Olympia Conference Centre, Kensington, London

 

Round 4 Report - Matthew Lunn

 

The life of a chess enthusiast can be rather frustrating. We have all experienced, to a greater or lesser degree, seventh hour blunders, opening mishaps, and ungracious opponents. Yet there are moments that make this all worthwhile: winning our first tournament, outplaying a higher rated opponent, salvaging a result from a terrible position.

 

Then there are those rare occasions when Caissa smiles upon us, and we feel a deep, ineffable joy. Never before had I simultaneously experienced vicarial and spectatorial pleasure akin to watching the following game. Both players should be extremely proud of this creative achievement, which showcases our sport at its most beautiful.

 

 

Annotations by Grandmaster David Howell:

 

McShane, L - Aronian, L

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.d3 This move has been popular recently, but the game soon becomes a slow positional battle as both sides aim to improve their pieces. 6...b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 Bd7 9.c3 0–0 10.Nbd2 Na5 11.Bc2 c5 12.Re1 Re8 13.Nf1 Nc6 14.Ne3 b4 15.h3 Rb8 16.Nc4 Be6 17.Bb3 h6 18.Be3 bxc3 19.bxc3 d5

 

 

Having achieved this dream pawn break, Black has good reason to be happy with the outcome of the opening. There are also tactical problems for White, since his bishop on b3 is loose... 20.exd5 [20.Ncxe5!? Nxe5 21.Nxe5 Rxb3 22.Qxb3 d4 23.Qd1 dxe3 24.Rxe3 and although material is equal, it is likely that the Black minor pieces are better than the rook.] 20...Nxd5 21.Qc2 e4! McShane must have missed this idea and he is now obliged to sacrifice his queen. 22.dxe4 Nxe3 23.Rxe3 Rxb3 24.Qxb3 Na5 25.Nxa5 Bxb3 26.Nxb3 Qb6 27.Nbd2 Qb2 28.Rae1 Rd8 29.Nf1 c4 30.Ne5 Bc5 31.Rf3 Qb3 32.a5 Rd6? A very strange decision. Aronian has played the game perfectly until now, but he suddenly allows McShane some counterplay [after the simple 32...f6 33.Ng4 Rd3 it looks like the game is effectively over.] 33.Nxf7 Rf6 34.Rxf6 gxf6 35.Nxh6+ Kf8 36.Ng4 Despite the material imbalance, Black's advantage has diminished significantly; White's kingside majority gives him strong chances of a fortress in the ensuing endgame. 36...Qxc3 37.Rd1 Qb4 38.Nxf6 Kf7 [38...Bxf2+ was another try: 39.Kxf2 Qb2+ 40.Kg1 Qxf6 41.Ne3 Qg5 and Black still has decent winning chances.] 39.Nd5 Qb2 40.Nde3 [40.Rd2! was more tenacious: 40...Qa1 41.Rc2 with some chances to hold] 40...c3 41.Rd5 Be7 42.Rf5+ Ke8 43.g4 c2 44.Nxc2 Qxc2 45.Ng3

 

 

Amazingly, White has a rook and four (!) pawns for the queen. It is likely that a5 will fall, but McShane can now pin his hopes on his advanced g-pawn. 45...Qc7 46.Nh5 Bd8 47.Kg2 Qc6 48.Re5+ Kf7 49.g5 Qa4 50.h4 Bxa5 51.Rf5+ Ke6 52.Nf4+ Kd7 53.f3 Qc2+ 54.Kh3 Qf2 55.Kg4 A critical moment. [55.Nd3! might be stronger: 55...Qf1+ 56.Kg4 Qxd3? (56...Bc3 is best, when Black should still be able to win) 57.Rd5+ Qxd5 58.exd5 Bc3! (58...Bd8? leads to a beautiful variation which wins for White: 59.h5 Ke8 60.h6 Kf8 61.Kf5 a5 62.g6 a4 63.Ke6 a3 64.h7 Kg7 65.h8Q+ Kxh8 66.Kf7 Bf6 67.d6 a2 68.d7 a1Q 69.g7+ Bxg7 70.d8Q+ Kh7 71.Qh4+ Bh6 72.Qe4+ Kh8 73.Qe8+ Kh7 74.Qg8#) 59.Kf5! (59.h5 a5 60.h6 a4 61.g6 Ke7 62.d6+ Kf8 63.g7+ Kf7 64.d7 Ba5 wins for Black) 59...a5 60.Ke4 a4 61.Kd3 and White's king is in time to stop the Black a-pawn, and a draw is inevitable] 55...Be1 56.Ng6 a5 57.Rf7+ Kd8 58.e5 a4 59.e6 Bb4! Aronian calmly defends the advance of the e-pawn. 60.e7+ Bxe7 [60...Kd7! might have been simpler: 61.Rf4 Bxe7 62.Rxa4 (62.Nxe7 Qg2+! 63.Kh5 Kxe7 64.Rxa4 Qxf3+ 65.Kh6 Qc6+ wins for Black) 62...Qg2+ 63.Kh5 Qxf3+ 64.Kh6 Bd6–+] 61.Nxe7 Qc5! a fantastic idea, restricting White's knight. This is the only move which wins. 62.Kh5 [62.g6? Qxe7! is Black's idea] 62...a3 63.Kh6 a2 64.g6 Qc4! Aronian now proceeds to play perfectly to the end of the game, and despite McShane's best attempts, he is unable to build a fortress. 65.Nf5 a1Q 66.Rf8+ Kc7 67.g7 Qc6+! 68.Kh7 Qxf3

 

 

69.g8N! Beautiful, but unfortunately not enough. [69.g8Q Qh5+ 70.Nh6 Qb1+ leads to checkmate] 69...Qh5+ 70.Ngh6 Qe5 71.Ng7 Qxh4 72.Rf7+ Kb6 73.Ngf5 Qee4 74.Kg6 Qe6+ 75.Kg7 Qg5+ 76.Kf8 Qc8# 0–1 A hugely enjoyable battle!

 

The clash between Magnus Carlsen and Gawain Jones promised a treat for statisticians. It represented the greatest gulf in rating between opponents at a London Chess Classic since our annotator played Magnus at the inaugural event. In that game, David managed to achieve a historic draw from a seemingly hopeless position. Yet it became clear that Gawain was after more than just a chop against the World Number One.

 

 

Carlsen, M - Jones, G

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 a6 5.h3!? Vintage Carlsen. This rare move has the idea of keeping as many pieces on the board as possible. White's space advantage gives him a pleasant game. 5...Nc6 6.Qe3 g6 7.c4 Bg7 [7...Bh6!? was an interesting idea which caught my eye. Black is able to exchange several pieces and can possibly hope for equality due to the reduced material: 8.Qc3 Qa5 9.Qxa5 Nxa5 10.Bxh6 Nxh6 11.Nc3 Be6 12.Nd5 Rc8 13.b3 Nc6 14.0–0–0! f6 15.Kb2 Nf7 16.Be2 Nfe5 and Black is close to equality.] 8.Be2 Nf6 9.Nc3 0–0 10.0–0 Nd7 11.Rb1!

 

 

Black is slightly cramped, and Carlsen intends to gain even more space. 11...a5 [11...Nc5 12.b4! Ne6 (12...Bxc3 13.Qxc3 Nxe4 14.Qe3 gives White huge compensation for the sacrificed pawn, thanks to his bishop pair and the weakened Black kingside.) 13.Rd1±] 12.b3 Nc5 13.Bb2 f5 14.exf5 Bxf5 15.Rbd1 a4 16.Ba3 Qa5 [16...axb3!? 17.Bxc5 bxa2 was an interesting idea mentioned by the players afterwards. It is surprisingly difficult for White to get rid of the a2-pawn, and Black has lots of tactical tricks. However, Gawain chooses another tempting alternative. 18.Bb6 Qd7 19.Nd4!] 17.Nb5 [17.b4!? was another suggestion, but the players were quite dismissive of it: 17...Nxb4 18.Bxb4 Qxb4 19.Nd5 Qa5 20.Nxe7+ Kh8 21.Nxf5 gxf5! and Jones claimed that Black could never be worse. Indeed, after 22.Rxd6 Rfe8 he has a decent initiative. However, White has 22.Qf4! with a small advantage.] 17...axb3 18.axb3

 

 

Qxa3!!? Wow. An extremely brave decision by Jones, which surprised everybody. Carlsen agreed afterwards that this was a serious try and Black now manages to activate all his (remaining) pieces. [However, 18...Rf6! was objectively stronger: 19.Bxc5 Re6 20.Qd2 dxc5 21.g4 Qxd2 22.Rxd2 Rxe2 (22...Rd8) 23.Rxe2! Bd3 24.Rd2 Bxf1 25.Kxf1 and White can only claim a tiny edge in the endgame.] 19.Nxa3 Rxa3 20.Nd2 Bd4 21.Qg3 Be5 Provocative, but perhaps f2-f4 helps White [21...Bc2 looks more natural] 22.f4 Bf6 23.Bg4 Nd4 24.Kh1 Bc2 25.Rde1 Kh8 26.Re3 h5 27.b4?!

 

 

Carlsen forces the issue, but overlooks a tactical chance for Black. [The simple 27.Bd1 looks strong, for example: 27...Nf5 28.Qxg6 Nxe3 29.Bxc2] 27...h4? Jones misses his shot. [27...Nd3! would have caused a few technical problems for Carlsen: 28.Bd1 (28.Nf3! is a computer move) 28...Nf5 29.Qf3 Bxd1 30.Rxd1 Nf2+ 31.Qxf2 Rxe3 32.Nf3 Ra8 and there is still all to play for.] 28.Qf2 Nd3 29.Qg1 Carlsen now makes no mistakes and finishes the game convincingly. 29...Nf5 30.Bxf5 gxf5 31.Nf3 Rc3 32.c5 Bb3 33.Ne1 Bd4 34.Nxd3 dxc5 35.Qf2 Rf7 36.Rc1 cxb4 37.Rxc3 bxc3 38.Qe1 Black has run out of material. 1–0

 

With this victory, Magnus’s live rating ascended to 2857.4, which we can now confirm is the highest live rating ever achieved. Congratulations Magnus!

 

 

Nakamura – Adams may have lacked the excitement of the previous two games, but it offered yet another example of the American’s extraordinary fighting spirit. As with the previous round he reached what looked like a dead-drawn endgame, but nevertheless tenaciously pursued the victory.

 

 

Nakamura, H - Adams, M

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Qc2 c6 7.Bf4 g6 8.Ne5 Bf5 9.Qd2 Ne4 10.Nxe4 Bxe4 11.f3 Bf5 12.e4 Be6 [12...dxe4 13.Bc4 0–0 14.fxe4 Bxe4 15.0–0 gives White a strong initiative for the pawn.] 13.Be2 Nd7 14.Nd3 0–0 15.Be3 dxe4 16.fxe4 Nb6 17.b3 f5 18.Nf4 Qd7 19.d5!?

 

 

An interesting try from Nakamura, temporarily sacrificing a pawn to deny Black's knight the d5-square. 19...cxd5 20.e5 Bg5 21.Rd1 d4 Black in turn gives back the pawn in order to simplify the position. 22.Qxd4 Qxd4 23.Rxd4 Bxf4 24.Bxf4 Rad8 25.Rd6 Kf7 26.Kf2 Nd5 27.Bg5 Rxd6 28.exd6 h6 29.Bxh6 Rd8 30.Bf3 Rxd6 31.Rd1 Rd7 32.Kg3 b6 33.a3 Nc3 34.Rxd7+ Bxd7

 

 

White has the bishop pair with an open centre and pawns on both sides of the board, but the simplified material gives Black good drawing chances. Adams makes the defence look easy. 35.Bf4 Be6 36.Bb8 Bxb3 37.Bxa7 Nb5 38.Bxb6 Nxa3 39.Kf4 Be6 40.Bc6 Nc4 41.Bd4 Nd6 42.h4 Nc4 43.Bf3 Nd2 44.Bc6 Nc4 45.Bc3 Ke7 46.Bf3 Kf7 47.Bd1 Bd5 48.g3 Be6 49.h5 gxh5 50.Bxh5+ Ke7 51.Kg5 Ne3 52.Bb4+ Kd7 53.Be2 f4 Apparently a blunder based on a miscalculation, but Black seems to be holding nonetheless. 54.Bb5+ Kc8 55.Kxf4 Nd5+ 56.Ke5 Nxb4 57.Kxe6 Nc2 58.Bd7+ Kd8 59.g4 Nd4+ 60.Kd6 Nf3 61.Bc6 Ng5 62.Ba4 Ne4+ 63.Ke6 Nc5+ 64.Kf7 Nxa4 65.g5 Nb6 66.g6 Nd5 67.g7 Ne7 68.g8R+ Nxg8 69.Kxg8 ½–½

 

 

Anand – Kramnik was a pretty mundane affair. Although White looked to be pressing for an advantage out of the opening, the fixed pawn structures that characterised the middlegame meant that neither side had any plausible attacking ideas. The game was drawn on move 40.

 

 

Anand – Kramnik, final position.

 

Rankings after Round 4

 

 

  

Pts

Games

1.

Magnus Carlsen  

10

4

2.

Vladimir Kramnik

8

4

3.

Michael Adams

7

3

4.

Hikaru Nakamura

5

4

5.

Levon Aronian

4

4

6.

Viswanathan Anand

3

3

7.

Gawain Jones

2

4

8.

Luke McShane

1

3

 

Judit Polgar

1

3

 

Games from this round

 

 

© SC

 

© 2012 London Chess Classic

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