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2nd London Chess Classic – Results.

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?

White to play and win.

2nd London Chess Classic – Results.

So, the 2nd London Chess Classic that ended yesterday evening appears to have been a great success. Two fellow club members travelled up independently at the weekend, and at the Club last night confirmed that the whole thing had exceeded their expectations, which were already high. Other members had been following the event closely on-line, indicating that the grassroots interest has been high generally.

Not least among the interesting departures of this tournament was the introduction of 3 points for a win in an attempt to address the perennial complaint by the chess fraternity about what is ironically called “the grandmaster draw”. For generations people have moaned about the plethora of drawn games in top tournaments, not so much at the actual result as the anaemic nature of many encounters as, for example, two top players tacitly agree to conserve their energies against their closest opponents to concentrate on crushing weaker players in later rounds; fear of losing being greater than the will to win.

The football authorities tackled this problem by introducing a bonus point for winning a game. This has had the effect of seeing teams in almost every league match, increasing their efforts to win as the final whistle approaches, rather than being content to hang on to the point they have. In terms of points, a win and 2 losses is just as good as 3 draws. In rugby, a bonus point has been introduced for scoring a 4th try, which ensures that even a team winning, for example, by 3 tries to nil, with a hatful of penalty points etc. thrown in, will still be playing all-out for that often crucial extra point.

Now, it seems, it has slowly, very slowly dawned on chess organisers that this might be a good idea in tackling the problem of lazy play. Mike Basman, organiser of the world’s biggest chess competition, the UK Chess Challenge, introduced a version of this system some years ago. In this particular tournament, it is the secret of Magnus Carlsen’s clear 1st win, in spite of 2 early losses. This was more than compensated for by his ability to win 4 of the other games. The new tariff has not eliminated draws, as half the 28 games were drawn, but at least they were not feeble affairs.

Will we now see this idea introduced more widely in chess?

Here is the X-table of the tournament. Note that Nakamura and Kramnik were split on the basis of their individual result, another example of an increased emphasis being put on the win.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Tot  
1st Carlsen, M X 0 0 3 1 3 3 3 13  
2nd= Anand, V 3 X 1 1 1 1 1 3 11  
2nd= McShane, L 3 1 X 1 1 1 1 3 11  
4th Nakamura, H 0 1 1 X 3 1 1 3 10  
5th Kramnik, V 1 1 1 0 X 1 3 3 10  
6th Adams, M 0 1 1 1 1 X 3 1 8  
7th Howell, D 0 1 1 1 0 0 X 1 4  
8th Short, N 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 X 2  

2nd London Chess Classic Approaching (04.12.2010.)

The 2nd London Chess Classic starts at Olympia on Wednesday with the main attraction being the 8-man, invitation-only Classic section, which comprises an equal mixture of four top world players and four top English players. These are the World Champion Vishy Anand of India; World No. 2 Magnus Carlsen, of Norway; ex-world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and US No. 1 Hiraku Nakamura. The English contingent is led by Mickey Adams of Cornwall, followed by Nigel Short, Luke McShane and David Howell. With a prize fund of 145,000 euros at stake, they will certainly be fighting for every half point.

There is local interest, too, among the 119 entrants in the Open Section. 15th seed is Grandmaster Keith Arkell, currently resident in Paignton, while at 31 is Jack Rudd of Bideford. 10 year old Theo Slade of Marhamchurch nr. Bude, has entered one of the weekend sections.

Last year’s Brilliancy Prize was awarded for this win in Rd. 5.

White: H. Nakamura. Black: L. McShane.

King’s Indian Defence [E94]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0–0 6.Nf3 e5 7.0–0 Na6 8.Be3 Ng4 9.Bg5 Qe8 10.c5 exd4 11.Nd5 Be6 If Black took the proffered pawn 11…Qxe4 the queen would be harassed as other white pieces join the fray: e.g. 12.Ne7+ Kh8 13.Bd3 Qe6 14.Re1 etc. The text, however, allows a rook to become trapped. 12.Be7 Bxd5 13.Bxf8 Qxf8 14.exd5 dxc5 White emerges from this skirmish the exchange down, but with 5 pawns vs 3 on the queenside, the decisive factor in the end. 15.Qb3 Rb8 16.Rfe1 Qd6 17.h3 Nf6 18.Bxa6 Qxa6 19.Rac1 Bf8 20.Ne5 Qb6 21.Qf3 Qd6 22.g4 Bh6 23.Rc2 Re8 24.Rce2 Rf8 25.Nc4 Qxd5 26.Qxf6 Bg7 27.Qh4 Qxc4 Now it’s 2v5 pawns  28.Re8 Qd5 29.Rxf8+ Bxf8 30.Re8 Kg7 31.g5 Qd6 The bishop will need defending in case White plays 32.Qh5+. With the Kingside stabilised, attention switches to the opposite wing. 32.Kf1 b5 33.Ke1 c4 34.Qe4 c5 35.h4 c3 36.bxc3 dxc3 37.Qe5+ Qxe5+ 38.Rxe5 a5 39.Kd1 a4 40.a3 b4 41.Kc2 h6 42.Rd5 hxg5 43.hxg5 Kh7 44.Rd7 Bg7 45.Rxf7 b3+ 46.Kb1 Kg8 47.Ra7 Bd4 48.Rxa4 Kf7 49.Ra6 Be5 50.Ra4 Ke6 51.Rh4 Kd5 52.a4 c4 53.Rh1 c2+ 54.Kc1 c3 55.Rh4 White has to counter the threat of Bf4 mate but cannot cope with the other threat. 55…Bd6 0–1

The solution to last week’s 2-mover by the problem pioneer, John Brown of Bridport, was 1.Bf4! after which White has seven different mates, depending on how Black tries to defend.

Here is another early 2-move teaser by the Hungarian Moritz Ehrenstein (1858-1923).

White to play and mate in 2.