Carlsen beats Howell in first round London Chess Classic
Magnus Carlsen took an early lead at the London Chess Classic on Saturday. In the only decisive game of the round, the Norwegian beat David Howell with White.
Videos by Macauley Peterson
The 3rd edition of the London Chess Classic took off on Saturday afternoon shortly after 14.00 local time, again in the 440-seater auditorium of the Olympia conference hall at Hammersmith Road in Kengsington, London. The first move, or should we say first serve, was for none other than Boris Becker.
A six-time Grand Slam singles champion, an Olympic gold medalist, and the youngest-ever winner of the men's singles title at Wimbledon at the age of 17, it's no secret that Becker is also a chess fan. He once famously played Garry Kasparov live on CNN and played the game to focus his mind ahead of big tennis matches.
During the round he played a couple of friendly chess games with Nigel Short. The official game is given below:
Short started the tournament with a bye and assisted the commentators whereas Boris Becker joined the audience and saw Nigel Short using one of his crutches for other purposes! | Photo © John Saunders
Chess is much like tennis as it involves being one-on-one against your opponent and having to plan ahead. There’s a lot of strategy involved and elements like shaking hands before you begin teaches fair play and sportsmanship.
It was probably a good idea that Becker and Short didn't play each other on the tennis court, because in that case the match would have been short, and it would have been... Short!
As it turned out, Becker currently is suffering from a broken leg and needs crutches to go around...
The first round in action with some TV crew members and photographers still on stage
Becker's excellent first serve was 1.e4, played at Magnus Carlsen's half of the court. A Ruy Lopez came on the board as opponent David Howell countereed with a few classical backhand returns: a setup with ...Nf6 and ...Bc5. Right after the opening, the net caught fire when Carlsen sacrificed two pawns for good chances on the kingside. This soon became a crushing attack but in his opponent's timetrouble, the Norwegian made a mistake and the final position turned out to be quite unclear, but Howell had already resigned, with just three seconds left on the clock.
Magnus Carlsen came to the stage in a determined manner, and took an early lead in the tournament
In another '2800 club member with White against a local hero' kind of game, Luke McShane was more successful against Levon Aronian. In a Chebanenko Slav the Englishman did get under pressure and in timetrouble as well, but thanks to 29...Re8! he held things together. Aronian, who was mainly trying to make things complicated, had underestimated this move and immediately made sure the game would finish in a draw. The Armenian was reluctant to give concrete evaluations afterwards, dubbing the game as "too complicated".
A good tradition in London: talented young chess players making the first move at the boards of top grandmasters | Photo © John Saunders
Another much anticipated encounter was the one between Kramnik and Nakamura, who met with the same colours earlier this year both in Dortmund and at the Tal Memorial. In July Nakamura won with a KID, in Moscow a Grünfeld ended in a draw.
Nakamura played something completely different in London: he decided to enter the Catalan territory that has been explored so much in recent years at top level. In fact the players followed Kramnik-Anand, Bilbao 2010 for 19 moves and for five moves longer the position was known from a correspondence game. Kramnik said:
It's a very concrete position. In reality Black is making only moves for some time.
Vladimir Kramnik, one of the great experts of the Catalan...
...but held by Hikaru Nakamura who found many 'only moves'
Adams and Anand also followed theory for a long time. Their example, in a 6.Be2 Najdorf, was a Bundesliga game from last year between the young Dutch grandmasters Smeets and Giri. In that game Black won, and so White needed an improvement somewhere which Adams came up with at move 22.
Indian High Commissioner Rajesh N. Prasad meets with Adams and Anand before the game | Photo © John Saunders
Round 1 standings
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|
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