The 2nd London Chess Classic, which finished on Wednesday, proved a very open affair with as many as 5 of the 8 players being possible winners going into the last round, namely McShane, Carlsen, Anand, Kramnik and Nakamura. That the games were well-contested throughout, rather than featuring a run of anodine draws, was at least partly accounted for by the adoption of the rule giving 3 points for a win, a move that has proved so popular in the football world. Also, it started with a bang when the English former child prodigy, Luke McShane, beat the World No. 1 player, Magnus Carlsen in the following game.
White: L. McShane (2645). Black: M. Carlsen (2802).
English Opening – Symmetrical Defence.
1.c4 c5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.0–0 Nh6 7.d4 White has no intention of holding back and, at worst, will go down fighting. 7…cxd4 8.Bxh6 Bxh6 9.Nxd4 Ne5 10.Qb3 0–0 11.Rfd1 Nd7 Black’s Queenside is looking very cramped and will take time to unravel. 12.Qa3 a5 13.b4 Ra6 14.b5 Ra8 15.e3 a4 16.Rab1 Bg7 17.Ne4 Qb6 18.Nc6! Re8 The offer of a knight is declined in view of the possible consequences of acceptance. e.g. 18…bxc6 19.bxc6 Qa5 (Not 19…Qxc6 because 20.Nf6+ wins the queen.) 20.cxd7 Bxd7 21.c5 Bg4 22.Rdc1 giving the white pieces a lot of freedom. 19.Nb4 f5 20.Nc3 Qc5 21.Nxa4! Qa7 If 21…Qxc4?? 22.Bd5+ 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 White is crowding in Black’s 2 major pieces. 31…Rd8 32.Nd7 White is threatening Qb6 and Rb8 winning the queen, so Black gives up material in order try and break out. Not 32.Rxe7?? because of Bf8 32…Rxd7 33.Bxd7 Qc1+ 34.Qf1 Not 34.Kg2?? Bd5+ etc. 34…Qxf1+ 35.Kxf1 Bc4+ 36.Kg1 Bxa2 37.Ba4 e5 38.f3 Bh6 39.Bb3+. 1–0 After the forced 39…Bxb3 40.Rxb3, crucially the rook defends its pawn on e3 and the rest should be a routine win for White.
Notwithstanding this loss and another to Anand, the fact that Carlsen won 4 other games, earning him 3 points for each, and a draw, meant that he came clear 1st winning 50,000 euros in the process. McShane, the surprise of the tournament, came 2nd= with Anand on 11 pts. Adams came 6th, ahead of Howell, while Short came last with just 2 draws to his name.
The solution to last week’s problem was 1.Bg4! with the threat of 2.Bf5 mate, and Black’s attempt to counter this with, for example, 1…g6 allows 2.Nf6 mate, or 1…f5 allows 2.Bf3 mate.
This position occurred in a Devon League match last weekend. White’s previous move was 16.Nd4xe6 and in desperation Black has replied by taking a knight with 16…Qc7xc3. After a few moments panic, White found the winning move. Can you?