16 Dec

London Smorgasbord

One of the great things about the recent 7th London Chess Classic was a veritable smorgasbord of chess activities taking place in the Kensington Olympia, making this to be a true chess festival in every sense of the word. While the main event concluded late on Sunday evening with a dramatic victory for World Champion Magnus Carlsen, there were several other strong and innovative events under the one roof that made for a great celebration of chess.

The Classic, won by Carlsen, was the third and final leg of the Grand Chess Tour; and this proved also to be the strongest tournament ever held in the British isles - and Carlsen walked away with a cool $150,000 in prize-money for his efforts ($75,000 for winning the Classic, and an additional $75,000 bonus for the Tour title). But there was more, much more.


There was also the strong side events, the top one being the FIDE Open won by GM Benjamin Bok of the Netherlands, playing the tournament of his career, as took victory with a commanding score of 8/9. Also, there was the first-ever British Knockout Championship, with the eight-player field whittled down to a 6-game final, that was won by GM David Howell, after he beat GM Nick Pert 4-2 to take the inaugural title and the winner’s cheque of £20,000 (Pert the consolation prize of £10,000 for his efforts).


The final side event of at weekend was the Classic Super Rapidplay. This was won by City financier/banker GM Luke McShane, considered by many pundits to be the world’s top amateur player; and indeed, he’s proved strong enough in the past to hold his own with the elite in the Classic. McShane had a couple of early scares, but he soon rushed to a perfect 9/9, after which there was no looking back for him as he went on to win the title unbeaten on 9.5/10.

All the results of all the side events at the London Chess Classic, including the pgn game downloads, can be found at the official site by clicking here.

GM Luke McShane - GM Tiberiu-Marian Georgescu
London Classic Superrapid, (5)
Berlin Defence
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 “When I see the Berlin [Defence], I almost become happy that I am no longer a top player,” tweeted Nigel Short, the former UK no.1 and world title challenger, after an epidemic of Berlin’s at the Classic, which technically was the No.1 opening of the tournament - and the main culprit for all the elite draws. 4.d3 For those not wanting to break down the Berlin "Wall" defence with a big mainline, then this is the quiet route, looking for simple development. 4...Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.Nbd2 0-0 7.Nc4 The target for White is the weak e5-pawn, and he gains time with the attack. 7...Nd7 8.Qe2 Re8 9.Bd2 Stopping ideas of Black playing ...a5 and a queenside expansion; and also perhaps looking at a queenside expansion himself with a future b4. 9...Bd6 10.g4 One of the drawbacks with 7...Nd7 is that Black has left the door open for this aggressive move on the kingside that gains space. 10...Nf8 11.Ne3 c5 12.Nf5 From a simple position, White has generated a promising attack. 12...b5 13.h4 Be6 14.h5 c4 15.Rg1 Now the direct threat is g5-g6 and an all-out assault - and there isn't anything Black can do to counter this. 15...cxd3 16.cxd3 Qd7 17.Qe3 f6 18.g5 fxg5 No better was 18...Bxf5 19.gxf6! and White crashes through. 19.Nxg7! (See Diagram) The breakthrough is easily winning; Black has no defence to offer. 19...h6 20.Nxe8 Be7 21.Nxe5 Qxe8 22.f4! Material won, White now comes back for the second wave of the attack. 22...Qxh5 23.Qf3 Qh4+ If 23...Qxf3 24.Nxf3 g4 25.f5 soon wins. 24.Ke2 Kh7 25.Rh1 g4 26.Qg2 Qf6 27.f5 Qxe5 28.Rxh6+ Kg8 29.Qxg4+ Qg7 30.Qxg7+ Kxg7 31.fxe6  1-0 The dual threat of Rf1 or Rg1+ can't be met.

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