Reports | December 01, 2012 23:53

London Chess Classic starts with a bang

Olympia was jam-packed during the first Saturday

The London Chess Classic had a fantastic start on Saturday with all games in the first round ending decisively. The first winner was Vladimir Kramnik, who defeated Judit Polgar with White. Soon after Hikaru Nakamura followed, who beat Levon Aronian with Black. Magnus Carlsen then won with Black against Luke McShane and finally Michael Adams defeated Gawain Jones with the black pieces as well.

Olympia was jam-packed during the first Saturday | 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.

What a start! Everyone's in awe after the first round of the London Chess Classic, where all the games in the first round ended decisively. Let's face it, draws can be very interesting, but in the end we want to see blood on the board, don't we? Well, there was plenty of that on Saturday, and so the absolute world elite managed to make the tournament even more exciting than it already was with their mere presence.

The first to go down was the only lady in the field, Judit Polgar. She "got excited forcing matters" and went for a very interesting piece sacrifice with Black against Vladimir Kramnik. At the press conference the former World Champion said he didn't believe this idea. He did refute it in the game, but only after an extra inaccuracy by Polgar.

PGN string

As Anand noted in the commentary, for the third time in a row this year Aronian and Nakamura faced each other in the first round. Both in Wijk aan Zee and at the Tal Memorial, Aronian won. This time it didn't go so well for the world's #2, who commented

I think I was playing some weird moves and then I was slightly worse. Then I got some play, but then I just blundered a piece.

PGN string

McShane, who beat Carlsen in the first round in London two years ago, lost to the Norwegian in the last round of the Tal Memorial this year. Perhaps because of his disappointing Remco Heite tournament, the Englishman decided to play it safe with 5.Re1 against Carlsen's Berlin (at least this was Nigel Short's interpretation).

White's 18th and 20th move were nice, and he got a slight edge, but McShane used too much time on the clock and simply missed 27...Nxg5. Carlsen then slowly outplayed his opponent in typical style in an ending that was objectively drawn.

PGN string

By the way, Ian Nepomniachtchi got his visa in the end and has already arrived in London to work as a second for Magnus Carlsen.

The longest game was the one between Mickey Adams and Gawain Jones, who is making his debut at the highest level. At the opening ceremony he said his main objective is "to play proper chess", and he actually did that in round one. He got very close to a draw, but faced an opponent who was highly determined to win this one.

PGN string

Pairings & results

Round 1 01.12.12 15:00 CET   Round 2 0212.12 15:00 CET
McShane 0-1 Carlsen   Polgar - Jones
Aronian 0-1 Nakamura   Nakamura - Kramnik
Kramnik 1-0 Polgar   Carlsen - Aronian
Jones 0-1 Adams   Anand - 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 - Anand   Nakamura - Adams
Kramnik - Carlsen   Carlsen - Jones
Jones - Nakamura   Anand - Kramnik
Adams - Polgar   McShane - 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 1 standings (football)


London Chess Classic 2012 | Round 1 standings (classical)


Highlights of round 1 by GM Danny King

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.


Jambow's picture

So Nakamura wins with black against Aronian, I always like his chances when the commentaters are unclear and like his opponents position better. I thought it was a well played game and enjoyed it, I saw the f2 weakness and liked the fact that he had both of Aronians knights stuck on the side of the board.

Carlsen escaped and turned around the greatest squeeze I have seen in a long while, McShane did a fantastic job out of the opening, Carlsen like nobody else could turned it around and put one in the W column Congrats and so doing equaled the great ones elo of 2851.

Kramnik won against Judit and Adams finally ground down Jones neither game being exceptional but worth a look.

4 draws next round?

Anonymous's picture

Athough HK seems to be a jerk, he's most admirable for always trying to win with the Black pieces.

Balderdash's picture

Nice to see Nakamura is back, Lev really got trounced today. Carlsen continues to out-endgame everyone with no end in sight, and Polgar comes out swinging but without enough calculation. Can't wait for round 2!

Anonymous's picture

I do'nt think Nakamura is back. His last 3 rounds are Anand Carlsen, McShane, he could lose all three so. WE just has to wait and see if he is really back as you say. Time will tell.

Balderdash's picture

He had a solid +3 at Unive with no losses, followed by a great win over the world #2 here ... I would consider him "back", but you are right, time will tell.

Anonymous's picture

Despite the decisive results the games were a bit dissapointing. Aronian and Polgar were inrecognisable in the opening and Carlsen wasn't very convincing as he only won thanks to his opponents horrible time management. Kramnik and Nakamura looked good but had it easy.

Bertil's picture

His horrible time management was a result of trying to handle the threats on the kingside in the endgame, i.e of Magnus Carlsen playing well.

Anonymous's picture

Why in the hell Luke didn't continue his progression with h4 instead of putting his king at the bottom of the labyrinth ???

harvey's picture

Live transmissions were not good today (overload on server?). Hope it will come through better tomorrow.

eric's picture

Nakamura had a terrible grandprix in London, that is all. If you want to see unstable great players just check Chucky and Moro. I do not think Naka is that unstable. But it is always great to have his aggressive style in top-10. Luke is amazing! He beat Magnus earlier as far as I remember and also Aronian. I hope he recovers and does better! But I am mostly curious about Vishy. Will he continue his 1/2 "performance" or try to do something? Kasparov twitted that even though he will be traveling he will try to follow the games. I guess after Magnus' win today, he will be more interested.

Thomas's picture

"Nakamura had a terrible grandprix in London, that is all."
No it isn't - even if Anand made a similar statement yesterday, possibly to please the London organizers. After winning Wijk aan Zee 2011, Nakamura had a terrible Dortmund 2011 (even if he beat Kramnik in the last round when Vlad had already secured clear first) and a terrible Tal Memorial 2011. And he had a terrible finish of Reggio Emilia 2011/2012 with three consecutive losses.
In terms of a great event (winning when he wasn't the favorite) Wijk aan Zee 2011 is still unique - by such standards, US Championships and Hoogeveen don't count. His other supertournament results were OK to good, nothing less and nothing more. Overall, he is pretty comparable to Ivanchuk, Morozevich and Shirov - this conclusion can only be 'refuted' by having a selective memory.

bhiub's picture

If Luke or any of his friends are reading this ...

Luke, PLEASE manage your time better. You can do it!

Jambow's picture

Nakamura played good chess today King and another Brittish commentator actually thought Aronian was better into the 24ish move. I thought the f2 square might be exploited and Aronians knights were in the barn but it was not so clear cut by any means.

Carlsen is training with Houdini as nothing else can explain that great escape, Luke was absolutely smothering him to death. I thought if Luke allowed an inch the proverbial mile was attached to it.

Great chess and Judit sorry for your loss to the former WC, if only Leko had your serum testosterone he might want to win too. ;o]

Jambow's picture

bhiub I'm hearing Obi Wan saying use the clock Luke, followed by Yoda time management you must do.

funk's picture

Kramnik will beat Nakamura.

tod's picture

Carlsen will beat Nakamura.

jsy's picture

Before today, the chorus no dobut was going "Aoronian will beat Nakamura"

jsy's picture

Before today, the chorus no dobut was going "Aoronian will beat Nakamura"

Bb's picture

If Naka beats them, he will be called "lucky" anyway...

Anonymous's picture

my dog will beat Choufleur

choufleur's picture
Anonymous's picture

my dog also beats choufleur's grandma, but nothing to be proud of ... not convincingly

choufleur's picture

Come on, this comment was deleted because the use of the term jerk ?
This word was used by someone else above, without being censored. Peter: can you explain this, or will you censor this comment?

Anonymous's picture

No Choufleur in the world can insult a super GM, no matter what ! ask your grandma !!!

Peter Doggers's picture

"Seems to be a jerk" is on the edge, "he is a jerk" is too much. If you don't like it, please try another forum to bash people. (This is directed to anyone here. It's enough, people, try to be a bit more positive in this world that's too negative already.)

choufleur's picture

Thanks for the very subtle explanation. You seem to ignore that my comment was mostly irony.

tod's picture

Well, Nakamura hasn't won any super tournaments lately and finished last at London grand prix. So I think he will again finish at the bottom.

Sean's picture

Such a joke. Nakamura beats #2 in world with black and you all say he sucks. Give the guy some credit. He's a great player!

Kamalakanta's picture

Could not agree more. Nakamura is definitely a great player, and in my opinion, he is WC-caliber potential. He has proven time and again that he belongs in the elite group with Anand, Carlsen, Aronian and Kramnik...why people love to hate him is a mystery to me. He is direct and honest in his opinions, and that is perceived as "arrogance".
He played at a very high level today, which to me means he in top form.

Bronkenstein's picture

Few brief impressions: Levon messed something badly in the opening and Naka didn´t need much more than that to win his typical chaotic game, Mickey the Spider did his trademark silent squeeze, Magnus went ´off the hook´ into slightly better endgame to convert it, and Vlad again made it look so easy...

Joltas's picture

Yep, Nakamura won ONLY because Aronian blundered in the opening.

Lets see how Nakamura fare against Kramnik.

If Nakamura loses then he sucks.

Anonymous's picture

If he loses against a former world champion he sucks? Wow, glad to know that the bar is set to a reasonable height...

Thomas's picture

Not a bad idea to actually look at the games, and try to find out what went wrong for the losers and why rather than just praising the winners. I will give it a try for McShane-Carlsen and Aronian-Nakamura - the common theme might be that the white players wanted too much?

In McShane-Carlsen, the white problems may have started with 44.Qc8 - out of inertia still playing for a win or at least playing acticely? For example, 44.Qd7+ would force a queen exchange, and the resulting knight vs. bishop endgame might be a bit worse but should be holdable!? At that stage, Carlsen's subsequent king march might have been hard to foresee or hard to believe ... .

In Aronian-Nakamura, yes Nakamura was well-prepared in the opening and Aronian's preparation was bad or non-existing - I find it hard to believe that black would already be at least comfortable equal after 5.-e5, but that's the impression from their game. But the decisive moment was only 26.Rd2 rejecting 26.Nc3 leading to massive exchanges on d5 and c5 with a pretty even position that even Nakamura assessed as drawish. Jambow's very first comment in this thread "I ... liked the fact that he [Nakamura] had both of Aronians knights stuck on the side of the board" refers to the position one move later. At that stage, the commentators certainly would have preferred black (if they hadn't been 'distracted' by the press conference of Kramnik and Polgar), but this wasn't forced.

Overall the recipe for many decisive games is an unbalanced field of players plus a few blunders. Entertaining it is, but we cannot blame for example the participants of the Tashkent Grand Prix for being less entertaining.

Kamalakanta's picture

All credit to Nakamura for choosing an opening formation which made Levon uncomfortable. It just shows you how even top class players lose their step when taken out of the "normal" continuations. By the way, no one, and I mean no one, wins a game of chess without the opponent's mistakes. Again, all credit to Nakamura for a fine win with black.

Jambow's picture

Kamalakanta trly tou are correct Nakamura like no other draws irrational hatred and also doesn't get credit for his level of play. Ironically even though he hasn't won against Carlsen at classical chess he has a better record against 2800's than Carlsen.

As I already noted the commentaters actually thought Aronian was ahead and Daniel King is a GM and I think the other one was an IM so this Aronian blundered garbage is more emotional rhetoric than honest assesment.

Anonymous's picture

" he has a better record against 2800's than Carlsen. "

??? apart from Carlsen and Aronian, there are no 2800's

Jocky's picture

Its a sad day for chess and a clear sign that ratings today are false. Can anyone honestly say Plugs 2851 is comparable with King Kasparovs 2851...didnt think so, and anyone that says yes is a fool.

redivivo's picture

It's always a sad day for chess when Carlsen wins a game :-)

Anonymous's picture

and if anyone says NO , he is a JOCKY

Creemer's picture

I, said the fool.

Bertil's picture

The competition is so much harder today, so I agree Kasparov lived in a better environment to achieve high rating.

arkan's picture

Trademark game by Magnus again - a seemingly drawish game from the start, upping the pressure on his opponent until he (or she, this tournament) cracks!

All 4 games were superb, great show.

Martin Matthiesen's picture

Nakamura got a fine position after the opening, but he won because Aronian blundered material with Rd2?

Anonymous's picture


Anonymous's picture

Carlsen is about 50 points ahead of anyone, AMEN

Evgeny's picture

it was a fantastic tournament start!!!

Bb's picture

Lets face it. When Naka wins, he either got lucky or his opponent played badly. When Naka loses, he's just a lousy player, not really top material. The bias is simply amazing.

Bb's picture

Lets face it. When Naka wins, he either got lucky or his opponent played badly. When Naka loses, he's just a lousy player, not really top material. The bias is simply amazing.

Septimus's picture

Peter, perhaps you ought to mention in bold font that Carlen is the highest rated player ever?

Peter Doggers's picture

Mèh, let's wait until the tournament is over. I'll surely mention it, but to beat Kasparov you gotta have it set in stone on the FIDE list in my opinion. (I also wonder whether The Boss ever had a virtual rating higher than 2851?)


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