Olympia Conference Centre, Kensington, London

 

Round 6 Report - Matthew Lunn

 

Round 6 saw a far better day for the English contingent, who scored a maximum 2/3. The all English clash between Luke McShane and Gawain Jones promised bloodshed, with both parties desperate to secure their first win. Luke, who developed a reputation as a giant killer at the previous two Classics, has thus far struggled against his higher rated opponents. Despite enjoying significant advantages against Carlsen and Anand he only managed to secure one draw from both games. His subsequent losses to Aronian and Kramnik were, as far as I can see, emblematic of how these frustrations greatly diminished his confidence. Gawain had been suffering similar fortunes: despite holding worse positions against Polgar and Nakamura he was unable to dent Magnus Carlsen’s winning record, despite an enterprising queen sacrifice that looked to trouble the Norwegian. His losses to Adams and Anand would have been greatly disappointing, as they were characterised by lapses in concentration. In essence, both players had a must-win game against an opponent they would consider beatable. This resulted in an exciting conflict as both sides strived for the initiative.

 

 

Annotations are by Grandmaster David Howell:

 

McShane, L - Jones, G

 

1.c4 c5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Nc3 e5 6.0–0 Nge7 7.a3 0–0 8.d3 d6 9.Rb1 a5 10.Ne1 Be6 [10...Rb8 11.Nc2 Be6 12.b4 axb4 13.axb4 cxb4 14.Nxb4 Nxb4 15.Rxb4 d5 16.cxd5 Nxd5 17.Nxd5 Bxd5 18.Rb5 was Kramnik - Carlsen, from round 3 of this same tournament. White maintained an enduring advantage, but the game ultimately ended in a draw.] 11.Nc2 d5 12.cxd5 Nxd5 13.Ne3 Nde7 14.Nc4 This position is similar to a reversed Sicilian Dragon, and with all the minor pieces left on the board, the struggle for the initiative commences: 14...Rb8

 

 

15.Bg5!? [15.a4 was a more positional suggestion, but the game is still in the balance.] 15...f6 [15...h6 was another possibility: 16.Bxe7 Nxe7 17.Nb5 with equality] 16.Be3 b6 [After the game, Gawain mentioned that he was tempted by the active 16...b5!? 17.Nd2 Nd4 after which McShane had planned 18.a4! b4 19.Nce4 Rc8 20.Rc1 with a complex position which might slightly favour White.] 17.f4 f5 Committal, but interesting. [17...b5!? might not be obvious, especially having moved the b-pawn last move, but it is tempting nonetheless: 18.Nd2 exf4 19.Bxf4 Ne5 with a dynamic position.] 18.fxe5 Nxe5 19.Bf4 Now Jones feels obliged to sacrifice the exchange. 19...Nxc4 [19...Bxc4 20.dxc4 Qxd1 21.Rfxd1 looks pleasant for White] 20.dxc4 Bxc4 21.Bxb8 Qxb8 22.Qa4 Be6 23.Rbd1 Qe5 [23...Bd4+ would be met by 24.Rxd4! (24.Kh1 Qe5 with good compensation) 24...cxd4 25.Qxd4 and White can claim a small but safe advantage.] 24.Kh1 c4 25.e4! McShane has played the last phase of the game masterfully, and now manages to open up more files for his rooks. Black is really struggling to prove any compensation now. 25...Qc5 26.Rde1 Bd4

 

 

27.Qd1! Calmly bringing his queen back into the action. [it was important to avoid: 27.exf5?! Nxf5 28.Rxe6?? Nxg3+! followed by Qh5 and checkmate.] 27...Rd8 28.exf5 Bxf5 29.Qe2 Nc8 30.g4 Bd3 31.Qe6+ Kh8 32.Rf7 Nd6 33.Rd7 Rxd7 34.Qxd7 Bf6 35.Nd1?! Having played almost perfectly in the last dozen moves, McShane misses a knockout blow. [35.Re6 would have won almost immediately.] 35...Qd4 36.g5 Bf5 37.Re8+ Nxe8 38.Qxe8+ Kg7 39.gxf6+ Qxf6 40.Qe3 Unfortunately for Black, White has managed to consolidate and emerge a piece up. Black's two pawns are unlikely to provide sufficient drawing chances. 40...Bd7 41.Kg1 b5 42.Qa7! [42.Qc3 might also win, but would make things far more difficult.] 42...Qd6 43.Nf2 Qd2?! Jones goes for it, but McShane is accurate to the end. [43...Kh6 would have lasted longer, but after 44.Qxa5 the rest should be a ‘matter of technique'] 44.Bh3 Qg5+ 45.Bg4 h5 46.Qxd7+ Kh6 47.Qd4 Kh7 48.h4! White keeps his extra two pieces. 48...Qxh4 49.Qa7+ Kh6 50.Qe3+ Kh7 51.Bd7 b4 52.axb4 axb4 53.Bb5 c3 54.bxc3 bxc3 55.Bd3 Qd8 56.Qc5 Qh4 57.Qxc3 Qg3+ 58.Kf1 h4 59.Qc8 1–0

 

 

Final position in McShane – Jones.

 

The real highlight of the day for English fans was Mickey Adams’ victory over World Champion Viswanathan Anand. It was however a bittersweet success, as the game looked to be equal before the following blunder:

 

Anand, V - Adams, M

 

 

41.Bc4?? Qd1! White has no defence against Ra1 and mate on h1. Indeed Black has an additional winning motif, which is demonstrated after White's 42nd move. 42.Qh6 (If 42. Bxe6 Ra1 43.Bxf7+ Kg7! and it’s all over.) Bh3+! The Bishop is immune because of Qh1#. If White does not take it immediately then he will be forced to do so after 43.Rxf2+, so he decided to call it a day. 0–1

 

Magnus Carlsen continued his extraordinary winning streak with a positional masterclass against Judit Polgar. In the commentary room afterwards, Magnus (rather modestly) described the win as his first “good game” this tournament. Indeed, it’s very difficult to judge exactly what Judit did wrong!:

 

Carlsen, M - Polgar, J

 

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.a3 Bc5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.e4 0–0 9.Be2 b6 10.0–0 Bb7 11.Bf4 d6 12.Rc1 Rc8 13.Re1 Ne5 14.Nd2 Nfd7 15.Be3 After another English Opening (one of three this round), the players have reached a Maroczy bind pawn structure, where Black is solid but slightly cramped. In the commentary room, Nakamura expressed his concern for Judit's position, saying that it did not fully suit her style. In contrast, Carlsen must have been happy to reach a tense position. 15...Qc7 [15...g5!? was an active possibility, gaining space and dark-square control for Black on the kingside. When I asked Nakamura about this move, he said it was definitely worth a try. Instead, Polgar plays slightly passively.] 16.b4 Qb8 17.f4 Ng6 18.g3 Rfe8 19.Bf3 Qa8 20.Bf2 Ngf8 Before White has a chance to push his h-pawn. 21.Qe2 Qb8 22.Red1 g6

 

 

23.e5! After a patient build-up, Carlsen goes for it. All of his pieces are well-placed, but Polgar's Hedgehog set-up is still very solid. 23...Bc6 [23...Bxf3 24.Nxf3 dxe5 25.fxe5 a6 26.Rd4 gives White a pleasant advantage.] 24.Bd4 Red8 25.Bxc6 Rxc6 26.Nf3 dxe5 27.fxe5 Rdc8 28.Ne4 Qc7 29.Nfd2 a6 [29...Nxe5 allows 30.b5 trapping Black's rook, but after 30...Rc5 31.Nxc5 Bxc5 32.Ne4 Bxd4+ 33.Rxd4 f5 Black might be able to claim some compensation for the exchange.] 30.Nf2 Bg5 31.Rf1 Bxd2 32.Qxd2 Nxe5 [32...Rxc4?! looks too greedy: 33.Rxc4 Qxc4 34.Ng4! and White's threats of Nh6+ and Qf4 are unstoppable.] 33.Bxe5 Qxe5 34.Ng4

 

 

Rd6! [34...Qd6 loses immediately: 35.Nh6+ Kg7 36.Rxf7+ Kh8 37.Qc3+ e5 38.Qf3 and Black can resign.] 35.Nh6+ Kg7 36.Rxf7+ Kh8 37.Qf2 Qd4 38.c5 bxc5 39.Qxd4+ Rxd4 40.Rxc5! Black's compromised king is the deciding factor in this endgame. 40...Rcd8 [alternatively, 40...Rxc5 41.bxc5 e5 42.c6! (42.Rxf8+? Kg7 looks drawn.) 42...Rc4 43.Ng4!! wins beautifully for White.] 41.Rcc7 Rd1+ 42.Kg2 R1d2+ 43.Kh3 R2d5 44.Ng4 White's rerouting the knight to f6 essentially ends the game. 44...Rh5+ 45.Kg2 Rd2+ 46.Kf3 Rf5+ 47.Ke3 Rxf7 48.Rxf7 Rd8 49.Nf6 Rb8 50.Kf4 h6 51.Ke5 a5 52.bxa5 Ra8 53.a6! 1–0

 

 

Final Position in Carlsen – Polgar.

 

The final game of the day will be of interest to Ruy Lopez players, as Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik explored the ever popular Berlin Defence:

 

 

Aronian, L - Kramnik, V

 

1.e4!? Already an interesting moment. Aronian virtually never plays this move unless he’s against Kramnik! 1...e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Ke8 10.h3 h5 11.Bg5 Be6 We have a standard Berlin Defence position, which both players have expertise in. 12.b3 Be7 13.Rad1 h4 14.Ne4 b6 15.c4 a5 16.Rd2 Rd8 17.Rfd1 Rxd2 18.Bxd2 c5 19.Bf4 a4 20.Nc3 axb3 21.axb3 Bd8 22.Kf1

 

 

[In the commentary room, Nakamura felt that White should have a sizeable advantage after a move such as 22.Nd5 . However, Kramnik was confident about the solidity of his position and plays the next few moves with his trademark accuracy] 22...Rg8 23.Ne4 Bc8! The bishop will be very strong on b7. 24.Ra1 Bb7 25.Neg5 f6 26.exf6 gxf6 27.Ne4 Kd7 28.Rd1+ Kc8 29.Re1 Rg7 30.Nfd2 Nd4 31.f3 Bc6 32.Nf2 Bd7 33.Ng4 Bf5 34.Kf2 Kd7 35.Ne3 Bh7 36.Nd5 Bc2 37.Ne3 Bd3 38.Nd5

 

 

Nxb3!? A clever and pretty tactic, but after the game Kramnik noted that he had other promising options. [38...c6 39.Ne3 Re7 also looks pleasant for Black.] 39.Nxb3 Bxc4 (DIAGRAM) it's not every day you see knights forked like this! 40.Nxc5+ bxc5 41.Rd1 Kc8 42.Nc3 Rd7 43.Rc1 Bd3 44.Na4 c4 45.Nb2 Rd5 46.Nxc4 Aronian manages to regain his pawn and now defends accurately, despite Black's strong bishop pair. 46...Rc5 47.Nb2 Rxc1 48.Bxc1 Bb5 49.g3 hxg3+ 50.Kxg3 Kd7 51.Nd1 Ke6 52.Nc3 Be8 53.Be3 Be7 54.h4 c5 55.Kf2 c4 56.Ke2 Bg6 57.Bd4 f5 58.f4 Bxh4 59.Ke3 Bf7 60.Bg7 Kd6 61.Bf8+ Kc6 62.Ne2 Be1 63.Nd4+ Kd5 64.Nxf5 c3 65.Kd3 Bg6 66.Ke2 Bxf5 67.Kxe1 ˝–˝

 

After this round Magnus Carlsen increased his lead to four points. This means a win against Hikaru Nakamura in Round 7 would secure him the tournament victory, as Vladimir Kramnik has the bye.

 

Rankings after Round 6

 

  

Pts

Games

1.

Magnus Carlsen  

16

6

2.

Vladimir Kramnik

12

6

3.

Michael Adams

10

5

4.

Hikaru Nakamura

8

5

5.

Viswanathan Anand

6

5

6.

Levon Aronian

5

5

7.

Luke McShane

4

5

8.

Gawain Jones

2

6

9.

Judit Polgar

1

5

 

Games from this round

 

 

© SC

 

© 2012 London Chess Classic

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