Reports | December 06, 2012 19:01

London R5: Carlsen wins again, and so do Anand, Kramnik and Nakamura

London Chess Classic

Magnus Carlsen won yet again at the London Chess Classic on Thursday. Although he was clearly worse out of the opening, the world's number one still managed to beat Mickey Adams to get even closer to beating Garry Kasparov's record rating officially. The tournament is far from decided yet, as runner-up Vladimir Kramnik won (quite a nice) game against Luke McShane. The round started with a quick, tactical victory for World Champion Vishy Anand against Gawain Jones and it ended with a blunder by Judit Polgar in a tough ending against Hikaru Nakamura.

Olympia's auditorium | 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.

The venue, Olympia. It's dark already around 16:30 in London.

After the rest day the London Chess Classic saw yet another amazing round on Thursday with all games ending decisively. The last time this happened was in round 1 and, like then, there were three black wins. Carlsen won yet again, and now only needs 1.5/3 to break Kasparov's Elo record on the January 1 FIDE rating list. Kramnik won as well, and so he's still in striking distance of the Norwegian. Vishy Anand won his first game, and so did Nakamura.

The entrance and first hall of the venue

The World Champion had a relatively easy day at the office against Gawain Jones. It was clear that the young Englishman missed some tactics.

At the press conference, Jones said

The problem was I had too much to prepare this morning and this wasn't on the list.


I decided to try him in the Grünfeld because I couldn't find a single Slav game of his, so I had no idea which system to look at.

PGN string

Carlsen's win was far from convincing and he was the first to admit it. It was painful for the local spectators and puzzling for just about anyone to see how Adams managed to lose the position he got after 24 moves.

PGN string

The next game to finish was Kramnik-McShane, a positional as well as tactical masterpiece from the 14th World Champion. At some point Nigel Short asked Kramnik jokingly:

Didn't anyone teach you the concept of rook=5 points, knight=3 points?

Kramnik played along, and replied:

There's also the concept of active pieces. Don't forget I was studying in the Kasparov Chess School!

PGN string

The 4th winner of the day was Hikaru Nakamura, who beat Judit Polgar in a complicated ending. The Hungarian, who now only scored 0.5/4, wasn't completely lost yet when she suddenly blundered and allowed a mating net.

PGN string

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 3-0 McShane   Carlsen - Polgar
Jones 0-3 Anand   Anand - Adams
Adams 0-3 Carlsen   McShane - Jones
Polgar 0-3 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 5 standings (football)


London Chess Classic 2012 | Round 5 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.


Morley's picture

A day of blood. Double exchange sacrifices, Gruenfeld miniatures, mating nets ... a very fun tournament for fans so far.

Thomas's picture

"Double exchange sacrifices, Gruenfeld miniatures, mating nets ..."
The ... stands for the fourth decisive game, not much else to write about that one!?

Morley's picture

It wasn't as exciting as the other games, perhaps. Adams played great up until he started to use too much time in an even endgame, then hung a pawn. Carlsen, true to form, didn't let the chance slip and played excellent to pull in the three points. "Double exchange sacrifices, Gruenfeld miniatures, mating nets, and a Q+P endgame" just doesn't sound right!

The Devil's picture

Carlsen is one crazy good mofo. Hats off to him for a really nice performance. Kramnik is doing great as well. Poor McShane though, he's not doing as well as I expected.

Morley's picture

Daniel King sort of explained McShane's time management and play today. In the Carlsen game, afterwards, McShane described a long, complicated queen sacrifice line that ended, in one line, with mate with two knights. He spent a lot of time and energy calculating it. When they asked Carlsen, he gave a simple pawn move that negated the whole idea. So there you have it ... McShane spends inordinate amounts of time looking for beautiful, interesting play, and someone like Carlsen or Kramnik just dismisses it right away. Sometimes it works in Luke's favor (he has, after all, beaten Carlsen, Aronian, and Kramnik in the past), but not this Classic.

Septimus's picture

MC should aim for ELO of 5000+. At the rate he is going, 3000 ELO should be super easy for him to attain. What a beast!

voyteck's picture

Even theoretically impossible without others more or less catching up.

Anonymous's picture

I think Septimus was making a joke here ! But what's for sure is that 2860 Elo go directly in Reality check FACE

RealityCheck's picture

@Anonymous The last word: head to head classical score of 6 wins 2 losses 17 draws. Imagine you had this score against me, would you consider yourself the better player?

Gromit's picture

Depends on when the games were played. If you scored +6 -2 =17 against me, but four of your six wins were from when I was 18 or younger, and the only decisive game in the last two years was a win for me, yes, I would consider myself the better player. Career head-to-head stats aren't very meaningful for rapidly improving players.

MW's picture

Beat me to it :-)

RealityCheck's picture

No crackers Gromit, you've forgotten the crackers!

boardgame's picture

Carlsen is just so damn lucky, unbelievable! I don't admire him for his skill but for his consistent luck ;-)

arkan's picture

Nice coffeehouse chess against Anand by Jones lol it looks like a ICC bulletgame going wrong

john's picture

it takes a Jones for Anand to win a classical game.

tomorrows game with mike 1/2 1/2

boardgame's picture

Lol, yeah, Anand is probably very relieved. Now he can always point out that one single win if people question his form. Let's just hope there are more wins for him to come this tournament.

S3's picture

You guys are a sad bunch of people when all you can say after this round is BS about Anand.

boardgame's picture

"The World Champion had a relatively easy day at the office against Gawain Jones." Nothing to brag about.

Thomas's picture

The world #1 also had a relatively easy day at the office against Gawain Jones. Lots of bragging primarily because his live rating crossed some pretty symbolic level (which doesn't mean the same today as at the peak of Kasparov's chess career).

rogge's picture

Yeah, the hype is unbearable. It makes me miserable.

Anonymous's picture

You can't blame the hype for that..

Anonymous's picture

yeah, and it takes a john to turn a trick. get my drift?

Martin's picture

It's incredible, we are looking at chesshistory unfolding before our eyes. I wonder if 2900 is practically possible.

Alfonso's picture

It is now in the frontier of feasibility. Probably one needs more 2800+ players in order to surpass the 2900 barrier consistently. Probably in 3-4 years...

Erasmus's picture

According to Chessmetrics Fischer was 110 points ahead of #2 Karpov in 1972 and had 130 points more than #10 Hübner.
Kasparov: 40 points more than #2 Karpov and 140 more than #10 Timman in 1990.
Botvinnik: +80 #2 Najdorf, +150 #10 Reshevsky in 1946
Capablanca: +30 #2 Lasker, +210 #10 Reti in 1919
Lasker: 45+ #2 Tarrasch, 205+ #10 Hodges in 1894
Alekhine: +80 #2 Capablanca, +185 #10 Flohr in 1931
Steinitz: +55 #2 Blackburne, +146 #10 Weiss in 1886

Carlsen's live rating today in comparison: +53 #2 Aronian, +94 #10 Ivanchuk.

Conclusion: 2900 is possible without other players rising above 2800 and would justify the comparison to the greatest players in history.

voyteck's picture

I believe the competition is much more fierce today than 40+ years ago (mostly because the money, while still relatively poor, is much greater) and the use of computers flatten the rankings, at least among professionals, to some extent. I think only Kasparov's results can match Carlsen's lead.

Anonymous's picture

Most of your exemples are irrelevant, because in an era without Elo-ratings there were no psychological pressure to surpass an ELO barrier. More important, and as it has already been pointed out, the quality of play of the average master was much lower 100 years ago than today. For instance, according to Nunn, many of the participants in Karslbad 1907 had barely the strenght of International Masters. Therefore, an outstanding player (e.g Lasker) could easily score 90% against them, whereas now it would be (almost) impossible to score so heavily in an elite event. As for Fischer and Kasparov, only Kasparov after the mid-90s was "consistently" over the 2800-mark. By then, Shirov, Ivanchuk, Anand, Kramnik, Topalov, (and Karpov) were 2700+ players. Imagine, for instance, how many points could Kasparov have lost in Linares 98 had been his rivals 60-80 ELO points lower on average. He had lost the 2800 barrier on the spot!

As recapitulation, I consider the 100-point gap between Carlsen and Nakamura or Morozevich more significant than your Steinitz/Weiss, Lasker/Hodges gaps

Kronsteen's picture

Very interesting - thanks for digging this up!

Martin Matthiesen's picture

Don't you mean Spassky instead of Karpov in 1972?

Morley's picture

It might be. To do so, Carlsen would have to string together a lot of +5 or better in tournaments against the top 10. A loss now against a 2700 rated player would set him back a whopping 7 points.

Jambow's picture

Wow what another exciting day for chess fans. First Kramnik for about 6 months has been playing very well, even winning with black is not an anomally anymore. McShane really is playing far better chess than his score would indicate with the clock being his biggest adversary.

Nakamura on a + score now. I saw the mate comming before the 2700 player Polgar did ;o]. One aspect of Nakamura's game that reminds me of Fischer is the continual setting up of mate threats, not that I think stylistically they played similiar chess but a few attributes they do share are this. Always looking for the mate threat when most others would have already committed to grinding out a positional advantage, both players played a high percentage of decided games and both knew how to win with black.

Carlsen now 2860 live so far at 3100 elo TPR in London any mistake against him will be punished with uncanny precision Capa would have been proud.

Who still doesn't like football scoing? Its good for chess no doubt making great players better imho.

Alfonso's picture

I am not sure that the great percentage of decided games is due to the scoring system. In my opinion it is more related to the remarkable differences in the ratings (strength). Kramnik, Carlsen, Aronian do not want to draw with McShane, Jones and Polgar, but they would be more amenable to draw (especially with Black) against Radjabov, Caruana or Karjakin.

RVR's picture

What about Anand?

RVR's picture

What about Anand?

boardgame's picture

I think the great amount of decisive games is due to the price pool of 21,000 Euros or Pounds for victories. Even the players who will not make it into the price money (top 6 finishers) have a chance to earn some extra cash by having a decisive game in their favor. Imo that's the main incentive for playing more aggressive.

Al F's picture

I very much dislike the football scoring! In chess it makes absolutely no sense. If Carlsen wins one and loses two of his remaining games it will get him 16 football points for +3 (5.5/8). Kramnik going two draws one win would also make 16 football points, but for +4 (6/8).

The better performance should always win in my opinion. So football scoring is OK as a tiebreaker when real points are equal, but not as the main scoring system.

And we've seen in many tournaments that line-up is more important for enterprising and entertaining chess than the point system used.

Thomas's picture

What makes you think that Kramnik played very well for about 6 months? So far the second half of 2012 (Dortmund, Tal Memorial, personal Olympiad score) hasn't been too successful for him/by his standards. But he won London 2011, about 12 months ago, and completely dominated Dortmund 2011 roughly 1 1/2 years ago.

As to Nakamura "always looking for the mate threat" - maybe in general, but in the given game it seems that he found something he wasn't really looking for. First the game was rather about grinding out a positional advantage or winning a pawn, then Polgar played 33.g4 weakening her king (to repair other deficiencies of her position), then there came mating threats. 33.g4 seems by itself OK if she then doesn't lose her sense of danger, which happened in the game.

Finally: Would Capa also be proud about the positions Carlsen had at some stage against McShane and Adams, hence about these whole games??

Bert de Bruut's picture

Lasker would have been proud too, xD

jussu's picture

Yeah, exactly. Maybe Kramnik has played exciting chess lately, but he hasn't been quite successful, essentially meaning that he hasn't played very well. His second half of 2011 or his 2006-2007 (still the dreaded "drawnik" time) were truly stellar performances.

redivivo's picture

"His second half of 2011 or his 2006-2007 (still the dreaded "drawnik" time) were truly stellar performances"

2006-07 was maybe more stellar (going from 2729 to 2799 in a year and a half), while the second half of 2011 was more mixed. He finished 8-9th of 10 with -2 in the strongest event (Tal Memorial), and was 3-5th in the Russian Superfinal behind Svidler and Morozevich. Then he had stellar performances in Unive, Dortmund and London, where he scored 4-0 against the British players.

jussu's picture

True. Well, he won every second tournament he participated in, which was "impressive" rather than "stellar".

choufleur's picture

It seems to me that Kramnik has again played a masterpiece.

boardgame's picture

I agree, if Judit plays for a draw tomorrow and gets it, chances are quite high that Kramnik is able to match Carlsen's tournament result and one of the tiebreaks needs to decide who is the official winner of the London Chess Classics 2012, one of the best tournaments throughout the year.

elgransenor1's picture

given her form and compare it to carlsen though, and its difficult to see how she can hold out... I notice ladbrokes are offering odds on the chess. kramnik was 11/10 to beat mcshane today, anand 5-2 to beat jones.

jmason's picture

I cannot believe Mickey dropped the point like that...such a good and solid position with an extra pawn,+/= without any fears.

Theo's picture

Yes, unbelievable. Especially since Mickey has the reputation for being a very solid player! (and because of that: hard to beat)

john's picture

Anand proved that he is the best player by beating Jones

choufleur's picture

the last two comments are simply insane

Evgeny's picture

Yeahh, Anand proved that to you, that he is the best, even before the tourney, by beating a child in the park.

Anonymous's picture

I think John was making a clever joke referring to the comments after Carlsen's win over Jones and his rating record. And I think you fell for it. But what do I know.


Latest articles