Olympia Conference Centre, Kensington, London

 

Round 7 Report - Matthew Lunn

 

Even in a tournament as exciting as this, it was bound to happen eventually. All four of Round 7’s games were drawn, thus giving Vladimir Kramnik, who had the bye, a chance to catch up with Magnus Carlsen’s extraordinary +5 score.

 

Mickey Adams has demonstrated a marked improvement in form at this year’s Classic; particular highlights are his impressive grind against Gawain Jones and an emphatic victory over Judit Polgar. After his win against Vishy Anand he was in the surprising position of being able to challenge for first place, if he managed to beat the out of form Luke McShane:

 

Annotations are by Grandmaster David Howell:

 

 

Adams, M - McShane, L

 

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.Nbd2 0–0 7.0–0 Re8 8.Nc4 Nd7 9.a4 Bd6 10.Be3 Nf8

 

 

11.d4! The opening has developed in a similar way to Anand-Kramnik from Round 4 this tournament. However, Adams now takes his chance to break open the centre, hoping that his superior pawn structure will give him chances of an advantage. 11...exd4 12.Qxd4 Bg4 13.Nxd6 Correcting Black's pawn structure, but getting rid of the bishop pair. Adams knows that the d6 pawn will be a permanent weakness. [13.e5 looks unnatural, but might be interesting: 13...Bxf3 14.gxf3 Be7 15.Qg4 followed by an advance of White's f-pawn] 13...cxd6 14.Nd2 Ne6 15.Qb4 Be2 [15...Qd7 16.f3 Bh5 17.Rfd1 looks like a significant advantage for White] 16.Rfe1 Ba6 17.Rad1 Qf6 18.Nf1 c5 19.Qb3 Rad8 20.c4 Nf8 21.Qc2 Qe6 22.Nd2 b6 23.f3 Bc8 24.Nf1 Ng6 25.b3 Ne7 26.Bg5 f6 27.Bh4 Ng6 28.Bg3 Ne5 29.Ne3 Qe7 30.Rd2 Be6 31.Qd1 Qc7 32.h3 Adams has built up the kind of position that he loves; there is no risk and he has a permanent positional advantage, allowing him to slowly improve his pieces while McShane has to wait passively. 32...Qc6

 

 

33.Bxe5!? Taking the opportunity to get rid of Black's strong knight. It is important that McShane is unable to recapture with his d-pawn. [33.f4 was suggested by GM Ray Keene in the commentary room as a decent alternative, which HIARCS corroborates – ed] 33...fxe5 34.Rd3 Rd7 35.Re2 Red8 36.Red2 h6 37.Qe1 Rf8 38.Kh2 Qc7 39.Kh1 Qc6 40.Qd1 Rfd8 41.Qe2 Rf7 42.Rd1 Rfd7 43.Nd5 Bxd5 44.Rxd5 Re8 45.Qd2 Re6 46.a5 Qc7 47.b4! After some lengthy manoeuvring, Adams starts to up the pressure. Black will struggle to hold his queenside and central weaknesses. 47...cxb4 48.Qxb4 Rd8 49.axb6 axb6 50.Rb5 Rb8 51.Qb3 Qc6 52.Qd3 Kh7 53.Qd5 Qc8 [53...Qxd5 54.cxd5 Rf6 55.Rdb1 is highly unpleasant for Black] 54.Rdb1 Rf6 55.Rxb6 [55.Kh2 is also possible] 55...Rxb6 56.Rxb6 Rxf3 At first sight McShane has got some counterplay, but Adams coolly ignores this. 57.Rxd6 [57.gxf3?? Qxh3+ 58.Kg1 Qg3+ 59.Kh1 Qxf3+ 60.Kg1 Qe3+ and Black regains the rook with a winning queen endgame.] 57...Rc3? After defending well, McShane cracks. [57...Rf1+ 58.Kh2 Qf8 was a better defensive try.] 58.Qf7! Suddenly McShane's king is in a spot of bother. 58...Rg3 59.Kh2 Rg5 60.Rd2?! [60.Re6 looks immediately decisive; while 60.h4 Rg4 61.g3 embarrasses Black's rook and should also win.] 60...Qc6 61.Rd8 Qb6 62.Qg8+ Kg6 63.Qe8+ Kh7 64.Qg8+ Kg6

 

 

65.Rf8? On the brink of a win, Adams loses the thread. [65.Qf8! wins on the spot. Black is unable to cope with the dual threats of Rd6+ and h4] 65...Qb3! Out of the blue, McShane finds some counterplay. 66.Qf7+ Kh7 67.Qg8+ Kg6 68.Qf7+ Kh7 69.Qf1 Qg3+ 70.Kh1 Qe3 71.Qf3 Qc1+ [not 71...Qxf3? 72.Rxf3 Rg6 73.c5 Rc6 74.Rc3 which looks winning for White] 72.Qf1 Qe3 73.Qf3 Qc1+ 74.Kh2 Qxc4 Black regains his pawn and Adams is unable to find a breakthrough; a lucky escape for McShane! 75.Re8 Qc2 76.Re6 Qc8 77.Re7 Qd8 78.Rf7 Rg6 79.Rf8 Qg5 80.Rf5 Qe7 81.Rf7 Qg5 82.Rf5 Qe7 83.Rf7 Qg5 84.Rf5 ˝–˝

 

Nakamura – Carlsen clashes have been of great interest in the past, and we were not disappointed this round: it was a sharp struggle between old rivals that left the audience guessing as to who had the better position:

 

 

Nakamura, H - Carlsen, M

 

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 The c3 Sicilian - one of my personal favourites! 3...Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.Bc4 e6 6.d4 cxd4 7.cxd4 d6 8.0–0 Be7 9.Qe2 0–0 10.Rd1 Qc7 Not the most common move, but indirectly aimed against a potential Nc3. [10...Na5 and; 10...Bd7 are quite well-explored] 11.a3 Rd8

 

 

12.b4!? Very committal; Nakamura gains space but in general White's plan should be to attack on the kingside. The weakness of the c3 square means that his development is now slightly awkward. 12...a6 13.Bd3 b5! Carlsen gains space of his own and his bishop on b7 will be very powerful. Black has every reason to be happy with the outcome of the opening. 14.h4 A useful attacking move, but this does not seem truly consistent with 12.b4. 14...dxe5 15.dxe5 Bb7 16.Ra2 Ndxb4! Carlsen finds an immediate chance to take advantage of White's lack of development and central control. The next few moves are forced. [16...a5 also came into consideration] 17.axb4 Nxb4 18.Rad2 Rxd3 19.Rxd3 Nxd3 20.Qxd3 Rd8 21.Qe2 Rxd1+ 22.Qxd1 Bxf3 23.gxf3 Qxe5

 

 

So White has won a piece, but his shattered kingside and lack of co-ordination (as well as Black's three extra pawns) means that he is facing an uphill struggle. 24.Qd7! White must create some activity in order to slow down Black's queenside pawns. 24...Bf8 [24...Qe1+?! 25.Kg2 Qxc1 26.Qxe7 h6 27.Qd8+ Kh7 28.Nd2 allows White to simplify with decent chances.] 25.Be3 a5 26.Qe8 h6 [26...a4 might have been a small improvement] 27.Kg2 a4 28.Na3! Nakamura finds the best way to activate his knight and begins to cause some problems. 28...b4 29.Nc4 Qc7 30.Nb6 Suddenly Black must be very careful: Nd7 is threatened 30...Qe7 31.Qxa4 Qxh4 32.Qa8 Qe7 33.Qc8 b3 34.Nd7 b2 35.Nxf8 Qxf8 36.Qb7 After some forcing play, Nakamura has made some huge gains, and there was now a debate about whether he would be able to convert his material advantage. However, Carlsen now calmly proves his endgame prowess once again as he builds an unbreakable fortress. 36...e5 [36...Qa3 wouldn't particularly help after 37.Bd4] 37.Qxb2 f6 38.Qc2 Qf7 39.Qf5 Kh8 40.Bd2 Kg8 41.Kg3 Kh8 42.Be3 Kg8 43.Kh2 Kh8 44.Kg2 Kg8 45.Qd3 Kh8

 

 

46.f4 White's problem is that he cannot target Black's only weak pawn on g7. Any attempts to march his king will be ended by checks, so even after this pawn exchange it is unlikely he can make any progress. 46...exf4 47.Bxf4 Kg8 48.Qe4 Kh8 49.Be3 Kg8 50.Bd4 Kh8 51.f4 Kg8 52.Kg3 Kh8 53.Be3 Kg8 54.Bd4 Kh8 55.Be3 Kg8 56.Bd4 Kh8 ˝–˝

 

It is not surprising that Polgar – Anand was a quiet affair; neither player has sparkled at this year’s event and both had suffered debilitating losses the round before:

 

 

Polgar, J - Anand, V

 

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0–0 b5 8.Bb3 Be7 9.Qf3 Qc7 10.a3 0–0 11.Qg3 Bd7 12.Bh6 Ne8 13.Rad1 Nc6 14.Nxc6 Bxc6 15.Rfe1 a5

 

 

16.Bg5 After a standard Najdorf opening, Polgar decides to exchange dark-squared bishops in order to target the d6-pawn. However, Black is extremely solid. 16...Bxg5 17.Qxg5 Rb8 [17...b4 has also been played in this position: 18.Nb5 Bxb5 19.Qxb5 bxa3 20.bxa3 Nf6 and Black can look to the future with confidence.] 18.e5 dxe5 19.Qxe5 Qb6!? [19...Qxe5 20.Rxe5 Nf6 21.Rc5 might give White some hopes for an advantage.; 19...b4 might be the simplest path for Black] 20.a4 [20.Re3 was also tempting: 20...Rd8 21.Rxd8 Qxd8 22.Rd3 Qb6 23.a4 with a small advantage for White] 20...bxa4 [20...b4 would leave Black with a permanent weakness on a5] 21.Bxa4

 

 

Rc8! Anand defends calmly. The rest of the game fizzles out slightly, with both sides' queenside weaknesses balancing each other out. 22.Bxc6 Rxc6 23.Na4 Qc7 24.c3 Nf6 25.Rd4 Rc8 26.Qxc7 R6xc7 27.Red1 g6 28.Rd8+ Kg7 29.Rxc8 Rxc8 30.Rd6 Rc4 31.b3 Ne4 32.Ra6 ˝–˝

 

 

Final position in Polgar – Anand.

 

Jones – Aronian offered a much needed morale boost for the British Champion, who outprepared his illustrious opponent and scored a creditable draw:

 

 

Jones, G - Aronian, L

 

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 Gawain bravely repeats his opening from his game against Anand a couple of rounds earlier. Aronian has also dabbled in this line for White, which gives the opening battle some theoretical significance. 3...d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 0–0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0–0–0 Qd6 10.Nb5 Qd7

 

 

11.Bh6!? An interesting idea, which the computers are not convinced by at first, but White certainly gets strong compensation for the pawn. [11.f4 and; 11.h4 are more usual] 11...Bxh6 12.Qxh6 a6 13.Nc3 Nxd4 14.f4 c5 15.Nf3 f6 16.h4 Qe8 17.h5 Bg4 18.Nxd4 cxd4 19.hxg6 Qxg6 20.Rxd4 Rac8 21.f5 Qxh6+ 22.Rxh6 Rfd8 23.Rxd8+ Rxd8 24.Rh4 h5 25.Be2 Bxe2 26.Nxe2 Rc8+ 27.Kb1 Nc4

 

 

28.Kc2 Ne3+ 29.Kd2 Nc4+ 30.Kc2 Ne3+ 31.Kd2 Nc4+ ˝–˝

 

Here are the standings prior to the final two rounds:

 

Rankings after Round 7

 

  

Pts

Games

1.

Magnus Carlsen  

17

7

2.

Vladimir Kramnik

12

6

3.

Michael Adams

11

6

4.

Hikaru Nakamura

9

6

5.

Viswanathan Anand

7

6

6.

Levon Aronian

6

6

7.

Luke McShane

5

6

8.

Gawain Jones

3

7

9.

Judit Polgar

2

6

 

This means that Magnus Carlsen will win the 4th London Chess Classic if both Mickey Adams and Vladimir Kramnik fail to win their Round 8 games (against Levon Aronian and Gawain Jones, respectively). If Mickey wins his Round 8 and 9 games (the latter is against Kramnik) and Magnus loses to Vishy Anand, Mickey will win the Classic as he will have had more wins with Black. If Kramnik wins his final two games and Magnus loses to Vishy then he will win the Classic outright; if Magnus and Vishy draw then there will be an Armageddon play-off between the Russian and the Norwegian for the title. It will be an exciting final couple of days, that’s for sure!

 

Games from this round

 

 

© SC

 

© 2012 London Chess Classic

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