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London Chess Classic (6)

Carlsen holds on to his lead as Kramnik closes

Schools visited the event. Here they get to play on the main stage.

Schools visited the event. Here they get to play on the main stage. |

In an exciting penultimate round Vladimir Kramnik beat Nigel Short whilst Magnus Carlsen was losing against Michael Adams but eventually escaped with a draw.

Chess Classic London (ENG), 8-15 xii 2009 cat. XVIII (2696)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Carlsen, Magnus g NOR 2801 * 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ . 12 2870
2. Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2772 0 * 1 ½ ½ 1 . 1 11 2805
3. McShane, Luke J g ENG 2615 0 0 * . ½ 0 1 1 7 2652
4. Adams, Michael g ENG 2698 ½ ½ . * ½ ½ ½ ½ 6 2709
5. Howell, David W L g ENG 2597 ½ ½ ½ ½ * . ½ ½ 6 2718
6. Ni Hua g CHN 2665 0 0 1 ½ . * ½ ½ 6 2661
7. Nakamura, Hikaru g USA 2715 ½ . 0 ½ ½ ½ * ½ 5 2623
8. Short, Nigel D g ENG 2707 . 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ * 4 2552

Round 6 (December 14, 2009)
Carlsen, Magnus - Adams, Michael ½-½ 61 E46 Nimzo Indian Rubinstein
Kramnik, Vladimir - Short, Nigel D 1-0 40 D38 QGD Ragozin
Howell, David W L - Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ 41 C03 French Tarrasch
McShane, Luke J - Ni Hua 0-1 80 C07 French Tarrasch

The penultimate round saw more excitement and complex play.

Carlsen vs Adams in Round 6. Photo © Mark Crowther

Michael Adams was winning against Magnus Carlsen who played an idea he wanted to try and didn't play it very well. Both players missed a bishop switch which would have caused too many threats but the idea wasn't part of either's conception of the position. Eventually Carlsen managed to find some kind of defence and the bishops of opposite colour helped him out.

Carlsen,M (2801) - Adams,Mi (2698) [E46]
Chess Classic London ENG (6), 14.12.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Nge2 d5 6.cxd5 exd5 7.g3 Re8 8.Bg2 Bf8 9.0-0 Na6 10.a3

[10.h3 c6 11.g4 h6 12.Ng3 Nc7 13.f4 g6 14.Qf3 b5 15.a3 a5 16.g5 Nh7 17.h4 hxg5 18.fxg5 Be6 19.Nce2 Qd7 20.Qf2 Bg7 21.Bd2 Bg4 22.Nf4 Ne6 23.Nd3 f6 24.gxf6 Bxf6 25.Rac1 Rf8 26.Qe1 Rae8 27.Rxf6 Nxf6 28.Ne5 Qh7 29.Rxc6 Bf5 30.Bxa5 Nd8 31.Rb6 Ne4 32.Nxe4 dxe4 33.Bb4 Qc7 34.Rxb5 Rf6 35.Rc5 Qb7 36.Qg3 Nf7 37.Nc4 Qd7 38.Qc7 Qxc7 39.Rxc7 Rc8 40.Rxc8+ Bxc8 41.Bxe4 Bf5 42.Bg2 Bd3 43.Nd2 Nh6 44.e4 Ng4 45.Bf3 Ne3 46.d5 Nc4 47.Bg2 Nxb2 48.d6 Bb5 49.e5 Rf4 50.Ne4 Nc4 51.e6 Ne5 52.Bc3 Nf3+ 53.Bxf3 Rxf3 54.d7 Rd3 55.Ba5 1-0 Kohlweyer,B (2443)-Chuchelov,V (2539)/BEL 2001]

10...c6 11.f3 c5

Black waits until white plays f3 before playing this break. This position isn't particularly critical theoretically but it does keep lots of pieces on.

12.g4 h6 13.h3 b6 14.Ng3 Bb7

Black's plan is to try and keep white's c1 bishop and a1 rook out of the game. He figures he will have plenty of resources to cope in this case.


This seems to be a mistake that starts to get Carlsen in a world of trouble.

[15.Qc2 Rc8 16.Qf2 was suggested as an improvement by Carlsen.; 15.h4 also might be better than played.]


[15...Ne4 16.Ngxe4 dxe4 17.d5 Nc7 18.Bxe4 Rxe4 19.Nxe4 Nxd5 20.Ng3]

16.g5 hxg5 17.fxg5 Ne4 18.Ncxe4?!

[18.Ngxe4 dxe4 19.Qb3 c4 20.Qb5 g6 21.h4 may be a superior idea than that played in the game too.]

18...dxe4 19.Qg4 g6!

Adams was more than happy with his position now.


[20.Bxe4 Bxe4 21.Nxe4 Bg7 22.Qf3 may also be better.]

20...Bxe4 21.Bxe4 cxd4 22.Bb7 Rc2

Adams thought this at least good enough for perpetual check.

23.Bxa6 Qc7!

Carlsen initially missed this move in his calculations and now knew he was in trouble.

24.Qf4 Bd6 25.Qf3

Michael Adams


Magnus Carlsen

Position after 25.Qf3. Black is now winning with 25...dxe3


[25...dxe3 26.Bd3 (26.Be2 Re5) 26...Bc5! was another move missed by Carlsen, and in this case Adams also. It wins almost out of hand. (26...Bh2+ 27.Kh1 Bg1 28.Qf4 Qb7+ with repetition was the kind of line Carlsen was seeing.) 27.Bxc2 e2+ 28.Kg2 exf1Q+ 29.Qxf1 Qc6+ 30.Qf3 Re2+ 31.Kg3 Bf2+ 32.Qxf2 Rxf2 33.Kxf2 Qxc2+]

26.Qf4 Bd6 27.Qf3

Once again the same winning lines are available.

27...Bc5 28.Qf4 Qxf4 29.Rxf4 dxe3 30.Kf1

Adams missed this plan which proves remarkably resiliant.

30...e2+ 31.Ke1 Rd8 32.Bxe2 Re8 33.Bd2 Rxd2 34.Kxd2 Be3+ 35.Kc2 Bxf4 36.Bc4 Bxg5 37.Rg1 Re5 38.h4

[38.Rf1 Re7 39.Rg1 with repetition leads immediately to a draw. Carlsen was so pleased to be here that he missed it. It doesn't really spoil anything in the long term. The ending is dead drawn.]

38...Bxh4 39.Rxg6+ Kf8 40.Rd6 Re7 41.Bb5 Rc7+ 42.Rc6 Re7 43.Rd6 Re5 44.Bc4 Rf5 45.b4 Ke7 46.Rd5 Rf2+ 47.Rd2 Rf4 48.Bb5 Ke6 49.Re2+ Kf6 50.Rd2 Ke6 51.Re2+ Kf6 52.Rd2 Bf2 53.Rd7 a5 54.bxa5 bxa5 55.a4 Bc5 56.Rd5 Bb4 57.Kd3 Ke6 58.Rd4 Rf3+ 59.Ke2 Ra3 60.Bc4+ Ke5 61.Rd3 Rxd3 1/2-1/2

Kramnik - Short in Round 6. Photo © Mark Crowther

Vladimir Kramnik did win to consolodate 2nd. This time against the unfortunate Nigel Short. Short was confronted by a big novelty and ended up in big trouble almost straight away. Kramnik was reasonably efficient in mopping up. Short has played pretty well in this event but his good positions have never been quite good enough for wins and he lost a marathon in round 1 and this today.

Kramnik,V (2772) - Short,N (2707) [D38]
Chess Classic London ENG (6), 14.12.2009

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Qb3 c5 6.cxd5 exd5 7.dxc5 Nc6 8.Bg5N

A big novelty which caused Short tremendous difficulties.

[8.e3 0-0 9.Be2 Be6 10.Nd4 Bxc5 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.0-0 Qe7 13.Bd2 Kh8 14.Rad1 a6 15.a3 Rad8 16.Bc1 Ba7 17.Qa2 Ne5 18.Nb1 Ne4 19.Qb3 Qh4 20.f3 Nd6 21.g3 Qh3 22.Rf2 Ne4 23.fxe4 Rxf2 24.Kxf2 Qxh2+ 25.Ke1 Qxg3+ 26.Kd2 d4 27.Kc2 Qg2 28.Nc3 d3+ 29.Kb1 Qg5 30.Bf1 Qe7 31.Bh3 Rd6 32.Bd2 b5 33.Na2 Qh4 34.Bxe6 Qxe4 35.Nc3 Qh4 36.Rf1 Rd8 37.e4 Qh2 38.Qd5 Re8 39.Bd7 Nc4 40.Bxe8 Nxd2+ 41.Ka2 Nxf1 42.Qf7 Qf2 43.Qd7 Qd4 44.Qh3 Qc4+ 45.Ka1 Ne3 46.Bg6 h6 47.Qd7 Nc2+ 48.Kb1 Nxa3+ 49.Ka1 Nc2+ 50.Kb1 Na3+ 51.Kc1 Be3+ 52.Kd1 Qb3+ 53.Ke1 Nc2+ 54.Kf1 Qg8 55.Nd5 Qf8+ 56.Bf7 Bg5 57.e5 Nd4 58.e6 d2 59.Nc3 Qd8 60.Kg2 Qxd7 61.exd7 b4 62.Nd1 a5 63.b3 g6 64.Bxg6 Kg7 65.Bh5 Nxb3 66.Ne3 Nc5 67.Nc4 a4 68.Nxd2 a3 0-1 Karpov,A (2760)-Kramnik,V (2740)/Monaco 1997]

8...Be6 9.0-0-0 Qa5

[9...d4 10.Qa4 is also good for white.]

10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Nxd5 0-0-0

[11...Qxc5+ 12.Qc2 Bxd5]

12.e4 f5 13.Bc4 Bxc5 14.Ng5?!

[14.Nc3 a clear pawn up was seen as better by both players after the game.]

14...fxe4 15.Nxe4 Bd4!

A good move whipping up some counterplay.

16.Ndc3 Rhe8

The trouble with this is that it stops f5 after the exchange as the rook is hanging. It might look active but it isn't.

[16...Bxc4 17.Qxc4 f5 18.Ng5 Bxc3 19.bxc3 Kb8]

17.Bxe6+ Rxe6 18.f3 Ne5 19.Nb5!

A fine move, praised by Short. The next precise series of moves finishes the game as a contest.

19...Rb6 20.Qc2+ Rc6 21.Nec3 Bxc3 22.Rxd8+ Kxd8 23.Nxc3 Kc7 24.Rd1 a6 25.Qxh7

Nigel Short


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 25.Qxh7

Kramnik wanted to play an unexpected move in Short's time trouble. Both players missed that a2 was en-prise!


[25...Qxa2 26.Qe4 and white is going to win anyhow.]

26.Kb1 Nc4 27.Qh8+ Rc8 28.Qd4 Qb4 29.b3 a5 30.Ka1 Na3 31.Qxb4!

The exclamation mark is for the fact that Kramnik calculated to the end of the game from here. A simple calculation for him.

31...axb4 32.Nd5 Rc2 33.Nxb4 Rxg2 34.Rh1 Ka7 35.h4 Kb6 36.h5 Ka5 37.h6 Kxb4 38.h7 Nc2+ 39.Kb1 Na3+ 40.Kc1

and catastrophic material loss results.


McShane vs Ni Hua in Round 6. Photo © Mark Crowther

Ni Hua moved out of the basement with a win against Luke McShane. McShane took a huge amount of time early on and seemed eventually to be doing OK. But a liquidation he didn't see left him in terrible trouble in the ending and he didn't escape.

McShane,L (2615) - Ni Hua (2665) [C07]
Chess Classic London ENG (6), 14.12.2009

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.exd5 Qxd5 7.Nb5 Na6 8.c4 Qc6 9.a3 Be7 10.b4 0-0 11.Qf3

[11.Bb2 Rd8 12.Qf3 Nb8 13.Qc3 a5 14.Nd4 Qd7 15.b5 Qd6 16.Be2 Nbd7 17.N4b3 a4 18.Ne4 Qf4 19.Nbd2 Nc5 20.f3 b6 21.g3 Qh6 22.Nf2 Bb7 23.Rd1 Rd7 24.Nf1 Rad8 25.Ne3 Rxd1+ 26.Nexd1 Nb3 27.0-0 Bc5 28.Kg2 Rd2 29.Re1 Bd4 30.Qb4 Bxf2 31.Nxf2 Qe3 32.Bxf6 gxf6 0-1 Grekh,A (2362)-Vysochin,S (2514)/Lipetsk RUS 2008/The Week in Chess 714]

11...Nb8 12.Rb1 a5 13.bxa5 Qxf3 14.Nxf3 Rxa5 15.Be2 Nbd7 16.0-0 b6 17.Bd2 Ra4 18.Bb4 Nc5 19.Rfd1 Bb7 20.Ne5 Ba8 21.f3 Rb8 22.Rd2 Ne8 23.Nd7 Rb7 24.Rbd1 g5 25.Nxc5 bxc5 26.Bc3 Rb8 27.Be5 Rc8 28.Rd7 Bf6

Ni Hua


Luke McShane

Position after 28...Bf6


By force leading to a miserable ending.

[29.Bxf6 Nxf6 30.Rd8+ Rxd8 31.Rxd8+ Kg7 32.Rc8 Nd7 33.Rc7 Ne5 34.Rxc5 Kf6 and white is at least not worse.]

29...Bc6 30.Nxc8 Bxd7 31.Bxf6 Nxf6 32.Nb6 Ra7 33.a4 Kf8 34.Nxd7+ Nxd7 35.Ra1 Ke7 36.Kf2 Ne5 37.Ke3 Nc6 38.Kd3 Rb7 39.Kc3 Na5 40.Bd3 Rb3+ 41.Kc2

This ending is extremely good for black.

41...h5 42.g3 g4 43.f4 f5 44.Re1 Kd6 45.Rd1 Kc7 46.Re1 Rb6 47.Kc3 Nb3 48.Bc2 Nd4 49.Ra1 Rb8 50.Bd1 Rh8 51.Kd2 h4 52.Ra3 Kb6 53.a5+ Ka6 54.Ke1 hxg3 55.hxg3 Rh1+ 56.Kd2 Rg1 57.Ba4 Rg2+ 58.Ke1 Kxa5 59.Bc6+ Kb4 60.Ra4+ Kb3 61.Bxg2 Kxa4 62.Bb7 Kb4 63.Ba6 Ka5 64.Bc8 Kb6 65.Kd2 Kc7 66.Ba6 Nc6 67.Bb5 Na7 68.Ba4 Nc8 69.Ke3 Nd6 70.Kf2 Kd8 71.Bc2 Ke7 72.Bd3 Kd7 73.Kg2 Kc6 74.Bf1 Kb6 75.Kf2 Ne4+ 76.Kg2 Ka5 77.Bd3 Nd6 78.Kf2 Kb4 79.Bb1 Kc3 80.Kg2 Ne4

White fought hard but Ni Hua converted slowly but silently.


Howell vs Nakamura in Round 6. Photo © Mark Crowther

David Howell drew again, this time in the French against Hikaru Nakamura. Again play was really complicated but then simplified to a sterile bishops of opposite ending.

Howell,D (2597) - Nakamura,Hi (2715) [C03]
Chess Classic London ENG (6), 14.12.2009

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Be7 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nfd7 6.Bd3 c5 7.c3 Nc6 8.0-0 g5 9.dxc5 Nxc5 10.Bb5 h6

[10...Bd7 11.Qe2 a6 12.Bxc6 Bxc6 13.Nd4 Qd7 14.N2b3 Bb5 15.Nxb5 Qxb5 16.Qxb5+ axb5 17.Nxc5 Bxc5 18.Bxg5 Rg8 19.h4 Ra4 20.b3 Rg4 21.Kh2 Re4 22.a4 bxa4 23.Rxa4 Rxa4 24.bxa4 Kd7 25.Be3 Rc8 26.Kg3 Bxe3 27.fxe3 Ke8 28.Rc1 Rc4 29.a5 Re4 30.Kf3 Kd7 31.Rb1 Kc7 32.g4 Rxe5 33.Rb4 f6 34.Rf4 h5 35.Rxf6 hxg4+ 36.Kxg4 Rxe3 37.Rf3 Re1 38.h5 Rh1 39.Rh3 Rg1+ 40.Kf4 1-0 Parligras,M (2605)-Di Paolo,R (2336)/Cannes FRA 2009/The Week in Chess 750]

11.Qe2 Qc7 12.c4 Bd7 13.cxd5 exd5 14.Nb3 Ne6

Hikaru Nakamura


David Howell

Position after 14...Ne6

15.Rd1 a6 16.Bxc6 bxc6 17.Be3 g4 18.Nfd4 Qxe5 19.Qxg4 h5 20.Qg3 Qxg3 21.hxg3 h4 22.gxh4 Rxh4 23.Rac1 Rc8 24.Nf5 Ra4 25.Nxe7 Kxe7 26.a3 Rb8 27.Nc5 Nxc5 28.Bxc5+ Kd8 29.Rd4 Rxd4 30.Bxd4 Rb3 31.Kf1 Ke7 32.Rc3 Rxc3 33.Bxc3

Now a trivially drawn ending arises.

33...c5 34.b4 Kd6 35.bxc5+ Kxc5 36.Ke2 Kc4 37.Bb4 d4 38.Kd2 f5 39.f3 Bc8 40.Bd6 a5 41.Bc7 1/2-1/2

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