Olympia Conference Centre, Kensington, London

 

Players 2012

 

The H Bomb Drops

 

 

25.08.12 - It’s better late than never for Hikaru Nakamura, as the reigning US champion confirms his invitation only a few days ago to complete the nine-player line up for the London Chess Classic, at Kensington Olympia, 1-10 December, 2012. He joins World No 1 Magnus Carlsen, World Champion Vishy Anand, world No 2 Levon Aronian, the defending champion Vladimir Kramnik, the UK No 1 Mickey Adams, the UK No 2 Luke McShane, Women’s World No 1 Judit Polgar, and newly-crowned British Champion Gawain Jones, who will all battle it out for the year-ending elite spectacular in London.

 

Three-time US champion Hikaru Nakamura is nicknamed the ‘H Bomb’ for his totally explosive and uncompromising style of play - not only that, but he always gives fan value by playing for a win either face to face or online and invariably will shun any draw offers. His fondness for double-edged moves once prompted Garry Kasparov, when he was acting as his coach, to urge him to play more solidly. But taming Nakamura is “like tethering a wild stallion,” according to chess columnists Harold Dondis and Patrick Wolff of The Boston Globe.

 

He’s now though firmly established himself as a member of the World Top-10 (currently No. 7), having first exploded into the elite club after he sensationally won the 73rd Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee in 2011, ahead of Anand, Aronian, Carlsen and Kramnik! This was the biggest success of his career and according to Kasparov was "the best result achieved by an American in 100 years.”

 

Hikaru Nakamura has broken every Bobby Fischer age-group record in the US save for that of being the youngest US champion. Naturally, comparisons with the late great American world champion have been made - and in late September, he finally gets his chance to follow in Fischer’s footsteps by being the top seed in the London Grand Prix, the first of six series that kicks off the next World Chess Championship Cycle.

 

Cool Hand Luke

 

 

16.08.12 - Luke McShane, who recently supplanted Nigel Short as the new England No 2 - and fast homing in on Mickey Adams’ No 1 spot - is the latest to confirm his invitation to play in the London Chess Classic, at Kensington Olympia, 1-10 December, 2012. He now joins world No 1 Magnus Carlsen, World Champion Vishy Anand, world No 2 Levon Aronian, the defending champion Vladimir Kramnik, the UK No 1 Mickey Adams, Women’s world No 1 Judit Polgar, and newly-crowned British Champion Gawain Jones in the confirmed line up so far for the year-ending elite spectacular in London.

 

Luke McShane was the golden boy of the British chess scene during the early 1990s. He won the World Under-10 title at the age of eight and going on to be sponsored by the computer company Psion. Big things were expected at the age of 11, and there was talk of him being a potential world championship challenger to follow in the footsteps of Nigel Short when, at 16, he became the youngest-ever British Grandmaster, followed by being runner-up for the world under-20 crown to Aronian. But Luke was always a more rounded individual than most chess prodigies, and he devoted more time to his school studies over chess, and all but went into a self-imposed four-year hibernation from the game while studying at Oxford.

 

Luke, now world no 32 on the latest FIDE list, holds the unofficial title of world’s best amateur player in today’s game, as he juggles chess with his full-time career as an investment banker in the City. Despite the 9 to 5 job, his outstanding performances at the last two London Chess Classics wowed not only the home crowd but also the chess fans across the world - and in an online poll, they overwhelmingly voted him the wildcard pick for the final spot in this year’s Tal Memorial, where you have to hand it to Luke for coolly beating in Moscow three of the biggest names in the game, Aronian, Kramnik and Alexander Morozevich.

 

Arise, Sir Gawain

 

07.08.12 - Last Saturday, Gawain Jones was celebrating the win of his first British Chess Championship title in North Shields - but the popular young English grandmaster turned it into a double celebration with the confirmation of his invitation to play at the London Chess Classic, at Kensington Olympia, 1-10 December, 2012. This is the biggest event of Gawain Jones’s career, and he now joins World No 1 Magnus Carlsen, World Champion Vishy Anand, World No 2 Levon Aronian, the defending champion Vladimir Kramnik, the UK No 1 Mickey Adams, and Women’s World No 1 Judit Polgar in the confirmed line-up so far for the year-ending elite spectacular in London.

 

Yorkshire-born Jones, 24, has risen rapidly through the junior ranks to mature into one of England’s best young hopefuls in the game today, who along with Luke McShane and David Howell are all vying to replace the long-standing top dogs of Adams and Nigel Short. The latest Fide world rankings also shows him established in the world top 100.

 

And while the London Chess Classic will see him rise onto the elite stage for the first time, he will certainly be no pushover, as some may think, judging by his past results: He top-scored with 75 percent for the England team in the 2010 Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansisk, and then went on to take first equal with GM Simon Williams at the London Chess Classic Open, ahead of Boris Avrukh and Abhijeet Gupta; in 2011, he won the Bunratty Masters, ahead of former world championship challenger Short, whom he defeated; also in the same year, he won the Commonwealth Championship title. And now, he’s the new 2012 British Champion and voted the English Chess Federation's Player of the Year.

 

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday ...

 

 

23.07.12 - Judit Polgar celebrates her 36th birthday today with the news that she’s confirmed her participation for the 4th London Chess Classic, at Kensington Olympia, 1-10 December, 2012. Polgar now joins World No 1 Magnus Carlsen, World Champion Vishy Anand, World No 2 Levon Aronian, the defending champion Vladimir Kramnik, and the UK No 1 Mickey Adams as those that have so far confirmed their invitations to play in the year-ending elite chess spectacular in the Capital City.

 

Judit Polgar is by far the strongest female chess player in history. In 1991, she achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 15 years and five months, the youngest ever to do so at the time, as she beat a 34 year age record set by a certain Bobby Fischer. Judit has never played in women’s tournaments or indeed for the Women’s World Championship. “I always say that women should have the self-confidence that they are as good as male players, but only if they are willing to work and take it seriously as much as male players,” she once commented.

 

And over the years, Judit - now a married mother with two children, Oliver and Hanna - has proved that women can indeed break the glass ceiling to gain entry into the most exclusive clubs: She has been a frequent visitor to the world’s top ten and was the first woman in history to play in a Candidates Tournament. And along the way, she’s defeated nine current or former world champions in either rapid or classical chess: Karpov, Kasparov, Spassky, Smyslov, Topalov, Anand, Ponomariov, Khalifman, and Kasimdzhanov.

 

As they would say in the animal world, the female can be the deadlier of the species - and Judit Polgar, with her very aggressive attacking brand of chess, is highly capable of being deadlier at the board than the rest of the male field at the London Chess Classic!

 

Vlad to be back

 

13.07.12 - The former World champion, Vladimir Kramnik, becomes the fifth player to confirm his invitation for the 4th London Chess Classic, at Kensington Olympia, 1-10 December, 2012. Kramnik, who will be back to defend his title, having won the 2011 edition of the London Chess Classic, joins World No 1 Magnus Carlsen, World Champion Vishy Anand, World No 2 Levon Aronian and the UK No 1 Mickey Adams as the five players confirmed so far in a line up that's shaping up to be the mega event of the year.

 

And London is becoming something of a happy hunting ground for Kramnik. Not only did he win here last year, but back in 2000, he shocked everyone by beating Garry Kasparov in a title match at the Riverside Theatre that saw him being crowned the 14th World Champion in a heritage line that stretches back to Wilhelm Steinitz in 1886.

 

Another happy hunting ground for Kramnik is Dortmund in Germany, where today (Friday, 13 July) he not only starts the defence of his Sparkassen Chess-Meeting title but will be looking for a 10th title to break his own record of nine wins in the same elite tournament!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Mickey, you’re so fine

 

 

09.07.12 - The No.1 UK player, Michael ‘Mickey’ Adams joins World No 1, Magnus Carlsen, World Champion Vishy Anand, and the World No 2, Levon Aronian in becoming the latest player to confirm his invitation for the 4th London Chess Classic, at Kensington Olympia, 1-10 December, 2012.

 

At 17, Adams became one of the youngest players to win the British Championship title and today is the top ranked player in the United Kingdom and number 26 in the world on the latest July 2012 Fide rating list. In the past though, he has qualified to play in the PCA Candidates Matches and scored well in the Fide knock-out tournaments - the highlight of which being the beaten finalist on two occasions, in 1997 (to Anand) and 2004 (to Rustam Kasimdzhanov).

 

He can be a difficult opponent for many of the world’s top players, so much so that Garry Kasparov once nicknamed Adams “the Spider” and the name stuck. The reason for the monicker was due to Adams’ liking for “creepy-crawly moves” and the ability to weave a web around his opponents, and then wait for them to beat themselves before he would strike with the decisive blow.

 

For many years, Adams had an intense rivalry with Nigel Short for the top spot in the UK game, but nowadays he has to worry about challenges coming from the likes of Luke McShane. He also writes a very topical chess column for The Daily Telegraph every Saturday, and has a popular website at www.michaeladamschess.co.uk.

 

Levon, Levon ...

 

05.07.12 - It’s shaping up to be the bumper event of the year, as the World No.2, Levon Aronian, of Armenia, joins World No 1 Magnus Carlsen and World Champion Vishy Anand in becoming the third player this week to confirm his invitation for the 4th London Chess Classic, at Kensington Olympia, 1-10 December, 2012.

 

At 29 Aronian is in his lifetime best form and has already won a major event this year ahead of Carlsen, as he took the Tata Steel title back in January. The chess public increasingly views the real struggle for chess supremacy as Aronian vs Carlsen, and the ever-popular Armenian will be looking to end the year as he started it by winning the London Chess Classic ahead of his rival.

 

In Armenia, chess rules above all other sports, and Aronian, who is a national hero with Beckham-like status with young girls and aspiring chess players often chasing him for photos and autographs, is a previous winner of the sportsman of the year title. Armenia now also has chess being taught as a compulsory subject in all primary schools.

 

Aronian is easygoing and known to have a wickedly wry sense of humour. But make no mistake that when the battle starts over the board, he is fiercely competitive and is arguably the most skilled and creative player during the middle phase of games. “Levon likes his money,” as the Elton John/Bernie Taupin hit goes, and at the London Chess Classic this particular Levon will be looking not only to take the prize money for first place but also the rating points that come with it.

Magnus Carlsen: this year’s model player

 

03.07.12 - Magnus Carlsen recently topped the Fide July rating list with a personal best of 2837, just 14-points off of the all-time 2851 record set by Garry Kasparov - and the young Norwegian World No 1 could be on-course to break that record in London, as he now joins World Champion Vishy Anand in being the second player to sign-up for the 4th London Chess Classic, at Kensington Olympia, 1-10 December, 2012.

 

Carlsen, once famously described as “The Mozart of Chess”, is one of the true superstars of the game, and this will be his fourth consecutive appearance at the London Chess Classic. Since January 2010, Carlsen has held onto the rating top spot 13 times, and is the current two-time winner of the Chess Oscar (Player of the Year award). Next year, he will also be bidding to win the Candidates tournament in London, in order to set-up a world title match-up with Anand.

 

And he’s just as big a star off the board as he is on it. A lucrative advertising campaign in 2010 with Dutch clothing label, G-Star Raw, has also seen Carlsen stake a claim to being the first Grandmaster supermodel, appearing alongside actress Gemma Arterton on billboards around the world. Earlier this year, Carlsen also appeared on major US TV networks, such as CBS’s flagship current affairs show, “60 minutes”, and Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report”.

 

 

 

 

World Champion 1st to sign-up for London Chess Classic

 

02.07.12 - Fresh from yet another successful title defence, World Champion Viswanathan Anand, of India, became the first player to sign-up to play in the 4th London Chess Classic, at Kensington Olympia, 1-10 December, 2012. It is no secret that London is one of Anand’s favourite cities, and this will be his third successive appearance in the tournament.

 

For well over a decade now, Anand has been among the world’s top five players, and the first Indian to earn the grandmaster title. He played in his first World Championship match back in 1995 in New York, losing to Garry Kasparov. In May, he beat challenger Boris Gelfand in Moscow to clinch his fifth world championship title. He has also won the Chess Oscar (Player of the Year award) 6 times.

 

Anand is also something of a national hero in India, where in 2007 he won the Padma Vibhushan award, one of India’s most prestigious civilian awards, ahead of several prominent sporting superstars, such as cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. He has become a great ambassador for the game and his country, with his high-profile success over the 64 squares seeing India developing rapidly from a backward chess nation into one of the strongest in the world.

 

 

 

 

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© 2012 London Chess Classic

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