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London 05: The seniors have a ball!

by Sagar Shah - 14/12/2016

It's usually the youngsters who are well prepared. It's these young guns who have huge amounts of stamina to trick their opponents in the endgame. They are the ones who always have a new idea up their sleeve in the openings. However, in the fifth round of the London Chess Classic, we witnessed something completely different. It was Anand who came out with a stunning novelty against So and drew the game. Kramnik showed tremendous defensive skills and drew a tough endgame against Nakamura, and Adams beat Topalov with fine attacking play. An illustrated report

Pictures by Lennart Ootes

Anish Giri asked Vishy Anand after the fifth round, "When are you retiring?" The reason for this question is that even at the age of 47 years Vishy comes with ideas and novelties which these youngsters haven't even thought about! Vishy replied to Anish's question about retirement, "Maybe I will try to outlast him!"

Wesley So - Vishy Anand 0.5-0.5

Vishy unleased the striking novelty 10...Bxa3 in a position that was quite well known

In the above position Vishy took the pawn on a3 with his bishop. The bishop cannot be taken with the rook as Nb1 would be a very nice fork. After the game Anand said, " I would like to say two things about this move. When my second showed me this move, I couldn't believe my eyes. Is this even legal! But then I realized it is a fine move. However, it is only the second most beautiful move in the position as 10...Ne2 is also quite beautiful!"


Just put yourself in the shoes of Wesley So. He is expecting moves like ...Nd5 or ...Ne2 which have been played before. He might have analyzed even some other possibilities like ...Ba5 and ...Bd6. But when Anand must have executed the move 10...Bxa3, his heart must have been in his mouth. What exactly am I seeing here! By taking some time you are able to recover from the initial shock of the move but to play with the same vigour and spirit becomes difficult.


The psychological damage was done. Wesley took a lot of time for his moves and in the end settled for unambitious play and made a quick draw. A very satisfying result for the Indian.

[Event "8th London Chess Classic 2016"]
[Site "London"]
[Date "2016.12.13"]
[Round "5"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D37"]
[WhiteElo "2794"]
[BlackElo "2779"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]
[SourceTitle ""]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[TimeControl "40/7200:3600+30"]
1. d4 {3} Nf6 {7} 2. c4 {7} e6 {5} 3. Nf3 {3} d5 {6} 4. Nc3 {4} (4. g3 {
Against Vishy Anand Wesley doesn't go for his favourite Catalan.}) 4... Nbd7 {
7 Although Anand lost against Nakamura, he is not shy to play the same opening
once again. As we already know, what does need to be fixed, need not be fixed.}
5. Bf4 {6} dxc4 {28 One of the advantages of the 4...Nbd7 line is that you can
play very concretely against 5.Bf4 systems.} 6. e3 {5} b5 $1 {26 There are
already 38 games with this move, so it doesn't come as a surprise. Anand also
played it at the Candidates 2016 against Levon Aronian.} 7. Nxb5 {6} Bb4+ {9}
8. Nc3 {5} Nd5 {43} 9. a3 {9 Rc1 and Qc2 are the other possible moves here.}
Nxc3 {15} 10. Qd2 {5} Bxa3 $5 $146 {17 Vishy took just 17 seconds for this
move! A novelty! This came as a surprise to Wesley who took nearly 30 minutes
for his next move.} (10... Nd5 11. axb4 Nxf4 12. exf4 Bb7 13. Be2 O-O 14. O-O
Nb6 15. Ne5 Qd6 {1/2-1/2 (34) Nakamura,H (2787)-Karjakin,S (2773) Bilbao 2016})
(10... Ne2 {According to Vishy this is the most beautiful move to see in this
position.} 11. axb4 (11. Qxb4 Nxf4 12. exf4 Rb8 $11) 11... Nxf4 12. exf4 $14)
11. Qxc3 {1884} (11. Rxa3 Nb1 $1 $17 {is the neat point!}) (11. bxa3 Nd5 {
can be another direction to look at.}) (11. bxc3 Bd6 12. Bxc4 $14 {is also
possible.}) 11... Bd6 {81} 12. Bxd6 {243} (12. Bxc4 Bxf4 13. exf4 Bb7 14. O-O
$14 {White surely seems to have a slight pull here.}) 12... cxd6 {9} 13. Bxc4 {
4 Now this position isn't really threatening for Black. He just develops and
has no problems.} O-O {122} 14. O-O {36} Bb7 {76} 15. Be2 {5} Qb6 {248} 16.
Rfc1 {105} Rfc8 {385} 17. Qa3 {6} Bxf3 $5 {335 After this exchange, draw
becomes the most obvious result of the game.} 18. Bxf3 {6} Rab8 {88} 19. h4 {
460} Rxc1+ {91} 20. Rxc1 {5} Qxb2 {47} 21. Qxb2 {3} Rxb2 {7} 22. Rc7 {3} Nf8 {
12} 23. Rxa7 {5} d5 {8 There is nothing more to talk about.} 24. Ra8 {8} g6 {15
} 25. g3 {7} h5 {5} 26. g4 {20} hxg4 {5} 27. Bxg4 {2} Kg7 {8} 28. h5 {5} gxh5 {
4} 29. Bxh5 {4} Ng6 {7} 30. Bxg6 {2} Kxg6 {7 Anand's novelty turned out to be
a success. Wesley was surprised and chose the safest route out of it. I have a
feeling the Vishy will not try this again. There seem to be plenty of ways
White can keep a pleasant position. Maybe it was just a use and throw
variation.} 1/2-1/2


Inspite of three draws in a row, Wesley is still the sole leader

Showing high class novelties even at the age of 47! Vishy Anand has this insatiable hunger for chess!

Hikaru Nakamura - Vladimir Kramnik 0.5-0.5

This final position of the game says it all! It was a tremendously fighting game of chess. Nakamura, after winning the last two games, was in a very ambitious mood. He tried and tried, but Vladimir was up to the task. A great winning attempt by Hikaru was when he sacrificed his knight.

Nakamura played his Q to d7 which was an excellent winning attempt. After Ng6+ Kg5 Qxf3 he once again shocked the audience by not taking the knight on g6, but...

...taking the pawn on e6! White had two pawns for the piece and a clearly easier to play position. Kramnik showed why he is considered as one of the greats when it comes to defending. He used his knight in amazing fashion to keep the white king and his two pawns out of the queenside. The game ended in a draw and Nakamura couldn't believe that he couldn't breakthrough.

Lennart Ootes has been bringing some exquisite pictures from London to all the viewers. It's true that most of his pictures are really great, but some of them are really outstanding. Here are two very nice photographs of the Big Vlad.

The lighting, pawns, and the ex-World Champion's face makes this an extra-ordinary photograph

What an angle!

Michael Adams - Veselin Topalov 1-0

Michael Adams struck back with a resounding victory against Veselin Topalov

Apart from his obvious chess strength, the social media seems to have agreed to the fact that he is the most handsome player amongst the ten participants:

Most handsome or not, Michael was in sizzling form in the fifth round when he completely outplayed Veselin Topalov.

15.e5! was a key move, preparing Qg4 and freeing up the e4 square for the knight

Topalov's struggle continues as he stumbled to his fourth defeat in the tournament
[Event "8th London Chess Classic 2016"]
[Site "London"]
[Date "2016.12.13"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Adams, Michael"]
[Black "Topalov, Veselin"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C65"]
[WhiteElo "2748"]
[BlackElo "2760"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]
[SourceTitle ""]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[TimeControl "40/7200:3600+30"]
1. e4 {3} e5 {4} 2. Nf3 {4} Nc6 {5} 3. Bb5 {4} Nf6 {5} 4. d3 {6 This seems
like the right way to get a fighting game against the Berlin.} Bc5 {8} 5. Bxc6
{7} dxc6 {5} 6. Nbd2 {7} Be6 {47} 7. O-O {8} Bd6 {324} 8. d4 {37} Nd7 {38} 9.
Nxe5 {79} Nxe5 {40} 10. dxe5 {6} Bxe5 {3 This is well known stuff and has been
played by Caruana against Grischuk at the last London Chess Classic.} 11. f4 {9
} Bd4+ {279} (11... Qd4+ {was tried by Aronian in a blitz game against
Nakamura and is worthy of further investigation.}) 12. Kh1 {8} f6 {127
Brkic-Hovhannisyan continued in similar fashion.} 13. c3 {149} Bb6 {200} 14. f5
{514} Bf7 {35} 15. e5 $1 {171 This was all Mickey's preparation.} fxe5 {382}
16. Qg4 {82} Qd3 {2059 As Michael said after the game, I had checked it with
the engine and they do not like the move Qd3.} (16... O-O 17. Ne4 $44 {is
already a strong attack and excellent compensation.}) 17. Qxg7 {177} Rg8 {76}
18. Qxe5+ {81} Kd7 {795} 19. Qe4 {369} Qa6 {181} 20. f6 {1433} Rae8 {457} 21.
Qf5+ {133} Kd8 {52 Just like that White has a winning position out of the
opening. But because of Black's lead in development, White has to remain
careful.} 22. c4 $1 {523 Closing the diagonal and preparaing to move the
knight.} Qa5 {858} 23. Qh3 $1 {520} Qb4 {632 Some tricky play by Topalov.} 24.
Qxh7 {751} (24. Nf3 {was better but Michael saw that taking the pawn on h7 was
fine and went ahead with it.}) 24... Qf8 {279} 25. b3 {768} Bd4 {52} 26. Qd3 {
42} Qd6 {11} 27. Ne4 {401} Qd7 {111} (27... Rxe4 28. Qxe4 Bxa1 29. Bf4 Rg4 $1
30. Bxd6 Rxe4 31. Be7+ Ke8 32. Rxa1 $16 {This should win in the long run.}) 28.
Rd1 {169} Kc8 {38} 29. Qxd4 {263} Qg4 {9 White is a piece up here and now
gives it back and co-ordinates himself.} (29... Qxd4 30. Rxd4 c5 31. Rd2 Rxe4
32. Bb2 $18) 30. Bg5 {142} Rxe4 {61} 31. Qxa7 {8} Bd5 {18} 32. Qa8+ {50} Kd7 {3
} 33. Rxd5+ {7 A powerful game by Adams who now has 2.0/5.} 1-0

Maxime Vachier Lagrave vs Fabiano Caruana  0.5-0.5

Maxime has had plenty of poor positions at this event, but has managed to salvage them. He drew against Fabiano Caruana

Petroff?!! Fabiano brought back the Berlin of the 90s and 2000s.

Fabiano went for the tempting possibility with ...Rd2. He definitely had two more promising continuations with ...Nb4 or ...Re8.

Annotations by Aditya Mittal

[Event "London Chess Classic 2016"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.12.13"]
[Round "5.2"]
[White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C42"]
[WhiteElo "2804"]
[BlackElo "2823"]
[Annotator "Aditya Mittal"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:17:03"]
[BlackClock "0:33:42"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 $5 {The Petroff is back!} 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 $5
{MVL does not want to go into the quiet lines of} (5. d4 d5 $14 {which is too
symmetrical.}) 5... Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be7 7. Be3 Nc6 8. Qd2 $5 {Okay, here we are
not going to have a snooze fest! Maxime has cleared his intentions.} Be6 9.
O-O-O Qd7 {Huh! Fabiano has come for a draw! Even he wants to long castle. I
was expecting a full blooded fight with} (9... Bxa2 $5 10. b3 a5 $1 11. Kb2 a4
{The pawn comes to the rescue!} 12. Kxa2 (12. Ra1 axb3 13. cxb3 Bxb3 14. Rxa8
Qxa8 15. Kxb3 Qa1 {This would have been entertaining.}) 12... axb3+ 13. Kxb3
Ra5 $1 {And this is... what a mess! I would have loved to see this in the game
but well...}) 10. b3 O-O-O 11. Nd4 a6 $5 {Inviting White to exchange.} 12. Nxe6
fxe6 {So what do we have here? Black has a weakness- on e6. How to exploit it?
MVL finds} 13. g3 $1 (13. f4 {would have been the normal move. But one thing-
these are not normal players!}) 13... d5 {What is Fabiano doing? It feels like
he is weakening the structure. Well, he has other plans in mind. Or rather
other TRICKS in his mind.} (13... Bf6 14. Bh3 Kb8 {was my preference and I
thought that Black is solid.}) 14. Bh3 Kb8 $1 {Taking off the king from the
line of fire.} 15. Rhe1 Rhe8 $1 {A good trick, of course an easy one but well,
tricks are tricks. On one lucky day your opponent might fall into it.} (15...
Ba3+ 16. Kb1 Rde8 {would have been the choice of many. However after} 17. f4
$14 {White has a stable edge.}) 16. f4 $1 {Good positional play. However this
cost MVL quite a bit.} (16. Bxe6 Ba3+ $1 $19 (16... Qxe6 17. Ba7+)) 16... Bf6
17. Kb1 (17. Bd4 {I was seeing this but it doesn't really work. One
interesting line goes like} Nxd4 18. cxd4 c5 $6 19. dxc5 Rc8 {Just to show a
line. Of course c5 would never have happened.} 20. Qb4 Qc6 21. Qb6 Qxc5 22.
Qxc5 Rxc5 23. Rxe6 Rxe6 24. Bxe6 d4 {Because of the opposite coloured bishops
this is a clear draw. But there is a lot of room for what we call-- torture!})
17... Qd6 18. Qd3 $6 {From here Caruana starts to take over.} (18. Bd4 $1 Nxd4
19. cxd4 c5 {this is now considered of course.} 20. dxc5 Qxc5 21. Rxe6 Bc3 22.
Qc1 Rxe6 23. Bxe6 d4 $10 {And White's queen is tied down.}) 18... e5 $1 19. Bc1
$6 {Where you take lot of time, you do mistake! This happens very often. Today
it is happening with MVL.} (19. fxe5 $1 Nxe5 20. Qd4 Nc6 (20... Nf3 21. Qa7# $1
{Haha!}) 21. Qd3 Ne5 22. Qd4 $10) 19... e4 20. Qd2 $6 {Mistakes don't come in
a vacuum! It follows one another!} (20. Qe3 {was very obvious.} g6 $15 {
And Black is only somewhat better.}) 20... Qc5 $1 {Fabiano finds the best way
to continue.} 21. Bb2 d4 $1 22. Qe2 $3 {Brilliant practical defence although I
must admit that this went a little above my little head!} (22. cxd4 {was what
I was expecting.} Bxd4 $1 23. Qg2 Bxb2 24. Kxb2 Rxd1 25. Rxd1 e3 $1 $17 {
and Black is clearly better.}) 22... dxc3 23. Rxd8+ Rxd8 24. Bc1 {A critical
moment. Fabiano went wrong here. Can you do any better?} Rd2 $2 {Losing the
advantage. Fabiano had a few cunning decisions at his disposal.} (24... Nb4 $1
{was an amazing line.} 25. Qxe4 Nd3 $3 {As brilliant as it can be, but when
engines are there nothing is brilliant! They find much better things than this.
} 26. Bg2 c6 27. Qe3 Rd4 28. Re2 Nxc1 29. Qxc1 Rd2 $3 {is a line where Black
can crush it.} 30. Bf3 (30. Rxd2 $2 cxd2 31. Qxd2 Qg1+ $19) 30... Rxe2 31. Bxe2
Qf2 $17 {Black has every reason to believe he can win.}) (24... Re8 $5 {
was also an interesting try.} 25. Bg2 Nd4 26. Qc4 Qxc4 27. bxc4 Re6 $17 {
with a good endgame. Black will push on.}) 25. Bxd2 cxd2 26. Qxd2 Bc3 27. Qc1
Bxe1 28. Qxe1 {After a lot of exchanges the position has fizzled out. I get
the feeling Caruana just wanted to consolidate with a draw today.} e3 29. c3
Na7 30. Bf1 Nb5 31. Kb2 Qa3+ 32. Kb1 Qc5 33. Kb2 Qa3+ 34. Kb1 {The position
doesn't really promise much. Fabiano might have not found Nb4 but it was
surprising to see him not playing the obvious Re8. Elsewhere the games were
also exciting. Adams won against Veselin in an amazing attack that would go
into the books. Anand drew with ease after he uncorked the novelty Bxa3. Giri
went away with an easy draw while Kramnik showed defensive heroics as he
stopped Hikaru from winning another. Now there is a rest day and it will be
interesting to see some home preparation! So, stay tuned!} 1/2-1/2


Our young annotator Aditya Mittal with his dad Nitish Mittal at the Mumbai Mayor's Cup 2016.

After taking a break in the fourth round from analyzing the London Chess Classic games due to his International Maths Olympiad examination, 10-year-old CM Aditya Mittal is back with his annotations for the game MVL-Caruana. What is particularly impressive about this young boy is the round up that he provides at the end of his game, "The position doesn't really promise much. Fabiano might have not found Nb4 but it was surprising to see him not playing the obvious Re8. Elsewhere the games were also exciting. Adams won against Veselin in an amazing attack that would go in the books. Anand drew with ease after he uncorked the novelty Bxa3. Giri went away with an easy draw while Kramnik showed defensive heroics as he stopped Hikaru from winning another. Now there is a rest day and it will be interesting to see some home preparation! So, stay tuned!"


Aditya watches each and every game carefully and this is a sign of a strong upcoming player and a true chess lover.

Levon Aronian vs Anish Giri 0.5-0.5

Anish was very well prepared in this line of the Grunfeld and when he reached this position he made the move ...b6! He is not afraid to sacrifice his rook because after Bxa8 Qxa8, the threat now is to play Bh3 as well as Rd8. Anish had already prepared this move before the game and Levon had absolutely no chances.

When your opponent has such phenomenal preparation, there is not much that you can do!
[Event "8th London Chess Classic 2016"]
[Site "London"]
[Date "2016.12.13"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Aronian, Levon"]
[Black "Giri, Anish"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A06"]
[WhiteElo "2785"]
[BlackElo "2771"]
[Annotator "ChessBase"]
[PlyCount "40"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]
[SourceTitle ""]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[TimeControl "40/7200:3600+30"]
1. g3 {5} d5 {29} 2. Nf3 {6} g6 {2} 3. Bg2 {6} Bg7 {4} 4. d4 {5} Nf6 {3} 5. O-O
{7} O-O {2} 6. c4 {5} dxc4 {9} 7. Na3 {7} c5 {1} 8. Nxc4 {248} Be6 {44} 9. b3 {
105} Nc6 {17} 10. Bb2 {25} cxd4 {20} 11. Nxd4 {57} Nxd4 {6} 12. Bxd4 {325} b6 {
14} 13. Rc1 {314} Rc8 {479} 14. Rc2 {468} b5 {417} 15. Ne3 {5} Rxc2 {292} 16.
Nxc2 {27} Qa5 {235} 17. Qa1 {24} Qd2 {400} 18. Qd1 {6} Qa5 {15} 19. Qa1 {5} Qd2
{13} 20. Qd1 {23} Qa5 {5} 1/2-1/2


Results of round 5

Br. Title Name Country ELO Res. Title Name Country ELO
1 GM Levon Aronian
2785 ½ - ½ GM Anish Giri
2 GM Wesley So
2794 ½ - ½ GM Viswanathan Anand
3 GM Michael Adams
2748 1-0 GM Veselin Topalov
4 GM Hikaru Nakamura
2779 ½ - ½ GM Vladimir Kramnik
5 GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave
2804 ½ - ½ GM Fabiano Caruana

Crosstable after round five

Wesley continues to lead as Aronian, Kramnik and Nakamura follow him

Commentary of Round five

Official website

All annotated games in PGN


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