Kramnik wins in London ahead of Nakamura and Carlsen
Vladimir Kramnik won the 3rd London Chess Classic on Monday. The Russian grandmaster finished on 16 points, one more than Hikaru Nakamura who beat Mickey Adams in the final round. Magnus Carlsen finished third, one point behind Nakamura.
Kramnik receives the London Chess Classic trophy from the player who lost his world title to him in London in 2000: Garry Kasparov | All photos © Ray Morris-Hill for the official website except when mentioned otherwise
Videos by Macauley Peterson
Vlad All Over
Report by John Saunders
Many congratulations to Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, who has won the third London Chess Classic. If you needed someone to save your life by getting a draw with White, Kramnik would be most people’s first choice. He was solidity personified against Levon Aronian, rapidly liquidating to a level bishop ending. That gave him the point he needed to take the trophy.
Vladimir Kramnik after the game
Magnus Carlsen could still have shared the money (though not the trophy) with Vlad had he won with Black against Nigel Short in their now traditional last round encounter but he had rather worst of things. The game started with the Giuoco Pianissimo - ‘very quiet game’ - which most of us learn when we are beginners.
I haven’t played this since I was about eight,
I haven’t scored with White in this event and I decided to play something incredibly boring. Magnus tried to inject some excitement into [the game] - but the excitement was all for White.
Nigel managed a picturesque d4-d5 thrust, which was a very useful pawn sacrifice, and the resultant activity saw him go from a pawn down to a pawn up. He was close to winning at one stage and Magnus admitted he
played a horrible series of moves
to get himself into difficulties.
However, it turned out to be what chess writers like to call a ‘symbolic advantage’ only. Nigel was a pawn up, but with all the pawns on one side of the board, and the world number one defending stoutly, his winning chances abated. He indulged in the ritual torture that all GMs practise against each other in such positions (it is part of the unwritten grandmaster’s code - your opponent tortures you when he or she gets the chance, so you are honour bound to do the same back to them). But it was unlikely to bear fruit against the world’s top rated player and a draw was the result.
Luke McShane faced the world champion Vishy Anand with White. Vishy played the Caro-Kann and the play was fairly balanced. A repetition led to early peace terms.
Luke McShane played with the (admittedly, heartbreaking) round 8 game against Kramnik still in his mind
The game of the day was Hikaru Nakamura versus Mickey Adams and was earmarked as such from the moment that Hikaru played the King’s Gambit. As with the previous outing in the tournament for this museum piece of an opening (when Nigel Short played it against Luke McShane), initial exuberance soon gave way to caution and tentativeness as Hikaru tucked his king away on h1 and allowed a c4 counter-thrust. A pleasantly piratical game ensued, with White launching a pawn assault on the queenside as Mickey Adams pointed his bishops at the white kingside.
Nakamura took risks to create complications, but came out victorious in the end
Watching in the VIP room was a fascinating experience as the super-GMs who had finished their games were joined by Garry Kasparov and other former greats of the game. GMs Julian Hodgson and Stuart Conquest were the commentators there but for once they were heavily outgunned by the audience. Black seemed to hold sway for much of the game but eventually the great pendulum swung in White’s direction.
Commentating GMs Julian Hodgson (l.) and Stuart Conquest | Photo © John Saunders
Garry Kasparov it was who first spotted the change in wind direction:
38 Rfe1 and now it looks better for White.
A blunder followed and White duly triumphed, taking Hikaru Nakamura to clear second in the table and condemning poor Mickey Adams to last place. Credit to both players, though, for providing the last round audience with a feast of chess entertainment.
So that’s the third London Chess Classic over and done with. The end of a chess tournament is always a melancholic affair, as the organisers pack up the equipment and take down score tables, the winners lug home their trophies, the unsuccessful slink away to lick their wounds, and old chess friends part company for the dreary-seeming ‘real world’.
Just as I myself was getting ready to leave for home, I saw something I had never seen before on such occasions: a young man sitting playing a guitar on a bench just outside the commentary room. And playing quite beautifully, too. I love playing the guitar but I cannot play like this talented young man. I stood and listened to him giving this impromptu concert, all on his own outside the now deserted commentary room. Presently, Nigel Short happened to be passing and he too, as a guitar aficionado, stopped and marvelled at the music coming from the young man’s unusual eight-stringed instrument.
exclaimed the grandmaster.
Guitarist Alf Wilhelm Lundberg | Photo © John Saunders
The young man was Alf Wilhelm Lundberg, from Norway, and you too can listen to some of his music at his website - I asked him what he was doing there. He told me he happened to be in England and had stopped by to see his famous compatriot Magnus Carlsen but he had missed him - the world number one had already departed. He’s a chessplayer too, incidentally. Norway - great chessplayers and great guitarists. Sounds like my sort of country.
On that note, I must close. Dear reader, I hope I have been able to bring to life some of the thrills, incidents and excitement of a wonderful tournament with you. It has been a great privilege to write for you. I wish you all the compliments of the season - may Caïssa go with you in 2012 and may your errors not be of the double question mark variety.
Big Vlad: the winner in London this year
To this report by John Saunders, we'd like to add a few quotes. For example, here's Vishy Anand's answer to a question from the audience: 'How does this tournament fit in your preparation for the match against Gelfand?'
This whole season since Sao Paulo has been a disaster. Somehow it never got going, I never got the positions I wanted to play. I kind of have to forget about it. I'm looking forward to training for the match and I hope with a tough opponent, the motivaton will come back.
Anand then complimented McShane for his fine play.
Especially in some tricky positions in the early rounds he acquitted himself beautifully.
Tournament winner Vladimir Kramnik explained that he wasn't sure about his strategy before the game.
If I had won I would have been number two in the world. But I really wanted to win the tournament so I decided to play solidly. I was still pretty tired after the Tal Memorial. I didn't bring a second but during the first half my wife and my daughter joined me. This gave me energy, a boost of positive emotions.
Round 9 (final) standings
|5||Anand,V||2811||9.0/8||1 black win||2740|
|6||Aronian,L||2802||9.0/8||1 white win||2741|
Round 9 standings (classical)
London Chess Classic 2011 | Schedule & results
|Round 1||03.12.11||15:00 CET||Round 2||04.12.11||15:00 CET|
|Short||bye||Assisting the commentary||Anand||bye||Assisting the commentary|
|Round 3||05.12.11||15:00 CET||Round 4||06.12.11||17:00 CET|
|Kramnik||bye||Assisting the commentary||Aronian||bye||Assisting the commentary|
|Round 5||08.12.11||15:00 CET||Round 6||09.12.11||15:00 CET|
|McShane||bye||Assisting the commentary||Carlsen||bye||Assisting the commentary|
|Round 7||10.12.11||15:00 CET||Round 8||11.12.11||15:00 CET|
|Nakamura||bye||Assisting the commentary||Adams||bye||Assisting the commentary|
|Round 9||12.12.11||13:00 CET|
|Howell||bye||Assisting the commentary|
At the closing ceremony, held on Monday night at Simpson's in the Strand, many celebrities were present...
...and the players played the traditional simuls during dinner - here Vishy Anand
Levon Aronian - and at the table GM Danny King
Vladimir Kramnik - and we notice GM Jonathan Rowson
Mickey Adams with on his right IM Lawrence Trent
Magnus Carlsen making a move
Luke McShane pondering...
...and David Howell, who seems to have forgotten his preparation!?
Hikaru Nakamura found two chess queens...
...while Vladimir Kramnik had someone special next to him as well, when receiving the trophy!
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