Wesley So, double winner in London

12/18/2016 – Winning the Grand Chess Tour is a great achievement for Wesley So - his biggest success so far as he said, and a lot of spectators are expecting more to come. On Sunday, he also secured first place in London - so he won 295.000 $ in total. Fabiano Caruana couldn't catch up for a tied first place - a draw was not enough. Veselin Topalov finally managed to win a game; Anish Giri finished with 9/9 draws. More...

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London Chess Classic 2016: Round 9

Veselin Topalov - Levon Aronian / Notes by Krikor Mekhitarian


Krikor Mekhitarian'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!

London Chess Classic 2016: the games


Game of the day video by Daniel King

So – Vachier-Lagrave
The winner of this year’s Grand Chess Tour only needed a draw to secure first place (given the fact Caruana wouldn’t win his game against Giri) and kept matters calm against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who loves to counterattack. So chose a quiet English setup with White. The Frenchman tried to unbalance the game, but with 6.d4 the centre was opened, and the occurring mess fizzled out peacefully. Neither White nor Black was in real danger in this last encounter. Draw it was. Congratulations to the winner of the tournament and Grand Chess tour. All in all, both repeated the same line they played in Leuven. Vachier-Lagrave deviated, but So was well prepared. The game finished within the first hour. Now it was on Caruana to decide how to catch up with the tournament leader.

In an interview with Maurice Ashley after the game, Wesley So again displayed his modesty. He said he was grateful to play this event and that he wants to learn from his mistakes. As the commentator Alejandro Ramirez remarked, Wesley So has to fly back without learning much, because there weren’t any mistakes to learn from this time.

Anand – Kramnik
Both players know each other well. According to his repertoire, there was not much to do for the Russian with Black. In accordance with Garry Kasparov’s declaration "It’s up to White to create complications", all that Kramnik could do was offer some imbalances with the choice to play with hanging pawns. Anand was ready for the encounter, and a dynamic balance wasn’t to be disturbed by unnecessary risks. Both players were ready to play for three results, but in fact, an early repetition was the logical outcome.

Vladimir Kramnik said that he wasn’t too content with his result in the tournament. To play such an event successfully you don't only have to avoid mistakes, he said. It’s also about picking up your chances, and that he failed to do so in the fifth round against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Aronian – Topalov
The Bulgarian had a terrible tournament and is not in the top 20 anymore. In Saint Louis he was showing some remarkable chess, but this time it was just a horrible tournament. His encounter with the Armenian was the longest game this Sunday, but without significance for the outcome of the tournament. However, the last round might be a little moral redemption. Not losing the fighting spirit is proving a remarkable stamina.

Aronian had a dark moment against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, when pressing too hard proved to be fatal against the counterattack specialist. Now the Armenian experienced a similar situation; being tired after hours of play, he presented Topalov with chances to go for the full point. Topalov: "After the first time control, he pushed too hard, it was just equal."

Veselin Topalov also revealed that his little daughter was born not too long ago. He said he hasn't much sleep these days, but his results are not caused by this. It's more due to the lack of proper preparation.


Giri – Caruana
The number two of the ranking list tried to unbalance the game with accepting the Queen’s Gambit. Anish Giri chose a system championed by Rubinstein. Harmless, but solid. Caruana was completely fine with Black, but a draw wouldn’t help him in the tournament. He had to win to tie with tournament (and tour) winner) Wesley So.

But Giri didn’t invite Caruana to a real fight. The moment the tension was gone, Caruana committed a minor mistake with 27…e5, when the pawn was in danger suddenly. But the game ended in a draw anyway – with Giri finishing with 9/9 draws. Not much of a chance for Giri to join the Grand Chess Tour next year. In a conspicuously relaxed attitude, Giri said, he would have to seek out for a life on the streets next year, playing with the hustlers, or play some other tournaments. Should help to work on his street fighting spirits.

Adams – Nakamura
To finish the tournament successfully and to secure the participation of the Grand Chess Tour next year, Hikaru Nakamura only needed a draw to secure second place in the overall table of the Grand Chess Tour, so he chose the Berlin against Michael Adams. There was not much to do for the Englishman. No big surprise that the game ended peacefully. Second place in the GCT means $50.000 for Nakamura.

For the next year, these players qualified for the Grand Chess Tour 2017, which is very much the core of the US national team that won gold in Baku:

Watch the moments of the finale:


Next year the format will change a bit, when all the results will count: 

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vishyarmand vishyarmand 12/20/2016 12:06
Thanks to everyone for the nice coverage. Although that there is too much devotion on computer analysis in search of the truth, all the analysis in different angles show different light and certainly suggest other model (an alternative algorithm on evaluation: is initiative computable?!).
Amazing notes by a 10 year old in the game Aronian vs Topalov! : http://chessbase.in/news/london-chess-r09/
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 12/20/2016 04:56
Quite courageous that, in his situation, Topalov, in the last round, sacrificed a piece early in the game in a position otherwise equal. Good show Veselin!
Acg Acg 12/19/2016 09:23
Drawish Giri is back!!!
koko48 koko48 12/19/2016 06:46
Typical chess players, always looking for any reasons to nitpick and criticize

Most of them don't actually pay for anything, but they still pick things apart and want everything their own specific way
vishalshedge vishalshedge 12/19/2016 05:31
calvinamari calvinamari 12/19/2016 05:09
"They spend maybe 5% of the time on human analysis, the rest is showing computer lines and A LOT of mindless bla bla bla."

If so, that still yields 10 times more analysis than FIDE's fee-based coverage of the world championship.
geraldsky geraldsky 12/19/2016 02:34
The win of Topalov showed that he was not discouraged being last, but he proved the spirit of competitiveness.
johnmk johnmk 12/19/2016 01:45
Agree with fons -- Tania provided a lot of jaw-boning and she is cute. But live coverage does not work for chess as well as for sports. It really did not impress for the WC match; it is more appropriate for tournaments where you have a variety of games in progress but even so there are a lot of long awkward period where 'nothing' is happening. I still think that the post-mortem or highlight approach is more fitting.
satman satman 12/19/2016 10:42
I've nothing against Messrs Seirawan, Ramirez & Ashley, but as it was the LONDON Chess Classic could we not have had local commentators many of whom have been both capable and entertaining in the past?
Dan57 Dan57 12/19/2016 09:09
Well done, WESLY SO! You've earned all "over the board". Takes some advise, seek a WIFE!
Good luck in near future.
ARK_ANGEL ARK_ANGEL 12/19/2016 08:58
Congrats Wesley. Though it is too soon to say I feel it's just matter of time Carlsen will meet his math. As all have witnessed how Karajakin pierced his invincible armor. 2017 definitely would gonna be great for chess especially they kicked out GIKO. I feel more happy about that. Look at Topa the tiger never gave up the fighting spirit and won. That is chess spirit.
indeevar indeevar 12/19/2016 08:52
Don't understand Anand's choice of going for a short draw with Kramnik playing with white pieces. Had he won this game should have finished 3rd in overall GCT 2016 and could have earned place in GCT 2017.
GregEs GregEs 12/19/2016 06:28
Can someone clarify why the 3rd runner up didn't play any playoff/tiebreak? All of them have 5.0 points each. Kramnik, Anand, Nakamura should've played blitz to break the 3rd spot or did i miss something.
GregEs GregEs 12/19/2016 06:26
Thanks to Chessbase GmbH for the updates since Rd1 of LCC-GCT. Great analysis and photos on each article. Congratulations to GM So for winning both LCC and GCT.
fons fons 12/19/2016 05:17
I for one am not a fan of the CCSCSL live coverage.

They spend maybe 5% of the time on human analysis, the rest is showing computer lines and A LOT of mindless bla bla bla.

Yes the production values are great, which is very nice, but that is not the most important. I guess it's the American way: packaging over content.
Denix Denix 12/19/2016 04:39
Congratulations Wesley!!! What a year!!!
reddawg07 reddawg07 12/18/2016 11:55
Both Yasser and Tanya did a good job hosting the live streams from St. Louis. Alejandro's analyses was amazing and the trio's efforts complement each other. Maurice from London as always did a superb job interviewing the participants after each game.
calvinamari calvinamari 12/18/2016 11:23
I hope Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield know that it is not merely the top players who are grateful for all they do. The online program for this cycle leaves in the dust the FIDE's official broadcast of the world championship.
Keith Homeyard Keith Homeyard 12/18/2016 10:24
Well done Toppy! It's unpleasant to have a bad tournament but at least you had the pleasure of a win. :)