London, Rd. 3: Wesley So remains in the lead

by Marco Baldauf
12/11/2016 – It could have become the day of Levon Aronian who was close to winning against the tournament's leader Wesley So. However the American defended skillfully and kept his lead in the tournament as well as in the overall standing of the Grand Chess Tour - GM Michail Krasenkow annotates the game - his closest rival Hikura Nakamura scored against Vishy Anand though, the race is still open.

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London Chess Classic 2016, Rd. 3

Photos: Lennart Ootes

Aronian vs So, annotated by Michal Krasenkow


Michal Krasenkow'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 and many other exclusive authors in our shop → here.




Anand v Nakamura by Daniel King

Wesley So was in the sole lead before round three, but today he had a tough time defending a very dangerous position against Levon Aronian. Aronian had a smooth edge in the middlegame and decided to crash through instead of slowly trying to grind it down.

Position after 24...a5. White can choose between the slower 25.b3 - trying to press in a long game - or 25.Rce4 followed by d4 and going for the attack against black's weakened king.

Aronian chose the more direct option and soon got an overwhelming attack (Position after 28...Qc7).  However, So defended stubbornly and found some deep defense ressources.

Position after 31...Rc8. With the rook so well placed on d5, the black king is surprisingly save. Aronian saw himself forced to take on f7 whereafter ...Qf6 forced the exchange of queens.

Fantastic defense skills ensured the draw for tournament leader Wesley So.


After two losses at the start of the tournament, Topalov showed what he is capable of and put MVL under great pressure - but failing to convert.

 "Just missing very simple moves" was Topalov's critical assessment after the game.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave came to the game in a fighting mode, but it soon turned out, that he will have to fight for a draw. Topalov showed ambition on the kingside, attacking his opponent with the aggressive g5 and f5 and got a good, maybe winning position, as MVL's king was under heavy fire. After the game, Topalov was rightly convinced, that there must have been a win, but he started to find defenses for his opponent - where there weren't any.

Vachier-Lagrave had a great year 2016, but somehow can't find his game so far.


Back on track and 50% is Hikaru Nakamura, who beat Vishy Anand today. After loosing on his own birthday in round one, Nakamura spoiled Anand's birthday party, the former World Champion from India turned 47 today.

Many congratulators before the game - Vishy turned 47 today.

However, Nakamura was not handing any gifts and improves his score against Anand on the incredible result of 8-1 .

After the game, Nakamura had no real explanation of this curiosum: "There are certain people you are doing well against and certain people you don't do well against. I do well against Vishy, but don't do well against Magnus or Levon."

And indeed, regarding only classical games, his score against Aronian is 5-11 - we all remember the j'adoube controversy in a tragical rook ending at the Candidates Tournament in Moscow this year. Against Carlsen, Nakamura's score is even worse: 1-11...


Fabiano Caruana had some pull against Vladimir Kramnik, but the advantage was never even close to decisive. Both players have +1, sharing 2nd place.

Fabiano Caruana: "Pressing comfortably with no risk" - after yesterday's game which got completely out of control, his supporters had a quieter afternoon.

After two losses in a row Michael Adams tried to keep the pace down in his game against Anish Giri. The latter repeated the Najdorf Variation from round one, but Adams declined a sharp battle and went for the solid 3.Bb5+. A lot of pieces came off and the game seemed to end in a quiet draw, but shortly before the time control was reached Giri succeeded in posing some challenges. They got into a 3 vs 3 plus a-pawn rook ending and Giri could press for a long time but Adams saved the draw after six hours of play.

Michael Adams showed his experience and didn't let the draw slip trough his fingers.


Results of round 3:

Levon Aronian


Wesley So


Michael Adams


Anish Giri


Hikaru Nakamura


Viswanathan Anand


Maxime Vachier-Lagrave


Veselin Topalov


Fabiano Caruana


Vladimir Kramnik


Tomorrow big matches are awaiting us: Caruana vs Aronian and Giri vs So will be the most importants ones (regarding the standings), but also Topalov vs Nakamura promises some action.

Games of rounds 3:


Games of all rounds:


Apart from the London Chess Classic, the British KO Championship is taking place in London. The final between Nigel Short and David Howell started today, six games will be played in total. If there is no winner after these six classical games, two playoff games (10 mins + 2 secs) are scheduled. If there is still no winner after that, an Armageddon blitz will decide the championship.

The 1st game is still running.

Games of the British KO-ch:



Tournament page London Chess Classic...

Grand Chess Tour...

London Chess Conference...

Round three report by 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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