London Classic: Bartel scores, Adams leads

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/6/2023 – Michael Adams continues to be the sole leader at the London Chess Classic after a fifth round with one decisive result. Going into the rest day, Adams has a half-point lead over four players, including Mateusz Bartel, who was the one participant to collect a full point on Tuesday. Adams played Gukesh in round 5, got a very promising position, and agreed to a draw by repetition while still in the driver’s seat. | Photo: Tao Bhokanandh

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Solid! Solid?

The race to reach the Candidates either by rating or via the FIDE Circuit is very likely to be decided by the smallest of margins. Both contenders and pundits are keeping a close eye to see what scenarios would favour each of the players in the hunt.

Surely, FIDE tried to make the World Championship cycle more inclusive by setting up the FIDE Circuit, but the degree of complexity of some qualification paths and the ability to ‘game’ the system (by creating last-minute tournaments, for example) do not make for the most enjoyable experience for spectators — except for hardcore fans of statistics, perhaps!

Nevertheless, this race created a subplot in the London Chess Classic: will Gukesh manage to get clear first place to overtake Anish Giri in the FIDE Circuit leaderboard? After round 5, the Indian prodigy stands in shared second place a half point behind sole leader Michael Adams.

In their direct confrontation on Tuesday, Adams and Gukesh signed a draw on move 54. However, at that point, the English veteran had two extra pawns in an endgame with two rooks and a knight per side. Adams’ decision to take the half point might have to do with the fact that his opponent had a passer on c4, but as Karsten Müller asserts in his analysis of the game (see below), White is winning in that position!

Tai Pruce-Zimmerman, a.k.a. Chess by the Numbers, noted what a big difference it made for Gukesh to escape with a half point (regarding the fight to reach the Candidates):

Giri has been making good use of the ‘mathematical’ race on social media, sharing clever, amusing posts while following the games live. Soon after Adams agreed to a draw, he quipped, “Solid! Solid?”. As the players now got a rest day, he joked about his alleged anxiety:

Adams and Gukesh signed one of the four draws seen in the last round before the rest day, as Mateusz Bartel scored the one win of the day. Bartel, who has yet to sign a draw in the event, collected a second win in a row to join the chasing pack on 3/5 points. The Polish GM is sharing second place with Gukesh, Jules Moussard and Hans Niemann.

Adams ½ - ½ Gukesh

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Michael Adams, Gukesh

Mickey Adams and Dommaraju Gukesh | Photo: Tao Bhokanandh

Royal 0 - 1 Bartel

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Shreyas Royal and Mateusz Bartel

Shreyas Royal and Mateusz Bartel | Photo: Tao Bhokanandh

Standings - Round 5

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.