London Classic: Royal stuns Moussard

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/10/2023 – With one round to go, Michael Adams continues to be the sole leader at the London Chess Classic. Saturday’s round saw Adams holding Luke McShane to a draw with black, while chasers Gukesh and Amin Tabatabaei also split the point in their direct encounter. Two hard-fought encounters did finish decisively, though, as 14-year-old Shreyas Royal turned the tables in his game against Jules Moussard, and Andrei Volokitin got the better of the adventurous Matuesz Bartel. | Photo: Tao Bhokanandh

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Gukesh unlikely to win the event outright

The plot has thickened in the race for the last two spots in the 2024 Candidates, as it is now unlikely for Gukesh to get sole first place in the London Chess Classic — which would allow him to overtake Anish Giri in the FIDE Circuit leaderboard — and Leinier Dominguez has been confirmed as a last-minute addition to the lineup in the Sunway Sitges open tournament.

Three players are fighting for the FIDE Circuit spot, with Giri almost certain to keep the lead after the event in London (in fact, Fabiano Caruana is the leader, but he is already qualified to the Candidates).

Wesley So and Gukesh, however, are still in time to get ahead — Gukesh is already listed as a registered player in the World Rapid and Blitz Tournament, while So is currently playing in the over-the-board Champions Chess Tour Finals, which is also an eligible event for the Circuit.

Meanwhile, in the fight for the rating spot, So is barely ahead of Dominguez (2757.4 to 2756.2 as per the live ratings list), and since the Sunway Festival is the last classical tournament listed as eligible for the FIDE Circuit, it will all come down to Dominguez’s ability to gain a couple of points against markedly lower-rated opponents in the 10-round Swiss open.

Needless to say, Dominguez will be rooting for So in the Champions Chess Tour, as he might get the rating spot without needing to get those extra rating points if the Filipino-born GM gets the FIDE Circuit spot.

Royal and Volokitin score

While chess enthusiasts keep an eye on the race to reach the Candidates, the participants in the London Chess Classic continue to fight for tournament victory. With one round to go, Michael Adams is still the sole leader in the standings, as he has a half-point lead over Gukesh and Amin Tabatabaei.

While Adams held Luke McShane to a draw with black on Saturday, Gukesh and Tabatabaei split the point in their direct encounter.

The decisive results of the day were seen in the games Andrei Volokitin vs. Mateusz Bartel and Jules Moussard vs. Shreyas Royal. Volokiting took down Bartel’s French Defence, while Royal, the clear underdog in the field, got his second win of the event by turning the tables in a manoeuvring skirmish against Moussard.

In Sunday’s final round, Adams and Gukesh will both play with the black pieces, against Royal and Niemann respectively, while Tabatabaei will play white against Moussard.

Volokitin 1 - 0 Bartel

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

London Chess Classic 2023

The playing hall | Photo: Tao Bhokanandh

Standings - Round 8

All games


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.