Reports | December 04, 2011 20:28

LCC R2: victories for Nakamura and Kramnik, Carlsen escapes

LCC R2: victories for Nakamura and Kramnik, Carlsen escapes

In a spectacular second round of the London Chess Classic Hikaru Nakamura beat Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik was too strong for Nigel Short, while Magnus Carlsen had to defend a very difficult position against Luke McShane. David Howell and Mickey Adams drew their game; Vishy Anand had a rest day.

Round 2 of the London Chess Classic in progress | all photos © Ray Morris-Hill for the official website except when mentioned otherwise

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

Let's start this second round report with a tweet from Hikaru Nakamura, who played such a disappointing Tal Memorial.

The single most important thing in life is to believe in yourself regardless of what everyone else says.

Nakamura could use a win to get his confidence back on track, and Levon Aronian helped him by spoiling a good position in timetrouble.

PGN string

As you can see from the notes above, in this second round it was the World Champion who had a free day and assisted the commentators for about an hour. It was a pleasure to have Anand behind the microphone. An example: his description of Magnus Carlsen.

It's his main strength nowadays, or in general: he's extremely confident that he'll find his way in almost any position and he's willing to test boundaries where other players can't go. On top of that he's incredibly versatile.

However, on Sunday Carlsen was on the verge of defeat against Luke McShane.

PGN string

Based on the tiebreak rules used in London, Vladimir Kramnik is the "sole leader" after two rounds based on his win with Black. His victim was Nigel Short, who chose an unambitious opening and the played a "naive move" (Anand) which was based on a calculating error.

Vishy Anand assisting commentators IM Lawrence Trent and GM Stephen Gordon, who also do the Full English Breakfast series

The Englishman got his king's bishop locked and sealed on the queenside and was basically playing a piece down for the rest of the game.

PGN string

A relatively easy win for "Vlad" Kramnik

The draw between Englishmen David Howell and Mickey Adams was quite interesting as well. Both players found it extremely difficult to find plans and make evaluations.

PGN string

Howell-Adams at the start of the round


Round 2 standings

No. Name Rtg Score/game Tiebreak TPR
1 Kramnik,V 2800 4.0/2 Black win 2921
2-3 Carlsen,M 2826 4.0/2 White win 2845
2-3 Nakamura,N 2758 4.0/2 White win 2994
4-5 Adams,M 2734 2.0/2   2722
4-5 McShane,L 2671 2.0/2   2814
6 Anand,V 2811 1.0/1   2734
7-8 Aronian,L 2802 1.0/2   2522
7-8 Howell,D 2633 1.0/2   2587
9 Short,N 2698 0.0/1   2065

Round 2 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 - Short   Carlsen - Kramnik
Carlsen - Nakamura   Adams - Short
Adams - McShane   Anand - Nakamura
Anand - Howell   Howell - 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 - Howell   Adams - Aronian
Short - Anand   Anand - Kramnik
Kramnik - Adams   Howell - Short
Aronian - Carlsen   McShane - 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 - McShane   Anand - Carlsen
Kramnik - Howell   Howell - Aronian
Aronian - Anand   McShane - Kramnik
Carlsen - Adams   Nakamura - 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.


RealityCheck's picture

Ahhhh Luke, thought you were gonna do it again.

Mauricio Valdes's picture

Luke should have used the force but Carlsen is the better jedi! Trained by the Yoda of chess (Kasparov)

o anão gigante's picture

Nice sense of humor, you almost look British.

Zeblakob's picture

People who are saying that MC waz lucky do not understand chess: the difference between a super GM and a top 10 player is the degree of resistance in defending worse pozitions.

mishanp's picture

That comment would make a lot more sense if anyone had actually said Carlsen was lucky...

Axel Müller's picture


Xeno's picture

Naiditsch said that Carlsen was "very lucky" at Chessbomb, not to mention all the patzers repeating it as usual during Carlsen's games.

Jeroen's picture

So Zeblakob should have made his comment at Chessbomb too I guess

Thomas Richter's picture

The only time Naiditsch wrote "Magnus is a big fighter and a very lucky guy :)" was after 69.-gf3:+ because he predicted that McShane might play 70.Ke3? which would actually be _losing_.

IMO the entire concept of "luck" doesn't apply to this game: It seems unclear whether McShane was ever objectively winning (hence, what did he miss?) though no doubt he was better for many moves and hours. So at most Carlsen had "luck in the position" - and McShane was probably unhappy after the game but has no reasons to kick himself.

Kramnik-Carlsen from London last year might be a different story: one different move from Vlad and Magnus would have resigned - as far as I remember he said so himself after the game back then. And somehow I think that (some of) the same people complaining if anyone calls Carlsen lucky would be quick to call Kramnik lucky if he saves an inferior position against a lower-rated opponent.

redivivo's picture

"The only time Naiditsch wrote "Magnus is a big fighter and a very lucky guy :)" was after 69.-gf3:+ because he predicted that McShane might play 70.Ke3? which would actually be _losing_."

Naiditsch's comments didn't strike me as particularly deep this time either (even if he only called Carlsen "very lucky" once). He said several times that Carlsen's f5 against Howell was a "horrible" blunder, and this time he repeated over and over again that the game was completely over, just as in Carlsen's previous game where Carlsen himself went on to blunder in time trouble long after Naiditsch meant Howell should resign. Not difficult to make mistakes with little time in complicated positions. Naiditsch also stated that 69. Rd2 was a losing move when McShane played it. Interesting to read but he is very certain of himself when pronouncing moves as losing or easily winning when they are far from it. Some caution might be a good thing in his case.

S3's picture

Maybe you should start your own commentary site, where Carlsen always has the better position and your comments are always 100 % right. I bet you'd make a big succes.

redivivo's picture

The problem is rather people exaggerating extremely ICC-style when the games still are very much in the balance. I don't know how many times Naiditsch stated things like that 43. Qc6!! would finish the game, then long after that was played some move by Carlsen (his 51st I think) was the same thing as resigning, then it was drawn without any huge blunders being played, then McShane's Rd2 suddenly lost him the game, then it was a draw again, etc.

columbo's picture

It is true that commentators have a tendency to exagerate to keep people entertained , which in my opinion has sometimes good effects, sometimes not ... in this case, he went too far ... no big deal ...

Titus's picture

What happened to the Petroff? All super-grandmasters seem to have switched back again to Spanish. Is it just out of fashion or did the white-players finally find a way to avoid the deadly draws?

Thomas Richter's picture

I guess today in the three games that started with 1.e4, black wanted more than a draw. In the end, Carlsen (playing black) secured a draw, and Short with the white pieces avoided a draw ... .

Titus's picture

That makes sense, of course, but I noticed that the Petroff is out among the 2700+ since many many top-tournaments. I was not just referring to this round.

Remco G's picture

In the Petroff, the 5.Nc3 lines where white castles long are in fashion, and although they don't promise much advantage, at least they aren't that drawish. And the Ruy has the Marshall Gambit and the Berlin, the two other superweapons of a top GM looking for a draw.

noyb's picture

Nakamura back on the prowl! 1.5/2 vs. 2800 club so far, stern test tomorrow!

Knallo's picture

And the day after tomorrow! Then the worst is over. Perhaps it is favourable to play the strongest players when you are still (somewhat) fresh.

S3's picture

Perhaps not.

S3's picture

Perhaps not.

Knallo's picture

I am seriously impressed by Luke!

Guillaume's picture

Me too. It's really quite a shame that he's wasting his talent being a trader.

cip's picture

He's playing very well. In principle he could bring a big surprize and end up winning this. But he was a bit unlucky in his colors. He has White against the big boys and Black against all compatriots. Funny how that happened.

Siva's picture

Anand should continue to stay in the commentor box until his WC match..expect a draw or loss against Howell tomorrow.
Naka's poker experience is helping him to call out Aronian's bluffs..

S3's picture

No bluff, just mistakes on Aronians part when he already had the better position.

theeagle1's picture

are you for real? why on earth should he lose to howell with the white pieces?

Siva's picture

Go see the reality in Round 3! Anand is the next Karpov- he will cling on to titles until he gets kicked out by the far more talented youngsters (unlike Kasparov who knew when to call it quits); of course nothing wrong since he has bills to pay..

S3's picture

Just like Karpov Anand has proven himself, earned the title, and defended it several times and now it's up to those youngsters to prove they are worthy. This means participating and qualifying in the cycle. Just like Karpov and Anand have done-even when it was not always a fair or ideal qualifier.

Just drawing Anand in classical and losing horribly to him in rapid doesn't exactly convince me of their superiority. They must win if they want to take the title.

noyb's picture

Will Rnd 2 Part 4 video be posted soon? Would like to see Nakamura and Aronian's interview after the game.

antonio curado's picture

On Mcshane Carlsen game: instead of 72...Ke8 i think 72...Re2+ is an instant win for Carlsen.

theeagle1's picture

No that loses to taking on e2, fxe2 and g4, and white is winning the pawn race.

eht1982's picture

No, it loses to 73.Rxe2 fxe2 74 g4!

eht1982's picture

No, it loses to 73.Rxe2 fxe2 74 g4!

The Sea Lettuce's picture

Luke McShane played well but to win against Magnus Carlsen you have to beat him three times: opening, middlegame and endgame.

Anonymous's picture

Very much like Alekhine...

RealityCheck's picture

GM Carlsens' strategy is easy:
1. play until the bitter end
2. bank on your opponent blundering

Remco G's picture

That's the exact strategy any higher-rated player takes against lower-rated opponents, actually.

guest09's picture

kramnik vs short was very short affair

lefier's picture

Carlsen has not played convincing in his first two games. On the other hand he seems to have a habit playing stronger in the second half of the tournament.

Septimus's picture

Wow, I thought Aronian had an advantage when I stepped out. How did he end up losing?? Crazy.

christos's picture

I read at TWIC that "Nakamura only realised they had no increment when Aronian started to speed up". One time he lets his flag fall because he leaves the board, thinking he has reached move 40 (but he has only reached 39). Now he is not even aware of the time control, on the _second_ round of the tournament. He is amazing, this Mr Nakamura.

RealityCheck's picture

I read that clip too. I feel bad for the players. I understand Nakamuras' frustration. Always changing. Time controls. No good.

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