Reports | December 04, 2012 23:15

London R4: Carlsen in sole lead after another win, epic fight McShane-Aronian

Jones-Carlsen and McShane-Aronian in round 4

Magnus Carlsen is the sole leader after four rounds at the London Chess Classic. In round 4 the Norwegian beat Gawain Jones with white using the rare 4.Qxd4 in the Sicilian. The game of the round (tournament? Year?), however, was the epic fight between Luke McShane and Levon Aronian. At the end there were two queens for Black and White promoted to a knight! Anand-Kramnik and Nakamura-Adams ended in draws. Wednesday is a rest day.

Jones-Carlsen and McShane-Aronian in round 4 | Photos © Ray Morris-Hill

Event London Chess Classic |  PGN via TWIC
Dates December 1st-10th, 2011
Location London, UK
System 9-player round robin
Players Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Kramnik, Nakamura, Adams, Polgar, McShane, Jones
Rate of play 2 hours for 40 moves followed by 1 hour for 20 moves followed by 15 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds increment from move 61
Prize fund € 160,000
Tiebreak 1. # games won. 2. # games won with Black. 3. Result of the game(s) between the tied players. Otherwise Armageddon.
Notes Draw offers only through the arbiter. 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw. The player who has a “bye” will assist the commentators during the round.

After three days full of exciting chess, round 4 of the London Chess Classic "finally" saw a game that can be dubbed as a boring draw. World Champions Vishy Anand and Vladimir Kramnik got a Berlin with 4.d3 and 5.Bxc6 and followed a recent game Carlsen-Aronian for a while. After lots of manoeuvring, just before the time control the position became very static and neither side had anything left to do.

PGN string

Luckily the other three games were good fun (with a queen sacrifice in two of them!), so nobody was really bothered about this friendly meeting between Vishy and Vlad. The first to give up his queen was Gawain Jones. 

I thought I might as well sacrifice my queen against the world's number one if I'm going to do it against anyone.

It was a great, creative, brave decision, and probably correct – Carlsen called it "a serious move". If Black had played differently on move 21, the Norwegian wasn't sure how to continue. Besides, even in the game there were many tricks, as became clear at the post-mortem.

PGN string

It's no surprise that in Norway everyone is talking about one thing only: Carlsen beating Kasparov's rating record. In several newspapers it was reported yesterday that the world's number one now has a live rating of 2857.4, which is probably more than Kasparov's highest "live rating" ever, which has been calculated at 2856.7. For now we'll just repeat that Carlsen needs to score 2.5/4 in the remainder of the tournament to make not an IM norm, not a GM norm, but a "history norm". :-)

Hikaru Nakamura was better throughout his game with Mickey Adams, but the Englishman just refused to stumble. At move 35 an ending BB vs BN with four pawns each came on the board, 20 moves later White finally was a pawn up but at move 69 only two kings were left.

PGN string

We've saved the best for last: the game between Luke McShane and Levon Aronian. At the end there were two queens for Black and White promoted to a knight!

PGN string

We'll finish with reminding you that Wednesday is a rest day in London.

Commentary videos (produced by Macauley Peterson)

Pairings & results

Round 1 01.12.12 15:00 CET   Round 2 0212.12 15:00 CET
McShane 0-3 Carlsen   Polgar 1-1 Jones
Aronian 0-3 Nakamura   Nakamura 0-3 Kramnik
Kramnik 3-0 Polgar   Carlsen 3-0 Aronian
Jones 0-3 Adams   Anand 1-1 McShane
Anand bye Assisting the commentary   Adams bye Assisting the commentary
Round 3 0312.12 15:00 CET   Round 4 04.12.12 17:00 CET
Aronian 1-1 Anand   Nakamura 1-1 Adams
Kramnik 1-1 Carlsen   Carlsen 3-0 Jones
Jones 1-1 Nakamura   Anand 1-1 Kramnik
Adams 3-0 Polgar   McShane 0-3 Aronian
McShane bye Assisting the commentary   Polgar bye Assisting the commentary
Round 5 06.12.12 15:00 CET   Round 6 07.12.12 15:00 CET
Kramnik - McShane   Carlsen - Polgar
Jones - Anand   Anand - Adams
Adams - Carlsen   McShane - Jones
Polgar - Nakamura   Aronian - Kramnik
Aronian bye Assisting the commentary   Nakamura bye Assisting the commentary
Round 7 08.12.12 15:00 CET   Round 8 09.12.12 15:00 CET
Jones - Aronian   Anand - Nakamura
Adams - McShane   McShane - Polgar
Polgar - Anand   Aronian - Adams
Nakamura - Carlsen   Kramnik - Jones
Kramnik bye Assisting the commentary   Carlsen bye Assisting the commentary
Round 9 10.12.12 13:00 CET        
Adams   Kramnik        
Polgar - Aronian        
Nakamura - McShane        
Carlsen - Anand        
Jones bye Assisting the commentary        

London Chess Classic 2012 | Round 4 standings (football)


London Chess Classic 2012 | Round 4 standings (classical)


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


filiusdextris's picture

If the Norwegians are right about 2857, then this is even the highest live rating by 0.4 (but maybe they were rounding down from a slightly higher number). Still here's hoping for 2858 to settle the matter.

filiusdextris's picture

I meant, if they were right about Kasparov's 2857 live peak rating...

redivivo's picture

Live ratings aren't rounded though, only official ratings are.

filiusdextris's picture

When the Norwegians reported a flat 2857 for Kasparov though, they may have been rounding. Someone with connections should ask them (unless the point soon becomes moot).

Aditya's picture

If they reported 2857, they rounded upwards. So the matter is settled.

redivivo's picture

Both the Norwegian VG article that is referred to and Chessvibes itself gives the correct top live rating for Kasparov, i.e. 2856.7, compared to Carlsen's 2857.4:

"In several newspapers it was reported yesterday that the world's number one now has a live rating of 2857.4, which is probably more than Kasparov's highest "live rating" ever, which has been calculated at 2856.7"

Anonymous's picture

Isn't VG, apparently the source of those numbers, one of Carlsen's sponsors?

redivivo's picture

I don't think VG gave the same numbers as everyone else because they made them up so Carlsen's live rating would be higher, I was mainly questioning the thing about "the Norwegians" giving Kasparov's top live rating as 2857, which they didn't. They gave the same numbers as all other sources and Chessvibes, i.e. 2856.7 for Kasparov and 2857.4 for Carlsen.

Anonymous's picture

But who was the original source? Who calculated the numbers?

Aditya's picture

What a battle the Aronian-McShane game was!! A lot of material for chess books, a lot of fodder for engine testing. An interesting question is where did McShane actually lose this game? Cannot trust the engine's purples and reds for a long time in this game.

Jc's picture

Yeah, mcshane-aronian ending was great to watch. I think mcshane felt he could hide his king in the corner and the 2 knights could protect and force a 3 fold repetition somehow. I'll have to fire up the computer for this one. Great stuff

Morley's picture

Jones' queen sac was fine, though difficult to play. Carlsen admitted as much in the press conference. The problem was that Gawain had so little time, and missed several key continuations. And, of course, he was playing an on-form #1 who didn't allow any room for inaccuracies.

S3's picture

I don't wanna strengthen the hype but is there really a reason to think that Carlsen is on form/playing at his best right now ?

Bobby Fiske's picture

-According to Magnus himself, he still thinks to be able to improve his strength more. So the best is yet to come!

Morley's picture

This might just be my understanding of the term "on-form", but he played very accurately against McShane after McShane let him out of an uncomfortable position, had no real weaknesses in the game against Aronian, defended extremely well against an equally strong Kramnik, and made the most of Jones' mistakes today. He is playing without blundering, and has taken every opportunity his opponents have given him. So I would say he is on-form, though like he said, he has played a few non-fatal inaccuracies so far (in the openings against Kramnik and McShane). 3.5/4 without being in a losing position so far seems like pretty good form to me.

Pablo's picture

+1, man, good comment.

Anonymous's picture

Magnus is on form since the very day he was born

Bronkenstein's picture

+1, very interesting (and quite gutsy, I must say) Qsac that will, unfortunately, be overshadowed by the game´s result (and especially today - by the Elo hysteria...).

Hopefully Gawain will learn to combine accuracy + better time management (is that some kind of disease amongst the young Brits?) with his Sutovskian ideas, to (at least) reach 2700+ someday.

Anonymous's picture

That's a major reason MC is #1,

Thomas's picture

Of course Carlsen wouldn't say that the queen sacrifice was plain bad or just a hallucination - it would be rude towards the opponent AND it would de-mystify his own play. The way the game went, it took a few consolidating moves from Carlsen to neutralize the black initiative and emerge winning. Even if the sacrifice was correct (I doubt it) it has to be followed up with correct play, else things are easy for the opponent.

I was also a bit puzzled about the one-sentence game summary mentioning Carlsen's fourth move (initially also 5.h3) but not Jones' 18th move - which decided the game and wasn't a logical outcome of the opening. I am sure that Peter Doggers looked at the entire game rather than just the opening and the final result, and most likely he agrees that the queen sacrifice wasn't necessary or desperate (everything else is also bad), but that wasn't clear from the "More later" version of this article.

Morley's picture

Carlsen (and most of the other top dogs) have never had a problem politely pointing out that one of their opponents' moves was bad.

Anonymous's picture

Totally agree w/you Morley ! But you know that those anti Carlsen guys know better

Thomas's picture

Even if it wasn't about being polite, Carlsen makes his own play look better if he says that the opponent played well. Or he might be genuinely unsure on how to assess the queen sacrifice during and soon after the game - fact is that the queen sacrifice and/or Jones' incorrect follow-up decided the game in white's favor.

It is at least interesting that Carlsen fans disagree even with Carlsen whenever he makes (IMO) reasonable comments. Two examples:
- In a joint press conference after Bazna 2011, Carlsen and Karjakin considered themselves joint winners. Carlsen fans insisted that Magnus was the only winner due to a whopping 0.25 extra Sonneborn-Berger points, even hinting that he would have beaten Karjakin (with black) if that was needed for first place.
- After his second win against Wang Hao in Biel, Carlsen said that he was "incredibly lucky", which some of his fans dismissed as false modesty.

redivivo's picture

"Carlsen fans disagree even with Carlsen whenever he makes (IMO) reasonable comments"

Carlsen fans disagree with Carlsen whenever he makes reasonable comments? Wow.

Morley's picture

What does any of that have to do with his comment in the post-game conference where he called the queen sac a "serious" move? Are you trying to say that I should accept what Carlsen says when he calls himself "lucky", but not when he complements his opponent on a queen sacrifice? Are you saying that he has some ulterior motive in the latter case (not present in the former) that I should pick up on, and then dismiss the comment as disingenuous?

The facts are these: both Carlsen and the computer think that Jones had ways to fight for an even, dynamic game (both 21. ... Ra2 and 27. ... Nd3 would have kept him in the game, though Carlsen didn't think Nd3 was good in the post-game), and Jones lost because he didn't have the time to work through the immense complications. Finally, after years of following Carlsen, especially seeing how long it took him to be open and friendly in interviews and post game conferences, do you honestly think that he was trying to win points with the audience by artificially plumping up Jones' play in order to make his look better? You have a paranoid streak.

Thomas's picture

In any case, Carlsen isn't a neutral observer - so the sacrifice isn't correct just because he says so. And actually it doesn't matter whether Jones went wrong with the queen sacrifice or during the next couple of moves (failing to justify the material investment).

For what it's worth, this is from Europe Echecs who might be less pro-Carlsen than many English-language sites:
"Gawain Jones has just one problem during the opening: his time management. After 18 moves he has 30 minutes left vs. 1h20 for his opponent. He still surprises Carlsen with a queen sacrifice. If the sacrifice has the merit of introducing complications, it doesn't solve everything. Gawain Jones still has problems with the clock, and even worse, he loses track of the game playing moves that lead nowhere."
In other words, even if the sacrifice is playable in correspondence chess, it is too demanding over the board when you are already far behind on the clock?

BTW the article starts with a little pun: "Two English sacrifice their queen and lose!" It's a pun because in French (and German and Dutch) that piece is called "dame" (lady).

valg321's picture

true. Carlsen in not one to shy from pointing out an opponent's bad move. He seems to always speak his mind during his interviews, that much is obvious.
On another note, seeing that the London classic organisers clearly want to associate their event with the breaking of Kasparov's record, i wouldn't be surprised if somehow it turns out that they gave Carlsen a little extra something under the table, for that extra bit of motivation...i mean we are talking about bankers here. Much more plausible than encouraging their lads to lose.

eric's picture

I opened a beer just for that McShane-Aronian ending:)

hardliner's picture

2857 ELO
Not bad at all. I believe this kid could become really good some day

Bartleby's picture

There is some disregard about the worth of a queen, or two queens, among young English players.

RG13's picture

English players have quite a tactical imagination as Nigel Short demonstrated through several brilliant moves during his match with Kasparov.

matu's picture

Not a good game by Jones, exchanging his queen for two pieces. And also not convincing for Mangus. He drew upperhand with Jones' enterprising style in the exchange.

Anonymous's picture

Magnus won his game , that's all there is to say

redivivo's picture

To me the most impressive thing with Carlsen's results is his distance to number 2, a great player like Kramnik didn't even once in his career have one single point down to number 2 while Carlsen has 50. Only Fischer and Kasparov and maybe Karpov had bigger distance the last 50 years, and that when they were considerably older than Carlsen, who turned 22 last week.

RealityCheck's picture

Wasn't Kasparov rated 2849 when he lost the WCh match to Kramnik, rated 2770 at the time? 2000 A.D.

Despite his huge Elo rating advantage the "Rating Kween" had to hand over the bay leave--Laurus nobilis.

Sorry fella's, don't mean to blow those inflated Elo bubbles but, the rating game is just given too much credit, too much air-time.

redivivo's picture

"Wasn't Kasparov rated 2849"

A rating around 2850 shows what a great player Kasparov was, that doesn't mean that he won every event. No one would disagree about Kasparov's greatness because he lost one single match against human opposition in his 25-year-long career. It's just to look at his results and see how he got his rating, and it's a better idea than to pick every great player, look at their worst result, and proclaim them overrated because of this one result.

Anonymous's picture

Kasparov couldn't get a plus against Kramnik in almost a decade although he had the rating advantage.
Funnily, Carlsen also was in trouble against Kramnik.

Anonymous's picture

For Karpov it wasn't about rating but about winning the title and tournaments. He'd be content and relax with 0,5 points more than number 2.

Anonymous's picture

Does this rating gap correspond to a great score against the top 5 or does it merely reflect a better score against lesser players ?
Since we are comparing Kasparov's record it should be noted that Kasparov destroyed every top player convincingly except for Kramnik who was 2/3rd in rating at the time with an equal score.

Evgeny's picture

Congratulations to Anand, who managed to stop Kramnik from scroring his third win in a row, by building with white a Chinese pawn wall!!!!

Evgeny's picture

...this was probably his home preparation developed for the WC match, he could not show, lol

RealityCheck's picture

@ Evgeny That wasn't even funny. But, you laugh at your own ill-informed joke. Why?

Everyone's bent on finding holes in Anand's game. Some say there are none. Others, there was some talk at Whychess about Anand's ability to handle a closed structure, say this type of Position could be a weak spot in his game?

Evgeny, the game you mention may have been an attempt to answer that question.

filiusdextris's picture

In his last 53 classical chess games, Anand has only 5 wins to Buhmann, Short, Vallejo (twice), and Gelfand. He's lost to Carlsen, Aronian, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Tiviakov, and Nakamura. Anand is not a world champion quality player over the last two years. +5, =42, -6 is embarrassing.

RealityCheck's picture

@filius dextris You deliberately excluded some wins, didn't you?
Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.

filiusdextris's picture

C'mon, reality check - what are they? His last 56 classical games (including the three from this event) extend back to Nov. 2011 (he was inactive since January before that). He only has 5 wins - embarrassing for a World Champ, if one is trying to justify his great play or his worthiness of that title.

filiusdextris's picture

• 2012 Grand Slam Bilbao, Sao Paolo – 0 wins, 9 draws, 1 loss (to Carlsen)
• 2012 World Championships – 1 win, 10 draws, 1 loss (to Gelfand)
• 2012 German Bundesliga – 1 win (Buhmann), 2 draws, 1 loss (to Tiviakov)
• 2012 Tal Memorial – 9 draws
• 2011 London Chess Classic – 1 win (Short), 6 draws, 1 loss (Nakamura)
• 2011 Grand Slam Bilbao, Sao Paolo – 2 wins (Vallejo, twice), 6 draws, 2 losses (Ivanchuk, Aronian)

RealityCheck's picture

@filiusdextris This question was put to Kramnik by Tkachiev at Whychess: V.T.: It seems to me he’s [Anand] got a very big weakness, only it’s difficult to get at it – his play in blockaded positions. I could list half a dozen examples.

Second, what does a classical standing of 6 wins 2 losses 17 draws tell us? Imagine you had this score against me, would you consider yourself the better player? Be honest.

filiusdextris's picture

Where are you getting +6, -2, =17? His recent play over the last 13 months is far worse and an utter travesty. His last 13 months likely wouldn't even sustain a rating of 2700 had he started there. This is nowhere near the result of a World Champion level, and therefore people rightly crown Magnus as the greatest now.

RealityCheck's picture

Don't know how accurate the stats are but, I didn't make them up. The +6, -2, =17 reflect the over all classical score between two greats GM Anand and GM Carlsen. I saw them posted at another blog not so hostile toward Anand and double checked them at They matched.

Until these statistics change in favour of Magnus Carlsen, the premature crowning is a fluke. The premature crowning is a sham. The premature crowning is an insult.

Hire another group of spineless guppies to donate some points. Win a 1000 more tournaments--won't change a thing!

March, next year Maggi will have his third chance to qualify for a chess match with the undisputed world champion Vishy Anand.

It's not Vishy's fault Magnus did not qualify the first time. It's not Vishy's fault Magnus copped out the second time. It won't be Vishy's fault when Magnus is eliminated in the candidates tournament.

Mark my words, Magnus ain,t gonna make it. Not yet. He won't have the Mc Shanes, the Gawains, and the Peins helping him along the way. :-)

redivivo's picture

"In his last 53 classical chess games, Anand has only 5 wins to Buhmann, Short, Vallejo (twice), and Gelfand"

And all those wins came against opponents rated below 2730, against players within 125 points from Carlsen's current rating Anand has 0 wins the last years.


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