Reports | December 04, 2012 23:15

London R4: Carlsen in sole lead after another win, epic fight McShane-Aronian

Jones-Carlsen and McShane-Aronian in round 4

Magnus Carlsen is the sole leader after four rounds at the London Chess Classic. In round 4 the Norwegian beat Gawain Jones with white using the rare 4.Qxd4 in the Sicilian. The game of the round (tournament? Year?), however, was the epic fight between Luke McShane and Levon Aronian. At the end there were two queens for Black and White promoted to a knight! Anand-Kramnik and Nakamura-Adams ended in draws. Wednesday is a rest day.

Jones-Carlsen and McShane-Aronian in round 4 | 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.

After three days full of exciting chess, round 4 of the London Chess Classic "finally" saw a game that can be dubbed as a boring draw. World Champions Vishy Anand and Vladimir Kramnik got a Berlin with 4.d3 and 5.Bxc6 and followed a recent game Carlsen-Aronian for a while. After lots of manoeuvring, just before the time control the position became very static and neither side had anything left to do.

PGN string

Luckily the other three games were good fun (with a queen sacrifice in two of them!), so nobody was really bothered about this friendly meeting between Vishy and Vlad. The first to give up his queen was Gawain Jones. 

I thought I might as well sacrifice my queen against the world's number one if I'm going to do it against anyone.

It was a great, creative, brave decision, and probably correct – Carlsen called it "a serious move". If Black had played differently on move 21, the Norwegian wasn't sure how to continue. Besides, even in the game there were many tricks, as became clear at the post-mortem.

PGN string

It's no surprise that in Norway everyone is talking about one thing only: Carlsen beating Kasparov's rating record. In several newspapers it was reported yesterday that the world's number one now has a live rating of 2857.4, which is probably more than Kasparov's highest "live rating" ever, which has been calculated at 2856.7. For now we'll just repeat that Carlsen needs to score 2.5/4 in the remainder of the tournament to make not an IM norm, not a GM norm, but a "history norm". :-)

Hikaru Nakamura was better throughout his game with Mickey Adams, but the Englishman just refused to stumble. At move 35 an ending BB vs BN with four pawns each came on the board, 20 moves later White finally was a pawn up but at move 69 only two kings were left.

PGN string

We've saved the best for last: the game between Luke McShane and Levon Aronian. At the end there were two queens for Black and White promoted to a knight!

PGN string

We'll finish with reminding you that Wednesday is a rest day in London.

Commentary videos (produced by Macauley Peterson)

Pairings & results

Round 1 01.12.12 15:00 CET   Round 2 0212.12 15:00 CET
McShane 0-3 Carlsen   Polgar 1-1 Jones
Aronian 0-3 Nakamura   Nakamura 0-3 Kramnik
Kramnik 3-0 Polgar   Carlsen 3-0 Aronian
Jones 0-3 Adams   Anand 1-1 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 1-1 Anand   Nakamura 1-1 Adams
Kramnik 1-1 Carlsen   Carlsen 3-0 Jones
Jones 1-1 Nakamura   Anand 1-1 Kramnik
Adams 3-0 Polgar   McShane 0-3 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 4 standings (football)


London Chess Classic 2012 | Round 4 standings (classical)


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.


Zeblakob's picture

Summing up the above discussion: MC was just lucky, he is #1 by luck, and if his opponents managed their time better, or played slightly better in the endgames, MC would be #10.

eric's picture

There are 9 players in the tournament, so do the "math" again.

Zeblakob's picture

I mean #10 in the world.

RealityCheck's picture

@Zeblakov No biggie. He's anyway just one in ten. A number on a list. A statistic.....

harvey's picture

And there is more: Carlsen is improving his rating because he only accepts to play lower rated players.
And following the engine evaluations, he is only winning because his opponents are making sub-optimal moves.
And guess what: He is never making a better-than-optimal move himself.
So why this Carlsen-hysteria?

valg321's picture

and because he's so young he has more energy than his opponents...oh no, wait, that one might actually be true.

Yonny82's picture

Just one question: How is it possible for Magnus to play HIGHER rated players? The curse of being #1...

But I see your point. It's embarrassing to see him play average players like Kramnik, Aronian, Anand and Nakamura.

RG13's picture

@Zeblakob "f" players "managed their time better" and played "better in the endgames" then they would get better results overall and end up being ranked higher.

Maybe they should pay Kasparov for lessons so that they can figure out how to achieve this? It didn't hurt Carlsen.

AAR's picture

British players don't like their Queens.

Mattovsky's picture

One really curious fact that nobody seems to have noticed yet: Carlsen and Jones unintentionally followed a game by two Italian guys until move 22! (Rombaldoni-Sorcinelli, Bergamo 2009)

trollaras's picture

This guy Jones wanted to make sure that he wins his Chess Immortality. He knew that normally he would never be remembered as a chess player (he would have only been a footnote in chess history) so he decided not only to let Carlsen reach his record easily but to do this with an astonishing Queen sacrifice, thinking that this would guarantee even more his Immortality. The vanity of human nature in its full extent.

valg321's picture

i think you might be right there

Thomas's picture

Regarding game of the year with unbalanced material, I can nominate two other games (with opposite fates for the player with the queen):
- Kramnik's win against Aronian in their Zurich match:
- if games by ordinary GMs also count, Khismatullin-Stefansson from the European championship, second game here with light annotations in German:
[yes, I am the author, and in the meantime I even improved my layouting skills :)]

hansie's picture

Drawnand end his draw run ...

hansie's picture


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