London, Rd. 2: Anand, So and Caruana

by Marco Baldauf
12/10/2016 – The London Chess Classic kicked off quite fast as today's 2nd round brought three decisive games. Anand showed good preparation against the Najdorf and didn't shy away when Maxime Vachier-Lagrave gave him the chance to sacrifice an exchange - notes by Krikor Mekhitarian. Wesley So nurtured a slight but nagging advantage against Adams until the Englishman collapsed. Topalov and Caruana played a rollercoaster game but in the end the star from the U.S. had the better of it.

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London Chess Classic 2016

Round 2, Anand - Vachier-Lagrave - Notes by Krikor Mekhitarian


Krikor Mekhitarian's commentary will be delivered with the next ChessBase Magazine #176, together with most of the games of the London Chess Classic annotated - and many more. You can find the fresh ChessBase Magazine #175 with annotations by Vladimir Kramnik, Wesley So, David Navara, Pavel Eljanov, Simon Williams, Daniel King any many other exclusive authors in our shop → here.

Daniel King's Highlights from Round 2

Photos: Lennart Ootes

Before round two we had three leaders: Wesley So, Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian who all won in round one.

Two of the leaders faced each other, but the game between Kramnik and Aronian was the first one to end in a draw. Kramnik, after having experimented a lot with 1.e4 this year, chose the Réti and claimed some slight pressure after the opening. Aronian's position was a bit passive but solid. After Kramniks 20.e5 the position turned into a middlegame with opposite coloured bishops. Kramnik retained pressure, but Aronian also had his trumps and after 32 moves the game ended in a repetition.

Kramnik and Aronian played a short but interesting draw. They now both have +1.

In a very complex game Anand showed ambition.

The first victory of the day went to Vishy Anand, who was well prepared against MVL's Najdorf and outplayed the French grandmaster in a highly complex middlegame. Anand sacrificed the exchange for two pawns and the bishop pair which gave him a very pleasent position. Vachier-Lagrave blundered soon after and had to resign before the time control was reached.

Position after 28.Rxe2: White is better and even after the best move ...Nxe4 Black will suffer for a long time.
However, MVL played 28...Rd1+, which is a mistake and gives White tactical opportunities based on the idea Bxb7.

Position after 33.Bxb7 - the a-pawn will queen, therefore Back resigned.

After this loss Vachier-Lagrave drops below the 2800.

MVL's spot in the world ranking was immediately taken by Wesley So, who reached the prestigious 2800-mark for the first time in his career.


So won against Michael Adams and now leads with 2.0/2. Thanks to his bishops and a 4 vs 3 majority on the kingside So always had some pressure, but to win he needed some help from Adams who went low on time and got into trouble with his queen.

Great start for Wesley So, who is leading the tournament and Grand Chess Tour.

Nakamura seemed to have recovered after yesterday's catastrophe and drew without too many problems against Giri, who played the interesting and rare 7.Qxd4, planning to swing her majesty over to h4 and launch an attack against the castled black king. Nakamura took his time and went into the tank for 42 minutes, to then come up with the interesting idea of ...Qa5 followed by ...Qh5 which prevented Giri's idea.

Position after Giri's 7.Qxd4 - it took Nakamura 42 minutes to decide on 7...Qa5 followed by ...Qh5.

In terms of excitement, the game of the day was undoubtedly played by Topalov and Caruana.

Caruana and Topalov were putting up a good fight in the French Defense.

Caruana tried the French Defense, an opening hehad already used at the Sinquefield Cup this year. Topalov surprised his opponent with the advance variation, a line he hadn't played for four years. Caruana spent a lot of time in the opening and soon got into horrible time trouble. However he somehow "managed not to blunder" (Caruana) in a crazy and complicated position. At some point Caruana felt his "position is basically lost", but Topalov started to drift and Caruana had a great comeback, finishing the game in style with 36...Re8!!

Caruana commenting on this tough encounter: "Every move he played surprised me"


Results of round 2:

Vladimir Kramnik


Levon Aronian


Veselin Topalov


Fabiano Caruana


Viswanathan Anand


Maxime Vachier-Lagrave


Anish Giri


Hikaru Nakamura


Wesley So


Michael Adams



Games of rounds 1 and 2:


Apart from the London Chess Classic, the British KO Championship is taking place in London. After today's semi-finals, Nigel Short and David Howell will meet in the final.

Games of the British KO-ch:


Tournament page London Chess Classic...

Grand Chess Tour...

London Chess Conference...

Full report on round two by IM Sagar Shah on ChessBase India

Marco Baldauf, born 1990, has been playing since he was eight. In 2000 and 2002 he became German Junior Champion, in 2014 he became International Master. He plays for SF Berlin in the Bundesliga.


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fightingchess fightingchess 12/11/2016 11:04
i have seen a lot of ...Rxc3 in najdorf. a bit strange that a najdorf expert like mvl misses this shot twice in the opening.
fightingchess fightingchess 12/11/2016 11:03
kramnik has all ingredients. you don't become world champion by defeating kasparov in a match without having all necessary qualities and he is in great form now. he is solid and creative. and magnus crushed wesley in their latest encounter.
Denix Denix 12/11/2016 10:31
GregEs GregEs 12/11/2016 08:59
Anand vs Vachier La-Grave game is interesting. But black missed 11...Rxc3 in the openning which has a forced drawing line according to engines, but maybe the French number one wanted a win instead of a draw?

I am not sure if 11...Rxc3 was played before or was just found by an engine, maybe missed by Super GMs?
geraldsky geraldsky 12/11/2016 06:58
Wesley So will be the next challenger for the new World Chess Championship. The new WCCC format - The champion retains his title if the score is tie, but the prize will be divided equally. It's Simple and clear. I don't agree with Seirawan's proposal it's not ideal. The ideal games for WCC are only 12, 20 and 24 games.
SULAYI_LANG SULAYI_LANG 12/11/2016 02:53
We don't know if Wesley has a human secret coach. As far as we know, he only rely heavily on computer for home preparations. If that's true, then he must be a phenomenal and extremely talented. Hope his journey will lead him to higher echelons in the annals of chess greats! Mabuhay ka Wesley!
jsaldea12 jsaldea12 12/11/2016 01:45
Congrats GM So, just be yourself.
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 12/11/2016 01:42
Naka fell to #3?!!
caliche2016 caliche2016 12/10/2016 11:39
Congratulations to Anand and So for winning quite interesting games. I think Wesley could become Carlsen's most dangerous opponent in a not so distant future. He has two key characteristics others lack: a lot of self-confidence when playing against Magnus and a natural and deep positional understanding. Kramink of course excells at positional chess (a key ingredient in my opinion to defeat Carlsen) but he doesn't have much of the former, an even more important ingredient perhaps!.

On the other hand, I really don't understand what is wrong with Topalov, months ago, he expressed his desire to take it easy, relax and have fun, so far so good, but losing ain't fun at all or is it? His recent games show a lot of improvisation and maybe zero preparation, especially in the openings.

Not sure what is going on here but if results still matter to him, he should consider stop playing so much and start preparing real hard. Topalov's main mistake in my view is mainly his horrible selection of concrete opening lines, he's playing exactly what suits their opponent's playing styles, not his.

He still is a great player, he is ambitious and fearless, but right now he is in self-destruction mode. At this speed he'll be part of the 2600 Elo list very soon.
RoselleDragon RoselleDragon 12/10/2016 11:33
@Marco Baldauf: The "US-American"? I think American will do.

@kemal13: I agree.
fons fons 12/10/2016 11:13
What a round. What did they put in the water?
koko48 koko48 12/10/2016 11:07
Nakamura was the US #1 not too long ago, now he's #3
kemal13 kemal13 12/10/2016 10:27
I don't see Karjakin repeats again as a challenger. So and Caruana are coming very strong.