London Classic – Explosive start, McShane beats Carlsen

12/8/2010 – The 2nd London Chess Classic started magnificently for the spectators, with no fewer than three wins out of four games. The shocker was English GM McShane's explosive win over Magnus Carlsen, winning in grand style no less. Adams had little trouble with Howell, while Kramnik slowly shoved his way into Short's position. Anand-Nakamura was a 74-move draw. Round one report.

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Round one report

A fantastic start for the spectators of the second edition of the London Chess Classic, with three wins and a draw – afteer Anand had pressed for 74 moves for a win. McShane's victory over Carlsen was as spectacular as it was unexpected, especially after one thought Magnus's bad phase had been put behind him. Or was this just a coincidental masterpiece by the English GM? Stay tuned for the expert verdict later on.

Round 1: Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Nigel Short 
0-1
 Vladimir Kramnik
Luke McShane 
1-0
 Magnus Carlsen
Michael Adams 
1-0
 David Howell
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura

The big surprise of the round was Magnus Carlsen’s defeat at the hands of England’s Luke McShane, which was revenge for the opposite result in 2009. The game followed a known (if slightly obscure) line of the English until Magnus experimented with 9...Ne5, when the more conservative ...Nxd4 and ...Bd7 have been tried before. Magnus moved his knight again a couple of moves later, which was faintly reminiscent of his adoption of another off-beat knight-hopping defence against Mickey Adams at the Olympiad. It was a risky plan, trying to lure his opponent into complications. He succeeded in doing so, but Luke revels in complications himself and brought home the bacon in some style.

McShane,L (2645) - Carlsen,M (2802) [A37]
2nd Chess Classic London ENG (1), 08.12.2010

1.c4 c5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 Nh6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Bxh6 Bxh6 9.Nxd4 Ne5 10.Qb3 0-0 11.Rfd1 Nd7 12.Qa3 a5 13.b4 Ra6 14.b5 Ra8 15.e3 a4 16.Rab1 Bg7 17.Ne4 Qb6 18.Nc6 Re8 19.Nb4 f5 20.Nc3 Qc5 21.Nxa4 Qa7 22.Na6 bxa6 23.b6 Nxb6 24.Rxb6 Rb8 25.c5 Be6 26.Rdb1 dxc5 27.Rb7 Rxb7 28.Rxb7 Qa8 29.Nxc5 Qc8 30.Qxa6 Bf7 31.Bc6 Rd8 32.Nd7 Rxd7 33.Bxd7 Qc1+ 34.Qf1 Qxf1+ 35.Kxf1 Bc4+ 36.Kg1 Bxa2 37.Ba4 e5 38.f3 Bh6 39.Bb3+ 1-0.


“I played strategically and got mated,” said a self-deprecating Nigel Short of the final stage of his loss to Vlad Kramnik. Nigel has had some splendid results with old-fashioned 1.e4 e5 games over the years (including a good win against Fressinet at the Olympiad). But he made little impression on the former world champion, who built up a solid positional advantage based on his central pawns. Eventually an e-pawn thrust cut Short’s position in half, separating his queen from his vulnerable king, and Kramnik conjured up a powerful kingside offensive to kill the white king. Short tried a few defensive alternatives in the commentary room and let out a small cry of pain as Kramnik supplied his impromptu refutation.

Short,N (2680) - Kramnik,V (2791) [C24]
2nd Chess Classic London ENG (1), 08.12.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Qe2 Bc5 4.d3 0-0 5.Bg5 c6 6.Nd2 h6 7.Bh4 Re8 8.Ngf3 Bf8 9.a4 d5 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Ba2 f5 12.0-0 Na6 13.Rfe1 Bg7 14.c3 Be6 15.exd5 Bxd5 16.Bxd5 cxd5 17.g3 Bf6 18.Qe3 Kh7 19.Nb3 Qd7 20.Nc5 Nxc5 21.Qxc5 a6 22.Re2 Re6 23.Rae1 Rae8 24.c4 b6 25.Qb4 d4 26.Qb3 e4 27.Nd2 e3 28.fxe3 dxe3 29.Nf3 f4 30.d4 Re4 31.Qxb6 Bxd4 32.Qxa6 fxg3 33.Qb5 Qg4 34.Nxd4 gxh2+ 35.Kh1 Rxd4 36.Qb7 Qf5 37.Rxh2 e2 38.Qg2 Rd1 0-1.


David Howell tried a Berlin defence to the Ruy Lopez, but what might be termed the ‘pre-Kramnik’ version of it (which Vlad first utilised in this same borough of ol’ London town to bridle back Kasparov in their 2000 world championship match). David admitted to the commentary room that he had not played it before but tried it as an experiment. Mickey wasn’t ready for this but played it by ear. The GM pundits reckoned that 14...Nd3 was the first wrong step for Howell and he was gracious enough to admit it when brought before the commentary room. “I expected 15 Re2 and when Mickey started thinking, I realised I’d missed something 15 Re3!”, he confessed to us. Giving up the b-pawn and getting the rook onto the third rank supercharged the white attack on the queenside. Mickey thought 16...Ba6 might have been better than 16...Bxg5 but after that most of the experts had given the black position up for lost. “I had given up and was just trying to keep a straight face at the board,” admitted Howell.


Michael Adams in his round one game against Davie Howell [photo John Saunders]

Adams,Mi (2723) - Howell,D (2611) [C67]
2nd Chess Classic London ENG (1), 08.12.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Be7 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.dxe5 Nb7 9.c4 0-0 10.Nc3 f6 11.Re1 fxe5 12.Qxe5 Bf6 13.Qg3 Nc5 14.Bg5 Nd3 15.Re3 Nxb2 16.Rae1 Bxg5 17.Nxg5 Qf6 18.Rf3 Qd8 19.Nce4 Ba6 20.Nxh7 Rxf3 21.gxf3 Kxh7 22.Ng5+ Kg8 23.Qh4 Bxc4 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.Re5 Be6 26.Qh8+ Ke7 27.Qxg7+ Kd6 28.Ne4# 1-0.


Hikaru Nakamura also played a ‘Berlin Wall’ but this was the Kramnik recipe used to tranquilize Garry Kasparov (should we call it the Hammersmith variation?). Well, the 2000 reigning champion couldn’t break it down so maybe his successor a decade on would also find it tough. Vishy was playing his first chess game in Britain for 16 years but he looked very composed as he set about grinding an endgame win. English GMs Jon Speelman and John Nunn were practically salivating at the prospect of a long-distance endgame. Vishy Anand is another person who can remember when endgames really were endgames, but in the end he couldn’t break down Hikaru’s rugged resistance.

Anand,Viswanathan (2804) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2741)
London Chess Classic 2nd London (1), 08.12.2010
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Bd7 10.h3 h6 11.b3 Kc8 12.Bb2 b6 13.Rad1 Ne7 14.Rfe1 c5 15.Ne2 Ng6 16.h4 Be7 17.e6 Bxe6 18.h5 Nh4 19.Nf4 Nxf3+ 20.gxf3 Bd6 21.Nxe6 fxe6 22.Rxe6 Rf8 23.Bxg7 Rf5 24.Re8+ Kb7 25.Rxa8 Kxa8 26.Bxh6 Rxh5 27.Be3 Kb7 28.c4 Kc6 29.Kg2 Rh2+ 30.Kf1 Rh1+ 31.Ke2 Rxd1 32.Kxd1 Kd7 33.Bg5 Ke6 34.a4 c6 35.a5 bxa5 36.Kc2 a4 37.bxa4 Kf5 38.Be3 a6 39.Kd3 Be7 40.Ke2 Bf8 41.Kf1 Be7 42.Kg2 Bd6 43.Kh3 Be7 44.Kg3 Bf6 45.Bxc5 Bd8 46.Be3 Be7 47.Kg2 Bd8 48.Kf1 Bc7 49.Ke2 Bd8 50.Kd3 Ba5 51.Kd4 Bb6+ 52.Kd3 Ba5 53.Ba7 Be1 54.Bb6 Kf4 55.Be3+ Ke5 56.Bc5 Kf4 57.Ke2 Ba5 58.Ba7 Kf5 59.Ke3 Be1 60.Bb6 Bc3 61.Bc7 Be1 62.Bd6 Bc3 63.f4 Be1 64.Be5 Ba5 65.Bd4 Bb4 66.Be5 Bc5+ 67.Bd4 Bb4 68.Ba7 Bc3 69.Kd3 Be1 70.Be3 Ba5 71.Kd4 Bb6+ 72.Kc3 Ba5+ 73.Kd3 Bc7 74.Kd4 ½-½.


Anand still trying to find a win after more than 70 moves


Video report by Macauley Peterson for the London Chess Classic


Pairings of the London Chess Classic

Round 1: Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Nigel Short 
0-1
 Vladimir Kramnik
Luke McShane 
1-0
 Magnus Carlsen
Michael Adams 
1-0
 David Howell
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura
Round 2: Thursday, December 9, 2010

Vladimir Kramnik 

-

 Hikaru Nakamura

David Howell 

-

 Viswanathan Anand

Magnus Carlsen 

-

 Michael Adams

Nigel Short 

-

 Luke McShane

Games – Report
Round 3: Friday, December 10, 2010

Luke McShane 

-

 Vladimir Kramnik

Michael Adams 

-

 Nigel Short

Viswanathan Anand 

-

 Magnus Carlsen

Hikaru Nakamura 

-

 David Howell

Games – Report
Round 4: Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vladimir Kramnik 

-

 David Howell

Magnus Carlsen 

-

 Hikaru Nakamura

Nigel Short 

-

 Viswanathan Anand

Luke McShane 

-

 Michael Adams

Games – Report
Round 5: Sunday, December 12, 2010

Michael Adams 

-

 Vladimir Kramnik

Viswanathan Anand 

-

 Luke McShane

Hikaru Nakamura 

-

 Nigel Short

David Howell 

-

 Magnus Carlsen

Games – Report

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rest day

Round 6: Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vladimir Kramnik 

-

 Magnus Carlsen

Nigel Short 

-

 David Howell

Luke McShane 

-

 Hikaru Nakamura

Michael Adams 

-

 Viswanathan Anand

Games – Report
Round 7: Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Viswanathan Anand 

-

 Vladimir Kramnik

Hikaru Nakamura 

-

 Michael Adams

David Howell 

-

 Luke McShane

Magnus Carlsen 

-

 Nigel Short

Games – Report

Remaining tournament schedule

Thursday December 9th Classic Round 2 16:00
Friday December 10th Classic Round 3 14:00
Saturday December 11th Classic Round 4 14:00
Sunday December 12th Classic Round 5 14:00
Monday December 13th Free day  
Tuesday December 14th Classic Round 6 14:00
Wednesday December 15th Classic Round 7 12:00

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