Reports | September 22, 2011 17:09

London Chess Classic: more details

London Chess Classic: more details

The timetable for the third London Chess Classic has been announced. The strongest tournament in the history of British chess will be complemented by a chess festival with tournaments for all levels and of course free chess coaching for schools.

Info provided by the London Chess Classic organizers

The tournament runs from 3-12 December 2011 and falls on two weekends so we expect even more spectators as well as more players in the FIDE Open as amateur players will only have to take one full week off work. It also means there will be two sets of weekend tournaments and blitz tournaments every evening.

Viktor Korchnoi has agreed to come back again as guest of honour and will give two simultaneous displays. We will have at least one Women’s all-play-all.

There will be training courses for chess teachers and for those who would like to become chess teachers, both organised by the charity Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC). Since the last London Chess Classic, CSC has expanded and works in 70 schools in 13 towns and cities in England and Wales. See

The London Chess Classic now comes under the Chess in Schools and Communities umbrella and there will be five days of free school activities. Each day, schools can bring children to learn from top coaches and play in a tournament or a simultaneous display. There will also be a chess arbiter’s training course, and on the rest day, Wednesday 7 December, a chess cultural day with film screenings, lectures and more simultaneous displays.

Timetable, course details and tickets are available here:


Armenian star Levon Aronian has been confirmed as the ninth participant. This completes the line-up of 2800+ rated stars in the line-up alongside the world chess champion, Viswanathan Anand from India, and the teenage sensation who currently outranks him on the world chess rating list, Magnus Carlsen from Norway; not to mention Anand’s immediate predecessor as world champion, Vladimir Kramnik from Russia.


Magnus Carlsenof Norway remains the hottest property in world chess. In 2009 he used the London Classic as his launch pad to become the youngest player ever to reach the top of the world rating list and he has stayed there on most subsequent lists. And in 2010, just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he did it again, despite losing a couple of games. ‘Veni, vidi, vici’: “I came, I saw, I conquered”... but even Julius Caesar only conquered Britain once! So Magnus is back to try and lift the London Classic trophy for a third time. If he does it, we’re going to promote him from Magnus (“great” in Latin) to Maximus (“the greatest”)...

Viswanathan Anandbecame the undisputed world chess champion in 2007 and has since defended the title twice in matches with Vladimir Kramnik in 2008 and Veselin Topalov in 2010. In an age when more and more players are playing professional chess, with infinitely more sophisticated training resources and information available to them, his achievement in defending the top spot from all comers is as impressive as any of the successes of his championship predecessors. Vishy has maintained his form in 2011 and his fans will be eagerly watching his play in London as he will be required to defend his title against Israeli GM Boris Gelfand in 2012 and needs some top-quality opposition to hone his play.


Levon Aronian of Armenia will be 29 by the time of the third London Chess Classic in December 2011 and, with his inclusion in the ‘magnificent nine’, London will be able to claim the last jewel in the crown of elite chess. Along with world number one Magnus Carlsen and world champion Vishy Anand, Levon is the only player in the world who currently sports a 2800+ world rating, so he is currently ‘the third man’ occupying the peak of chess Olympus. He has a current world title, having won the last World Blitz Championship, and he has won several other world titles in the past, including the 2002 World Junior Championship (ahead of Luke McShane) and the 2009 World Rapidplay Championship. Just to complete the picture of his chess virtuosity, he is a former world champion of Chess960, a variant of the game where the pieces on the back rank are placed randomly and the players are thus unable to rely on their memory of opening theory and thrown onto their own strategic resources.


Vladimir Kramnikwas world champion from 2000 to 2007. His greatest claim to fame was being the only organic (as opposed to digital!) chessplayer ever to defeat the world’s best ever player Garry Kasparov in matchplay. In 2011 he won the Dortmund Sparkassen tournament for a record tenth(!) time and in great style. There is something of a rivalry between Kramnik and Carlsen in major events, much as there was between the young Kramnik and Kasparov. So far the young Norwegian has finished ahead of the Russian ex-world champion both times in London but he will do well to deny ‘Big Vlad’ forever. The former world champion shows sign of sharpening his style somewhat recently so we could see fireworks in 2011.


Hikaru Nakamura, two-times US champion, is nicknamed ‘H Bomb’ for his explosive and uncompromising style of play and widely recognised as one of the world’s greatest players, particularly at blitz chess. He had a great start to 2011, winning the Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee tournament with 9/13 ahead of the four top-rated players in the world, Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Kramnik - all of whom he will meet again at the 2011 London Classic, of course. Writing of Hikaru’s stellar achievement at Wijk aan Zee 2011, Garry Kasparov was full of praise: he reminded us that Bobby Fischer had never won a tournament ahead of a reigning world champion and that we would have to look back to Harry Pillsbury’s 1895 Hastings victory for an equivalent tournament success by an American. Later in the year Hikaru defeated former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov in a six-game match held in Saint Louis, Missouri (where Hikaru now lives).


Michael Adams, known as Mickey, has a strong claim to being Britain’s best ever chessplayer based on his consistently high rating over many years. He broke all significant national age records to become a grandmaster and win the British Championship at the age of 17 in 1989. He is currently Britain’s top-rated player and for a while a few years ago was ranked number four in the world behind Kasparov, Anand and Kramnik. He is the reigning British Champion, having edged Nigel Short in a tie-break in August.


Nigel Shortwill always be remembered as one of the most famous chess prodigies, as well as the first non-Russian since Bobby Fischer to break the Russian monopoly contesting world championship matches back in the 1990s. At 46 he is now one of the oldest players amongst the world’s top 100 rated players but his appetite for the game shows no sign of diminishing. He is in pretty good form, too. He started 2011 with a phenomenal 8½/10 score at a Gibraltar Masters tournament that was littered with top-class grandmasters and he has since come within a couple of tie-breaks of winning both the Commonwealth and British championship titles.


Luke McShane, 27, had a brilliant career as a chess prodigy before going up to Oxford and starting an equally career as a financial professional. The London Chess Classic provided him with a way back into chess and he grasped the opportunity with both hands with a wonderful 2010 performance, defeating Carlsen and finishing second equal with world champion Vishy Anand. This re-established Luke in the world top 100 and he carried his good form into the Tata (formerly Corus) Wijk aan Zee ‘B’ tournament in January 2011, winning the tournament on tie-break from David Navara and qualifying for the 2012 ‘A’ group. He has since returned to full-time financial work but he has already earned the respect of his peers as one of the best (if not the best) amateur chessplayers in the world.


David Howell, the 2009 British Champion, is also a very gifted and determined player who is widely tipped to advance into the world’s elite very soon. The London Classic has provided him with an excellent opportunity to cross swords with some legends of the game, and he brought off his best-ever tournament success at the 2009 tournament, finishing third behind Carlsen and Kramnik. David is currently studying a course in Folklore, Mythology and Medieval Renaissance Literature at Cardiff University.



The average rating of the 2011 London Chess Classic (September 2011 list) is 2747 – this surpasses last year’s average by 18 points and is an unprecedented figure for a tournament held in Britain. It also makes it one of the strongest tournaments held anywhere in the world this year.


If all this talk of chess rivalries is only making you thirst for some chess action yourself... you can play chess at the London Chess Classic, under the same roof as the super-stars! There are all sorts of events and prizes for all chess standards and tastes, from the humblest beginner, and tournaments which last days at a time, or over the weekend – or for just part of a day (e.g. evening blitz events lasting no longer than 2½ hours). Entry forms are available for download NOW from the tournament website at

Apart from the elite Classic tournament, there is a nine-round world-rated open which attracts professional grandmasters from around the world, chasing the £2,500 first prize. One of the legendary figures of the game, Viktor Korchnoi, will be playing simultaneous displays, where amateur players can experience what it is like to face the player who contested world championship matches with Anatoly Karpov in the 1970s and 1980s.

Name Title Country Rating (1/9/2011) World Ranking
Carlsen, Magnus grandmaster NOR 2823 1 30.11.1990
Anand, Viswanathan world champion IND 2817 2 11.12.1969
Aronian, Levon grandmaster ARM 2807 3 06.10.1982
Kramnik, Vladimir ex-world champion RUS 2791 4 25.06.1975
Nakamura, Hikaru grandmaster USA 2753 12 09.12.1987
Adams, Michael grandmaster ENG 2733 18 17.11.1971
Short, Nigel grandmaster ENG 2698 49 01.06.1965
McShane, Luke grandmaster ENG 2671 74 07.01.1984
Howell, David grandmaster ENG 2633 129 14.11.1990

2010 Tournament  (n.b. win = 3pts, draw = 1pt)

Final Placings: 1 Magnus Carlsen (NOR) 13/21, 2-3 Viswanathan Anand (IND), Luke McShane (ENG) 11, 4 Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 10, 5 Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 10, 6 Michael Adams (ENG) 8, 7 David Howell (ENG) 4, 8 Nigel Short (ENG) 2.

2009 Tournament (n.b. win = 3pts, draw = 1pt)

Final Placings: 1 Magnus Carlsen (NOR) 13/21, 2 Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 12, 3 David Howell (ENG) 9, 4 Michael Adams (ENG) 9, 5 Luke McShane (ENG) 7, 6 Ni Hua (CHN) 6, 7 Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 6, 8 Nigel Short (ENG) 5.

For more information and to buy tickets to The London Chess Classic, please go to Tickets are on sale NOW from the website or from the London Chess Centre, 44 Baker Street, W1U 7RT (tel. 020 7486 8222).


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Editors's picture
Author: Editors


Thomas's picture

"David Howell ... is widely tipped to advance into the world elite very soon"

How many (non-English) people do think so? He is far behind a couple of players who were, like him, born in 1990. He is also behind younger players Giri, Caruana and Le Quang Liem.

Maybe top50 (currently he's ranked 128th) is already world elite?? But even this may or may not happen ... .

I understand that the organizers want to sell the event, but I see no need to go over the top in such a way (no other supertournament does). IMO it's also debatable whether Chessvibes should simply Copy-Paste such press releases.

TMM's picture

Totally agree there. Surely he is a good player, but marking every such player as "to advance into the world elite very soon" is just ridiculous. Truly gifted players (e.g. Carlsen, Giri) advance into the world elite much sooner. Howell is just not that good.

adriano's picture

Kramnik was world champion from 2006 to 2007, before that he won a commercial match against Kasparov under the auspices of BrainGames, this match was not for the world title since Kasparov was no longer champion.

Obviously someone is trying to rewrite the history

Michael Lubin's picture If you actually believe that the FIDE "World Championship" of the 90's and 00's schism era was legitimate, I have a few bridges to sell you. Yeah, sure...Karpov was the World Champion for most of the nineties, not Kasparov. And then how about the great Kasimdzhanov, colossus of chess history? The FIDE knockout crapshoot "world championship" about commercial. Oh, but I suppose the title Kasparov and Kramnik held couldn't have been legitimate...after all, it wasn't backed by Ilyumzhinov's offshore oil money.

adriano's picture

Ok. You could read an interview of Alexander Nikitin - the personal trainer of Kasparov about all events during the 90's and 00's, the commersial match Kasparov - Kramnik and who was legitimate champion.Here is the link use google translator
part of interview

Kasparov offered this time Kramnik to play a match outside of FIDE. I still think that the title of this most honorable for any chess player, this kind of chess crown, not the property, which the carrier may dispose of the title of your choice. The match 2000 between Kramnik and Kasparov was held under the auspices of a certain company BrainGames. It is quite possible to assume that if there were any other kind, it is not English, and for example, the Arabic newspaper, or even some obscure company like "Baykalfinansgrupp", has offered to double the fee the participants, the match would have gone to another country. The resignation of the FIDE match, organization and leadership made him the results of any illegitimate and turned the main game just in a prime commercial event for two of its members. Why had Mr. Kasparov contrive this adventure - I do not understand. Recently, he expressed regret that while he ate a bit. The item before the match that would have gone with a bang - who do not want to earn a million or two dollars.

Jon's picture

You are trying to rewrite the history. I bet 9/10 chess players follow the Karpov/Kasparov/Kramnik/Anand championship history.

adriano's picture

Last year Anand said that the former world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov is in his team and also said that in 2010 he is world champion for 4 th time. I bet that Anand is 1/10 of chess players that follows Karpov/Kasparov/Karpov/Khalifman/Anand/Ponomariov/Kasimdzhanov/Topalov/Kramnik/Anand championship history.

adriano's picture

A day after his after his arrival on Friday, while sitting relaxed on a sofa at his apartment in RA Puram, Anand said, “I have excellent understanding with his team of seconds and it went like a dream.”

The well known chess player had a four member team comprising Peter Heine-Nielsen (Denmark), Surya Sekhar Ganguly (India), Wojtasek (Poland) and former World champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan).

Thomas's picture

Kasparov might indeed regret playing a match against Kramnik - because he lost (against the expectations of himself and many others), not because it wasn't under the auspices of FIDE. At the very least, most people (I guess also Anand) will recognize that chess had two world champions for a couple of years - there are how many world champions in boxing?

The London organizers actually distinguish between Kramnik ("simple" world champion 2000-2007) and Anand (_undisputed_ world champion since 2007). If they had invited Kasimdzhanov (but for some reason they didn't) they would certainly also mention his WCh title - after all, they mention Aronian's various "minor" titles. Most of these are at least as debatable as Kramnik's: the World Blitz Championship is an invitational event with just a few qualifiers, rapid and Chess960 were private events in Mainz.

adriano's picture

I think that the London organizers have posted incorrectly Kramnik "simple" world champion from 2000 to 2007. Comparisons with boxing are inaccurate because there are a few boxing organizations. In chess there is only one organization Fide, so the conduct of private commercial game did not have any legal consequences, therefore the winner can not be called world champion.

PP (NL)'s picture

I doubt if we will have another English miracle performance this year.

I expect that the English players will end numbers 6 to 9. Maybe Nakamura has a lesser tournament, but the rest... Not likely. Which is nothing to be ashamed of. The organisers have made it extremely difficult for them by inviting the almost strongest opposition possible.

I'm looking forward to this tournament. It will no doubt be fun to watch!

RealityCheck's picture

What's this! Why isn't Beckham in the Britsh line-up? Ok, he'd score even fewer goals than GM Short but, he'd at least help promote, highlight this trivial chess-soccer point system.

The Dutch have done so well,for so long (Tata Steel) using normal time controls, score cards etc. Why isn't this ultra successful model being copy-pasted?

adam's picture

currently, there are five comments before mine. all are full of criticism and/or fat mouthing
my response to the article above may be somewhat weird in this company:
i would like to thank the organizers very much for pulling such an awesome line-up (again) and wish them good luck with setting up a great (online) coverage that we chess enthusiasts can enjoy a memorable 9 days

stevefraser's picture

The "weaker" players should allow the "elite" players to play to win and not to draw in their respective matches, to the great benefit of the chess playing public.

Flaneur's picture

A question: Since there are 9 players, will the "odd man out" join the commentary team during at least part of his rest day to provide live play-by-play? I had heard something about this but don't see any mention of it here.

Anonymous's picture

Why isn't Anand on the top; does the #1 rating now mean more than the World Championship?

RealityCheck's picture

This, World Champion vs World NoOne, is just another version of the split titel dilema. It was an argument (I have the highest rating. Therefore, I am the best chess player in the world) Kasparov often used during his dry period-- no title matches 1996-1999 and the up to the time he quit pro chess 2001-2005. As we all witnessed, Kramnik beatng Kasparov, took the world champions trophy home in 2000.

There is hope. I've scanned dozens of chess websites, read the interviews etc and found that most Top GM's place a higher premium on the World Champion Title. In fact, there lifes work is deeply rooted in becoming the World Chess Champion!!

Unindentified creature from Antarctica's picture
Me from Antarctida's picture
Me from Antarctida's picture
Unindentified creature from Antarctida's picture
Alexandr's picture

You need the 5th number of the FIDE rating - Teymur Rajabov from Azerbaijan to complete the best five. Why doesn't he participate?

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