1st London Chess Classic 2009


Olympia Conference Centre, Kensington, London



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Plaudits / Letters


Hi Malcolm,

First of all I want to wish you a Merry christmas and a Happy New Year!

The London Chess Classic was amazing. Thanks a lot that I could be there! Due to the commitment of you and your team the whole event was a great success. I hope that we'll see the 2nd edition in 2010!

All the best, Pascal


Dear IM Pein,

I attended the London Chess Classic and played in the weekend tournament. What a marvellous event! Congratulations. The top players' games were entertaining and hard fought - the 3 points for a win system encourages and rewards bravery. The commentaries were good and the playing conditions for the amateurs were first rate. The lighting and temperature (often a bugbear at weekenders) were fine and the whole atmosphere was a celebration of the unifying power of the game we all love so much.


One minor point. GM Hodgson has a most engaging and charming manner, combined with a wonderful understanding of the game (he should have - 4 times British Champion!). It is a shame that his tremendous commentating skills were solely reserved for the VIPs. It remains only to say thank you for all the hard work that you and your team put into the event, thank you to the sponsor and please do it again in 2010.



Dear Adam

I wanted to let you know how much my daughter and I enjoyed this brilliantly organised event. The best in 25 years! It would be great to continue the chess revival in the UK with similar tournaments in the years ahead.

Best wishes, Matthew



Congratulations on organising such a splendid tournament and providing the opportunity for British chess players to see top home and International players in the UK. I can say that I was there during Luke McShane's victory over Hikaru Nakamura. It was fascinating to see how, in the commentary room, even the grand masters were finding it difficult to work out what was coming next. Many thanks again for a well organised tournament. Regards, Frank Fallon

I attended the event on the Monday and felt compelled to E mail you.


I wanted to play in the Open but due to work was unable to play and had to settle for a day watching instead. Can i just say what a fantastic event well organised great venue great value and the biggest influence on British chess I have witnessed in my many years in the game. I have read your comments with interest with regards future events and i wish you every success.


This was truly a great event and so many rank and file chess players took great pleasure in what you achieved. I had a fantastic day watching and it was amazing to see the best British players under one roof vs the worlds elite

Thanks and Best Wishes, MJ, Josse Chess Player


Dear Malcolm

Congratulations to you and all the team on a fantastic event. A real credit to chess - a shame you are not running the BCF. This has got to be the "Wimbledon of chess".


What can be done to secure its annual holding?


I could write to the government with some statistics such as; - it costs about £25,000 per annum to house prison inmates and the number of chessplayers if it weren't for chess.... . so that's at least 10 years funding secured! ok maybe not! LOL

Well done, MG, Richmond Juniors


Dear Malcolm,

It’s been a pleasure to follow London Chess Classic through your website. All the details and extra effort you put in the layout, graphics and daily reports has turned LCC into a class act. Among the very best coverage’s I have ever seen. And, for once, to read reports written in native English. Your compassion for the game and the players shines through. Informative and witty, your daily reports made for highly entertaining read.


I’m looking forward to next year tournament, already. If possible, you might consider adding web-cams from the playing venue. Chess doesn’t have enough public appeal to attract the commercial TV-stations. But TV itself are about to be overhauled by internet and Chess is perfect for internet. Web-cams from the games add a lot to the viewing experience.

Best regards, PD (Norwegian Chess-fan)



Just a quick note to congratulate you on a magnificent job. This event will go down in history as a great one, especially given the winner and his probable place as Word Champion.

Well done, and happy holidays!



Dear Malcolm,

I wanted to send you a note following my visit to Olympia, but decided to wait a bit until things had quietened down for you. I have been playing/watching chess in the UK for 60 years and can say this was the best event I have attended for overall chess atmosphere- not just the Classic, good as it was, but all the other activities, tournaments, juniors, schools, demos etc created a vibrant chess environment I have not experienced elsewhere. Congratulations! And I believe you are planning to repeat the Classic next year and are aiming for the World Championship. I wish you every success!

Best wishes, Ray



Congratulations on staging the London Chess Classic. I was only able to attend in person today, but it was a fascinating day out, and looked to be very well organised. A big vote of approval too for the Sophia rules (if that’s the right term). No bore draws, and every game hard fought with the result of the tournament going down to the last few moves of the last game. Couldn’t have been better.


I hope you can be persuaded to do the same again next year!



Dear Malcolm,

I had hoped to speak to you at Olympia, but your were always busy!


I would jut like to say how much I enjoyed the Chess Classic! A £40 season ticket for four hard-fought games a day for seven days was a bargain! The tournament was very well organised and was a resounding success! It was great to see so many small children showing an interest in chess and playing with the outsize chess pieces, though some were not much bigger than the pieces and could hardly pick them up!


The players all seemed very amenable and didn't mind signing autographs and being photographed. The venue was ideal for me, as my coach to London stops right outside Olympia.


It was also good to attend a big tournament in London that Ray Keene hadn't organised, though no doubt his tournament book will be out by the time you get this!


I am delighted to hear that there will be another tournament next year and am looking forward to it. I don't know who the main sponsor was, but he must have deep pockets! Presumably he wanted no publicity.


Once again, many thanks to all who were involved in the organisation of the tournament, which will hopefully become a regular fixture in the chess calendar.



Dear Mr Pein,

I attended the London Chess Classic on Sunday 13th December and am writing to congratulate you and your team on a great event. I came to chess less than a year ago, aged 34, and this is the first tournament I have been to. I commend you on your worthy ambition to popularise the game, especially to children. However, I can also see that something of an image problem exists. In a country that often disparages intellectual endeavour in popular culture, a fresh look at chess would be great. The image of the badly dressed, socially inept, aged eccentric may be endearing in a way but doesn't do chess any favours. That's why I was so pleased to find (amongst the stereotypes) the sparkly enthusiastic and evern geezer-ish commentary team in banter-action. This was the highlight of the day for me and I spent many hours enjoying the verbal jousting of ideas in the commentary room and in the foyer. In fact, I think this had TV appeal - chess TV via youtube one day possibly?


Best wishes for the new charity. I think a few endorsements by "cool" celebrities with pictures of them playing chess would go a long way in impressing your potential players: Chessfactor not x-factor!

Kind regards, NL


Mr Pein,

I came up from Bideford, North Devon to watch the Chess Classic for the weekend and would like to say what a well organised event it was. Very enjoyable from a spectator's point of view: comfortable viewing, good analysis and clearly placed screens to follow all the action.


As an ex pat living down here in Devon I recall the great London tournaments of the 80's at County Hall, Lloyds Bank Masters and Great Eastern, Liverpool Street etc. It's excellent to see our capital city on the chess map once again after such a long hiatus. Also really encouraging to see young English Players competing with the best, a reminder of when Miles, Speelman, Nunn et al used to take on the old Soviet masters 25 years ago.


Hope your sponsors were pleased and trust that more events can be organised in the future.



Hi Malcolm,

Many thanks for organising the chess classic, a very successful and well coordinated event.



Dear Malcolm,

Just like to say that it is absolutely FIRST CLASS what you are doing with this tournament in London, good luck with the rest of the tourney and I hope that coverage continues at such a high level in the general media. I am sure that everyone involved with chess.


Wishes you and your team well.

Kenny, Glasgow Montrose Chess Club


Dear Malcolm,

Congratulations to a fantastically organized and excitingly played tournament! I enjoyed the three days onsite watching very much, and thank you for the free pass. The selection of players together with the Sofia rules were a very good match. I hope there will be many happy returns.



Mr Pein,

I just wanted to congratulate you and your team on a great tournament. I was very sorry not to be able to make it down to London to see any of it but I have thoroughly enjoyed it via the excellent website. The format was just about perfect, the rules and scoring making for a wealth of exciting and hard-fought games and the choice of players fascinating. To see our top four GMs acquitting themselves so well, especially David Howell and Luke McShane, against such impressive opposition was very enjoyable and bodes well for the future.


Thank you for all your hard work on this and I hope it will be possible for this to become a regular fixture.



Dear Malcolm,

Congratulations on by far the most successful and exciting chess event that I can remember in the UK. Although I was only able to follow it on-line, it provided excellent entertainment for myself and my young sons. All the players are to be commended for their fighting chess and their openness for post-game analysis. I hope it is the first of many such, and that you succeed in your aim of establishing chess at every primary school in the UK. The level of interest 'out there' is obvious, but until now there has been nobody with the skills and imagination to capitalise on this. Well done indeed.

Regards, TB


Hi Malcolm,

Just wanted to add my congratulations on a simply marvellous event. Who knows, you might have single handedly woken up UK Chess from a 25 year sleep!


If you need any of my photos for the magazine just let me know and I will provide hi-res images to your designer.

Ray M-H


Dear Mr Pein,

Thanks for this wonderful tournament.


I came from Switzerland to live this event. EVERYTHING was just GREAT! I wish to you and your team many more such events! I will follow them by internet with great interest.

Best regards, AV



I hesitate to add to your no doubt bulging inbox, but I wanted to write a short note to congratulate you and thank you for the excellent London Classic tournament just concluded.


I am sure I will not be the first nor the last to express these sentiments, but perhaps they carry all the more weight if I pass on the views of Nigel Short, with whom I was chatting on the Sunday evening. I told Nigel how much I had appreciated the event, and thanked him for his own typically open approach in sharing his own thoughts so freely, frankly and entertainingly. “This is what all tournaments should be like”, he said in response, praising you personally and expressing the wish that no fewer than three such events could/should be run in the UK each year.


Given how much work was clearly involved in this one, I shouldn’t think you’ll be volunteering for quite that level of workload! But I was delighted to hear that you are planning something else for next year, along with pitching for the World Championship match for 2012.


Of course, we all hope that such a match will in the future once again feature a contender from our own shores: promoting excellence is an important benefit from events such as these. But also important is the generation of widespread grass roots enthusiasm for this wonderful game – I agree so much with the sentiments expressed in the Daily Telegraph article reproduced in the tournament programme.


And it is with that in mind that I want to pass on how much not only I but also my eight year old son, George, enjoyed the event. As someone who loves the game myself, and who had the inspiring experience of having Viktor Korchnoi visit my school in my youth (playing against the then-young Julian Hodgson and Willie Watson), it was very personally meaningful to me to be able to provide my son with the similarly inspiring experience of seeing Viktor and the new stars of today in action at Olympia.


George has long enjoyed playing, but it was wonderful for me to see how thrilled he was at Olympia - how caught up in the excitement of the atmosphere. I had thought he might be bored, that spectating at an event would provide insufficient stimulation to a member of the video game generation. But not a bit of it – he was absolutely enthralled and completely caught up in the “buzz”, impatient to flit between the auditorium, commentary rooms and the area where Korchnoi was playing.


Best of all for him – although maybe even more of a thrill for me as a father – was the opportunity he had to play a little against Luke McShane, when Luke came over and sat opposite him as George when playing on his own for a bit at a board while I had to leave him to make a phone call. Luke was absolutely charming, and it was a marvellous example of the best of the spirit in which the tournament was conducted that he should do something like that.


I have tried to impress on George just how amazing an experience that was for him – to have the chance to play against a GM and to be his next “opponent” just a short time after his fantastic win against Hikaru Nakamura. I think he realises that as well as it’s possible for an eight year old to, but it’s really only when he’s older that he’ll appreciate just how lucky he was. If you’re in touch with Luke in the near future, please do re-iterate our appreciation of him doing that.


Of course, mainly that incident speaks volumes about what a nice chap Luke seems to be. But it does exemplify something more generally true about chess. Can you imagine a Premiership footballer seeing a young boy kicking a ball around in the park and asking to join in, or a top tennis player or whatever? Not really. Chess – despite being one of the most intense forms of competition that exists – lends itself to a spirit of shared enjoyment – a love of the game and an enjoyment of engaging with other lovers of the game, be they young or old and professional or very amateur.


George and I were lucky enough to have a wonderfully close-up insight into that spirit, as we were fortunate enough to have been provided with VIP tickets for the event. But I hope and believe that everyone who attended the event will have caught some of that same buzz, and you are to be greatly applauded and thanked for that. Let’s hope the event inspires all those who attended, and provides a real kick-start for recognition and promotion of the game in this country.


Very best of luck in the forthcoming events (e.g. let’s hope the UK authorities can be persuaded to show a bit more sense in processing visa applications!), and we very much look forward to them.

Regards, MW



I took a rather extended Christmas/ New Year break which is my grovelling excuse for not thanking you before for a hugely enjoyable dinner at the close of your splendid chess tournament. It was a great occasion. I thoroughly enjoyed the tournament - it's the first time I've played through every game in a tournament on the internet- and I thought it was a good advertisement for chess . Best wishes for a very prosperous 2010.




I am a subscriber to your excellent magazine. I came to the London Chess Classic and would just like to say a big thank you to all concerned in creating a fantastic several days of international chess. Can we have more?

Best Wishes, RN



Dear Chess Classic,


The excellent London Chess Classic gave me the opportunity to fulfill my long held ambition to play against Viktor 'the terrible' Korchnoi in a simultaneous display, and I must say I was not disappointed. Viktor played each game with great determination and energy and I am sure he wanted to crush everyone of us. The entertainment continued when one of his opponents was daring enough to offer him a draw early on to which he just silently made his reply on the board and moved onto the next game much to the amusement of the watching crowd.


All Viktor's famous gesturing during play was in evidence with much arm movements and huffing and puffing and whilst he was stood thinking he made the most incredible facial contortions I have ever seen. My own game came to a halt when Viktor offered me a draw in a double rook and pawns ending after 28 moves. I would of loved to have played on but sadly it was now getting late and there were not many games left so I may even had gone on to lose. At the end of the evening whilst he was signing my scoresheet he looked up and said to me 'I was a little scared of the ending' and as you can imagine this just made my night! 


Maybe he should be known as Viktor 'the not so terrible'.

IP, Manchester.




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The London Chess Classic team welcomes your comments about any aspect of the event. We are especially interested in reading your experiences of the tournaments, live coverage, venue, conditions or any other matter you would like to mention.


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IM Malcolm Pein

Chess & Bridge

369 Euston Road

London NW1 3AR UK


We look forward to hearing from you.




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