoid very high draw levels, and 2) that the highest draw levels occur when all the participants, in a given tournament, are (approximately) 2750+ GMs (because : a) the highest the global level is, the highest the draw rate will be, and b) the narrowest the global level range is, the highest the draw rate will be, so when these two elements are combined in a tournament, the tendency is strongly oriented in the direction of high draw rates).

So the consequence seems to me to be, rather probably, that the 3 - 1 scoring system is at its least effective, for lowering the draw rates, for precisely the tournaments featuring the highest draw rates, i.e. the tournaments for which the participants are exclusively (or nearly exclusively) 2750+ GMs.

And this could explain the quite high draw rates encountered in some tournaments featuring the 3 - 1 scoring system (as the Chess Masters Final 2015 and 2016 - the draw rates were 83.3 % in 2015 and 76.7 % in 2016) : these tournaments' participants were precisely nearly all 2750+ GMs... and the draw rates, even with the 3 - 1 scoring system, were, as we have seen, quite high...
SambalOelek SambalOelek 12/13/2017 09:37
@Aighearach Actually this morning, i m going to put all my chess literature in one big plastic container box and put them in the basement (i decided against giving them away for free, as maybe like you said when in some years in the future, i might pick up a little interest in them again...)

But for now, i m giving it a serious stop.
And i do have some new things to keep me busy in my spare time during these winter months. Things that always got behind because of the 'over preoccupation' with chess.
Finally i ll be able to be free of the 64 squares of thought.
BYe
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/13/2017 06:00
@ Resistance : By the way, I rather imagine you would be quite of the same opinion as me, about the strong controversies about the 3 - 1 scoring system which occured in the comments of several ChessBase articles about this tournament ? (if you have seen them...) This would be another (quite important, in my opinion...) point on which we would agree !!
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/13/2017 05:45
@ Resistance : I remember we didn't agree on something, but I don't remember on which subject !!! I write so much posts that I must admit that I am quite far from remembering everything !

But, in fact, I am rather under the impression that we don't disagree so much as that, globally !...
Resistance Resistance 12/13/2017 05:26
@Petrarlsen ---

"I think too, that a 30 s. additional time per move from the beginning of the games is something quite important, as it guarantee a minimal quality for each move of the games."; "I prefer, for classical games, the usual increments to the delay used here"; "I think that this is better for the quality of play, and thus, in my opinion, should be favored for classical games."

Yes, I agree with you my friend. (Finally? Hahaha... ;-) ). Have a nice day.
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 12/13/2017 03:55
wishing vishy birthday greetings and for a good comeback in the forthcoming Tata Steel chess!
Aighearach Aighearach 12/13/2017 02:20
@SambalOelek good luck with that, you're going to need it!

So many have tried, and so few succeed at quitting.

Some even make it decades before coming crawling back. Have you made a plan for how to deal with feeling triggered whenever you pass a coffee shop?!
SambalOelek SambalOelek 12/12/2017 11:17
Tomorrow i 'll drop my chess books (more then 50 good books) to the second hand shop here in the city, and i will be released forever from this time-losing game...

Last post. Farewell and i hope some people might make the same mental 'click' as me.

"A young gentleman of our acquaintance, who had become a somewhat skillful player, recently pushed the chest-board from him at the end of the game, declaring, “I have wasted too much time upon it already; I cannot afford to do this any longer; this is my last game.” We recommend his resolution to all those who have been foolishly led away by the present chess-excitement, as skill in this game is neither a useful nor graceful accomplishment...."
SambalOelek SambalOelek 12/12/2017 10:23
here the link
https://medium.com/message/why-chess-will-destroy-your-mind-78ad1034521f

hope this helps!
SambalOelek SambalOelek 12/12/2017 10:18
I realised i wasted my time in chess .
I couldn't better have written it like this in 1859 in Scientific American. I just wanted it to share.

Here it comes:

".. Chess has acquired a high reputation as being a means to discipline the mind, because it requires a strong memory and peculiar powers of combination. It is also generally believed that skill in playing it affords evidence of a superior intellect. These opinions, we believe, are exceedingly erroneous. Napoleon the Great, who had a great passion for playing chess, was often beaten by a rough grocer in St. Helena. Neither Shakespeare, Milton, Newton, nor any of the great ones of the earth, acquired proficiency in chess-playing. Those who become the most renowned players seem to have been endowed with a peculiar intuitive faculty for making the right moves, while at the same time they seem to have possessed very ordinary faculties for other purposes. A game of chess does not add a single new fact to the mind; it does not excite a single beautiful thought; nor does it serve a single purpose for polishing and improving the nobler faculties.

Dude really didn’t like chess.

Persons engaged in sedentary occupations should never practice this cheerless game; they require out-door exercises for recreation — not the sort of mental gladiatorship. Those who are engaged in mental pursuits should avoid a chess-board as they would an adder’s nest, because chess misdirects and exhausts their intellectual energies. Rather let them dance, sing, play ball, perform gymnastics, roam in the woods or by the seashore, than play chess. It is a game which no man who depends on his trade, business or profession can afford to waste time in practicing; it is an amusement — and a very unprofitable one — which the independently wealthy alone can afford time to lose in its pursuit. As there can be no great proficiency in this intricate game without long-continued practice, which demands a great deal of time, no young man who designs to be useful in the world can prosecute it without danger to his best interests. A young gentleman of our acquaintance, who had become a somewhat skillful player, recently pushed the chest-board from him at the end of the game, declaring, “I have wasted too much time upon it already; I cannot afford to do this any longer; this is my last game.” We recommend his resolution to all those who have been foolishly led away by the present chess-excitement, as skill in this game is neither a useful nor graceful accomplishment...."
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/12/2017 10:13
@ Raymond Labelle : Your ideas about the 3 - 1 scoring system are quite interesting ; I must say I didn't thought of that...

It can indeed be a strong motivation, not to let your opponent ran away with a win's 3 points.

With the usual 1 - 1/2 scoring system the motivation to favor a draw rather than to take risks for the possibility of a win is that a half-point represents something quite significant, and the players don't want to risk to lose this half-point, whether with the 3 - 1 scoring system, the same motivation in favor of a draw can quite well exist, but, in this case, because the players wouldn't want their opponents to gain the 3 points that a win would give them - quite a big advantage for the opponent. Quite interesting indeed !...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/12/2017 09:54
@ Raymond Labelle : "Again, classic ratings applied to blitz games see Ian and Fabiano's tiebreak chart." This is true indeed. I agree that classical ratings shouldn't be used for Rapid or Blitz games ; it quite confuses things, when the wrong ratings are used... For example, Caruana's and Nepomniachtchi's performances are wrong, because of this...
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 12/12/2017 08:05
In a 3-1 system, you also have to be as prudent as in a 1/2 system. In a drawish position, each player has a good reason not to want the other one go away with 3 points - which compensates the possible gain of 3 points in pondering whether you offer or accept a draw. The net incentive to draw is the same, even if the terms of the equation are more intense in one case than in another. 1-1 = 3-3.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/12/2017 06:05
As the 3 - 1 scoring has been quite a "hot topic" during the beginning of this tournament, I think that it can be quite interesting to put this system in perspective with the results of the present tournament.

I already posted these following elements on this tournament's "Live" page on this same site, but I rather think this is also quite relevant here, so there are these elements once more :


This tournament's draw rate is 77.8 %.

The Chess Masters Final 2015 (featuring the 3 - 1 scoring system) had a 83.3 % draw rate (a higher draw rate than the present tournament's draw rate).

And the Chess Masters Final 2016 (also using the 3 - 1 scoring system) had a 76.7 % draw rate (a draw rate comparable to this tournament's draw rate - both are in the 75 % - 80 % range).

Some commentators said in substance, previously, that this tournament's draw rate was absolutely inacceptable, and that an absolute solution would be to use the 3 - 1 scoring system.

Nonetheless, this tournament's draw rate, compared with the draw rates of the Chess Masters Final 2015 and 2016 shows clearly that the 3 - 1 scoring couldn't at all be considered as an absolute guarantee against draw rates at a comparable level (and even higher) to this tournament's draw rate.

So, following these commentators, it would be possible to conclude that the draw rate of a tournament featuring the 3 - 1 scoring system can also reach what they consider to be a completely inacceptable level ; thus, this system certainly isn't an absolute solution to what they consider to be the "draw rate problem".

As for me, I must say that, even if this tournament started slowly, globally, I found it very interesting to follow, so I don't complain !...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/12/2017 05:47
@ Resistance : "I really liked that players had those extra 30 seconds per move from move 1: it shows respect for the creative aspect of the great game of chess"

I think too, that a 30 s. additional time per move from the beginning of the games is something quite important, as it guarantee a minimal quality for each move of the games.

But nonetheless, personally, I prefer, for classical games, the usual increments to the delay used here (the difference being that, when using a delay, if the additional time given for each move isn't entirely used, the clocks don't keep the unused part). In my opinion, the usual increments are more suitable for classical games because, as they permit to gain thinking time for the following moves when the increment's time isn't entirely used for a given move, I think that this is better for the quality of play, and thus, in my opinion, should be favored for classical games.

Would you agree with this ?
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 12/12/2017 05:42
Again, classic ratings applied to blitz games see Ian and Fabiano's tiebreak chart.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/12/2017 05:17
@ m2vatr : "Bizare not to say suspect this win of Carlsen over Aronian......"

In fact, taking into account this game' situation as described in this article ("The World Champion, after a troubling performance yesterday, appeared once more to be on the brink of defeat with the black pieces against Levon Aronian. Carlsen was considerably worse in the middlegame, but it took just a couple of inaccuracies from Aronian for the World Champion to completely turn the tables. He went on to win, despite knowing that a draw would be enough to clinch first place in the Grand Chess Tour standings. In fact, Aronian offered Carlsen a draw, right after the time control, which Magnus refused, as he was already much better in the position."), I think that the most probable effect of your post could be to let the reader wondering how it can be possible to come up with such strange ideas... You could at least explain why you are asserting such a theory, but no, you don't even do this...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/12/2017 04:56
@ gorethebears@yahoo.com : "(...) overrated Carlsen (...)" This seems really to be your main idea of the moment... It is certainly such a fascinating and original idea that I quite understand you want to make the most ample use of it ! Some evil-minded critics will perhaps say that your theories are lacking in concrete arguments, but you musn't let yourself be bothered by such absurd details !

But, nonetheless, all of us would certainly be extremely interested to hear more about your profound theories ; as I said a few minutes ago on another ChessBase page where you posted more or less this same idea : "Perhaps Professor Arpad Elo designed his rating system specially for overrating Carlsen ? (Yes, Arpad Elo died when Carlsen was only 2 years old, but we musn't let such trifles stop us...) Or perhaps Carlsen's opponents lose on purpose when playing him ? Still, perhaps I am missing an even more interesting possible explanation ; we would all be very interested to hear your (certainly...) quite groundbreaking theories on this question !"
Resistance Resistance 12/12/2017 12:20
Yes, good tournament and good games. Congratulations to all players and to Fabiano on his deserved win of this year's London Chess Classic. (- I really liked that players had those extra 30 seconds per move from move 1: it shows respect for the creative aspect of the great game of chess -).

(My favorite games: Aronian-Carlsen, Karjakin-Caruana, and Karjakin-MVL)
Pionki Pionki 12/12/2017 10:57
Magnus reminds me of Sylvester Stallone (when speaking during an interview, of course, not when playing chess).
m2vatr m2vatr 12/12/2017 10:51
Bizare not to say suspect this win of Carlsen over Aronian......
Pieces in Motion Pieces in Motion 12/12/2017 08:58
Good tournament despite the numerous draws. The game Caruana-Adams stands out.
Philip Feeley Philip Feeley 12/12/2017 08:37
I confess, their table of winnings is confusing:

http://www.londonchessclassic.com/gct/gct_standings.htm

This table: Overall Grand Chess Tour after Paris, Your Next Move, Sinquefield Cup & Sinquefield RP & Blitz
lists Carlsen with $113,750. But from London he got only $31,667. How does that add up to $245,417 in the Final Results table?

I'm sure someone better at math can explain that to me. ;-)
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