London Chess Classic, Rd. 5: A fine win and an amazing draw

by Johannes Fischer
12/13/2016 – Round 5 of the London Chess Classic brought four draws and one win. The only winner of the round was Michael Adams who defeated Veselin Topalov with an inspired attack - Nadezhda Kosintseva annotates the encounter. The other games ended in a draw but were very exciting. Vishy Anand came up with a novelty, Caruana missed good chances and Vladimir Kramnik showed amazing defensive skills.

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London Chess Classic 2016, Rd. 5

Round 5, Michael Adams - Veselin Topalov / Notes by Nadezhda Kosintseva


Nadezhda Kosintseva's commentary will also be in the next ChessBase Magazine #176, together with all the games of the London Chess Classic, a lot of them annotated - and much more. ChessBase Magazine #175, the current issue, also contains a wealth of material and annotated games by Vladimir Kramnik, Wesley So, David Navara, Pavel Eljanov, Simon Williams, Daniel King any many other exclusive authors.  Have a look!

Highlights from the 5th round by Daniel King

Photos: Lennart Ootes

Levon Aronian - Anish Giri
Putting in the hours to study the opening might help to save time when you need or want it. Apparently, Levon Aronian and Anish Giri wanted to take it easy on the day before the rest day. They blitzed out the opening of their game and soon a repetition was on the board which led to a quick draw - the first of the round.



Wesley So - Vishy Anand
Wesley So and Vishy Anand also drew quickly - but this was time enough for Anand to come up with an interesting novelty in a sharp line of the Queen's Gambit Declined with 5.Bf4. 

Wesley So - Vishy Anand, position after 10.Qd2

Here Anand played the surprising novelty 10...Bxa3, deviating from a game Hikaru Nakamura vs Sergey Karjakin, Bilbao 2016, in which Black had tried 10...Nd5 which eventually led to a draw in 34 moves. After Anand's novelty Black soon equalized and the game quickly fizzled out into a dead drawn endgame.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Fabiano Caruana
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana played the third draw of the round and Vachier-Lagrave is probably happy about this result. Although playing with White he found no convincing concept against Caruana's Petroff and soon Black seized the initiative and advanced his central pawns. But in a crucial moment Caruana missed a good chance and a few moves later the game was over.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Fabiano Caruana, position after 24.Bc1

According to the engines Black now could have kept a clear advantage with 24...Re8 or 24...Nb4. But Caruana played 24...Rd2?! and after 25.Bxd2 cxd2 26.Qxd2 Bc3 27.Qc1 Bxe1 28.Qxe1 e3 29.c3 Black had lost most of his advantage and the game soon ended in a draw.


Michael Adams - Veselin Topalov
The most spectacular game of the round was the encounter between Michael Adams and Veselin Topalov. In a Berlin with 4.d3 Adams played enterprisingly and weakened his king position to put pressure on Black. He continued this policy when he sacrificed a pawn to open lines against the black king.

Michael Adams - Veselin Topalov, position after 14...Bf7

In this position Adams played 15.e5!?, forcing Black to find a number of difficult defensive moves. Topalov used masses of time but did not find the right defense and finally cracked with only seconds on the clock.

Michael Adams - Veselin Topalov, position after 31...Bf5

Adams now finished the game with 32.Qa8 Kd7 33.Rxd5+ avoiding the last trap 32.Qxg8?? Re1+! 33.Rxe1 Qxg2#. But after 33.Rxd5+ Topalov resigned.



Hikaru Nakamura - Vladimir Kramnik
The longest and most dramatic game of the round was the encounter between Hikaru Nakamura and Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik equalized with Black and seemed to seize the initiative but when he could not create concrete threats it was Nakamura who was playing for a win. But in a difficult endgame Kramnik showed his defensive skills and saved half a point by finding amazing stalemate tricks in the endgame.

Hikaru Nakamura - Vladimir Kramnik, position after 58.e6. Black to play and draw.

Here Kramnik did not hesitate and played 58...Nf7!. If White takes the knight, Black is stalemated. Nakamura now played 59.Kg6 but after 59...Nd8 60.Kf6 Nf7 he took the knight with 61.exf7 and the game was drawn.

Results of round 5

Br. Title Name Country ELO Res. Title Name Country ELO
1 GM Levon Aronian
2785 ½ - ½ GM Anish Giri
2 GM Wesley So
2794 ½ - ½ GM Viswanathan Anand
3 GM Michael Adams
2748 1-0 GM Veselin Topalov
4 GM Hikaru Nakamura
2779 ½ - ½ GM Vladimir Kramnik
5 GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave
2804 ½ - ½ GM Fabiano Caruana

Games - rounds 1 to 5


Standings after round 5

Live video round 5

Tournament page London Chess Classic...

Grand Chess Tour...

London Chess Conference...

Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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MaxMinus MaxMinus 12/15/2016 08:40
Lets see Giri not win a tournament for a long time. He doesn't even try, just follows theory, waits for mistakes, and makes sure he has an escape to draw before opponents try to win.
Those tweets of his are clearly underlining his mindset. It's Leko all over again.
So even if he does try to win from now on and plays beautifully, I don't want to see him win tournaments for at least 5 years .. as punishment.
Chad Phillips Chad Phillips 12/15/2016 06:13
The "Standings After Round 5" table is from before Kramnik and Nakamura finished their game, so it shows them a half point behind Aronian and Caruana, when they are actually tied with them in points.
vishyvishy vishyvishy 12/15/2016 04:32
In addition to Adams, Aravindh, Chithambaram VR. should also have been given wild card at London Chess Classic
vishyvishy vishyvishy 12/15/2016 04:12
Chessbase should also report London fide open ... many nice games happening there
Acg Acg 12/14/2016 10:45
Drawish Giri is Back!
Cyric Renner Cyric Renner 12/14/2016 09:07
With Topalov's play it is hard to ascribe to him any rating. I hope he has a second day job. When your rating tumbles too low, no more tournament invites. It is a sad reality and a shame for him, because when he is on, he can beat anyone and his dynamic style is such that he is a popular choice to have, as he is loath to draw. I would take a thousand Topalov's over the Giri types any day.
donwaffel donwaffel 12/14/2016 07:25
this tourney is zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
turok turok 12/14/2016 05:31
some fun games
MikeyBoy MikeyBoy 12/14/2016 03:56
What are the bookies odds on Giri drawing every game?
vincero vincero 12/14/2016 02:16
Topalov HASnt been playing well...for a while is fair to question if age is catching up to his game. 12/14/2016 01:28
Good notes on the Adams Topalov by Kosincheva . Really enjoyed it! :)
FOffermann FOffermann 12/14/2016 12:09
Our readers are right: the game Nakamura-Kramnik ends with a stalemate, the game wasn't displayed correctly but the file is replaced now. Thank you very much for notifying us.
GregEs GregEs 12/14/2016 07:47
The Naka-Kramnik game position posted above is like a deep drawing endgame study.
The lines are as deep as 14 moves which needs very accurate play from black. Amazing stuff, and even more amazing when the ex-world champ vlad saw the drawing line over the board.
GregEs GregEs 12/14/2016 07:26
The Nakamura-Kramnik game was only 44 moves above, but the diagram shown with picture is at move fifty eight. Anyway great news update for LCC, except for that slight problem i think on the number of moves of Naka-Kramnik.
CostaMaison3 CostaMaison3 12/14/2016 07:10
Hello everybody, lets annoy Giri to see the entertainment.
kingfisher99 kingfisher99 12/14/2016 05:37
poor topalov!
Bostonian Bostonian 12/14/2016 04:21
Topolov is always the most exciting - Its either a win or a loss and very few draws!
geraldsky geraldsky 12/14/2016 02:50
Topalov is the santa claus of this tournament, but who will be his first victim?
vladivaclav vladivaclav 12/13/2016 11:55
rusty topalov. he reminds me of kamsky when his level of play was dropping down back to 2700 mark and below