London Chess Classic, Rd. 6: Simply Fantastic

by Johannes Fischer
12/15/2016 – In a round with a lot of exciting chess Fabiano Caruana played the most brilliant game by defeating Hikaru Nakamura with a positional queen sacrifice. Wesley So crushed Veselin Topalov with a violent kingside attack and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave countered Levon Aronian's optimistic winning attempts. Anish Giri chased Vishy Anand's king across the board but had to content himself with a draw. Vladimir Kramnik and Michael Adams played a relatively sober draw. Report and games.

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London Chess Classic 2016, Rd. 6

Round 6, Fabiano Caruana - Hikaru Nakamura / Notes by Michal Krasenkow


Michal Krasenkow'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!

The Highlights of round 6 by Daniel King

Photos: Lennart Ootes

Round 6 was amazing. After the rest day the players did not appear rested and calm but charged with energy.

Veselin Topalov-Wesley So

To say Topalov is not in good shape in London is an understatement. Topalov drew one of his first five games and lost four. Wesley So, however, is in splendid shape and leads the tournament.

Topalov vs So

Topalov had White and tried an Italian but So was unimpressed and improved a previous game these two had played. So pushed his kingside pawns forward to gain space but a few moves later still castled kingside and soon mounted a strong attack against White's king. This culminated in a violent mating attack and after 27 moves it was game over.

Topalov is bleeding Elo-points in London and is currently no longer among the top 20

Maxime Vachier Lagrave-Levon Aronian

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian also followed the trend and played an Italian game. After the topical 6.a4 - which had been played twice in the World Championship match between Carlsen and Karjakin  -  Aronian countered with 6...a5, an idea only a few players have tried before. The game quickly became tense. Aronian pushed in the centre which made Vachier-Lagrave sacrifice a piece which led to a position in which he had queen, rook and bishop against queen and two rooks.

Aronian pushed too hard

Objectively the position was perhaps equal but Aronian wanted to win at all costs. And while he tried to attack the white king with his major pieces Vachier-Lagrave took all the black pawns on the queenside - and after Aronian's attack came to a halt the white pawns on the queenside carried the day.


Fabiano Caruana-Hikaru Nakamura

Fabiano Caruana must have been inspired by the spirit of Rashid Nezhmetdinov, who was born exactly 104 years ago, on December 15, 1912;  how else to explain Caruana's queen sacrifice on f6?

Help from above?

In one of his brilliancies the great tactician Nezhmetdinov once sacrificed a queen on f6 for two minor pieces. And this is what Caruana did today in a sharp line of the Najdorf:



Caruana took on f6 and got two knights and a very strong initiative for his queen.


Maurice Ashley explains what is going on

A good choice which the engines fully supported. Black had trouble to find a safe place for his queen but even more trouble to find a safe place for his king. Caruana attacked with powerful patience and Nakamura found no defense. After this impressive victory Caruana is only about ten points behind Carlsen in live-ratings.

A brilliant win by Caruana

Vishy Anand-Anish Giri

Vishy Anand and Anish Giri also debated the pros and cons of the Sicilian. The game began with a Najdorf but after Anand's 6.h3 it transposed into a Keres Attack in the Scheveningen. Anand castled queenside, Giri came up with a novelty (15...Nc5) and attacked White's king. Anand countered by sacrificing his knight on b5. Giri returned the compliment with a sacrifice of his own which made White's king run from the queenside to seek shelter on the kingside. The black pieces followed closely but Black could not find a mate and had to agree to repetition of moves and a draw.

Anish Giri might have a good chance

Vladimir Kramnik-Michael Adams

Currently Kramnik abstains from theoretical opening discussions and prefers simple solid lines. Today he chose the Zukertort-System 1.d4, 2.Nf3, 3.e3. Adams opted for symmetry and after some minor tactical skirmishes the players forced a draw with a perpetual.

Results of round 6

Board Title Name Country ELO Res. Title Name Country ELO
1 GM Veselin Topalov
2760 0 - 1 GM Wesley So
2 GM Vladimir Kramnik
2809 ½ - ½ GM Michael Adams
3 GM Fabiano Caruana
2823 1 - 0 GM Hikaru Nakamura
4 GM Viswanathan Anand
2779 ½ - ½ GM Anish Giri
5 GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave
2804 1 - 0 GM Levon Aronian

Games - Rounds 1 to 6


Standings after six rounds

Rg. Title Name Country ELO 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts Perf. TB
1 GM Wesley So
2794       ½ ½ ½   1 1 1 4.5 / 6 2961  
2 GM Fabiano Caruana
2823     ½ ½ ½   ½ 1   1 4.0 / 6 2906  
3 GM Vladimir Kramnik
2809   ½   ½     ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5 / 6 2841  
4 GM Levon Aronian
2785 ½ ½ ½     ½ 0   1   3.0 / 6 2791 10.00
5 GM Viswanathan Anand
2779 ½ ½       ½ 1 0 ½   3.0 / 6 2786 10.00
6 GM Anish Giri
2771 ½     ½ ½   ½ ½ ½   3.0 / 6 2781 9.50
7 GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave
2804   ½ ½ 1 0 ½       ½ 3.0 / 6 2788 8.50
8 GM Hikaru Nakamura
2779 0 0 ½   1 ½       1 3.0 / 6 2789 6.75
9 GM Michael Adams
2748 0   ½ 0 ½ ½       1 2.5 / 6 2725  
10 GM Veselin Topalov
2760 0 0 0       ½ 0 0   0.5 / 6 2377  

Live video round 6

Tournament page London Chess Classic...

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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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Resistance Resistance 12/17/2016 07:13
Great round; great games! I thank the players for such lively and, as Johannes aptly put it, simply fastastic chess...
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 12/16/2016 05:16
It seems Nakamura's 15... b4 wasn't a novelty and even 21 Nf5 had already been played in a correspondence game Nadeev(2426)-Janisch(2335) 1-0 from 2015.
jpmoldovan jpmoldovan 12/16/2016 03:16
What engines is GM Krasenkow is using?? Within 90 seconds, Komodo, Houdini & Stockfish see that 21.Nf5!! is advantageous. Furthermore, they quickly finger Nakamura's novelty, 15...b4?, as a mistake. Finally, the annotator fails to mention that after 15...Ne5 16.Qxf4 Nexg4 17.Bxg4 e5 18.Nd5 Nxd5 19.Qf3 Bxg4 20.Qxg4 Nf6 21.Qf3, Black equalizes with 21...Rc8, as in Nekhaev-Yamaliev : correspondence, ICCF 2013.
johnmk johnmk 12/16/2016 12:33
Right the Caruana game would be more impressive but it was home prep. And Fabi missed the prettiest line 23...Nxd6. And besides that Naka did not seem to put up the most stubborn resistance for example 25... Rxb4, mentioned by Daniel king
GregEs GregEs 12/16/2016 06:09
Amazing round 6 at LCC. Maybe more excitement on the last remaining 3 rounds. Notice that So will be facing 3 of the top 5 players on his last round, specifically Kramnik, Caruana and France's numero uno Vachier-Lagrave. All of them inside current FIDE top 5
geraldsky geraldsky 12/16/2016 05:55
Nakamura defeated by his fellow country men( So and Caruana), while Topalov continued giving... as the spirit of Christmas.
MikeyBoy MikeyBoy 12/16/2016 04:45
I loved the little jokes between Anand and Giri today. Giri: "When will Anand finally retire?" Anand: "When will Giri finally win a game?" hehe all in good fun as well.
totoal829 totoal829 12/16/2016 04:09
Well played by faby & wesley..
vladivaclav vladivaclav 12/16/2016 12:34
another loss for topa... aaargh! fortunately, he is playing giri in next round :)
Exabachay Exabachay 12/16/2016 12:09
To compare Caruana's play to Nezhmetdinov must be a joke because that was all home-cooked.