Reports | December 11, 2011 21:24

Kramnik leads London Chess Classic with one round to go

Kramnik leads London Chess Classic with one round to go

Thanks to a win against Luke McShane on Sunday Vladimir Kramnik is the sole leader at the London Chess Classic with one round to go. The games Anand-Carlsen, Nakamura-Short and Howell-Aronian ended in draws; Mickey Adams had a free round.

Kramnik grabs the lead | All photos © Ray Morris-Hill for the official website

Event London Chess Classic 2011PGN via TWIC
Dates December 3rd-12th, 2011
Location London, UK
System 9-player round robin
Players Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Kramnik, Nakamura, Adams, Short, McShane, Howell
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.

Videos by Macauley Peterson

For iPhone/iPad users: you can access the videos here (new link).

Vlad the Anglocide

Report by John Saunders

There was just one decisive result in the penultimate round: Vladimir Kramnik broke English hearts by beating home player Luke McShane in a long, fluctuating struggle. That put the former world champion two points clear of the field. He has White in the final round and is not someone who is readily beatable with that colour. And in order for Vlad not to finish first (at least on tie-break), something would have to happen that has never happened before at a classical time control: Levon Aronian would have to beat him with Black in tomorrow’s final round.

Let’s run through a few possible last-round permutations. If Vlad wins, of course he takes the title and the 50,000 Euros first prize. If he draws, and Magnus Carlsen fails to win (he’s Black against Nigel Short), the same applies. If Vlad draws and Magnus wins, then Vlad is first on tie-break (an extra Black win) but they receive 37,500 Euros each. If Vlady loses, Magnus could jump over him to take first, or if he fails too, Luke McShane can even finish first ahead of Vlad on tie-break (if he beats Vishy) as can Hikaru Nakamura (after a play-off, if he beats Mickey Adams). The upshot of this is that all four boards tomorrow feature a player who has a chance (albeit remote) of first place.

It’s a shame I used my Jack in the Beanstalk pantomime joke in the round five report because, as it turns out, Vlad Kramnik (and not Hikaru Nakamura) was the Giant after all. Today Vlad completed his sweep of the four English players. Luke put up a grand fight, not just to draw but to win, but in the end an extreme case of time trouble was his undoing. Luke fought right through the next time control but it always looked forlorn.

PGN string

Anand and Carlsen drew rather quickly in a Queen's Gambit Declined (the classical Tartakower this time) where the World Champion made a "Fingerfehler" after which he lost his chances for an advantage.

PGN string

Levon Aronian was in the mood for something unusual and played the Pirc against David Howell. The Armenian GM got some chances, but not more.

PGN string

Hikaru Nakamura did his best to beat Nigel Short and maintain some chances to win the tournament, but the Englishman played well enough to draw a very long game.

PGN string

Round 8 standings

No. Name Rtg Score/game Tiebreak Perf
1 Kramnik,V 2800 15.0/7   2959
2 Carlsen,M 2826 13.0/7   2903
3 McShane 2671 12.0/7 3 black wins 2852
4 Nakamura,H 2758 12.0/7 1 black win 2851
5 Anand,V 2811 8.0/7 1 black win 2750
6 Aronian,L 2802 8.0/7 1 white win 2733
7 Short,N 2698 5.0/7   2585
8-9 Howell,D 2633 4.0/8   2572
8-9 Adams,M 2734 3.0/7   2523

Round 8 standings (classical)


London Chess Classic 2011 | Schedule & results

Round 1 03.12.11 15:00 CET   Round 2 04.12.11 15:00 CET
Kramnik ½-½ Nakamura   Howell ½-½ Adams
Aronian ½-½ McShane   McShane ½-½ Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Howell   Nakamura 1-0 Aronian
Adams ½-½ Anand   Short 0-1 Kramnik
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
Aronian 1-0 Short   Carlsen ½-½ Kramnik
Carlsen 1-0 Nakamura   Adams 0-1 Short
Adams 0-1 McShane   Anand 0-1 Nakamura
Anand ½-½ Howell   Howell 0-1 McShane
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
Nakamura 1-0 Howell   Adams ½-½ Aronian
Short 0-1 Anand   Anand ½-½ Kramnik
Kramnik 1-0 Adams   Howell ½-½ Short
Aronian ½-½ Carlsen   McShane ½-½ Nakamura
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
Short 0-1 McShane   Anand ½-½ Carlsen
Kramnik 1-0 Howell   Howell ½-½ Aronian
Aronian ½-½ Anand   McShane 0-1 Kramnik
Carlsen 1-0 Adams   Nakamura ½-½ Short
Nakamura bye Assisting the commentary   Adams bye Assisting the commentary
Round 9 12.12.11 13:00 CET        
McShane   Anand        
Nakamura - Adams        
Short - Carlsen        
Kramnik - Aronian        
Howell bye Assisting the commentary        


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.


Anonymous's picture

When Carlsen wins and Kramnik draws they would both have 16 points and 1 black victory. What is the next tiebreak?

Eric's picture

Today Kramnik got his second victory with black.

Anonymous's picture

How I see, Kramnik has two black victories and would just win the tournament with a draw.

fen's picture

Absolutely gutted for Luke. That was just heartbreaking.

monte44's picture

If Kramnik won't lose tomorrow he's the winner.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Not really, if Kramnik draws and Luke McShane wins, McShane would have 4 wins with black and he wins.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

oh no sorry. I meant if Kramnik loses and McShane wins, then McShane wins irrespective of whether carlsen wins or not. Yes and if Kramnik does not lose , he wins.

joey's picture

If McShane wins, Kramnik lose and Carlsen win; McShane is second and Carlsen first!

Mike's picture

Luke did great, but, in time trouble, he didn't see 35.Rxa5! which would give him the advantage and all the chances to win. For example, if Kraminik played 35....Rxc2?? Mate would follow after 36.Bxf6+

Mike's picture

I meant, of course, White mates or wins more material after 35.Rxa5! Rxc2?

The Player's picture

Magnus will maybe not win this tourney, but he will set a new FIDE ratingrecord for himself ;)

Anonymous's picture

So Kramnik won as predicted and Nakamura , the only one able to overtake him in this scenario couldn't break Short. Tommorow Kramnik-Aronian is going to be a draw and Carlsen will most probably win against Short but the tiebreak is not in his favour this time. By all means Carlsen is the player of the year (unless he loses tomorrow against Short :P )

Anonymous's picture

Kramnik had a clean sweep against All British player. 4-0 to be precise.

christos's picture

4-0 against the british plus 4 draws against the other players, that is how one wins the London Classic!

S3's picture

Wow. With London and Dortmund in the bag Kramnik is surely the most likely suspect to win this year's chess oscar. Good for him!

joey's picture

Yeh, that tops Bazna, Bilbao and Tal Memorial for sure!

S3's picture

That's a no brainer. 2 times first outright or 3 times shared first on tie breaks.
Would be a no brainer. But Kramnik has not yet won of course, 1 round to go.

Anonymous's picture

But even if Kramnik win London outright, all those *inept* people at 64 will still choose Carlsen. Ha!

redivivo's picture

Is it really possible that the fanatic fanboys will give the Oscar to Carlsen also this year when Gelfand and Kramnik have been the clearly best players?!

giovlinn's picture

Gelfland? You gotta be kidding!

Creemer's picture

It's very likely that Kramnik will force a draw with white tomorrow and rather likely that Carlsen will beat Short. This would mean Kramnik wins on tiebreak, not outright. So hold your Oscar-horses!

joey's picture

Well, Carlsen was clear first at Biel, similar strenght to Dortmund. And Kramnik might win this on tie-break.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Yes that too in all of Bazna, Bilbao and Tal Carlsen was never clear first and edged ahead only on tie breaks. Kramnik can be clear first here and he was in Dortmund.

arkan's picture

This surely will rank amongst the most exciting tournaments this year, and it can only get better tommorow!

Pal G.'s picture

Peter, the link under the videos called "For iPhone/iPad users: you can access the video feed in iTunes here." does not seem to do anything, either on my computer or on my iphone. Can you get us a good URL please? I would love to download ALL of the london videos to view offline, in a plane, on a bus, etc... thanks!

Peter Doggers's picture

Aha, indeed it's dead link now. But I think this might work: just start from and you'll get a list and clicking on a thumbnail does actually work for an iDevice.

Bryan Urizar's picture

Can we actually download them though? Because the link works now, but I don't see a download option. I'd like to be able to watch them offline, if possible. Thanks!

Knallo's picture

What an exciting game Luke and Vladimir played today! I would have been happy if *both* of them could have won. And I would have been pleased if they could have shared 1st place in the tournament.
Still, this is a wonderful achievement by Luke, and I want to congratulate him.

sulutas's picture

Before the tournament I thought this would be Aronian's chance to finish 2011 by winning this tournament but unfortunately he has been far from being impressive - only one win in this field of three 2600ers (and tomorrow vs Kramnik, with black) is quite disappointing; sometimes he is like Anand and does not want to push the game to non-solid positions and he turns to be consent with a simple draw. I hope we will see a very hard-fought encounter between him and Kramnik tomorrow (although my guts tell me that it would be a draw somewhere around the move 30 or 40 after a number of exchanges on the board - I hope both of them will show me that I have been quite wrong on my assumptions :-))

pebblechucker's picture

Interesting stats, Kramnik has a win against all the english players

Anthony's picture

Its a long time, since Kramnik won a tournament with all the heavies! Good for him!
Its not over yet, he's facing Aronian tomorrow, but his chances look great.

Beating all four Brits :-)

He's been showing great fighting spirit this year and it payed off in Dortmund and here. He's especially effective against somewhat weaker players. This used to be a little bit of a soft spot for him: losing to many half points for tournament victories.

Too bad for Luke. He may be a strong 'amateur', but with a little bit more professionalism he probably would not have blown up against Vlad.

Zeblakob's picture

Thomas should be happy since he "conjectured" a few months ago that MC could dominate a tourneo iff Kramnik does not participate :)

@S3, forget about bureaucratic stuff, do not you think that Anand already lost his title?

S3's picture

Interesting observation of Thomas. Indeed, when I start to think of it I can't name a single event with Kramnik where MC finished clear first while Kramnik won several tourneys with him. I wonder how long this situation will continue.

Anyway, to answer your question, as you know I don't think Anand can lose his title in meaningless events like this as he has to be beaten by someone with the guts and strength to qualify for a wchmatch.

mathijs's picture

No doubt kramnik's performance has been outstanding, but the chess oscar will go to carlsen this year. Why? Even if Kramnik manages to win outright, he will have won Dortmund and London chess classic.
But- carlsen has won Bazna, Bilbao and Tal Memorial. Be as it may on tiebreaks- still, the field was much better in Bazna, Bilbao and Tal Memorial than in Dortmund and London. So, if you account for the categories of every event, carlsen has played far better this year.

redivivo's picture

As Kramnik pointed out Carlsen's inflated rating is based on his cherry picking weaker events and avoiding the top players. Vladdy for the Oscar!

raving_mad's picture

... and a lot of luck as well, of course. Actually, he is about 2650. Right?

Bureaucrat's picture

The problem with Kramnik saying nonsense like that, is not that not only is it wrong, but clueless people like you will believe it and repeat it.

Carlsen plays *only* in top events against the strongest opposition, nothing else.

S3's picture

You might want to read the entire interview including Kramniks exact words before you talk about clueless people

Greco's picture

Lol Carlsen-haters are getting more and more ridiculous in their comments.

AuN1's picture

i like how you completely ignored kramnik's +3 performance at hoogeeven over vachier-lagrave, giri, and judit polgar. another clear first for him, while carlsen has not done any better than shared first at tal and bazna with his only clear first being biel.

Anonymous's picture

It is very simple actually. Carlsen is the player of the year not because he won more tournaments than Kramnik , but because he was much more consistent in his play and much more stable in his results. Kramnik on the other hand followed quite a zing-zang between "clear first" and "bad result" .

Thomas Richter's picture

I find the discussion a bit futile: Yes Carlsen was more consistent than Kramnik and will probably get the Oscar - for that reason and also because it is partly a popularity contest. But there are also good reasons to vote for Kramnik ... those who mention Carlsen winning Biel should also mention Kramnik winning Hoogeveen, and arguably Kramnik's win in Dortmund was the most impressive _single_ result of the entire year. Who would, or should be next on the list in which order? Gelfand (candidates event), Svidler (Russian Championship and World Cup), Nakamura (Wijk aan Zee and ...?), Anand (good result in Wijk and past achievements), Aronian (nothing particularly special but defending his 2800+ rating), Karjakin (Bazna), whom did I forget?

Back to London: I find it a bit funny that - from four players who had chances to win the event - Kramnik got the least attention or praise from chess fans and to some extent also from the organizers. And by now we know that he finished in clear first place. "Nakamura is leading!" was a bit an artefact of the tournament setup - he was leading (only) as long as he had played one game more than his competitors.

Knallo's picture

Correct, Thomas. It makes far more sense to classify players by points lost rather than points won in round robins with an odd number of players.

redivivo's picture

Indeed, Vladdy finished 1.5 ahead of Le and 2.0 ahead of Giri in Dortmund! Carlsen won with a much smaller margin in Tal Memorial and the Grand Slam final so those results were less impressive, impossible to disagree about that.

AuN1's picture

indeed; as a matter of fact, there was no margin between carlsen and his "next closest rival" at tal or bilbao, he won on tie-break.

S3's picture

2 points ahead of Giri? Is that the same Giri who beat Carlsen with black in 20 moves?

redivivo's picture

I have to admit I actually don't think Carlsen is best at rabbit farming in the way Kramnik implied, just trying to amuse myself a bit :-) It's a common opinion though, just read what the editor of 64 wrote before Tal Memorial when comparing Carlsen's and Kramnik's chances. The reason Carlsen would have small chances to win Tal Memorial was that there weren't enough players with a low rating in the field, so he expected Kramnik or Aronian to win. Looking at actual facts it's easy to see that these ideas mainly are based on wishful thinking.

This is how Carlsen's and Kramnik's results against 2735+ players have been in 2011:

Carlsen +7 -0 =25
Kramnik +0 -4 =25

Thomas Richter's picture

Where did you get these statistics? For Kramnik they are certainly incomplete: in Dortmund he beat Ponomariov (2764) and Nakamura (2770)!

And the opinion of the editor of 64 may have been based on some of Vlad's earlier results in the very strongest tournaments, winning Bilbao 2010 and Tal Memorial 2009.

redivivo's picture

Indeed, those turned out to be Kramnik's stats with the four games against Pono and Naka in Dortmund excluded, with them included it is +2 -5 =26 against 2735+ opponents for Kramnik in 2011.

Thomas Richter's picture

Yeah and this includes his losses at Tal Memorial to Svidler and - apparently - Nepomiachtchi who was 2730 before the event and is now 2735.1 on the live rating list. One question is whether Nepo is really stronger than Giri and Vachier-Lagrave, whom Kramnik beat in Hoogeveen. In other words, Elo 2735 is an arbitrary boundary - anyone's rating is a snapshot in time and doesn't have error bars with it. In any case, his Tal Memorial result couldn't be considered for pre-tournament predictionssmiley.


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