Reports | November 28, 2012 16:27

London Classic starts Saturday, Carlsen's second denied a visa

London Classic starts Saturday, Carlsen's second denied a visa

The 4th edition of the London Chess Classic takes off this Saturday. It runs 1-10 December 2012 at the Olympia Conference Centre in Kensington, London. The pairings are already known, and the first round will have McShane-Carlsen, Aronian-Nakamura, Kramnik-Polgar and Jones-Adams. Top seed Magnus Carlsen has to do without his second Ian Nepomniachtchi, who was denied a visa and could not travel to London.

It's less than three days until the now traditional chess spectacle in London starts. The line-up for the 4th edition is stronger than ever, with an average rating higher than any previous chess tournament held in the UK. Heading the list are World Champion Vishy Anand, former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, and the top two players on the FIDE rating list, Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian. Playing for the first time is the world’s best ever woman player Judit Polgar. Completing the line-up are US champion Hikaru Nakamura and three leading players from Britain: Luke McShane, Michael Adams and Gawain Jones.

Nepomniachtchi's visa denied

Magnus Carlsen will have to do without a second in London. The Norwegian was planning to bring Ian Nepomniachtchi with him, but, as VG reports today, the British embassy in Moscow has denied the Russian top GM a visa. Carlsen's manager Espen Agdestein told VG that Carlsen is quite upset about the matter. 

Even though they can contact each other via Skype, Magnus will play with a handicap this tournament.

Agdestein also explained that they wanted to test their cooperation with Nepomniachtchi before the Candidates tournament in March next year.

Press conference on Friday

On Friday, 30 November (incidentally Carlsen's 22nd birthday) at 14:00 GMT (15:00 CET, 09:00 EST) there will be a press conference at the venue, followed by a London Classic Stars versus the Twittersphere exhibition match played via Twitter, allowing the world’s chess players and fans to test their mettle against Carlsen, Anand and co. The press conference will be streamed live via the net.

The organizers invite chess fans around the world to join in; questions are welcome and may be sent in advance to or in real-time via the official Twitter feed, which is @LondonClassic. (Do use the hashtag #londonchess in your tweets.)

The opening ceremony for the Classic will take place at 13:45 GMT (14:45 CET) on 1 December, with play beginning at 14:00 GMT (15:00 CET, 09:00 EST). Play will be streamed live via the official website.

Chess in schools and communities

The London Chess Classic is a festival of the world’s most enduring game, which is staged by Chess in Schools and Communities, a UK registered charity whose mission is to deliver chess to primary schools in UK inner cities. There was recent UK national press coverage at The Independent and The Daily Mail.


As we reported earlier, the drawing of lots has already been done, and so the full pairings are available. We give them below:

Round 1 01.12.12 15:00 CET   Round 2 0212.12 15:00 CET
McShane - Carlsen   Polgar - Jones
Aronian - Nakamura   Nakamura - Kramnik
Kramnik - Polgar   Carlsen - Aronian
Jones - 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        

Timetable, course details and tickets are available here: The 4th edition takes place 1-10 December in Kensington, London.

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

Really, denied visa? So stupid!

biffmeatstick's picture

The British have a real high standard for the people they allow into their country. He just didn't make the cut. Get over it.

Johann's picture

Yeah, go to east London or similarplaces. Have a look around. The standard is indeed extremely high.

Evgeny's picture

specially for you biffmeatstick

I hope next time that when adams or luke will want to join a tourney in russia, they will get no visa either, because they are for sure below the high russian standard.

not only because there are a lot of weak players russian can invite as chess victims))))

MJul's picture

Nepomniachtchi was planning to go as a second, not a player.

And the last sentence, well... yes.

valg321's picture

i can vouch for this. You have to be a Stephen Hawking or at least a Stephen Fry to enter england these days. Poor Nepo would just lower the gene pool

Thomas's picture

There were several precedents - which eventually turned out fine besides a little collateral damage: If I remember correctly, Kramnik(!) almost couldn't get a visa for the first edition of the London Classics but barely made it in the end. Earlier this year, Giri (and by all appearances also Kasimdzhanov) missed part of the Olympiad because their passports were still at some British embassy to get visa for the London Grand Prix [Giri still has a Russian passport].

Another story is just how big Carlsen's "handicap" is: Before and after working with Kasparov, I think he never had a top-level second (and wasn't known for opening preparation) - so he almost always played with such a handicap!? It seems that he/they hired Nepomniachtchi mainly for the candidates event where all participants will make extra efforts in that respect?

regondi's picture

Anything that prevents you from playing your best is fairly called a handicap.

calvin amari's picture

This snotty and pedantic analysis, I need hardly tell everyone, is the supremest bollocks. If this bureaucratic embarrassment scuttles Carlsen's well-considered plans (where the plans of his competitors have not been similarly upset) it is a handicap per se. Consult your definitionary. I never cease to be amused by the fact that certain individuals can be counted on like clockwork to disgorge specious and ill-thought-out nonsense with respect to all matters concerning the world’s dominant chess player.

Thomas's picture

If something is predictable, then such a reaction from a known Carlsen fanboy. The fact that this new is mentioned only now, a few days before the event starts, could mean that they were pretty late in applying for a visa (and bureaucratic problems with British authorities were known to the chess world). It might serve two purposes: either Nepomniachtchi still gets a visa (it isn't too late yet), or it's used by Carlsen's management and fans one way or another:
- if he doesn't win London the 'handicap' will be blamed (never mind that he played many events with such a handicap)
- if he does win, it becomes even more brilliant.

Apart from this it's interesting news because Carlsen had a tough time against Nepomniachtchi in the few games they played against each other. But what does it mean for Nepomniachtchi's own ambitions? His chess career seems a bit stuck at the moment.

MJul's picture

Both reactions were predictables.

It could be a handicap, because Carlsen believed he will have his second.

"The fact that this new is mentioned only now, a few days before the event starts, could mean that they were pretty late in applying for a visa (and bureaucratic problems with British authorities were known to the chess world)."

We have no information about it.
Also, I don't need a visa as a tourist, so I don't know niether how troubeled is the process.

On the other hand, I believe the handicap it's not now, if not in the Candidates.

"(Espen) Agdestein also explain that they wanted to test their cooperation with Nepomniachtchi before the Candidates tournament in March next year."

So, maybe they are trying to have a visa "from heaven" for this.

But, again: there's no enough information, and I don't know nobody who can read minds.

barry's picture

Most instructive exercise in advanced BS-ing. Commenter Thomas ( caught redhanded) starts a combination of insults and changing the subject away from trying to defend his dubious initial point-- denying that CArlsen is disadvantaged.

Anonymous's picture

Of course Carlsen is disadvantaged. Just look at his face. But it's worth pointing out that there are others without seconds and that not obtaining a visum in time may very well be your own fault.

Thomas's picture

Indeed, missing Nepomniachtchi (or rather his presence in London) may be a handicap for Carlsen only in the sense of losing an advantage with respect to other players - who else would (have the financial resources to?) bring such a second to a 'normal' supertournament? The candidates event will be another story.

Does Kramnik have a handicap because three of his former seconds (Leko, Karjakin and Svidler) play in Tashkent and cannot help him in London - at least not in the first rounds when he faces Nakamura, Carlsen and Anand? Probably not because he wouldn't bring them anyway.

Aronian works with other Armenian players, but I think is used to working over the Internet. If he wanted to bring one of them but can't due to visa problems, that might be mentioned in Armenian newspapers, maybe as a footnote at Chessvibes and elsewhere but hardly in the headline?

RG13's picture

@ calvin amari, please tell me the quality of Fischer's seconds in his 1972 WC match. Carlsen's fans like to compare him with the greatest players of all time and so I think it is fair to point this out.

MJul's picture

He had a second just for tennis matches and reading Tarzan novels.

But Fischer, like Kasparov, was a workaholic. Carlsen is nowhere near that.

Soviet School's picture

He had Lombardy who was a World Junior
Champion and had beaten Spassky I think. Fischer also had Kavalek who was instrumental in getting Short to a World Championship Match so actually Fischer had good seconds.
the idea that Fischer did it all on his own is quite misleading.

Soviet School's picture

He had Lombardy who was a World Junior
Champion and had beaten Spassky I think. Fischer also had Kavalek who was instrumental in getting Short to a World Championship Match so actually Fischer had good seconds.
the idea that Fischer did it all on his own is quite misleading.

ravinatha's picture

wish u all the best maggi... you can break that record... really looking forward to see the best in carlsen....

Jocky's picture

I would love to see Naka and Anand in the bottom 2 places but I fear for the English players this time, they are either playing bad (Mickey and McShane) or not good enough (Jones) prediction 'This will be Aronians tournament'.

chessguy's picture

Why not just root for the players you like instead of hating on those you don't. Anyway I think Naka will do okay to good, not great but certainly not as bad as his not too distant poor showing. I'd love to say Anand will finally show us something special but I don't believe it is truly likely. Prob middle of the pack as well. Obviously Carlsen has to be the heavy favorite and then who knows, maybe Kramnik. As for Aronian, who knows, but he certainly hasn't been showing anything extra special of late or most of the year so it puzzles as to why he remains such a crowd favorite. I must agree I see the brits and Polgar at or near the bottom. Hope I'm wrong on all counts

Thomas's picture

Aronian hasn't shown anything extra special? Winning Wijk aan Zee with 9/13 despite losing two games may be too long ago, but his match against Kramnik was a pretty good show from both players (that didn't deserve a loser and didn't get a winner) and he led Armenia to Olympic gold. True, 50% at Tal Memorial and Sao Paulo/Bilbao was mediocre by his standards, but even there he played some great games - and never seemed to be happy with a 50% score (unlike maybe Anand). Does it really require a constant series of tournament victories to remain a fan favorite? Maybe great (if not always successful) chess and a great personality is enough!?

One could rather wonder when Nakamura last showed something extra special. In terms of winning when he wasn't favorite it would be Wijk aan Zee 2011; in terms of several great games against world-top players London 2011.

Anonymous's picture

English players when playing AT HOME are extremely dangerous, whatever discipline ... Cheers !

Carlsen wants to get the record, but Aronian, Kramnik, Anand will do anything to annoy him, so great matches in perspective

Ch_P's picture

Can I start filling out scoreboard by putting all draws to Anand?

Roger's picture

Ha ha ha...I'm an anand fan. Go ahead and fill 1's everywhere, leave out the first round!

Drawnik's picture

You might as well do that for Kramnik too! lol

Theo's picture

It's very cool to see that Judit Polgar is playing again!!! woohoo :)

Anonymous's picture

An internet communication between carlsen and his second ? With zkype the world is a better place .. Easy to hack

sulutas's picture

The funny thing is, this story presupposes that we all knew Nepo is Carlsen's second. WTF? I have just found out about it! I guess this news deserves a separate chapter on its own!

MJul's picture


I remember Carlsen trained in Moscow early this year, but there wasn't more information about that (or I didn't read it).

Anonymous's picture

Like with So, and Kasparov even, you only hear about (some of) Carlsen's cooperations afterwards. It's clear that he works with many top players and puts a lot of time in chess. And his management puts a lot of time in hiding these cooperations.

MJul's picture

I don't think so...

After Adgestein and Nielsen he worked with So just once, and that was known,

With Kasparov were months before the new, but they kept their cooperation, and was known when they end it.

And now again.

Maybe they were just trying. It's not marketing, if not their (or Carlsen's) strategy.

RealityCheck's picture
AljechinsCat's picture

What-a-tournament-lined-up. Wow!

Creemer's picture

To get back on-topic: I think Carlsen should grow a big, fat beard.

The bearded slouch and his OJ would be an awesome sight indeed.

Big question: will Kasparov's record be broken before year's end? I say yes.

Septimus's picture

Denied a VISA? How stupid!

Evgeny's picture

it's pitty that UK starts to s..k

Onufri's picture

Hahaha, typical british stupidity! Yet, the participants and their seconds are lucky that the tournament is not in France! Hahaha.

Soviet School's picture

As a Brit I have to admit the UK visa policy is a real mess they seem to make things awkward for really talented individuals ,
Like well sponsored students which is really hurting our education industry, while allowing in many who who cost us a fortune.

Clifford's picture

Three years ago Aronian was denied a visa to come to the same event as a second. Maybe the British authorities have some trouble getting their head around the type of work done by a chess second.

noyb's picture

What was the reason for denying the VISA application?

nakashima's picture

they asked him his name and he kept replying that he's can't remember

Simple Pole etc.'s picture

Funny (if one knows Russian :)

GM Grand's picture

Ok. Explain to us russianless dudes (and dudettes)?

Anonymous's picture

nepomniachi means something like "i cant remember" in Russian

GM Grand's picture

Haha. Thanks.

Fireblade's picture

Denying a visa in today's world for a sporting event (and to a sportsman) is just ridiculous !
And even if they did what is the reason?

Jambow's picture

No matter it is a disadvantage to play under differing circiumstances than intended and prepared for, Carlsen is still the favorite regardless might even make him open a can of well never mind. As far as why Nepo can't get a visa pretty lame even if the KGB killed a spy in London before do they think Nepo was in on it and this really isn't about chess? Sorry for being as silly as the situation just poking fun.

Go Nakamura!!! Wait a minute he voted for Obama Go Carlsen ;o]

Anonymous's picture

Those poor guys in Biel must have been very disadvantaged when all their preparation for Dominguez went down the drain when another player kicked Domi out in order to play with the advantage of surprise.

RealityCheck's picture

OMG! Maggi alone in London. No Nepo. Sniff. Sniff.

Picture this:

The Lone Ranger riding into town w/ out Tonto.

This is scary.


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